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Boussu Inside Out: Studying of the life, instruments and working methods of the 18th century violin maker Benoit Joseph Boussu - multi-faceted organological research as the foundation for historically informed instrument making.

Project: PhD-project

  • Verberkmoes, Geerten (PhD student)
  • Dhondt, Geert (Promotor HoGent)
  • Maes, Francis, Universiteit Gent, Vakgroep Kunst, Muziek- en Theaterwetenschappen, Belgium (Promotor University)

The Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels preserves two unique instruments by the violin maker Benoit Joseph Boussu, who was active in Brussels in the middle of the 18th century. This violin and a cello are both in near unchanged condition, an exceptional situation when it comes to antique stringed instruments.

In the past, the instruments of Boussu and his contemporaries Brussels have already been studied, however not with the expertise of a researching instrument maker. Moreover, in the current study, the latest research techniques will be used, such as digital endoscopy and CT scanning, which for the first time allow a full visualisation of the internal structure of the studied instruments. With the results, it then becomes possible to derive the construction methods used to build these instruments. The project will be in close collaboration with the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels and other external experts. Additionally, historical research on the life of Boussu will be performed, aiming to complete previous results as published by Verberkmoes in The Galpin Society Journal in 2013.

The research presented here is intended to result in an optimal implementation of the idea of ​​'informed instrument making', where eventually reconstructions will be built on the basis of a very broad and extensive initial research on extant instruments, working methods and biography of a maker, eventually in function of the musical performance practice. The reconstructions built during this study will be set-up and adjusted in collaboration with experienced performers of 18th century music, and will subsequently be used to perform century Brussels court repertoire of the period, to experience the possibilities in playing and sound.

StatusIn execution