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World Violist

Viola da gamba, day 1

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So today was my first day of playing a viol. It's a treble, and it's fairly difficult to play, though not really in ways I would expect.

First, the fact that I'm using a completely different set of muscles from those used to play viola doesn't seem to bother me. It's the same basic set of principles: you make the bow sound using the natural weight of your arm, the bow grip actually feels quite nice and relaxed, and the strings react in more or less the same way as does the modern viola.

That being said, everything else feels weird. Six strings means a flatter bridge, which means much less room for the bow on each string. Six strings (tuned in fourths and a third in the middle, similarly to a guitar) also means I do have to relearn my entire idea of fingerings, positionings, and stuff. Frets aren't that bad, except that occasionally I'll go a little too far and have a very ugly-sounding higher note than I intended.

Holding the instrument between the legs poses a different set of problems entirely. My legs aren't supposed to feel tension, but at the same time I can't let the instrument fall too far or my knees are higher than the ideal contact point. So...I figure I'll just get used to it.

It's a nice instrument, though. The strings are okay; some of them are rather old, but the instrument itself is in fine shape and I can get some pretty good sounds out of it already.

Musical Instruments