BC Before Cremona Review

BC Before Cremona

“If you want to fall in love again with the violin or any stringed instrument actually, you have to read BC Before Cremona!”

The book is written by John Huber and describes the history of stringed instruments before the 16th century. Most violin histories start with the violins that were made by the Amati family in Cremona. But the author of BC Before Cremona chose to investigate the history before that period. John Huber says he wants to fascinate and surprise us with this background information. He certainly did surprise me!


To know how the ideas and inventions concerning stringed instruments evolved, we need to know some things about history. So John Huber takes us on a walk through many countries and eras. He explains how the trade routes between different cultures and places influenced both music and instruments. For example he will tell you everything about the impact of the Silk Road in music evolvement and you get to know about many different instrument with from 1 up to 30 strings.

If you like stringed instruments and history you are certainly going to like this book. The author did a great job in describing the historical facts. Almost each page has extra notes with information from the sources he used, so you can dig in even more.

Some cool things I learned

Honestly I didn’t know much about the history of the violin or any stringed instruments in general so this was a real eye-opener. Let me share just some of the things I’ve learned by reading BC Before Cremona.

  • One of the instruments that was used in the Arab was called Omani rababa. It only contained 1 string because it was meant to help a poet recite his poetry. Not many notes were needed so an instrument with just 1 string was sufficient. I thought this is a nice example of an instrument especially made to serve a specific purpose.
  • At first instruments were made out of 1 solid block of wood. But then they started to create lutes from different thin strips of wood that were fit together to make an instrument that weighed less. It was a significant improvement in the way of making instruments but of course required more craftmanship.
  • From this book, I also learned why violins have corners and why guitars have gentle curves. Or when and why flat bridges were replaced with rounded bridges. And what the difference is between a viol and a violin.

And there is so much more, but I better not tell you here since it would take away the fun for you to read the book yourself. The book can be bought online on ppvmedien.de.

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Hi, I'm an adult violin student, learning the violin independently. Learning the violin is a pleasure and a challenge at the same time. Feel free to explore this website to read more about my violin adventure. :-)

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