I have immense admiration for the admirable OMIT motley crew of craftspeople who create stringed instruments. In French we still use the term ‘luthiers’– lute makers.
It’s still principally a handcraft that calls for exceptional skills. First of course, there is the complete mastery of the materials used, and not just wood. There is a plethora of other requirements: a trained and sensitive ear, quantities of patience, immense creativity, a striving for excellence, and an empathy and respect for one’s patrons.
The workshop can be a lonely place. Responsible alone for whatever the outcome of their efforts, these craftspeople are sadly little appreciated in our production-oriented, machine-driven world.
Yet since the dawn of time they exemplify the extraordinary creativity of humankind…inheritors of the invincible energy that people are ready to invest in the sole object of making the air around us, invisible and rare, vibrate! You may have noticed, however, that great oaks from these little acorns have grown, and whole peoples have thereby been moved to reinvent their destiny…
No museum or encyclopaedia could contain all the instruments imagined by the instrument makers of the world. Indeed, a huge part of what has been imagined and created has either not yet been discovered or has already disappeared into the mist of history.
Notwithstanding these absentees, if we take a closer look at what has been identified thus far, we are bound to be struck by the variety of materials employed and by the technical precision obtained through procedures which at first sight may seem rudimentary but which have proved their worth, and above all by the infinite diversity of the sounds they have put at our disposal.
Instrument makers are sound sculptors, the midwives of the soul.