Thursday, November 17, 2005

Reversing Isn't Hindsight

I've been gnawing over blog postings being a little too diary-ish. So for this one I've opted to follow my dad's taste in books, meaning making it a little informative as well.

There was this true story of a man who owned an Amati, forgot that he placed it on the ground right behind his Volvo instead of inside the vehicle, and promptly reversed over it. I know I got the Amati part of it correct, but with stories like this it could very well have been a Mini instead of a Volvo, so we'll take that part of the story with a pinch of Ajinomoto, in the hopes that neither Volvo, Mini or Ajinomoto will end me in ligitation. As those of you not in the music field may note, I'm not at all concerned at being sued by Amati, quite simply because he's been dead for around four centuries. He was a great luthier (violin maker) - actually the father of violin making, and likely the teacher of the world's most famous maker Stradivari aka Stradivarious.

Now, the fact that an Amati would be worth at least 6 figures in USD is enough to have one take a breath at the prospect of running it over in Firestone tyres. (Though they could have very well been Goodyear and whatever other brand that has that awful mascot that reminds me of the big Marshmallow Man from the old Ghostbuster movies. Once again, a touch of NaCL okie...). But more significant is the very age of an Amati instrument. From a historical perspective, imagine this being 400 years old - and still in active music making. Few other things of that kind of age are still around outside of a museum today; the only examples that come to my mind are antique furniture and fossil fuels. From a musical point of view there're few things matching the sound one gets from a really aged instrument, added with the personalities of all the players who have been owned by that instrument over time - after all, since an instruments live much longer than we players, we are but temporary caretakers.

Uh-oh. Well, we try to be anyway.

Digressing: try this
link for a real violin accident.

Anyway, the guy at the wheel of the Volvo (I'm keeping with this because the old Volvo 240s of the time of this story make a more magnificent picture of destruction, and the Minis are just so sexy), couldn't bear to even open his violin case and took the instrument directly to the very best violin repairer in town, who told him to give him a year to see what he could do. So, a year passed and the violinist returned, probably still with a great fear of anything that reverses, and a confirmation good or bad whether his demand as a player was because of his playing or his instrument, to see a miracle - his instrument brought back to life. In fact, it sounded even better than before, but then he noted a little crack that was left unrepaired and asked about it. The restorer said that he had thought that the crack was originally there, and it was determinied, or at least from an educated guess, that that crack released some unseen tension in the wood, making it sound even better than before.

Which is in a very small way what happened to me yesterday - gave my seat to some old lady on the monorail, resulting in my viola slipping from its new position, added on to the rather idiotic checking of the instrument while still on the train, which ended in a second accident due to unseen acceleration. There's a little damage, but nothing major, cosmetic really, but the viola does sound more open than it did before, though with a the slightest hint of nasality on open strings sometimes. And with a little sacrifice in clarity in the lower strings perhaps, but with added smoothness in the A. Overall a good compromise, and one I would be happy with if it were just moving the soundpost, but still a little pity and a little guilt at the little dent. Also cautious if more or less unbeliving about the concept of fate, luck or whatever it is that it's called, I'm wary of anythings that reverses, though ironically, a monorail doesn't.

I've also been meaning to say thanks to everyone for your messages of congratulations, whether here or by email or MSN, or in person. It's still some 10 months to go before moving off halfway around the world, and I look forward to partying with everyone.


eg9 said...

"partying" or "parting" ?
A thinly veiled parthian shot?

bess said...

actually, if not online-diary, how exactly do u define blog?

AF said...

Sneexe: Aiyo, no lah. Me violist, not so sophistikated wan.


Discussion and educational forums, for one, especially for things like my violin postings on the sidebar, and my much neglected book club (basically due to the lack of time for me to read anything).

Also for use in publishing of creative writing, some of which are in the Narcissist! section - also, Sneexe and I tried out a joint play-writing blog once, which had too many challenges, but which hopefully will be resurrected in the future. Still, some meagre attempts of the sort on this blog.

bess said...

ok, sounds ambitious and complikated, not for simple-minded physicists, or me at least. keep up the effort while i shall read and be happy with E=mc^2.

by the way, a little bit of advertisement here, duty of a physicist-to-be and for the information of anyone interested: it's the world year of physics this year owing to the fact that A.Einstein had 5 important publication in 1905, 100 years ago that is. =)