It seems that it only serves to prevent the cellist from struggling to hold his knees so as to keep the instrument away from the ground. But are we sure? Really, when it is played without a spike, the tight knees lock the instrument and reduce the amplification effect of the sound box. Even just placing the instrument on the little stool can then amplify it, at least a little.
And certainly Alfredo Piatti, who kept the cello stuck between his legs, also needed to amplify the sound, even when he played in a quartet because he played in very large rooms (Saint James’s Hall, home of Popular Concerts, had 2000 seats). A little stool was certainly not enough for him, and the platform just underfoot worked better than a platform like the modern ones. If the feet of the chair and the feet of the cellist are resting on the platform, the weight of the body is distributed over the six points of support, almost completely blocking the vibration of the platform. If instead the weight of the cellist is mainly discharged on the legs of the stool, the platform, on which only the weight of the cellist’s legs is supported, is freer to vibrate. Certainly not an optimal solution, but perhaps the best possible solution at the time.
The stool on which Piatti was sitting, however, had to be very uncomfortable, because there are no traces of other cellists who used similar platforms and stools, either before or after him. After all, practically all the cellists used the spike, which transmits the sound more directly to the platform. It then passed to the platforms still in use today, on which the stool of the cellist also rests.
The weight of the cellist leaning on the platform certainly has always limited the possibility of vibrating the platform (a bit ‘as the narrow legs of Piatti limited the ability to vibrate of his cello) and, for this reason, very detailed studies have been done on the most suitable woods for the construction of the harmonic platforms, and on their shape, often studied not only in a suitable way to amplify the sound as possible, but also to facilitate the placement of multiple platforms next to each other in often reduced spaces or to make them easier to transport.
Then the case wanted that cellist Fabio Guidolin, guided by his experience as a musician in theaters all over the world, looking for a platform for his cello, met Alberto Sigurtà, an expert in wood and acoustics. Guidolin had clear in mind what he wanted to get from the platform and what he meant when he spoke of “improving the acoustic performance of the instrument”. Sigurtà was able to give shape to the project, choosing the most suitable woods and studying shapes that matched elegance with functionality.
Together they found a new solution to an ancient problem. For some months now, they have patented all over the world and put on the market the new VOXLION® harmonic platform, consisting of two parts: the podium, where the cellist is positioned, and a harmonic box, inserted into the podium itself, like a removable drawer.
The invention is simple and at the same time ingenious: the cellist does not support the feet on the part of the platform that acts as a sound box and therefore does not limit the effect of sound amplification. In addition, by extracting more or less the harmonic box from the podium, you can decide if you prefer to amplify the bass, medium or treble sounds more. So the sound is not only amplified but also adapts to the acoustic characteristics of the environment. The problem of transport is well solved too: the platform is strong, but light and equipped with wheels.
There are no doubts: Afredo Piatti would have tried it, it would have found it to his taste and … he would have had no problem bringing it with him when in summer, from London, he would return home, in Italy, for the holidays.