September 2016 Part 2

During restoration of the viola, I sent a small sample of the purfling to Kew for analysis, and it turned out to be walnut, possibly matching the Vienna violin.
When the viola da braccia became obsolete in the seventeenth century, some, like this one, were converted to violas. There is a fine Gaspar da Salo braccia in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, for which the Hills made a viola head. Another viola da braccia very similar to this Linarol can be found in the collection of the Royal College of Music in London, converted in the same way by reshaping the lower bouts to conventional form and substituting a viola neck and pegbox. The original pegbox for these instruments would have been in the flat ‘spade’ form, with the pegs projecting vertically. The London violin maker Georges Chanot (1831-1895) seems to have been well aware of the potential of these instruments and made several copies himself, and possibly had a hand in converting one or two of them.
The attraction of this model is the fabulous flat, strong arch across the broad centre bouts, which seem to give enormous power and depth to the sound. There is virtually no channel around the edge. It looks amazingly modern to me, quite unlike the style of Linarol’s Brescian contemporaries. The charming soundholes are also a pleasure to cut, with a strong inner bevel. The scroll I made is a sort of amalgam of the Vienna violin scroll and familiar Brescian designs; a replica of the original viola da braccia style head would have been quite inappropriate. Duplicating the original single strand of walnut purfling was fun too. Saves a bit of time, you know.

Linarol copy, BrownLinarol copy, BrownLinarol copy, BrownLinarol copy, Brown

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