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My consorts are based on original instruments in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Musée Instrumental in Brussels and the Accademia Filarmonica di Verona. Most of the instruments are attributed to members of the Bassano family.
The originals were usually made in one piece, however I prefer to make them in two or three pieces for ease of handling and playing and also because of the posibility to make little adjustments in pitch. Making the instruments in two or three pieces (with tenons and sockets) involves much more work, but the advantages are quite obvious when playing these instruments.
My consorts are made of flamed maple (‘geriegeltes Ahorn’), a very atrractive and beautiful kind of wood. This kind of maple is also very light and stable. Think of the weight of a C-bass! Like the originals the instruments are provided with messing rings and keywork (based on the original design). The instruments are stained (dark) red-brown and treated with linseed oil. The bores should be regularly oiled, especially during the playing-in period.
I take extreme care to match the tone colour and the intonation and tuning from soprano to bass. These instruments are powerful at the low end and responsive in the top register. They have the normal range of one octave and a sixt. Temperament is meantone. They have renaissance fingering, though it is possible to play the ninth note (f.ex. g” on the f’ alto) with normal baroque fingering (i.e. second hole closed, instead of all fingerholes open), so that the instrument can be held better. In this case the thumbhole is bigger compared to the thumbholes on the originals. So fis” on the f’ instrument is played with holes 1 and 2 closed. Meantone temperament makes it easy to play pure chords; it makes some notes a little lower and some a bit higher in comparison to modern equal temperament. The a’ is 437,5 Hz and the c” is the same 523,3 Hz in both temperaments. Even though I make these instuments in two or three parts, some players with smaller hands can experience difficulties playing the larger instruments (the tenor without key, bass in F or C).
I can adapt the position of the fingerholes for smaller hands and /or put them in a more ergono- mical position.
The most widely used quartet during the high renaisssance period (about 1550) would comprise an alto in g’, two tenors in c and a bass in F. Most of the 4-part consort music can be played on such a quartet and will sound an octave higher as written down in the score. If music from the late renaissance period (about 1600) in the high octave range is played, it would be useful to extend the standard quartet with a soprano and an alto in f’.