A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Chanot, François

From volume 1 of the work.

1503714A Dictionary of Music and Musicians — Chanot, FrançoisPaul David


CHANOT, François, son of a violin-maker, was born in 1787 at Mirecourt in France. He entered the army as an engineer under the Empire, but quitted it after the Restoration. Returning to Mirecourt, he made special studies on the construction of the violin, and ultimately built one which deviated considerably in form from the accepted pattern. Believing that, in order to make every part of the instrument partake equally of the vibrations of the sound, the fibres of the wood should be preserved in their entire length, he considered the corners and curves of the outline as so many obstacles to the propagation of the waves of sound, and accordingly gave his violin a pear-shaped form, resembling that of the guitar. The belly he made quite flat, and left out the soundpost altogether, on the ground that it merely served to break the waves of sound, while in reality it transmits them from belly to back.

This violin (if one may still call it so), the only one Chanot ever made, he submitted to the authorities of the Institut de France. After having been examined by a committee of eminent men, both scientific and musical, and tried against instruments of Guarnerius and Stradivarius, it was pronounced not inferior in quality to the violins of these great makers. (Rapport de l'Institut, in the 'Moniteur,' Aug. 22, 1817). It is difficult to account for this decision, which experience quickly proved to be a complete delusion, as all instruments made after the new pattern turned out of indifferent quality. A brother of Chanot's, a violin-maker at Paris, for some time continued to make violins of this kind, but was soon obliged to give it up. This endeavour to improve upon the generally adopted pattern of the great Italian makers, resulted, like all similar attempts before and since, in complete failure. Chanot died in 1833.
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