A recent article in Strings Magazine is a great “first stop” for the modern violinist who wants to explore period performance. Although intended for violinists, the information is easily applied to the viola, cello, and bass. Author James Reel makes a encouraging point early on about the value of string players taking up baroque instruments.
“Today’s wise young string player should at least become familiar with the basic tenets of historical-performance practice, and perhaps experiment with gut strings and Baroque bows. The pursuit is becoming so common that going Baroque is almost the mainstream thing to do.”
The article goes on to suggest approaches for both the “do-it-yourself” type and the person looking for a guided approach. Violinists Monica Huggett and Marilyn McDonald, as well as harpsichordist Hank Knox—all well-known and respected musicians in early music—give some terrific and practical advice on the many aspects that make up period performance on the baroque violin, including equipment, style guides (sound, ornamenting, what to do with vibrato), and further resources.
So, do you wanna play the baroque violin?