Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spike Fiddles by Peter Biffin

I recently stumbled in this new design of a spike fiddle by Australian, Peter Biffin. A spike fiddle is a relative of the modern violin. It includes four or five strings, and has a range similar to that of the violin.
The Tarhu is a new form of spike fiddle, created by instrument maker and musician Peter Biffin. The tarhu design uses a unique acoustic system, where the string’s vibrations are transferred to a featherweight wooden cone suspended within the wooden body. This design creates extremely sensitive instruments with an unprecedented range of tone colour variations. The efficiency of the cone system has also given these instruments a very large dynamic range

Unlike the violin, it is played by balancing it on a spike on the floor or the players lap. And, instead of moving the bow to change strings like with the violin, the spike fiddle is rotated on the spike and the player keeps the bow at the same angle

I find the sound from these instruments to be incredibly beautiful, and these instruments made by Peter Biffen to have amazing craftsmanship. They're not cheap, but I can imagine that they are a wonderful investment.

Peter some some great sound samples on his website, be sure to check them out, in order to hear the range and sound color of these instruments.

Peter makes several styles:

Long-neck Tarhu

Has four played strings and 8 sympathetic strings. It comes with tied frets, which enable a vast range of tunings, including modern/western tunings to microtonal middle eastern tunings. Be sure to listen to all of the sound files which demonstrate the range of this instruments in both a bowed an plucked playing style.

Kemanche Tarhu

This four stringed instrument is based on the traditional kemanche. But it looks like Peter has improved on the design and sound quality substantially.

Lyra Tarhu

This three string instrument is based on the traditional Cretan Lyra.


This is Peter's unique design. You gotta listen to the sound sample to appreciate what this instrument can do.

To really understand and appreciate the design enhancements which Peter has made here, you need to visit the
design page on the website:

Link: http://www.spikefiddle.com/

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