Saturday , December 5 2020

Lower Hutt expatriate designed a new cello section, raising US $ 22,000 for synthetic arc prints



Michael Duff wants to make big bows more affordable, especially for student musicians.

Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Michael Duff wants to make big bows more affordable, especially for student musicians.

Hutt's former son, Michael Duff and a close friend of the Hungarian cello cell, Janos Starker, dreamed of recreating the cello bow made by Nikolai Kittel from Russia.

High-quality bows cost between US $ 60,000 to US $ 100,000 and they want to make large bows more affordable.

Starker, who died in 2013, is described as "one of the most famous cells of the 20th century" in the obituary that shines in the New York Times.

Master bow maker, Michael Duff, at his home and workshop in Bloomington, Ind.

Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Master bow maker, Michael Duff, at his home and workshop in Bloomington, Ind.

He was a professor at Indiana University, in Bloomington, where Duff lived and previously worked as a professor of microbiology, and the couple had long dreamed of making replicas of the Kittel arc.

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Duff decided to continue, and in large part through his own donations and contributions from Starker and his family, collected US $ 22,000 (NZ $ 33,571.45) needed to develop steel molds and made four synthetic replica Kittel arcs, with one fifth on the road.

His motivation is twofold – he wants to make the big bow more affordable, especially for student musicians; and by making it from synthetic materials, they will also be environmentally friendly. Traditional bows made from Brazilian pernambuco which are endangered.

Duff said he could make replicas under US $ 10,000.

Duff was also awarded a US patent in November 2017 for a new type of bow frog, made of stable African ebony.

He chose blackwood instead of ebony, the wood most commonly used for bow frogs, because ebony is more threatened.

Bow frogs are the end of the bow and contain a mechanism that tightens the bow hair band. They are usually "weak links", lowering the overall volume of the instrument.

The patent covers the stabilization of hardwood used to make frogs, allowing players to have a greater dynamic range than conventional bow frogs. It has around 15 percent more volume compared to traditional unprocessed wood.

He said the top players also noticed that the resulting tones were purely sonic, and the arcs mounted with these frogs were the most resonant arcs ever produced.

He described the science behind "acoustic discovery" as "solid rock".

Duff was born in Lower Hutt in 1940, attended Boulcott Elementary School, Hutt Valley High School, and Victoria University, before graduating from Otago University Medical School with a science expert, specializing in medical microbiology.

He has lived in Bloomington, Indiana, since 1971.

His brother and his brother's family live in Wellington, and he has a son, daughter and four grandchildren in Christchurch.


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