06 Mar Luthier Marco Pasquino
A special occasion worth an extra mile to meet a symphonic musician and who is also one of the most appreciated Luthier and Bow-maker: we met him in his workshop at the border of Monferrato, in Trino Vercellese.
The scent of fine woods, a collection of bows, harps and a selected collection of music instruments: Marco Pasquino opened the door of his studio and the door to this world where wood and workmanship become music.
Having graduated from the conservatory in cello and composition, Marco began to be intrigued by the matter behind the music: the mix of wood and horsehair of which the bow is made. “I learned music with very good instruments, but with bad bows!”, he laughed, “So I started to become interested in manufacturing techniques“. His curiosity brought Marco to meet his mentor, who taught him the art of bow-making.
Marco Pasquino perfected his art during 20 years of research and refinement. He was taught by Arnaldo Morano, one of the most recognised italian luthiers, from Rosignano Monferrato, and by luthier Giovanni Lucchi in Cremona: Stradivari’s birthplace. “Yes, 20 years. You need to practice a bit to do this job properly” he laughed.
For a luthier’s work to be accurate, one must work every day to perfect the techniques required. A single bow dimension can only range between 10 grams of weight and few centimetres of length. Some parts, for example, the hole that houses the screw at the end of the bow, must be accurate to one tenth of a millimetre. “But for a luthier, a millimetre is like a meter for a carpenter,” he said.
The process to create a bow is a fascinating and difficult. First, you must be able to bend nervous woods (snakewood for historical baroque bows, Pernambuco for modern bows); then calibrate the plane to shape it millimetre by millimetre. Afterward, comes the free-hand, manual working of the tip: “One of my favourite parts, when an instrument-maker can express with some freedom his creativity – the tip is the signature of the bow-maker”. Only after the micro calibration, you can add the pad, screw and frog, and at the end, the horsehair. And a complete bow is the beginning of the music.
Marco’s other passion is the harp. He started to build and play harps twelve years ago, and now he is also the first luthier in Italy who has implemented the Delacour levers system. Marco collaborates with luthier and restorer Paola Brancato, from Casale Monferrato, who is specialised in historical instruments reproductions. Paola and Marco form also a duo, called Ebahgart, playing classical and traditional music. Culminating their decades of experience, Paola and Marco have written a book with such a peculiar title: Manual of peaceful coexistence with your harp. He laughed: “You know: the harp is the angel’s instrument but when something goes wrong it becomes the devil’s ropes“.
When I asked Marco if he feels more like a musician or a bow-maker he replied: “Well, to be able to build an instrument makes you a better musician as being able to play makes you a better luthier“, and he offered us this short performance:
Discover more about Marco Pasquino’s work by visiting his studio in Trino and his website.
If you would like to visit him in his studio please book an appointment by email.
Written by Tommaso Zavattaro | Edited by Fiona Scull | Photography by Gianni Siccardi