Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair(s)

Ralph Matesky


Ralph Matesky


Glen Fifield


Malcom Allred


The origin of all stringed instruments is lost in the midst of time, and despite the most patient and laborious research on the part of famous savants, no positive information has as yet been furnished regarding this point . Knowledge of the subject is more or less conjectural, and all that has been definitely established is the existence of the predecessors of the violin - the English crewth, a six stringed bowed instrument which is conspicuous for its rectangular shape, which is strongly reminiscent of the Greek kithara; the rebec, an instrument in the shape of an elongated pear having two strings tuned a fifth apart and played with a bow; the viol da Gamba , an instrument held on or between the legs and played with a bow and usually having six strings; the Arabian rebab, an instrument that is found in various shapes, e.g. elongated boat , halved pear, trapezoid, rectangle, and usually with three strings; the vielle played with the bow, having four strings and a drone string; and the organistrum, a medieval stringed instrument, shaped somewhat like a lute or viol, whose strings were put in vibration by a rotating rosined wheel. This instrument usually had four unfingered strings which produced a drone,and two fingered strings .

Caspar A. Duiffopruggar, named Tieffenbrucker, a Bavarian who became nationalized Frenchman, was long reputed to be the first maker of violins, but according to Vidal, Bachmann (1925) all the so-called Duiffopruggar violins are spurious, having been made by Vuillaume, who in 1827, conceived the idea of making violins after the pattern of a viola d'amour built by the former. Vidal estimates that Duiffopruggar worked in Paris from approximately 1515 to 1530, but in spite of the contentions that he was a wonderful artist at inlay work, there is absolutely no proof existing of the authenticity of the violins he is said to have made.

The creation of the violin as it is today concerning its shape is veiled in a mystery which the most ardent discussions on the part of specialists have not been able to solve. It is possible the paternity of the violin may be conceded to Gasparo da Salo, although it is more probable that Amati of Cremona and Maggini of Brescia may be considered the first to give the violin its present form; and in all events, the instruments made by the famous builders according to Bachmann (1925) are authentic in all their parts .

According to Farga (1940) it is with Gasparo da Salo that we enter for the first time the field of recorded history in violin-making. That da Salo made instruments at Brescia from 1560 to the year of his death, 1609 , is indisputable. Whether the first violins were made by Maggini , da Salo, or by Andrea Amati, the fact remains that they originated during that period. The violins of da Salo were well built, although their appearance does not show the perfection of the later makers. His violins have backs of first class maple, low ribs, large F-hole s , and a dark brown translucent varnish .

Giovanni Paolo Maggini was the most important of da Salo's pupils. Farga {1940) states that he took over da Salo's workshop after the latter's death. By that time , the name of Brescia had become famous all over the world owing to da Salo's instruments . Maggini never ceased experimenting, and improving over da Salo's models. Unfortunately, very few of Maggini's instruments have survived, but those that have sta nd up to modern requirements. Their tone carries well and dominates even a large orchestra, yet in solo work they can produce a somewhat melancholy timbre.