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6
FIRST PART.
not only an aesthetic significance, but claims consideration scientifically. *
Attempts to discover the secrets of measurement of the Italian violin makers.
For a long period violin making was restricted (devi­ations such as the experiments explained above, notwith­standing) to imitating the first Italian masters of the art, and endeavouring to equal them. But so conscientious and true in all their parts and contents is the workman­ship of the Italian instruments that this has not been attained. A very general opinion is, that certain secrets in instrument making were known to the Italian masters but have become lost, and many have made the attempt to re-discover these secrets. A maker in Aix la Chapelle, named Niederheitmann, a violin amateur, possessing a collection rich in valuable old violins, believed the mystery to be discovered, and that it consisted in impregnating the wood. The substance used was a species of pine found in the vicinity of Cremona, or the instrument was mainly built of this wood. This pine (balsam pine) be­came quite decayed by the drying up of its resin, and thereby the key to the enigma why in spite of the closest imitation the old Italian tone was not arrived at, was found. This pine exists no longer in Italy, and thus was to be explained the reason why notwithstanding the closest copying of existing instruments, the old Italian tone quality was not reproduced. A friend of Niederheit-mann's, Concertmeister Henry Schradieck (formerly of Leipsic) interested himself greatly in this discovery, and having obtained through a chemist a similar resinous
* With the same intention. Mr. E. J. Bonn, of Brading, Isle of Wight, has produced a four-footed bridge, which, upon the testimony of those who have tried it, has in some cases effected an improvement. Testimonials from great artists concerning these and other attempts at improving the violin frequently appear; meanwhile, the artists themselves are well content with the bridge and the instrument generally as left by Stradivarius. One would not desire to deny the possibility of further improvements to the instrument, yet nearly two centuries of ceaseless experimenting have yielded no result that has been considered worthy of universal adoption. Tr.
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