Gut Strings power the violin

Energitismo allows me to meet people who have dedicated their lives to achieve perfection in their field; one of these meetings occurred when I opened a magic door into one of my passions: music of Bach played with gut strings.

The partitas and the sonatas for string instruments (violin, viola or cello) are one of the highest points of the Western music and can cause the listener to vibrate from head to toe. But the music we hear today, not only reproductions but also live, does not have the same feeling without gut strings as that which Bach intended.

Yet on a hot July afternoon I believe that I was able to have the same emotions as the great master and the people who listened to him in his time.

One of the major differences in the reproduction of music, from the original, is in the structure of the strings that has changed particularly after WW2. And it changed the vibrations of musical instruments.

In a small village near Vicenza, Mimmo Peruffo, a person with the bright eyes and a mind that never tires, has spent 30 years of his life trying to recover ancient knowledge of the builders of gut strings and is now finally able to reproduce the strings the same as were used in the Baroque period.

Before talking to him, I never imagined that the Corporation of Cordai had been among the most powerful guilds and was able to influence policy. On the other hand, music has always accompanied man’s life and it was therefore natural that the manufacturers of instruments and of the materials were respected and influential people.

But I could not imagine that within this group, the Corporation of Cordai – String Makers – was so powerful that it has its own Code of String Makers and its treasury of secrets. Studying in libraries, observing the paintings of the time and going to interview elderly people around the world, Mimmo was able to understand the construction process and now the strings are available.

That day, an old master of violin, Antonio Mosca, had come from Turin to experience the thrill of playing original baroque music in the way it had been intended by composers of the era.

He had brought a couple of instruments to which he patiently changed the strings (the real problem was the bass string sound) trying to learn how to stretch them and how to deal with them. Then he began to play, at first a note to tune and then all together.

I had a great musician in front of me who was playing the partitas for cello by Bach and the music was different. It had a softer sound and nuances that I had never heard. The vibrations seemed to come from the skin and not only into the ears. A magical experience.

After about six hours, a lunch with the master and with Mimmo and with the music of Bach resounding, I had to run to catch the last train to Rome. But I think that the valuable work done by Mimmo Peruffo in recent years will write a new page in the annals of music and great instruments.