#MfEMonday – All things Strings!

Our new season is getting off to a great start with all of our regular rehearsing groups getting back together for the new season. This weekend saw three of our Youth Groups starting again – East Midlands Youth String Orchestra – conductor Richard Howarth, Strictly Strings – conductor Abi Smith and the East Midlands Youth Windband – conductor Phil Smith. All three groups met at NTU, Clifton at 2:00 yesterday afternoon and more information can be found on our website – https://www.music-for-everyone.org/whats-on/youth-music/

For those interested in stringed instruments, the first clear record of a
violin-like instrument comes from paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrrari.  In his Madonna of the Orange Tree, painted 1530, a cherub is seen playing a bowed instrument which clearly has the hallmarks of violins.  A few years later, on a fresco inside the cupola of the church of Madonna dei Miracoli in Saronno angels play three instruments of the violin family, corresponding to violin, viola and cello. The instruments Ferrari depicts have bulging front and back plates, strings which feed into peg-boxes with side pegs, and f-holes. They do not have frets. The only real difference between these instruments and the modern violin is that Ferrari’s have three strings, and a rather more extravagant curved shape.

Horsehair graces the bow for violins and cellos, and each bow has about 150 individual hairs. Horsehair has many small bumps that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and those bumps create the friction that produces the characteristic subtle weeping tone of the violin. The most popular horsehair, which is said to produce a good tone, is white horsehair from Mongolia.

Yet, this claim seems based mostly on the fact that horse breeding is a bustling industry in Mongolia, and their horses have relatively long, bushy tails for their height, making them a perfect source of horsehair. Yet, the horse sacrifices the hair of his tail for the sake of the tone of the violin, which is a bit sad. Who was it that said that when they play the violin they can hear the braying of a horse?

A double bass player arrived a few minutes late for the first rehearsal of the local choral society’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. He picked up his instrument and bow and turned his attention to the conductor. The conductor asked, “Would you like a moment to tune?” The bass player replied with some surprise, “Why? Isn’t it the same as last year?”

Have a good week!

Your friends at MfE.



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#MfEMondays are Music for Everyone’s new weekly emails designed to keep you up to date with MfE events & to circulate interesting finds, special features, and motivational moments for your Mondays! We are aiming to send out something new each week.