Machy

I recently changed the setup of bass viol slightly. Instead of having the soundpost almost directly under the bridge (as suggested by Wieland Kuijken), it has gone around an inch away from the bridge. A longer, but thinner soundpost was made and fitted by local luthier, Andrew Tait. The overall string tension has been vastly reduced, especially on the bass side. I'm now using strings of the lightest gauge by Daniel Larson's Gamut Strings. I am using a very, very old, long and light pernambuco baroque violin bow, which has taken the edge off the sound, and made it more resonant (Are there many existing historical snakewood bass viol bows anyway?). My usual snakewood one feels too bright for my taste. The thin ribbon of hair has made my playing a lot more focused and perhaps even slightly louder. The string length has also been reduced, to around 68 cms. I think this has been the best thing I have done for my viol in a long time.

Below is a clip of a prelude by the violist Machy (fl 1685). It's probably my all time favourite prelude and possibly the most dramatic one ever written for the viol. It is an unmeasured prelude, so no bar lines or any sense of a regulated tempo. Because of that, even up to today, after so many years of playing this piece, I am never quite sure how I should play it. Despite all those years of musicological research (I'm probably the world's only Machy scholar), I don't think I'm even close to what Machy would have wanted.

bMuze.com
Title: Prelude
Artist: Shaun Ng