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Monday, January 6, 2014

Fussy Fiddling. By John von Daler

                   I have perfect pitch. How lucky for me! But sometimes it gets in my way. I turn into a bit of a pedantic schoolteacher because my ears cannot stand to hear other notes than those that are supported by western, tonal music. It is no fun being a prude when everyone else is having fun.

                The other evening some Swedish #fiddlers came by, two beautiful people who know the country repertoire of their land in and out. They started to play and I sat in. Unison playing often initiates their pieces. By unison I mean they approximate the same melody, like two good friends walking a path together, side by side, but not precisely in the same place, just a hair-breadth from each other. This gives a thick sound, like the bell on a country church with all its tones and overtones.
                As they played they would approach each other's notes until they actually agreed on the exact place to be: walking along their path one of them would suddenly jump on the back of the other, and then they would be playing precisely the same notes. Occasionally they would veer away from each other and then the melody would thicken again.
                In all of this, there I was like a virgin in a maternity class or a maiden aunt at a bachelor party. My playing seemed so pristine in all its correctness!
                Do not worry about me. My perfect pitch has served me well all these years - and it is possible for me to suspend it momentarily. But I do get wistful every once in a while and want to be, well, just one of the happy fiddlers.


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