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Grant number: HD-51881-14

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HD-51881-14

Brandeis University (Waltham, MA 02453-2700)
Harry Mairson (Project Director: 09/17/2013 to present)

Functional Geometry and the Traite de Lutherie

The development of a software language and protocols for digitally reconstructing and studying historical musical instruments. This stage of the project would focus on historic string instruments.

We propose to design, implement, and experiment with a programming language for describing how to draw string instrument outlines: violins, violas, and especially violoncellos. Based on the historical reconstruction in Francois Denis's definitive monograph, Traite de Lutherie, using straightedge and compass constructions, the software can enhance insights into techniques of eighteenth-century design, provide an archival format for describing the properties of string instrument outlines, and the instructions for generating highly accurate digital drawings for use in construction. Further, it can provide the foundation for a kind of computational art history, where the language and associated software serve as a descriptive tool for analyzing the evolution of instrument designs over time. This work will be integrated with ongoing, active experience constructing violoncellos, connecting the historical and conceptual with the practical.

[White paper]

Project fields:
Architecture; Arts, Other

Program:
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

Division:
Digital Humanities

Total amounts:
$60,000 (approved)
$58,625 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2014 – 8/31/2015