The Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels preserves 9 instruments by the violin maker Benoit Joseph Boussu, who was born in the north of France in 1703, and active as maker in Brussels in the middle of the 18th century. Two of the instruments, a violin and cello are both still in almost unchanged state, an exceptional given when it comes to historical bowed stringed instruments. The two unchanged instruments are conserved in non-playable condition, since they are solely regarded as museum objects.
In the past, instruments of Boussu and his Brussels contemporaries have been studied, though not yet from the expertise of a researching instrument maker. The aim of the current study is to employ the latest research techniques, such as digital endoscopy and CT scanning, which, for the first time, allows for a full visualization of the internal structure of the instruments. This research will be performed in close collaboration with the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels and other external experts. From the results, it becomes possible to derive the employed construction methods. Additionally, research will be performed on the life of Boussu, aiming to complete previously published results by Verberkmoes in Galpin Society Journal.
The research presented here is intended to result in an optimal realization of the idea of 'informed instrument building', where eventually reconstructions will be built on the basis of a very broad and extensive research on instruments, methods and biography of a maker (in this case Boussu), eventually in function of the musical performance practice. The built reconstructions will be set up in collaboration with experienced performers of 18th century music, and they will be subsequently used to perform Brussels court repertoire from the time of Boussu, in order to experience their playing and sound possibilities.