Jump to content


Photo

Violin Making in Norway


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 martin swan

martin swan

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 3256 posts
  • LocationScottish Borders

Posted 04 September 2011 - 12:31 PM

Grandpa was also a player, an inventor, but he also regraduated fiddles and developed his own tap tuning system different from Huthcins and other stuff I've seen. The players in the family consider these fiddles to be the best and use them and consider them to have been important in their own development as players. Grandpas method has been handed over as a "secret". And I hve been interested in figuring out what that actually is using engineering and acoustical methodes. One of the reasons why I'm now working as an acoustics consultant. I am pretty laidback to any "secrets". But know a bit more than I did when I was 13.



Anders, I was very interested to read about your background.
Apart from being fascinated by Hardangers (I have an instrument by Sveinung Gyovland) I'm also gradually becoming aware of Norwegian violin makers and the tap tone methods developed in your part of the world. Was your grandfather influenced by the work of Ivar Orestad or Gunnar Sanborn? I've heard of these books in another context, but as far as I know they haven't been translated, and I just have the most basic sense of them. I'd love to know more about these writers - I have a feeling their work would be worth revisiting ....

Martin Swan Violins

#2 Anders Buen

Anders Buen

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 4268 posts
  • LocationOslo, Norway

Posted 04 September 2011 - 01:15 PM

Anders, I was very interested to read about your background.
Apart from being fascinated by Hardangers (I have an instrument by Sveinung Gyovland) I'm also gradually becoming aware of Norwegian violin makers and the tap tone methods developed in your part of the world. Was your grandfather influenced by the work of Ivar Orestad or Gunnar Sanborn? I've heard of these books in another context, but as far as I know they haven't been translated, and I just have the most basic sense of them. I'd love to know more about these writers - I have a feeling their work would be worth revisiting ....

Martin Swan Violins

I think my grandpa got most of his ideas through discussions with his father in law, my great grandpa, Hans Johnsson Tjønn. He had Otto and Max Möckels books when they came, but worked on tap tuning methodes before that book came in 1930 (He probaly got it in 1938). We have his experimentation journal. He had access to the Zeitschrift für Intermumentenbau, and thus probaly Herman Meinels articles. For a while a german maker attended the workshop. His name was Hans Brückner. Maybe something came from there?

Great grandpa was working on tap tuning methodes long before Orestads first book came out in 1944. But he tried to publish his theories in the same time as Orestad, but did not succeed in getting it published. Hans Johnsson tap-tuned the plates on the ribs. Grandpa used the back plate on the ribs, the top free, and used four to five tap tones of each plate to match. Quite differnt from what is known from other literature, but the mode 5 is one of the modes I believe he was tuning and paid attention to.

I have not seen other makers in any literature use the tap tones of the free top and the back on the ribs like grandpa did. And I haven't seen anybody use the same harmonic series as he did. He also had separate systems for Guarneri and Strad, the first with thicker back plates than for the Strad type. He was constantly developing his system, if it can be called 'a system'.

None of them had direct access to old cremonese instruments. But they both produced mainly Hardanger fiddles, and Hans Johnsson and his son John H. Tjønn had acess to the greater Hardanger fiddles of its time, from the players that did frequent their workshop. I guess mainly from Telemark.

My uncle Hauk has continued the making and the last 25 years or so he has been making instruments. He has instruments among many of the best young and older players, today. He is (and used to be) a top player, and has been better known for that.

Grandpa also worked on violins, maily regraduating them. I have a couple of them here. He used reverse graduation and strong ennd block regions of the plates in the tops. The bassbar was short and low, more like the baroque style. My fathers and uncles fiddles probaly have that short bar in most of them.

Sveinung Gjøvland was a fine maker.

There are not many pro Hardanger makers. Salve is one of them, but he also makes baroque instruments, violins violas and chellos. There are two recently educated makers, Bård Riise Hoeal at the Ole Bull Academy at Voss and Ottar Kaasa at the Bø Museum. He also is the current Norwegion champion on the Hardanger fiddle. Both these have learnt from Sigvald Rørlien which has now retired. Then we have the makers at the valdes folkemusum at Fagernes, Knut Oppheimsbakken (also a decent plyer) and Oddrun Hegge. Olav Vindal with his workshop at the Utne mueum in Hardanger is another important name. He is no longer working as a pro, but is still in business in his spare time.

I guess some of the Norwegian violin makers are known from this site. Magnus Nedregaard and Jacob von der Lippe. Other noteable names are Rolv Aukrust (apprenticed for a while with Sam Z), mainly doing repairs now and bow making, Urs Wenck Wolff (Ragins brother, she is a fairly well known player, plays a Strad), Jørn Nygaard, all in Oslo, Bergnor in Vågå, then there are some makers in Trondheim and possibly Bergen.

One of the more sucessful is Harald Lund at jessheim. He is both making Hardanger fiddles and violins. He know Henning Kraggerud well, and do have access to great insturments, but not as a repair person, I think. He is working mainly following self developed theories.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts". A Einstein

#3 bmccarthy

bmccarthy

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 809 posts
  • LocationIreland

Posted 04 September 2011 - 02:18 PM

Some Norwegian violin making trivia: Olav Bjaaland, a champion skier and master carpenter on Amundsens sucessful race to the South Pole in 1911, was also a violin maker. A quote from Wikipedia which I love: "Bjaaland was a skilled carpenter, and on the trip to the pole he managed to reduce the prefabricated (wooden) sledges bought in Oslo (Scott had bought the same type of sledges for his expedition, although never modified them) from 88 kg to 22 kg, without reducing their strength notably" I´d say his violin making skills came in very handy. The first hero violin maker. . . . . . . probably.




#4 Magnus Nedregard

Magnus Nedregard

    Porco Cane

  • Members
  • 1762 posts
  • LocationOslo

Posted 06 September 2011 - 02:45 AM

Was your grandfather influenced by the work of Ivar Orestad or Gunnar Sanborn? I've heard of these books in another context, but as far as I know they haven't been translated, and I just have the most basic sense of them. I'd love to know more about these writers - I have a feeling their work would be worth revisiting ....

Martin Swan Violins


Hmm.. I know the question was addressed to Anders but I throw in a few words about the writers mentioned above, since I've read them both. I believe we were doing a favour to no-one if we were to have these books translated! Orestad is fun to read, and for the sheer enthusiasm you can't really dislike him. But his books have probably created more misunderstanding and confusion about violin making than any other book, except perhaps Gunnar Sanborn, which pretends to be a practical guide to violin making, and I'd like to see the successful violin maker who is seriously grateful to that book.

Both these writers were quite badly infected with the virus that makes you believe that violin making is solely about finding the right acoustical hocus-pocus, and then you will have a certain kind of sound in the fiddle - the right one. I am personally for a variety, and not particularly interested in acoustical "designer-babies" in violin making. The violins of the mentioned authors lacked seriously in technical quality, and desperately in visual beauty.

If your interest is "acoustical" violin making, I'd much rather recommend anything Anders has to say than these two writers, you are losing absolutely nothing.

#5 martin swan

martin swan

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 3256 posts
  • LocationScottish Borders

Posted 06 September 2011 - 04:01 AM

Anders & Magnus,
Thanks very much for your replies. I wonder if the Orestad book was a little like Heron-Allen in Britain in that it spawned a huge amount of amateur violin-making, very little of which turned into successful violins! Heron-Allen is largely about practical aspects of making, but it's full of slightly fruitcake ideas which many British amateur makers and enthusiasts still believe as gospel.
I'm interested in this because I'm trying to get a bit more background on a particular Norwegian maker who seems to have used Orestad as one of his starting points, but he also read Savard's work for Vuillaume.
Anders, when you talk about the harmonic series that your grandfather used, do you mean THE harmonic series? I don't really understand much about this - if you could explain it in an "idiot-proof" manner I'd be very grateful.

#6 Magnus Nedregard

Magnus Nedregard

    Porco Cane

  • Members
  • 1762 posts
  • LocationOslo

Posted 06 September 2011 - 04:27 AM

I particularly remember Orestad's advice for getting rid of cello wolf notes. You should just lower the ribs by approximately 7 centimeters. This works so well, he says, that he recommends to do it on every cello just in case. :D So if you see a cello with a rib height of about 4-5 cm it might have been him, and notice the beautiful wolf-less sound.

#7 Salve Håkedal

Salve Håkedal

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 483 posts
  • LocationNorway

Posted 06 September 2011 - 05:32 AM

Even though it's a long time since I read Orestads book and I don't remember it well, I can only support Magnus' opinion.
Same goes for Sandborn. I seem to remember that he claimed that Stradivari was unusually pedantic, and if we later makers only tapped our new violins all over and assured that the sound we hear is C, from everywhere, even the pegs, we will be his equal!

#8 martin swan

martin swan

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 3256 posts
  • LocationScottish Borders

Posted 06 September 2011 - 05:34 AM

I suppose that approach might work if you're planning to play in C your entire life!

#9 Anders Buen

Anders Buen

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 4268 posts
  • LocationOslo, Norway

Posted 06 September 2011 - 09:44 AM

Anders & Magnus,
Thanks very much for your replies. I wonder if the Orestad book was a little like Heron-Allen in Britain in that it spawned a huge amount of amateur violin-making, very little of which turned into successful violins! Heron-Allen is largely about practical aspects of making, but it's full of slightly fruitcake ideas which many British amateur makers and enthusiasts still believe as gospel.
I'm interested in this because I'm trying to get a bit more background on a particular Norwegian maker who seems to have used Orestad as one of his starting points, but he also read Savard's work for Vuillaume.
Anders, when you talk about the harmonic series that your grandfather used, do you mean THE harmonic series? I don't really understand much about this - if you could explain it in an "idiot-proof" manner I'd be very grateful.

Hi Martin,

I have three books by Orestad, one of them is covering Savarts works on the violin, and the books seem to span at least 20 years. I do not remember the content of hese books well, but there are some ideas. I've seen one fiddle that prbaly have been worked by him or somebody inspired by him. It had 'patches' of 'wood paste' I believe along the border in the bouts, if I remember correctly. This is many ears ago.

So which maker are you following? Is it Olav Viken? He founded the workshop at the Valdres folkemuseum. The makers there as well as Sigvald Rørlien has apprenticed with him. He also used a plate tuning system. Many traditional Hardanger fiddles have thin backs. And I think Olav developed a method to glue in large maple partches in the back plates of such instruments and have had some sucess with his work. Grandpa also used glued in wood, if that was needed, but used spruce also in the backs.

I do not know if anybody else have experienced that classically graduated and made top paltes do tend to sound more harmonic than if they are not 'correctly built'. Some of the notes in the plates sound in a majour or minor three, four or five tone harmony. I think bells are tuned in minor harmonics. A violin plate is sort of like a very open bell..

This can be found in backs on the ribs (with the neck and fingerboard in place) too, at least a three tone harmonic series, or something close to that. A plate will normally not have the resonances in any harmonic series like a string.

Grandpas idea was to have the same harmonic series in both plates, but the back on the maple. That method tends to give thinnish tops and thickish backs which may not be a bad idea. Great grandpas method to tune both plates on the ribs tended to give both plates thin, I think.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts". A Einstein

#10 Anders Buen

Anders Buen

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 4268 posts
  • LocationOslo, Norway

Posted 06 September 2011 - 10:02 AM

Same goes for Sandborn. I seem to remember that he claimed that Stradivari was unusually pedantic, and if we later makers only tapped our new violins all over and assured that the sound we hear is C, from everywhere, even the pegs, we will be his equal!

I haven't heard about Sandborn before. I guess the observation about Stradivari is in accordance with what is believed to be true. At least that is what I've heard from some great makers in the business. Why din't his sones become married?
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts". A Einstein

#11 martin swan

martin swan

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 3256 posts
  • LocationScottish Borders

Posted 06 September 2011 - 10:09 AM

Anders,
I hadn't realised that Orestad wrote about Savart! It's all making sense. The maker I am studying formed his own system but drew on 3 principal sources (or so I thought) - Orestad, Savart, and a very good violin which he owned himself. Now it sounds like he only knew of Savart throught the Orestad book.
There's a lot I'd like to discuss with you but Maestronet isn't the place - permit me to email you?
Martin

#12 Anders Buen

Anders Buen

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 4268 posts
  • LocationOslo, Norway

Posted 06 September 2011 - 10:18 AM

Anders,
I hadn't realised that Orestad wrote about Savart! It's all making sense. The maker I am studying formed his own system but drew on 3 principal sources (or so I thought) - Orestad, Savart, and a very good violin which he owned himself. Now it sounds like he only knew of Savart throught the Orestad book.
There's a lot I'd like to discuss with you but Maestronet isn't the place - permit me to email you?
Martin

Yes, go ahead!
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts". A Einstein

#13 Salve Håkedal

Salve Håkedal

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 483 posts
  • LocationNorway

Posted 09 September 2011 - 06:37 AM

...
Apart from being fascinated by Hardangers (I have an instrument by Sveinung Gyovland)
...

If you have a fiddle made by Sveinung Gjøvland, I'd encourage you to make contact with his grandson:

Ole Svein Krakstad
Leitehagen 23
4322 Sandnes
Norway

He has been writing a book about Sveinung.
The book will come out soon, so your fiddle can probably not be included. It will be in Norwegian only, I guess, since Sveinung Gjøvland is not exactly of world renown, but the writer will be happy to hear from someone abroad owning one of his fiddles!

#14 martin swan

martin swan

    Enthusiast

  • Members
  • 3256 posts
  • LocationScottish Borders

Posted 09 September 2011 - 06:56 AM

HI Salve,
thanks for that, I'd love to get in touch with him.
Do you happen to know if he has an email address? I'm not sure if I know how to use a real pen any more .....!
Unfortunately the neck of my Gyovland is a replacement (a very good replacement), but the body is in great condition and the sound is excellent.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users