musical instrument making
The Musical Instrument Making major focuses on the history and structure of musical instruments in view of the construction, reconstruction and preservation of these fascinating artefacts. The programme is mainly oriented at the study and (re)construction of historical instruments, and explores the acoustic possibilities of these ‘sound tools’. Through this work, the discipline makes valuable contributions to the performance practice of both old and new music.
As a student of Musical Instrument Making you will thoroughly analyse historical sources and treatises, iconography and specialist literature for your research and building practice. You will also study and document instruments from private and public collections, making use of both traditional methods (taking measurements, perform technical drawing, photography) and the latest technologies, such as X-ray and CT scans, optical 3D scanning and digital endoscopy. Ultimately, all this data will be used to build your reconstruction.
The Musical Instrument Making major at KASK & Conservatory is one of the few study programmes in Europe in this field and at the level of a university of applied sciences and arts. The complete study programme takes five years: three bachelor years and two master years. In the first two bachelor years, students are taught the use of hand tools and various building techniques, by building both sample pieces and relatively straightforward musical instruments from various disciplines (e.g. the dulcimer, psalterium, Baroque guitar, viol, cornetto…). In the third year students then move towards a specialisation in stringed, plucked, wind or keyboard instruments. Theoretical subjects such as art and music history, instrument theory, technical drawing, materials science, chemistry and acoustics take up an equal part within the study programme. In the master year students define their own research theme, which they work on for two years on a project basis. This will result in multiple musical instruments depending on the theme selected. Students will also explore experimental instrument making, as well as an introduction into the conservation and repair of musical instruments.
Making music also takes up an important place in the curriculum. From the very beginning students learn to play instruments, and the instruments they make are also tested and assessed by students of music during the academic year, and by renowned musicians and professional instrument makers for the final exams.
The musical instrument-making programme is the perfect foundation for a whole range of professional activities. The multifaceted and interdisciplinary nature of instrument making implies an extensive and differentiated curriculum. This not only enables graduates to be employed in a professional instrument-making studio or establish their own studio, but the many practical, organizational, communicative and reflective competencies acquired in the programme will also give access to various kinds of cultural and scientific institutions and organizations. Some of our graduates work as a conservator for musical instrument collections of museums, others became researcher or teacher.
The instrument-making programme maintains close ties with instrument museums such as the Brussels Musical Instruments Museum (MIM), the Museum Vleeshuis / Sound of the City in Antwerp, the Alamire Foundation in Louvain, and other national and international research centres. A number of researchers are also active within the programme, working e.g. on PhD research in instrument making.
A large quantity of perseverance, sense of precision, a passion for music and musical instruments and a certain degree of handicraft are crucial in order to be able to follow your own course within the study programme. No specific prior training (e.g. in woodworking) is required. Our studios are located in the middle of the old centre of Ghent, close to the Conservatory.