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Old 08-30-2017, 07:55 PM
tenorino tenorino is offline
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Default New repertoire for tenor ... ?

I've just discovered an instrument called the "viola profonda"; it's tuned like the tenor violin, but played like a viola, on the shoulder. You can hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sVg3OhhZdQ

It sounds a little like a tenor, but not as rich or projecting (and seems to have a much more limited upper range).

The curious thing is, in spite of there being only one specimen in existence, it has a growing repertoire already, according to the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_profunda

I imagine most of this repertoire would transfer well to the tenor. I'm going to look into this ... !
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Old 08-31-2017, 12:55 PM
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rjspear rjspear is offline
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It's amazing to me that this is a contemporary instrument and that the inventor actually received a patent protecting it when it is hardly different in size and function from J. S. Bach's viola pomposa, which precedes the profunda by roughly 250 years. It's another of those attempts to make a tenor-range instrument that can comfortably be played on the shoulder while ignoring the benefits of a vertically played tenor that fits the violin family in tone.

Yet I hope that these tenor instruments catch on, and that composers will understand that they are being presented a rare opportunity to compose in a range that has not been available to them for centuries.
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Old 09-05-2017, 07:35 PM
tenorino tenorino is offline
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I've become quite curious about this, and am amazed how many attempts have been made to "invent" the tenor—among them, Boccherini's "alto violoncello"; the violotta in late-19th century Germany; the controviolino from the turn of the 20th century (video here); and Dautrich's vilon, which Hutchins used as a starting point for our tenor. Then, there's Matthias Beckmann's 5-string cello.

Listening to that recording of the controviolino in particular, I can't help but feel that the Octet tenor is so much more noble and expressive in tone (subjective though these questions be). I wonder if, as well as the repertoire issue, part of the problem until now is that none of the previous instruments were able to blend well with the traditional violin family. The Octet tenor, on the other hand, truly does sound like a violin one octave lower!

Last edited by tenorino; 09-05-2017 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 09-06-2017, 01:35 PM
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rjspear rjspear is offline
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I just had a tenor go out on trial last week. The potential owner had his choice between one of the earlier Hutchins tenors (640 mm body length), one of my later intermediate designs (620 mm body length) and a converted and altered Shen 1/4 cello like yours (590 mm body length). Rib heights were also lessened proportionally from model to model. Like the several customers before him who were able to try all three, his choice of the smallest was immediate and decisive. He said that there was "no question" that this instrument had its own voice, that it fit best between the alto and the baritone (our cello analog), and that it was by far the most fun to play.

It took me a long time to get my head around the fact that the best of the tenor designs was much smaller than any geometric or mathematical scaling equations predicted. And I think I'm getting a handle on what's happening in a given string instrument when it's scaled up or down in size.

And then there is this nagging problem with the old Italian practice of having two altos, the larger of which was confusingly called a "tenor viola." We know so little about the early tenors; what size they were, what they looked like, what music they played, and why they vanished. It was so typical of early music ensembles grouped by instrument family to have a tenor voice that it is still almost inconceivable to me that the string tenor was found unnecessary. I do have some interesting theories about that, but perhaps it's better to leave them for another thread.
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