Unlike the violin or cello, there is currently no accepted ‘standard’, either regarding body dimension, string length, or indeed the accepted timbre of the viola, which is of course directly related to its size.
The viola has always enjoyed the unusual attribute of having two extremes of size which share a common tuning. Today, however, we regard the viola as a ‘singular’ voice, something to which the viola does not easily lend itself, and the reason why later attempts to reach an optimum ‘standard’ proportion have proved illusive. Why should the relative qualities of the distinctive alto and tenor voices be compromised in favour of a singular idealized standard? Demand is most certainly for instruments of different sizes, not to express a tonal variation, but to accommodate players of different stature, the challenge; to make each individual instrument size achieve its true tonal potential.
I regard my approach as being ‘traditional’ in the sense that it is driven by a very practical workshop need to be able to produce a scaled group of instruments.
Inspired by the violas unique inheritance of the violas traditional variation in size. I offer a highly individual and original group of violas, which extend in available size from the smaller sizes to the larger, more characteristically ‘tenor style’ of viola.
I feel that it is important that the viola be recognised as a traditional, but developing instrument, one that must respond to the demands of both players, composers and also realise audience expectations.
“Modern viola design should, whilst maintaining the unity of form of the traditional violin family, respond to the demands of the player engaged in today’s performance environment.”
Violas, from 15¼ in., to 17½ in. are offered, characterizing the contralto form of instrument considered to represent the modern standard.
Built to achieve a responsive instrument that is both acoustically and aesthetically rewarding, these instruments maintain the continuity of form found in the traditional violin family group.
Timbre will naturally change from one size to the next, but the playing characteristic and overall quality of sound production should extend fully across the range, offering a choice of both size and voice.
The concept of this individual design is for a cohesive group of violas, that will naturally respond to the needs of today’s professional player.
17 1/8 16 ¾ 16 ½ 16 ¼ 15 ¾
These sizes are representative of the scale encompassed by the set, indeed ANY incremental size is available
Such is the flexibility of this design!
I make a scaled set of violas to an individual design
It is in response to current demand for different sized violas that I have developed my own workshop practices, based on solid geometrical principals supporting true proportionality, enabling me to focus on the development of a 'scaled' viola pattern.