Ratio in Design

I am reading some old notes I made 30 years ago about hammered dulcimer making and playing.  I am going to college in a few weeks time to attend a 12 week woodworking skills residential course.  It is a long time since I last built a musical instrument, and although my initial objective of going to Lyme Regis was to improve my skills so I could build a small boat, it is also awakening an urge to build some more musical instruments and play again.

While looking through some old papers, I can across a note written by a chaps who taught musical instrument making at Tonbridge Adult Education centre on Saturday mornings.  I went for two or more years and worked on refining the building of  hammered dulcimers but it was great to just work with him and other people learning new skills and just picking his brains on how to overcome problems or his option on what we were making.

Click on this link to view the article Ratio in design.  Sadly I do not remember his name so cannot attribute his work to him.  What I love about the article is he took the time to type it, with a typewriter, onto real paper.  Yes, real trees were used in this process rather than just a few electrons inconvenienced.  The whole process of writing has changed so much with the ease of editing on a computer, with a typewriter you committed your words to paper, and there was no going back and editing without ripping it up and starting again.  It certainly focused the mind.

His message was important enough for him to spend time typing it, the article was important enough for me to keep it for 30 years and then find it and read it again.  It brought back many memories, he mentions a mould John Smedley made that we all looked at for a while to check its symmetry.  I remember that well, sadly John is no longer with us, I remember what a lovely man he was, full of song and shear love of traditional music.

I feel this article has been waiting for me to find it again, I will certainly listener to its wisdom when designing my next dulcimer.


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