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4
FIRST PART.
and an instrument of bad tone is a stumbling block in the path of progress, disheartening the learner. Tr.]
Attempts at improving the violin.
Many attempts have been made at improving the violin by altering its form and proportions, and by using other kinds of wood: — metal, glass, and porcelain violins have also been constructed. Experiments have been made with the bass bar, bridge, sound-post, etc., in en­deavours to make a further advance in violin making- but all these attempts have yielded no results of importance. The most remarkable attempted alteration of latter days proceeds from the piano maker Hagspiel in Dresden, and consists in bending or arching the upper table of the violin instead of working it out, the sound-holes appearing as round openings in the ribs instead of in the upper surface. The tone of these violins is of surprising power and volume, but they demand a peculiar, and somewhat firm bowing; a heavier bow is also needed. The maker proceeds on the assumption that there exists, in modern orchestras a tonal gap between the string and the brass instrument. The tone of the stringed instruments is often quite overpowered by the predominating force of the wind instruments. This is especially noticeable in opera orche­stras, where their space will seldom permit of more than 10 or 12 first violins, and the same number of second violins; for instance in the instrumentation of Wagner's Nibelungen Ring. In its production the wind instruments need so much space in the orchestra, that instead of a corresponding increase in the number of the strings, they must often be lessened, naturally occasioning a want of balance. A selection of the instruments made by Herr Hagspiel, — violins, violas, violoncelli and double basses, would probably tend to lessen this disproportion, as one of them yields at least as much tone as two of the ordi­nary instruments. By sufficient familiarity with the method of using them, the tone might be made to blend uni­formly with that of the other instruments in passages of a light and soft character. In any case the inventor has thrown out a suggestion, and made a beginning towards preparing the way for a correct balance of tone in the orchestra, and his idea therefore deserves consideration.
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