Friday, January 13, 2012

Strings Attached

A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy.

Albert Einstein
Hello Rose
What a strange musical instrument the violin is. It's an oddly shaped box that doesn't really fit the human who plays it. He has to hold one end under his chin, while the fingers of his left hand have to curl around under the other end and press themselves down on the strings while he's holding it up. The other hand holds a bow which he then saws back and forth across the strings to make them vibrate. A violin, to look at it, makes no sense at all.

It's a torturing, unforgiving instrument if it isn't played right. And yet untallied thousands have been learning and playing it for hundreds of years. Why? Because the sounds that come out of it can be as beautiful as any sound in the universe, the infinite degrees of expression come directly from the heart, it's resonance can fill a concert hall and in harmony with other instruments can produce a lush and shimmering sound of unearthly bliss.

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl
And he called for his fiddlers three.

I spent many good years trying to learn how to play the violin and finally had to concede the job to others as I really had no talent for it. My violin playing annoyed my neighbors and set the local dogs to howling. Even my cat, who was usually an objective, patient sort, when she saw the violin come out would jump down from wherever she was and run off to hide in some secret place and not reappear until well after the noise had ceased. (Years later I discovered, quite by accident, that I had a talent for playing the clarinet. But that's a different story.)

Another thing about the violin is it's versatility. It is the largest crowd to be found on the concert stage, of course. But it also plays it's parts very well in popular music, jazz, and folk music. Unlike the bass violin, the tuba, the piano and the pipe organ, the violin is easy to transport (although these days a master violinist with a million dollar Stradivarius will definitely approach the check-in area of a TSA with a great deal of concern). But most of the time, in most places, the fiddle is a great companion.

I'll tune me fiddle and I'll rosin me bow
And I'll have music wherever I go.
(Irish folk song)

I'm sorry I never learned to play the violin, for as Pope Paul VI recalled, "The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune."

Dana Bate - The Vagabond
Never Give Up
This invitation is still open for anyone and everyone to post an entry of their own on my journal, Vagabond Journeys

A new year is upon us and since it is a time for celebrations, remembrances, resolutions and plans for the future I think people have things to say.

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DB - The Vagabond


Beth said...

The sound of a violin or a fiddle can make me weep.

Don't forget about rock 'n roll. John Mellencamp (a fellow Hoosier!) has had a fiddle player for years, and it fit perfectly with many of his songs.

Hugs, Beth

pacifica62 said...

A violin in the hands of a master is a thing of beauty to behold. For many years I played the bass violin and I agree, they are not easy to transport though some of the modern versions look nothing like the old counterparts.

Jon said...

I love the violin, and, next to the piano, it's my favorite instrument.
For some incredible reason I studied the cello in college as a second instrument. I was the worst cellist in California. Perhaps the worst one in the U.S.A.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Love the violin and the fiddle, depending on the type of music one is listening to. We had tickets to the local symphony for a few years and it was very enjoyable. Maybe again one day.