The Viol Rules

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Alison’s new book has a very friendly, unusual, un-book-like design… With a charming understanding of many players’ busy lives and short attention spans, Alison has taken a cue from Loulié’s 17th-century viol tutor, by ending each of the 22 subsections with a ‘little rule’, distilling the section into a few words. This lovely book therefore offers many ways into its compact compendium of clearly described technical advice. The book is so approachable, and at the same time so meticulous, that it will surely lead to better and more enjoyable playing for anyone who buys it. The Viol

Players with no teacher, as well as those who are lucky enough to have lessons, will find helpful suggestions and ideas. Teachers of the viol will want to explore a very experienced teacher’s approach to technique and music and remind themselves of aspects of playing that they may not have thought about for a while. Alison Crum’s book is a generous gift, a must-have for all devotees of the viol. VdGSA News

It is more than thirty years since Alison Crum wrote her first seminal book Play the Viol. The Viol Rules is a detailed analysis drawn from many years of teaching the viol in music colleges, universities and on courses around the world, updating and expanding on many of the topics first discussed in Play the Viol.

The Viol Rules is not intended as a complete tutor for the viol, but rather a reflection and enlargement based on many years of teaching experience. There are multiple music examples, with explanatory text on a facing page so that technique and interpretation can be instantly cross referenced to the music.

There are a number of full colour illustrations, including details taken from historical works of art, as well as humorous sketches to enliven the matters dealt with in the text.



The principal chapters are:

Basics – Holding the viol, Left hand position, Holding the bow, Moving the bow.

Bowing – Bow speed, Pressure and weight, Distance from the bridge, Starting a note, Bow changes, Bow direction, Bow distribution, Dotted notes, String crossing, Articulation, Phrasing.

Fingering – Resonance, Fingering choices, Playing in higher positions.

Music Examples – from works by Byrd, Tye, Purcell, Lawes, Jenkins, Ward, Gibbons, Holborne, Mundy, Locke, Ferabosco, Ravenscroft, Buxtehude, Marais,Telemann.

Preparing to Play - Equipment, Practising, The well-tempered consort, Solo playing



There is a list of treatises and sources, a selection of web pages to visit, a glossary of terms used and an index.

148 pages. Price £19.00 plus postage.

This book was published on 13th November 2009 at the Greenwich International Early Music Festival and Exhibition. The second edition was published in January 2015.

The Viol Rules is currently being translated into French.

ISBN- 978-0-9528220-4-2

Help improve The Viol Rules:

Alison says: The first edition of 1,000 copies sold out in November 2014, and in January 2015 I produced a second edition of my book, correcting a few small mistakes, and changing a few bits of wording.

I am still keen to hear from anyone who has comments on any points which do not seem as clear as they might be, so please do write and tell me, and I can try to improve them in future editions.

Please email me with page and paragraph references where appropriate.

Errata: One small mistake has been discovered in the musical examples section, on page 105. The three exercises should be numbered 18, 19 and 20, as they are for the text on p104.

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Alison Crum - The Viol Rules