HAPPENED TODAY - On December 7, 1887, the pianist and composer Ernst Toch was born in Leopoldstadt

Marta Lucchi

I have just entered the Cremonese Academy, where the secrets of the construction of the arches are taught, and I see a postcard on a table. I take one in my hand and ask Marta Lucchi what they are.
They are postcards that have been designed for children who come to visit the school. Children are always very curious to know what the different parts of the bow are called, and which and how many materials are used to build a good bow.

Only children come to visit the school?
Our Fondazione Lucchi welcomes people of all kinds and backgrounds: tourists curious to know the techniques of processing a “local product”, experts in the artistic production of wood, violin makers, students of the Conservatory, already established musicians who come from the other side of the world and families with children who live within walking distance from here. We also organize excellent courses at amateur level for those who are not satisfied with a simple visit. Among the aims of the Fondazione Lucchi  is precisely that of responding to this desire for knowledge.

Knowledge of how to work and disconnect many different materials, but above all wood: the wood of the stick. What is the “right” wood to build a bow?
The best wood is normally pernambuco, while for the baroque bows snake wood is used. The quality of the wood to be used for an arch is directly proportional to the transmission speed of sound through the wood. When the use of carbon fiber was introduced, my father immediately wanted to try using it. Even in the case of carbon fiber, there is actually fiber and fiber. The risk of carbon fiber is the excessive speed of sound transmission through the bow, which causes a loss of the lower harmonics of the sounds produced by the strings. The carbon bow is perfect for generating crisp and bright sounds, but unsuitable for creating soft and mellow sounds. Then there are carbon arches with a pernambuco soul that try to mediate between the two types of bow.

And then you need good horse-hair …
The horsehair must be long, resistant, elastic and must adhere to the strings, without it being necessary to use an enormous amount of rosin. The white horsehair is often bleached with products that alter the structure of it. Who chooses them, often chooses them only for aesthetic reasons: he likes the sharp contrast between the pure white color of the horse-hairs and the dark color of the bow. The natural horse-hairs are darker and more irregular in color, but hold more grip on the strings, because they have stronger flakes. Ask a bow-maker to break a bow with bleached hair is a bit like asking a tire specialist to fit smooth tires. [to be continued ⇒ ]