How to Use the Online Database of Historical Viols
In this online version of the database only ten fields are shown initially for each instrument, though the
others may be added to the display at any time. These ten fields give information about
- the (nominal) size of the viol, such as treble, tenor, or bass;
- the maker's first and last names, where the instrument was made, and when;
- its current location and ownership; and
- the number of strings it has (now), its body length, and the vibrating length of its strings.
Additional data fields, viewable in any combination as desired, provide information on the exact wording of the label, names of previous owners, the shape of the body and soundholes, whether the instrument (now) has a scroll or carved head, and additional body dimensions (widths and depth).
The order in which these fields appear—both in the "Choose Fields" tab (reading down each column) and in a list of search results (reading each line from left to right)—begins with the basics of Who/What/When/Where before turning to questions of "What does it look like, and how big is it?" These are followed by citations to published descriptions, photographs, and recordings of the instrument, and then by a catch-all field containing comments on any and all points of interest known but not specifically indexed elsewhere. At the end are found two fields that allow the user to distinguish between privately and institutionally owned viols, and to identify those that have been sold at auction over the past four decades.
An empty data field means that no information is currently available about that aspect of the instrument.
Once a list of instruments has been sought and found, any of the data fields—whether visible at the moment or not—can be used to sort the results, based on up to four criteria in any desired order of priority. As usual with databases, records with no information in a given field chosen for sorting appear in the resulting list before those that do contain data. Note that in this case any subsequent searches will automatically be sorted according to the criteria selected previously, unless a change is deliberately made.
In addition to the basic columnar display and expansions thereof, it is possible to view complete information on any individual viol by clicking the symbol in the left-most column of its line, entitled "Full data." This opens a new window with a layout designed to present the data both logically and compactly.
Both single records and columnar lists can be printed out if desired;
see the instructions in the "Printing" tab.