Dear Martyn,

  Hmm again....  how can lowering the position of the high octave string
  of an octave pair (so that it lies significantly below the general
  string datum) not have an influence on the ease of playing just this

Of course this requires to play a little more precise with the thumb. Which would need some exercice. But it makes it much easier to touch the couse so that it sounds like a bass. Which would mean that the balance of the high and low strings is optimal to make the high octave enhance the effect of the bass. Also when the strings are fixed in the 'normal' way it needs a really good control of the thumb stroke, to prevent the sound of high octave string from dominating over the bourdon.

  I'm also not sure about always having a booming lower bourdon randomly
  interspersed in a campanella scalic passage - but perhaps the Old Ones
  didn't mind - tho' I doubt it...

Booming bourdons seems an exageration here. Hence my advice to try it for some time

  tho' again I did think your
  position was that you generally liked to have a low bass because of
  your belief in the necessity of complete melodic bass lines - ie basses
  that didn't jump the octave due to exigencies of the stringing.  Have I
  mistook your position? - in which case I'm sorry for it.

No problem.
My ideas are a bit different from that. I would argue that if we use bourdons--because we think that a certain composer had them--we should better make them heard. This doesn't mean that we should just stop thinking of the musical function that the notes on these courses would have, high or low, in a specific situation.

best wishes,

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