We had a wonderful day in the French Pyrenees, an hour away from where I live, hiking in ‘Les Mont d’Olmes’ with my three grownup children. I took a bow with me. I like to have a bow in my hands, touching it, being with it, and I am convinced that the energy of nature adds to the energy of the bow, reflecting in the playing afterwards.
In the following clip you can see and hear the first renaissance violbow with Merens hair.
Merens is a local horse breed from the Ariège, French Pyrenees.
I filmed in the ‘Château de Mayragues’ where I made the recording of ‘Le Manuscrit de Foix’ in 2001.
It’s Tobias Hume’s music : Becchus an Hungarian Lord his delight.
If you listen with headphones you will have a lot better sound …
Let me first show you my work space and my friend Froggie, who showed up on the roof of my hobbithouse last summer.
When I started making renaissance bows, I quickly adopted the loose-frog-without-screw system. Actually I went through all the stages of Medieval bowmaking, from hairs attached with a piece of rope to miniscule simple frogs and click-in frogs.
I adore the simplicity of this way of giving tension to the hair and I even left the clip system behind because it limits the flexibility you can have when you can slide the frog in exactly the right position. To prevent it from slipping away you simply put some rosin between frog and bow.
The hair is fixed on both ends the same way, with a small piece of wood in the mortise made for it. You simply pull the frog to get the right tension. The acaciawood keeps its tension very well, so you don’t need to relax the bow each time you stop playing.
I make the frogs usually from local Walnut wood.
If you want more or less space between the hair and the stick you can put in a higher or lower frog in two seconds.
Wikipedia on baroque violin bows : The screw mechanism for changing hair tension is first mentioned in a French shop inventory of 1747 !!!