Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unusual violas

Jewish date:  26 Marḥeswan 5772 (evening) (Parashath Toledhoth).

Today’s event:  Start Your Own Country Day.


A musical instrument which gets frequent complaints that it is designed wrong is the viola.  The sound is weaker than it should be, and it is big enough to cause injuries played on the shoulder.  The obvious solution is the alto violin, which is essentially a large violin with viola tuning and played vertically like a cello.  The alto violin is not today’s weird thing, since the only real problem with it is that viola players who wish to take up alto violin may need to learn cello fingering technique in order to play it well.  Today’s weird things are the violas created by David L. Rivinus.  While the alto violin looks a lot like a traditional violin, only bigger and with a lower rib height, Rivinus’s violas are utterly bizarre in appearance, something like what would happen if Salvador Dali had designed violas.  The point of these strange designs is ergonomics, but the result has to be seen to be believed.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Side notes:  Further information on the alto violin can be found at The New Violin Octet and one can be acquired from Singing Woods Violin. The really weird thing is that the least expensive Rivinus viola costs about 7½ times the cost of an alto violin.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Quick and Dirty B-Movie Plot Generator

Jewish date:  16 Marḥeshwan 5772 (Parashath Ḥayye Sarah).

Today’s event:  World Kindness Day.


Today’s weird thing is The Quick and Dirty B-Movie Plot Generator, which takes the trouble out inventing premises for B-movies.  For example:

Dimitris Rich Barnickel is a ditzy Amish photographer from a doomed world. Elinore Gleda Schanck is a cosmopolitan psychic traffic cop on the wrong side of the law. And together, they must cross the country.

This should be useful for people with no creativity whatsoever.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cheap arpeggiones

Jewish date:  4 Marḥẹshwan 5772 (Parashath Lekh-Lekha).

Today’s events:  National Author’s Day, Melbourne Cup Day, World Vegan Day.


Those of you who know me well are aware that I play the classical guitar.  Some of you may even be aware that I have an interest in another instrument, the arpeggione, which is a lot like the guitar, except it can be played with a bow like a cello.  The arpeggione was invented around 1823, had one famous piece of music written for it, the Arpeggione Sonata, and was promptly forgotten, leaving the Arpeggione Sonata to be played on violas and cellos.  (I suspect the Arpeggione Sonata may have been a factor in the demise of the arpeggione, as it fails to take advantage of what the instrument is actually capable of doing.  But I digress.)  In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in arpeggiones, leading to the building and playing of the instrument.  (See “Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata Revisited”, “Togaman GuitarViols”, “Arpeggione”, “BowedGuitar.com”, and “Arpeggione - World”.)  However, arpeggiones still suffer from a major problem for anyone interested in them:  they are extremely expensive, e.g., the only one that Togaman has for sale right now costs $7,777.00.  For someone strapped for cash, this is out of the question.  My brother Barry and I have talked a lot about how to get me a functional arpeggione, and the most likely approach is that eventually I will have someone who knows what he/she is doing modify an inexpensive viola da gamba or six-string electric cello.  However, at least two other people have taken another approach:  to modify a guitar.  (Thank you, Barry, for noticing this.)  As such, today’s weird things are “"Guitarre de Gambe" - Arturo Pedraza”, “Chitarra da Gamba - Basso Continuo - Arturo Pedraza”, and “Cheapo da Gamba”.  The last of these shows how to modify a guitar into a cheap arpeggione.

Enjoy and share the weirdness.


PS:  No, I am not going to do this to my guitar.  And I do not have the tools or facilities to do this to another guitar, so if someone has a naughty guitar they want experimented on, I cannot help you.