Barak Norman, who lived and worked in London, was born in 1651 and died there in 1724. Regarded as one of the great masters of his time, he was also very particular about labelling only those instruments with his label, that he had worked on himself. Apart from a number of richly ornamented viols, he also left us a number of violins and a violoncello. He was said to have been the first English maker to make a 'cello.
I base my copies on four original Barak Norman viols, which I have measured and documented. All the pictures show instruments I have made.
A big 7 - string bass with a string length of about 70 cm . This is a good choice for French literature and, if needed, for English consort playing. Like the original, the copies have retained some of the reedy English Consort sound quality, yet at the same time produce a rich luscious French sound when called for. The original it is based on is currently played by Jordi Savall.
The same instrument works well as a six string bass for English literature and consort playing. The original was a six string before it was converted into a »French » bass. While this model needs a string length of approx. 70 cm with the additional seventh string, the string length for a six string version can be as short as 68 cm if required.
Small Barak Norman (Division):
In the Instrument Collection of the Museum in Berlin, Germany there is another Barak Norman original. It is a comfortable instrument, because it is somewhat smaller than the bass owned by Mr. Savall. The string length of the instrument can be a short as 67 cm, thus making it easily playable even for players with small hands.
I have designed a tenor viol based on various Barak Norman original instruments with a string length of about 50 cm. It makes a great tenor for consort playing with a strong sound in both the top and the lower register.
Arianne Maurette in Paris ownes a beautiful treble viol made by Barak Norman. Unfortunately it was converted into a viola in the past, and later reshaped into a treble viol. The instrument collection in Geneva has another treble made by Barak Norman, which remains in almost original condition. Those two instruments form the basis for the copies I make.
The string length is about 42 cm, which allows the lower strings to resonate freely. The sound is altogether sweeter than what one generally expects from trebles.