Drums for early
music, Electric violin
and Contact microphone.
unusual combination of instruments from my workshop?
This natural question is in fact easy for me to
answer. The instruments I am working with are those I wanted myself but
where I have had difficulties in finding good enough ones. I have seen
the need and possibility for development. During a couple of years in
the early 80th I also made some early woodwind instruments like shawms,
kortholts and curtals. I liked the work but there where so many
builders making so good instruments that I realized I had nothing extra
My first drum was built in 1976. My former music group was lacking good
percussion, and we weren't alone. It appeared to bee difficult to buy
drums one could call "authentic". As I always have been working in wood
I got the task to do some research and then build a drum for the group.
The oldest drum I found on museums was early 1700th sentry.
Consequently it was impossible to make a copy of an existing
In the literature I soon found there were
three different techniques to choose in between. To steam and bend,
hollow out or to make wooden casks. All three techniques were available
and well known during the medieval/renaissance periods. No advanced
tools are needed. I chose wooden casks. The technique suites me and I,
who at the time didn't have a work shop, could mainly build the drum in
my apartment. No noisy work disturbed my neighbours as I at the time
used pre fabricated slats. The result compliments the other instruments
in the renaissance ensemble in respect to both appearance and sound.
This first drum is still in use. New rope and drumheads a couple of
times during the years have been all to keep the drum alive.
How about the electric violins? How come an
early musician like me work with these instruments? First of all the
first instrument I, as a child, learnt to play was the violin. I had
also built a number of acoustic violins. Thirdly a former neighbour of
mine, a guitarist/violinist, often talked about the
problems to amplify the violin. Apart from the difficulty to get a good
sound it was the acoustic feedback and the noise resulting by just
touching the instrument that annoyed him. He wasn't satisfied with the
electric violins he had played on. They didn't sound violin. I also
wanted an electric violin but, as said, we couldn't find an electric
violin with a real violin sound.
In the middle of 1990th I made, for a start,
a large number of experiments with different types of microphones.
After a while I got to think of the Swedish guitar builder Georg Bolin and his Tone board I took the
idea and reversed it. I let tone wood bee membrane in a microphone. After still more experiments I realized this was
the way to solve the problems. A small acoustic part including a
microphone was the solution. In this way I could create an electric
violin sounding like a violin, an electric violin with a sound not more
distorted than an acoustic violin with a good microphone.
At last the contact
Talking to a friend and guitarist he began to describe the problems he had with
his contact microphone. I soon got the idea it must bee possible to
make one starting with the technique of my
electric violin microphone. The idea was to use tone wood for
distributing the instrument vibrations, all the way to the
transformation to electrical signals. Not plastic or aluminium which is
the traditional way to construct contact microphones. A long period of testing followed. It turned out to work well.
When I worked with the microphone I had a steel stringed guitar in mind.
However, it appeared to work well even with nylon stringed guitars.
When my friend started to play the double base he attached the
microphone on his new instrument. He was very satisfied with the sound
of the double base as well.