Posted on

Review: Geometry, Proportion, and the Art of Lutherie by Kevin Coates

Review: Geometry, Proportion, and the Art of Lutherie by Kevin Coates

Reviewed by R.E. Bruné

Originally published in American Lutherie #4, 1985 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

Geometry, Proportion, and the Art of Lutherie
Kevin Coates
Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1985
Out of print (1999)

I have avoided reviewing books on the subject of lutherie in the past since most of them didn’t really merit reviewing. Books of the how-to type on the subject seem to find their market in spite of poor writing and illustration, lack of scholarship, and/or incompetence on the part of their authors. This book by Kevin Coates deserves mention for its total lack of any of the above shortcomings and really sits in a class by itself in terms of scholarship in lutherie in the English language.

The book is a study of the application of geometry and proportion as understood by the makers of the Renaissance and Baroque Eras to their instruments. While this seems at face value to be a rather elementary endeavor, in fact it requires more than a superficial understanding of the principles of Euclidian geometry and the historical background of their application in the West, especially as they relate to lutherie. Consequently, one is very hard pressed to encounter ideas and writing on the subject in English from other sources, aside from a few articles on lutes and related instruments in the Galpin Society Journal by Friedman Hellwig and perhaps a handful of others.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.