"How does a Violin attain a better sound?"
This is a question asked by generations worth of luthiers, across several centuries worth of stringed instrument making. It has inspired countless young people to decide to tinker with wood and chisel, and caused some of the finest works of art in this world to come into being.
However the best answer to this question, which has been almost exactly the same answer every time the question is posed is remarkably simple: try something new.
Meike Aupperle is a luthier who recently moved to London from Hannover in Germany. She currently runs a violin-making and restoration workshop from her apartment in a quiet, leafy corner of Clapham North, and is the sole luthier in the UK who fits the Senza System.
Upon entering her workshop, you are certain to be greeted by a friendly smile and a cup of freshly made coffee (or two). Meike often talks enthusiastically as she works about what she is doing to an instrument, explaining the intriguing technical details behind why she's moved the soundpost, or how removing some varnish from between an instrument's ribs increases sound projection.
Something important to note here is that we certainly think that Meike Aupperle has managed to improve on the original design.
Introducing: The Senza System.
"But what is the Senza System?"
- A new, slightly shorter tailpiece is made for the instrument.
- This lengthens the back string length, allowing them to be 'tuned' to B, F#, C# and G#.
- Senza Strings have no winding, which means they are free to vibrate and resonate, which adds further colour to the sound of the Violin.
It was invented by Volker Worlitzsch, a luthier and former professional orchestral player based in Germany.
Promote Classical's very own Elliot Corner visited Meike a few weeks ago to get his spare Viola restored to professional playing standard after the instrument went through a long period of inactivity, after being recommended to her by a mutual contact. After a long discussion following the restoration process about the Senza System being something that may well drastically improve his instrument's sound, Elliot became intrigued by Meike's advocacy of a new setup and trialled it on his own instrument.
The results spoke for themselves, the instrument sounds like a different Viola.
In fact the results are quite something in analysis as well - tests have been done in an anechoic chamber to determine whether the increase in resonant quality is scientifically true as well as just aurally perceived.
Of course, simply reading about the potential benefits of making such a significant change to an integral part of playing your instrument is not going to convince anybody to actually have it installed. You ideally need to experience the Senza System for yourself.
How best to get people interested and talking about it? We figured that if you can't experience Senza first hand, the next best thing would be to watch someone else experience it for the first time...
So that's how we teamed up with ICA Films to produce a short informational video about the Senza System, featuring Meike herself introducing the system and installing it on Promote Classical client Violeta Barrena's 1735 Sanctus Seraphin Violin.
What do you think of The Senza System? Tell us in the comments below.