The Baroque violin is the early form of the violin, as it was first invented. Invented in the 16th century, the instrument was constantly evolving and being experimented upon by makers and performers alike, so the set up was not standardised until quite recently in the last 50 to 100 years.
There are many differences between the baroque violin and it’s modern counterpart. The main differences are:
- The angle of the neck, which comes straight out from the instrument rather than being slightly angled back (as in the case of the modern violin) n.b.The angle was developed later to create more tension in the strings, which allowed the instrument to project further, but in the 17th and 18th Centuries, music was hardly ever played in very large halls.
- The bass bar and sound post are smaller than those of the modern violin.
- The tailpiece and fingerboard are made of lighter woods than the traditional ebony used on modern violins.
- The player does not use a chin rest or shoulder rest (these were later inventions).
- The strings are made of sheep gut rather than steel.
- The bridge is a different shape.
- The bow is lighter, and comes in many different models from the early baroque to the classical periods. Bows of the baroque period are convex rather than concave and had a clip in frog which adjusts the horse hair to the right tension. This allows for many expressive possibilities in the right hand, which was the goal of instrumental music at the time – to sound as close as possible to the human voice.
All of the above elements combine to make a ringing but raw tone, described sometimes as a grainy sound, however the instrument has a remarkable range of colours and textures which are enhanced by the expression one can get from the bow.