Or should that be Violas de Gamba? Whichever, I attended a free performance at the Newport library this afternoon to hear these fiddle precursors play in harmony with several different types of recorder. The musicians, from left to right, are Eileen FloryCorlu Collier and Jane Boyden, of Lost in Time, a consort of the Oregon Coast Recorder Society. The song is “To many a well” from the 15th century, England.


The music selections ranged from a piece by Guillaume de Machaut from the 1300’s to a modern selection from Soren Sieg with the common theme ofPuzzles, Tricks, and Illusions.” One of my favorites was Mozart’s “Der Spiegal” which is a “table” score – one person plays the score rightside up, the other reads their part from the other side of the table, or upside down. Fantastic performance!

The viola de gamba is enjoying continued popularity due in large part to a renewed interest in baroque music and the work of modern builders like Dmitry Badiarov.

The ladies were kind enough to allow me to take pictures of their instruments –

All three of the instruments had six strings – wire wound with a perlon core, but they looked like gut from the audience.

The bridges on the larger gambas looked very much like small cello bridges.

While the smaller gamba had a very graceful cross between a cello and violin –

The scrolls of each were not full scrolls, but open loops which I like very much –

The frets are made from waxed nylon string, wound twice around the neck and tied off in a square knot –

The bellies had shallow arching while the backs were flat.

Want to build one of your own? Me too!

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