> From: "Eugene C. Braig IV" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
> Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2006 11:18:59 -0400
> To: "Roger E. Blumberg" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, vihuela@cs.dartmouth.edu
> Subject: [VIHUELA] Re: Ian Woodfield's Early History of the Viol (and Vihuela)
> I still get a little squeamish regarding concepts of ancestry and evolution
> (even of families other than the grossly obvious) in musical
> organology.  The process of instrument development is much more plastic and
> can borrow from any inspiration at whim.  That said, of course it's all
> related...but not in anything remotely like a biological way.  I tend to
> favor the approach of the "lumpers" in biology, but, while acknowledging
> inspiration wherever it can be demonstrated, am very much a "splitter" in
> naming instrument families; i.e., I am wholly on board with the idea that
> inspiration was borrowed--even materials converted--between viol and
> vihuela, but I still see much usefulness in considering viol and vihuela as
> separate entities.  I do enjoy your input, Roger, and agree with many of
> your offerings.
> I guess this cycle of potential inspiration came full circle with
> arpeggione, eh?
> Eugene

Hi Eugene;

I guess I do prefer to unify, when, as you say, there's something grossly
obvious about it (or should be), a unity who's name and existence seems to
be almost religiously avoided whenever possible, and done so by the very
people and offices who claim to "represent" the given church, those who've
taken it upon themselves to be "the keepers of" the flame. I tend to see the
situation more like psaltery, plucked or bowed, i.e. fundamentally the same
instrument but using an alternate interface.

It would be one thing if there were no more players of fretted fourths
string instruments left on the planet, no contemporary survivors of the
greater family. I'm a guitarist. I grew up in the 1960s believing that
bowing is and always had been the sole and exclusive domain of the violin
family. No-one ever told us that bowing a guitar, a lute, fretted fourths,
was not only possible but in fact had been done for many hundreds of years,
the formative years of modern Western music in fact, one of the true
"classics", part of the foundation, part of the Renaissance arts.

A year or two ago I had an ex-president of the VdGSA tell me with a straight
face that they, viola da gamba society officers and enthusiasts, actually go
seeking out and recruiting new players more or mostly from among the ranks
of young _recorder_ players, and then to violin/cello players after that!
That's their idea of "public out-reach" and growing the player-base,
"sharing" their love-object with all future generations. Now if you can hear
that, imagine that, knowing how many guitarists there are on this planet,
knowing how popular fretted fourths string instruments still are, knowing
that 98% of said guitarists still to this day do not even know viols (bowed
guitars) ever existed, knowing that they have been quite successfully "kept
in the dark" regarding this matter of their other family members, their
(should-be) readily available other expressive outlet, if you or anyone can
hear that and not find something a little odd, sad, and downright shameful
about that state of affairs, well then you must be, as you say, a
"splitter", and content that it should be and remain so ;-).

The Arpeggione, as we know, was a very short-lived experiment and attempt at
revival -- with a few modern upgrades, fixed metal frets in particular. The
time was not right, apparently. Maybe it's time for another run, we'll see.

You can't and won't revive a classic that you don't even know ever existed,
aye? That's my main point probably. That, and my love of music and music
making, and my wish that I had only known and had access to, in my youth,
and for my entire life thereafter. I feel robbed and cheated quite frankly.
I feel like a painter-in-waiting who's art teachers were neglectful and
incompetent, "forgetting" to expose me to anything beyond mono-tonal and
non-fluid dry sketching. _Facilitation_, promoting the arts, exposure,
maintaining contiguity of culture via the arts. That's the point. If there
were no possible, tangible, real, ramifications in the real world, if it was
all simply a matter of academic debate, classification, and "organology",
the subject would be undeserving of _passion_. Music is passions
crystallized. Musical instruments are the wands and brushes that make it so.

If anyone f*cks with my music, my music making, my guitars, my lyra, my
music education, they'd better look out ;-)  That's all I've said, and all
I've done, using my web site, in it's totality, as my canvas. That was the
message. Some things _are_ sacred, to me. I made an alter to them.

(Don't take any of that personally Eugene. It's omni-directed -- it's simply
my "ripple", my signature. I can't help myself, I can't do otherwise ;-)


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