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8ft Project

 From the first depiction of the viol in the 1470s, and the cello in 1530s, many different 8ft string instruments were used, from the typical cello at different stages of its evolution, to the viola da gamba, to the violone, as well as instruments such as the arpeggione and baryton, which are now little known to modern musicians.

A large number of musicians believe that the only three 8ft stringed instruments used were the viola da gamba, the baroque cello and the modern cello (seen in modern orchestras).  This is not the case, however, and this misunderstanding of the cello’s history is being passed from teacher to music student, and from music student to the children that they teach.  There are very few musicians in the world who understand the true depth of the cello’s history.

This is where the 8ft project steps in, to change this misconception.  We plan to work with instrument makers across the UK to build copies of many of the different varieties of 8ft instruments throughout the cello’s history.  We will then send a small team of musicians to take these instruments to music colleges and universities, and to summer courses and schools.  This will educate the next generation of musicians as to the instrument’s history, enthuse their understanding of classical music, and show them how to expand the boundaries of the period music world.  Not only will this effect cellists, but it will encourage other instrumentalists to dig further into their own instrument’s history. A large proportion of music college students teach in schools, so this knowledge would be filtered down to school children, not only increasing their understanding and interest in classical music, but also their interest of general history.

As well as taking the project to different locations in the UK, a website will be created, to which we will add videos each year of performances on these instruments, along with videos of some of the historical information from the workshops.  This will be available to view to anyone interested all over the world, to help create impact outside of the UK.

The team will be lead by Hetti Price, a leading period music specialist and a published academic who is undertaking in-depth research into the history of 8ft instruments.  She will be joined by Henrik Persson, an internationally renowned period music performer; as well as several of the country’s leading instrument makers.  There is currently no other project like this in the world, and together they are some of the world’s foremost experts on the subject of the history, making and performance of these types of instruments.  

Click here to see instruments used in the project