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Erik Buys holds a degree in Social and Cultural Agogical Sciences from the Free University of Brussels (VUB).
After studying and conducting research in the Brussels Musical Instrument Museum, he specialised in the construction of historical bowed instruments.
Since many years now, he is focusing on making modern instruments based on Northern-Italian, 17-18th century tradition.
Erik Buys teaches violin making and acoustics at ILSA (Internationale Lutherie School Antwerpen) www.ilsa.nu

 

 

When it comes to making bowed instruments, modern violin makers have always been able to draw on the centuries of work of their predecessors.
The technical side of making a violin is an open book for quite a while.
A large body of information and research have given us insight in the different ways of construction used by early, some of them renowned, violin makers.
These insights go back right up to the end of the 17 th century.
Once we go further back into time it becomes more difficult to draw conclusions and make a stand on the acoustical conceptions of the then violin makers.
This is simply because of the lack of information but also by the fact that it's hard for us to replace our modern mind into a society, totally different from ours, with a different perception of making music and listening to it.
Before we can draw conclusions from the registration of 17th-century-instruments, we have to be able to project ourself into the spirit of that age and be completely in contact with her music.
The natural characteristic features of this music manifests itself in the use of gut strings and, -as a consquence- in the whole construction of the instrument. The acoustic experience is one of "borrowing", "releasing" sound from above, and being able to produce it as unaffected as possible.

On the contrary, playing modern music on instruments that are originated in the 17-th century is making a new deal with history.
Specific adjustements will bear a sound that is rich, clenched and stable, allowing the musician to use it, to bend it towards every desirable detail of his performance.
This means coping differently with the characteristics of soundwood and the forces acting on it.
For me this is the most pleasant challenge existing.

 

 

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Examining and reconstructing the "Baron Wittgenstein" Stradivari