Tuning for viol players is much easier if one avoids a pure
third between C and E. Werckmeister III works, usually, if
one is willing to fuss with the details to suit the pieces
on the program. When it's time to check the frets, one just
prays that if they are slanted, it is only in one direction!
In accompanying a solo viol, one can always promise to be
very careful not to double a particularly offensive accidental;
for continuo viols, of course, that option is not available.
So one goes back to the keyboard and finds a way to fix the
The fussing is the reason that electronic tuners are only a
starting point. Tuning (if only temporarily) puts the world
back in order. It's a wonderfully calming part of my pre-
concert ritual; still, the approach of the viol player wanting
to check frets is often the most stressful part of the operation.
Usually makes me wish for a cello.
But they can't play Marais!
University of Western Ontario