The mystery of item 333: an examination of an unidentified instrument

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Within the Edinburgh University Collection of Historical Musical Instruments (EUCHMI), an instrument is held that is currently catalogued as ‘a viola d’amore or treble viol’. This ambiguous description coupled with typical viola d’amore traits, yet lacking the symbolic sympathetic strings, presents an instrument that could be regarded as somewhat enigmatic. Historical references to the viola d’amore are at best contradictory, with accounts of the instrument’s form varying substantially around the turn of the 18th century. In addition, the existence of treble viols with the design features of the viola d’amore also cannot be disregarded, further complicating the identification of this unknown instrument. This paper looks to briefly address the historical evidence of the viola d’amore and treble viol from the 17th and early 18th centuries, coupled with iconographical and physical examination data, to work towards providing a true identity for the mysterious no.333.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
EventObjects of Sound - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 May 201427 May 2014


ConferenceObjects of Sound
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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