Friday, February 19, 2016

Project Update: Still a Sick Puppy

Last Saturday, I took my cold to a performance of French harpsichord music by Owen Daly on an instrument of his own making: a beautiful French two-manual instrument "after the harpsichord by Jean-Claude Goujon, a fake Ruckers made in Paris 'sometime before 1749,' rebuilt with an enlarged compass at some point, and then extensively butchered in 1784 by one Swane (signed 'Swanen,' but the consensus is that this is simply the dative form of his German name) who chopped out the gap to make room for four registers. Originally, the compass was something like GG, AA (no GG#)-d’’’. Later stretched to the current 'standard' five octave FF-f’’’" (Quoted from Owen).

The performance was for the Western Early Keyboard Association at Reed College here in beautiful Portland. The instrument stands as a testament to Owen's skill as a maker - it was his third build dated 1984 and has hardily stood the test of time. I was fortunate enough to help him load it in and out, as well as watch him prepare with a little warmup.

Now, I have never really been a big fan of French Baroque music in general and I told Owen as much a few weeks before his performance (I do this sort of thing quite often - open mouth, insert foot). I suppose this is related to my experience with the French organ works that I find at times shrill and a little too "frilly" for my taste. In short, French Baroque music just never resonated with me. Until now. I found the Couperin and Rameau on Owen's program to be quite pleasant. Heck, I almost liked it.

Along with some excellent playing, Owen was generous enough to speak and take questions about the history of the instrument, as well as its tuning, Stephen Birkett's brass wire, and his music selections. It was a pleasant and energizing afternoon, indeed.

Unfortunately, I'm still a bit under the weather. This, combined with the build-out of the Roubo-style workbench, has prevented any progress on the instrument over the last couple of weeks. The only thing I accomplished in that time was to receive an Incra 1000HD miter gauge I ordered on eBay a few weeks ago.

The irony was not lost on me that the Incra miter gauge arrived packed in a Kreg box. As one of my woodworker friends remarked, it was probably a theft-prevention strategy. At any rate, I got the thing dialed in and onto the table saw. It's going to make working in the shop so much safer and more accurate - the tick marks on the gauge will do fractions of a degree. Why I would ever need such precision is beyond me, but it's there if and when.

Back to coughing up a lung and sleeping all day.

Until next time...

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