10.21.2008

Glass Violin

Posted by AJ Harbison at 8:07 pm

I’m going to apologize in advance for not posting much this week; I have something scheduled every single night from yesterday (Monday) all the way through Sunday. But I’ll try to post an update on Sean’s and my audition tonight in a day or two, and in the meantime, you can enjoy this post!

On our road trip last fall, one of our stops was in Colonial Williamsburg, a reconstruction of Williamsburg, VA as it existed in colonial times, complete with artisans plying trades the way they were plied at the time and reenactments of historical Revolutionary War events. I was particularly interested in a musical demonstration by Dean Shostak (www.crystalconcert.com), a musician who plays all manner of glass instruments from colonial times (such as Ben Franklin’s glass armonica of 1761) up to some crazy instruments of the present. On my cell phone I captured a video of him performing on a glass violin–a marvel of modern musical engineering, and one of only two that exist in the whole world. The video quality is bad, and you can’t even really see the violin because of the lighting, but you can hear how the sound is different from a normal violin: more silvery, thin, sparkling yet haunting–much like you’d expect a glass violin to sound.

And here are some photos, for those of you who didn’t believe that he was really playing a glass violin:

Wind instruments have a long history of being made from lots of different materials, flutes in particular–everything from metal to wood to glass to clay. But stringed instruments less so. Props to Shostak and whoever had the engineering and musical savvy to construct a violin made of glass.

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    ryan Fleming on 10.22.2008

    It sure is beautiful, but not that great sounding. It should probably be kept on display only.

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