Thursday, July 29, 2010

New blog I follow -- a musical interlude

I've added a new blog to my "follow" list. This is the Owyhee Mountain Fiddle Shop blog; the author repairs and makes (and also plays) violins. I find musical instrument making a fascinating craft. Hard to get maple in Alaska; all we have is "Japanese maple," in fact I just pruned one of my Japanese maples. Hmm. Could I make a fiddle? Fascinating thought. It would be mostly birch; I suspect that alder and aspen are not violin woods. However...

I used to work with someone who made harpsichords as a hobby. When he started he went up to the Yale museum and measured, photographed, noted and recorded all that he could. He went to Italy to get the wood -- and discovered that nowadays the Italians use it for cargo pallets! (Don't remember the name of the wood.) So he bought essentially a lifetime supply of the stuff and had it shipped to the US. I am delighted to report that at last report, Rob was building harpsichords for a living, with more orders than he could fill. Bravo. A harpsichord is a great big guitar; instead of plucking it with your fingers, you press a key which operates a jack which plucks the string with a plectrum. Plectra (or is that plectri?) used to be made out of feathers; nowadays (high tech) Lexan is the choice. Otherwise it's mostly cargo pallets.

Anyway, the moral is that you make do with what you have. One person's pallet is another's harpsichord. Or violin.

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