Posted on

Letter: New Violin Family Octet

Letter: New Violin Family Octet

by Robert J. Spear, Editor, New Violin Family Association Newsletter

Originally published in American Lutherie #81, 2005

Dear GAL —

The concept of making seven or eight instruments in a balanced consort was described by Michael Praetorius in Syntagma Musicum in 1619, but it never developed enough musically to compete with the 17th-century advancement of the violin. That changed in the 20th century when a combination of acoustical research and master violin making created the Violin Octet of today.

In 1957, composer Henry Brant was searching for a luthier adventurous enough to implement his idea “to create seven instruments, one at each half octave, that would produce violin-quality sound over the entire written range of music.” He approached Carleen Hutchins with his proposal at a time when she already had been working for a decade on the relation of violin air and wood resonances with Prof. Frederick A. Saunders of Harvard, who had pioneered violin research in the USA. It took Carleen only thirty minutes to agree to Henry’s idea, but it took her another ten years to finish the first Octet!

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.