polyphonic keyboard

Organistrum: new polyphonic keyboard

ORGANISTRUM IS THE WRONG NAME FOR:

SYMPHONIA COELESTIS or CAELESTIS.

My reconstruction of the instrument is based mainly on a new interpretation of its musical function, considering it as a true polyphonic instrument. To this purpose I invented  a special keyboard, providing some new tecnnical suggestion in using the wheel too.

Keyboard

By tuning the strings  either:  A – d – a   or:  A – e – a    we get an overall extension of two chromatic octaves (minus the last semitone). Before lifting each key, the performer  can choose which string he is going to touch, simply by turning the key to the proper position: the first one allows him to act on the bass string, the second on the middle one, the third on the higher string.

Thus it is possible to play two different melodic lines simultaneously. In Santiago sculpture the hands of the musician on the right are on the third and on the fifth key. This means he is playing  -c, g -  rather than  -d, f -  bichord on bass and middle strings,  or  - g, c’  rather than  - f, d’- bichord on middle and higher strings (first tuning).

 

First string                              a..       a#      b     c’     c’#     d’

Middle string                         d..       d#      e      f      f#      g    

Bass string                            A..       A#      B     c     c#      d

Keys                                      0          1       2     3       4      5

 

 In position 4 the key is provided with two tangents so as to act on  second and  third strings (tuned either in Fifth or Fourth)  at the same time to perform  Organum parallelum, leaving the bass string as a drone.  Finally, whatever mode you play, whatever mutationes or permutationes you practice,  you will never use  the 6thkey:  Tritonus.

Wheel

On the other side, the musician who is in charge of turning the crank, by a smooth, even movement of his right hand,  can  lift each string from the edge of the wheel in order to stop it vibrating with his left hand. This way you can either avoid conflicts between the voices or stop  undesired drone effects.  

 

LISTEN TO POLYPHONIC SYMPHONIA:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6vv4IPGgRk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9vSzFcsQ4E

 

 

SYMPHONIA COELESTIS RECONSTRUCTION

I chose one big  Red Willow (Salix purpurea) planck, seasoned in nature, from which I  carved the sound box and the base of the keyboard in one piece, average thickness  8-10 mm. Flat back, flat sides as in the original. 

GENERAL MEASURES:                                                                                                             

 Total length    940mm                                                                                                           

Max width      230mm                                                                                                              

 Depth              80mm                                                                                                                

 Diapason        720mm

In the bottom of sound box I drilled a 10mm hole for the wooden axis, made of Beech (Fagus silvestris). Axis ends into another hole of 10mm drilled directly with no axle box in a wooden bar (Spruce) 15mm thick, glued between the two lobes of sound box which has been carved out of one piece of Spruce (Picea  abies) 8mm thick with no other bars glued underneath. Keyboard  box is independent from the body of the instrument and can be easily removed to modify  general level of the bars, changing their angle with the strings or making reparations. The 11 bars of the keys, diameter 10mm, are of Pine (Pinus nigra) and the 55 pivoting tangents of Beech. The problem of the distances among the bars is discussed in the present article. To avoid noise made by the bars returning to their previous position, after being pulled up to play, a stripe of cloth has been glued at the bottom of the keyboard. The carved lid has been made of Spruce, 8mm thick and is simply interlocked with the body of the keyboard without any hinge or other device.

The wheel, 11cm  wide and 20mm thick is of Walnut (Juglans regia) and forced on  wooden axis without any screw, nail, or wedge. No axle box at the end. The Beech crank , stuck in the square end of the axis, can be easily removed. The soundboard is glued to the body of the instrument , no sound pole in it. The bridge is of Poplar (Populus nigra) reinforced with a Beech edge. The tailpiece  of Chestnut (Castanea sativa) is linked to the bottom of sound box by a leather lace. Tuning pegs are of Beech, no need for a tuning key. Two light  layers of pure almond oil have  been used as  finishing . Gut strings: 0.80, 1.10, 1.40mm.

 

THE NAME

To understand the reasons of my idea about the name, it's enough to read  Guido d'Arezzo, Micrologus, XVIII, 1-18.

 

 

 

 

Congrés du CTHS, Paris 23-27 avril 2018

Congrés du CTHS, Paris 23-27 avril 2018

MUSIQUE ET ASTRONOMIE DANS DES “LIVRES EN PIERRE” AU XII SIECLE

“Livres en pierre” est une denomination donnée de très longtemps aux portails des églises  romanes et gothiques. La doctrine catholique y était très clairement exposée à travers la présentation des scènes bibliques, voilà donc  une effective transmission de connaissances théologiques. Mais d’autres savoirs pouvaient etre tout aussi transmis: histoire, astronomie, musique. Parfois , au moyen d’un language codé, on exposait des connaissances secrètes.

Nous avons étudié trois exemples excéllentes: les portails  des cathédrales de Chartres,  Arles  et Saint Jacques de Compostelle, en mettant en évidence une transmission de connaissances de musique et d’astronomie. On voit que les sculpteurs ont représenté avec le plus grand souci les instruments de musique, leur tenue, les détails de fabrication, les decorations et meme les figures des musiciens, des chanteurs, des anges, leur expression, leur attitude. Le nombre, la position des sujets, les endroits occupés dans la composition, les relations entre les personnages, tous ces eléments donnent indications et suggestions au regard  des études de théorie musicale conduits à l’époque (1143-1188): numérologie musicale à Chartres, intervalles de l’exachorde à Arles, Musica mundana avec références à la cosmologie platonicienne et à l’astronomie et gamme chromatique à Saint Jacques de Compostelle  .

Dans le portail Royal de Chartres plusieurs instruments de musique sont representés. Les deux “Psalterions decacordes” on étés mis bien en evidence, l’un sur les genoux de “la Musique”, l’autre dans la main d’un des veillards de l’Apocalypse, mais pourquoi présentent-ils seulement 9 choeurs ?

Dans l’archivolte de Saint Trophime on voit que les anges sont disposés sur un sorte de pentagramme, la position de leur tetes indiquant les notes musicales, tandis que les chiffres qu’on découvre en analyzant les figures, mises en relation, donnent les fractions correspondantes aux intervalles entre ces notes.

Enfin, dans le portail de Saint Jacques de Compostelle, on voit les 24 veillards de l’Apocalypse qui portent des differents instruments à cordes. Les deux au centre tiennent leur instrument sur les genoux: le premier tourne une manivelle, l’autre actionne des touches. On voit 11 touches dans l’octave, plus le sillet, donc la gamme de l’instrument est certainement chromatique. Mais pourquoi faire un instrument chromatique si l’on n’employait à l’époque que des gammes diatoniques, sourtout dans la musique sacrée? On analyse la structure et les decorations de l’instrument sculpté et on découvre des notions de cosmologie, d’astronomie et de théorie musicale.

Conclusions.

La transmission des savoirs musicales à travers les sculptures des portails des églises était importante, car la Musique (des Sphères), liée à l’Astronomie, était considerée comme un moyen de communication avec Dieu. Quelques détails pouvaient etre compris uniquement par un public savant.

Bibliographie

AAVV, El mensaje simbòlico del imaginario romànico. Aguilar de Campoo, Fundacion santa Maria la Real, 2012

Elena Ferrari Barassi, Testimonianze organologiche nelle fonti teoriche dei secoli X-XIV.  Cremona, Fondazione Claudio Monteverdi, 1983

Boethius Severinus Manlius Torquatus, De institutione musice.

Bruce Eastwood, Ordering the Heavens. Brill, 2007

Dieu Lionel, La Musique dans la sculpture romane en France, Centre de Développement en Art et Culture Médiévale, 2006

 

 

THE MAGIC OF SHELLS : NEW  TECHNIQUES IN MEDIEVAL LUTHERIE

THE MAGIC OF SHELLS : NEW TECHNIQUES IN MEDIEVAL LUTHERIE

THE MAGIC OF SHELLS : NEW  TECHNIQUES IN MEDIEVAL LUTHERIE

LA MAGIE DES COQUILLES: DES NOUVELLES TECHNIQUES POUR LA LUTHERIE MEDIEVALE

LA MAGIA DELLE CONCHIGLIE: NUOVE TECNICHE PER LA LIUTERIA MEDIEVALE

English

This is just an image to show new ideas about medieval techniques of Lutherie. It is a sort of revolution in stringed instruments making. Left aside Violin or Guitar like techniques, that are not suitable for medieval handicraft, and discarding even “chantournage” technique, not at all philological, we have only to ways to obtain the instrument: carving the body-neck block in one piece, then adding the sound board, or carving the whole block including sound board, adding the back. We can observe the first method used in Citterns as British Museum’s and Met, NY and Gittern found in Poland or in Caterina de Vigris’s Viella (Bologna), while the second one is used in Irish harps (Trinity College, Dublin). In folk instruments making we find the same  techniques, the first one widespread through Asia and Northern Africa, to make all kind of plucked and bowed instruments, often with skin sound board, while the second one can be observed in British Clarsach, Norwigean Langeleik and Finnish Kantele, the last two sometimes without the back, as they were used lying them  on a table (H.Panum, Stringed instruments of the middle ages.London,Reeves,1971)  You must use the first method to make round back instruments like Gittern, Rebab and Rebec, of course,  while in my opinion one should use the second one to make flat back instruments as Harp, Psaltery, Viella and Cittern. The reason is that since the most important part of the instrument is the sound board, the first attempt the medieval luthier should make, whenever possible, is to give unity to the block - neck, sides, sound board- leaving the back as the last piece to be added at the end. This idea is suitable both for plucked instruments and bowed instruments as well, since Viellas had no soundpole at the time. I made two Viellas with this method: one from a XII century sculpture in Graville Abbey (Le Havre) and another one from a XIV sculpture in Nicosia Cathedral (Enna). The body of the first one is of Pine, the back of Beech, the body of the second one is carved out a Spruce plank, the back is of Cypress.  Both instruments without soundpole have a bright lively sound. Then I made three Psalteries from Chartres cathedral: the upper part carved from one piece of Poplar, the back of Beech and one of them of Pine. These instruments have brilliant and lively sound too, and rich resonances. Eventually, many luthiers nowadays think that Spruce sound board was not used during the Middle Ages: this could be an additional reason to make the instruments with the “upside-down” method. Experiments on Cittern will complete my demonstration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S35WneRycw4

 

Francais

La coquille est un point de depart pour  ma reflection autour des techniques de la lutherie medievale. On a abandonné de très long temps la technique moderne (Violon, Guitare)  dans la réconstitution des instruments à cordes du Moyen Age. La technique du “chantournage” n’est pas philologique. Donc nous restent deux voies pour faire l’instrument: creuser le manche et la caisse dans un seul morceau de bois et après ajouter la table d’harmonie, ou creuser le manche, la table d’harmonie et les cotés dans un seul morceau et à la fin ajouter le fond. Les Citoles du British Museum et du Met NY, la petite Vielle de Caterina de Vigris (Bologna) et le Gittern du XIV siècle  retrouvé en Pologne sont faits avec la première technique, tout comme les instruments traditionnels d’Asie et du Nord de l’Afrique, souvent avec des tables d’harmonie en peau.  Les Harpes du Trinity College (Dublin), XV siècle,  sont faites avec la deuxième technique, tout comme les Langeleik de Norvège et le Kantele de Finland (H.Panum, Stringed instruments of the middleages, London,1971). S’il  est necéssaire travailler dans la première facon pour faire des instruments au fond courbe, comme le Gittern, le Rebab, la Rebec,  dans les instruments au fond plat comme la Harpe, le Psalterion, la Citole et la Vielle,  on pourrait bien renverser le processus, l’élément le plus important étant la table d’harmonie, creé avec le manche et les cotés dans un seul pièce, en recevant le fond à la fin. On ajoute aussi deux observations faites par plusieurs luthiers: jusqu’au XVI siècle on n’avait pas d’ame dans les instruments à archet et les tables d’harmonie n’étaient pas forcément en Epicea. Donc est particulierement interéssant essayer la construction des instruments à cordes du Moyen Age de cette facon. J’ ai construit trois Psalterions en creusant la partie supérieure dans le Peuplier et le fond en Hetre ou Pin. Le son est particulierement clair et riche d’harmoniques. J’ai fait deux Vieles ovales (Graville et Nicosia) avec le corps en Pin et Sapin et les fonds en Hetre et Cyprés, pas d' ame, le son étant vif et clair. Maintenant je suis en train d’ essayer ma technique en faisant quelque Citole.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S35WneRycw4

 

Italiano

Con questo paragone intendo presentare una nuova ipotesi sulla tecnica costruttiva nel campo degli strumenti a corda del Medioevo. In pratica si tratta di un ribaltamento rispetto ai procedimenti usati finora. Se la tecnica di assemblaggio dello strumento in pezzi separati: fondo, fasce, tavola, manico è stata da tempo abbandonata, poiché considerata non filologica, anche la tecnica chiamata “chantournage” non  sembra essere documentata storicamente e quindi da accantonarsi. I procedimenti rilevati dall’esame degli strumenti sopravvissuti sono due: scultura dell’intero corpo dello strumento dal massello con aggiunta di tavola armonica  e scultura dell’intero corpo con aggiunta del fondo. La prima tecnica si vede applicata nelle Citole (British Museum, London; Met, NY) , nel Gittern trovato in Polonia e nella Viella di S.Caterina de Vigris (Bologna), la seconda nelle Arpe irlandesi (Trinity College, Dublin). Esaminando la liuteria di tradizione osserviamo che il primo procedimento è ampiamente usato in tutta l’Asia e nel Nord Africa per costruire ogni tipo di strumento a corde pizzicate o ad arco, con tavole armoniche per lo più in pelle. Il secondo procedimento si riscontra nelle Arpe tradizionali del Nord Europa (Clarsach) e nelle cetre da tavolo scandinave come Langeleik e Kantele. Per gli strumenti a fondo bombato - Gittern, Rebab, Ribeca - il primo procedimento è irrinunciabile; per gli strumenti con fondo piatto –  Arpa, Salterio, Citola, Viella -  credo sia preferibile il secondo. La ragione nasce come risposta a una domanda: qual è in questi strumenti la parte più caratterizzante? Certamente la cassa bombata negli strumenti del primo gruppo, in cui talora troviamo anche tavole armoniche in pelle. Nel secondo gruppo invece sia la tavola sia il fondo sono piatti o lievemente convessi, dunque bisogna identificare quale sia la parte determinante per la formazione del suono, tenendo conto che la tavola armonica ha il principale ruolo vibratorio e il fondo quello di semplice riflessione. Questo vale a maggior ragione negli strumenti a corde pizzicate, ma anche nelle Vielle, dove ancora l’anima non andava a congiungere le due parti della cassa. Quindi si può credere  che il costruttore, volendo dedicare un’attenzione speciale alla formazione del suono, prediligesse lavorare con grande cura al blocco: manico, tavola armonica, fasce laterali, mantenendo in tal modo una vantaggiosa unità della struttura ai fini della migliore propagazione delle vibrazioni. Il fondo poteva essere lavorato a parte e applicato infine a chiusura della cassa. I riscontri pratici di questa procedura sono, come già detto, nei Clarsach,  in Kantele e Langeleik, (H.Panum, The stringed instruments of the Middle Ages. London, 1971). dove talora il fondo è mancante, perché lo strumento veniva poggiato su un tavolo di legno per essere suonato, e in alcuni esperimenti da me fatti su Vielle e Salteri. Ho ricostruito una Viella ovale da una scultura del secolo XII nell’Abbazia di Graville (Le Havre) e un'altra da una scultura del secolo XIV nella cattedrale di Nicosia (Enna). Nel primo caso ho utilizzato Pino silvestre tagliato di quarto per il corpo e Faggio per il fondo, nel secondo Abete bianco tagliato di quarto per il corpo e Cipresso per il fondo. In entrambi gli strumenti non è inserita l’anima. I risultati sono stati più che soddisfacenti, in particolare osservo che vengono esaltate le frequenze acute e medie, evitando la timbrica cupa che spesso ho sentito in questi strumenti. Ho poi costruito tre Salteri dalla cattedrale di Chartres, tutti  con Tavola e fianchi in Pioppo, due col fondo in Faggio, uno in Pino laricio. Anche questi strumenti hanno dimostrato sonorità brillante e grande risonanza. Molti liutai dubitano che nel Medioevo si utilizzasse l’Abete rosso per le tavole armoniche, ragione di più per pensare che la mia attuale proposta sia opportuna e praticabile. Un esperimento sulla Citola completerà la serie delle dimostrazioni.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S35WneRycw4

 

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