While reading responses in the "left-handed violin" discussion, I happened upon a sub-discussion regarding Leonardo da Vinci and his role in the invention of the violin.
I would like to invite some experts into this discussion so we can clear this up. My understanding is that this is simply NOT TRUE. Da Vinci was fascinated by music and musical instruments and DID invent (only in drawn plans) a keyboard instrument with strings, which made sound via a wheel, horsehair strap, and a bow. This instrument was never built by him and is quite distant from the violin.
Please, let's not pass misinformation.
Has anyone else done substantial research into this area?
Here's the best I can offer right now:
"By a kind of organic, triangulative process between craftsmen, players, and composers, early violins came into existence around 1520 in northern Italy. The 4-stringed "true" violin family was complete in its basic structural features - though not standardized - around 1550. (Jambe de Fer described them explicitly in his Epitome Musical. Lyons, 1556.) The controversy over who invented the first violin is probably not answerable; Gasparo da Saló was a candidate, as were several Brescian craftsmen. It is now generally accepted that da Saló was not the inventor since he wasn't born until 1540. Better candidates are Giovan Giacoba dalla Corna and Zanetto de Michelis da Montichiaro, both born in the 1480s. It is, however, clear that Andrea Amati perfected the form. Similar instruments in France and Poland suggest the far-reaching influence of the Italian Renaissance. Native schools of violin-making existed in Cremona and Brescia, and also in Paris and Lyon; but this had to do with the trade routes (and the silk trade) from Venice to Paris. Changes in the violin after 1600 were largely decorative."
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