Peter McCarthy lectures

Tuning trends in large string bass instruments,

a talk by Peter McCarthy for the ISB Conference, 2009.

The violone grosso and violone of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.


"In 1721 Johann Sebastian Bach presented a score of six concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburgh. Bach was working in Cothen at this time, a Calvinist town where instrumental music was not performed in church, writing instrumental music and solo

cantatas at the court of Prince Leopold of


"Examining historical instruments is informative and interesting, but it's no certain guide to knowledge of their original tuning, function or pitch. Even the place and time of original construction may be difficult to assess..."

I've given two lectures at International Society of Bassist conferences in the USA.  You can find the text of them below, if you are interested.

I also wrote an article for Early Music Review about the 'contrabasso da gamba' Monteverdi specified in 'Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda'.  I wish I could find a copy to add to the ISB lectures.  It must be here somewhere.


Preface to the Capuzzi violone concerto - edition to be found on IMSLP.org

Download the Preface


Brandenburg lecture for ISB 2007. Peter McCarthy

Download the Lecture


Histoire de Jephte - this edition of Charpentier's copy of Carissimi's Jephte is something I have just finished.



The Viol

Viola da Gamba Society Newsletter, no.51

Summer 2018 

Download article