Baroque Set-up: In a Land without Rules

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With the growth in popularity of historically informed performance, more players are requesting Baroque-style instruments – but the process of converting an instrument is fraught with uncertainty. Sarah Peck presents an overview of the Baroque set-up process, and corrects some common misconceptions along the way

In the past few years, many musicians have chosen to widen their abilities so that they can offer historically informed performance (HIP) of the earlier repertoire as well as modern works. For this reason they may choose to have a separate period instrument in addition to their main one. Having spent the past 15 years focusing in particular on Baroque instruments I have seen the amount of confusion when it comes to choosing a Baroque instrument and how to modify it to create the optimum sound quality and ease of playing. Additionally, there are certain long-held misconceptions about period instruments that should be addressed. When it comes to assessing the suitability of an instrument, there are a few principles that both players and makers should understand and bear in mind, especially when it comes to the decision-making process of a Baroque conversion.

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