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Yes, there's even a Musical Saw Festival
September 12, 2011 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Over 35 musical saw players travel from as far away as India and Japan to play and honor the musical saw. The NYC Musical Saw Festival aims to preserve the past, honor the present, and shape the future of the musical saw through performances, workshops, and compositions created for the musical saw. Will the musical saw ever receive the recognition and respect that it deserves?
posted by rageagainsttherobots (35 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
The musical saw would be perfect for Saw: the Musical.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:09 AM on September 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sooner or later, everybody will be so over ukuleles, and it'll be time to pick up a new instrument, and the musical saw's time will have come. Then we'll see trendy shops selling premium-priced saws with faux-rustic/hobo/hillbilly/"authentic" branding.
posted by acb at 9:14 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sounds Hawaiian!
posted by Ducks or monkeys at 9:14 AM on September 12, 2011


Sooner or later, everybody will be so over ukuleles, and it'll be time to pick up a new instrument, and the musical saw's time will have come. Then we'll see trendy shops selling premium-priced saws with faux-rustic/hobo/hillbilly/"authentic" branding.

My roommate put a Moog sticker on his.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:17 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Listen to this fucking hipster.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:19 AM on September 12, 2011


Thanks for posting this, I wasn't able to make this year's festival.
In my band, I play lead musical dental saw.
(Oh, the sublime sounds you can make with properly tuned dental drilling equipment)
posted by Auden at 9:27 AM on September 12, 2011


So glad there's a post about this! I know Natalia and she is delightful. The Saw Festival was hosted at our church a few years back, in fact; I think the event got so big they outgrew us!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:39 AM on September 12, 2011


Do you really have to round numbers between 35 and 40? I mean, it's like saying you have over 30 teeth.
posted by Nomyte at 9:40 AM on September 12, 2011


Those people didn't really seem like hipsters... Natalia seems awesome, it's cool that you know her. Trailer Bride, a now-ex gothic country band, was using a saw way back in 1993. One of my favorite songs of theirs (lyrics by Emily Dickinson!) is Hope is a Thing With Feathers (SLYT)
posted by Nibbly Fang at 9:48 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


End theme from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Mercury Rev - holes

Previously on MeFi. Thanks for that one too, rageagainsttherobots .
posted by philip-random at 9:49 AM on September 12, 2011


It seems like international travel with a musical saw might be difficult.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:50 AM on September 12, 2011


There's another musical saw festival out in California too.
posted by TheCoug at 9:51 AM on September 12, 2011


Will the musical saw ever receive the recognition and respect that it deserves?

Surely it already has.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:54 AM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


More from the archives.
posted by TheCoug at 9:55 AM on September 12, 2011


Sort of unfortunate that most of those video links went out of their way to keep from letting us hear any actual saws being played.

I wonder if Christina Mars was there.
posted by gurple at 9:56 AM on September 12, 2011


Who cares about musical saws? You guys are projecting emotions onto these things that they probably don't have.
posted by pmbuko at 10:04 AM on September 12, 2011


My friends has a musical saw player at their wedding. It was awesome.
posted by Tesseractive at 10:04 AM on September 12, 2011


Mercury Rev - holes

That was my first thought as well. The fl├╝gelhorn solo outshines the saw solo, though.
posted by kersplunk at 10:06 AM on September 12, 2011


You guys are projecting emotions onto these things that they probably don't have.

Many of you feel bad for the musical saw...
posted by griphus at 10:09 AM on September 12, 2011


(Oh, the sublime sounds you can make with properly tuned dental drilling equipment)
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:21 AM on September 12, 2011


For those of you hating on the saw, I can't find it on youtube but Mr Rogers did a segment on the saw, what would Mr Rogers think if he saw you hating on the saw.

Fuck yeah, fl├╝gelhorn

posted by Ad hominem at 10:24 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Witness! Wendy O Williams unplugged: Trailer Bride, Hope Is A Thing With Feathers. Behold, sinner!
posted by NoMich at 10:25 AM on September 12, 2011


For those that are stupid and want to skip over a lot of the Trailer Bride song, here's the sawwy goodness.
posted by NoMich at 10:28 AM on September 12, 2011


Would this music be appropriate for cutting a rug?
posted by hal9k at 10:36 AM on September 12, 2011


Those people didn't really seem like hipsters...

If Neutral Milk Hotel aren't hipsters, then I just don't even know anything anymore.
Time to move out of Brooklyn.

posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:38 AM on September 12, 2011


Oh squee!

One of my very favorite Minneapolis bands (via Rochester) is Dreamland Faces, featuring gentleman, scholar, and saw virtuoso Andy McCormick (I am uncertain if he's participatig, but might be.) They are absolutely wonderful and if you ever get a chance to see them perform you simply must.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:41 AM on September 12, 2011


(Oh, the sublime sounds you can make with properly tuned dental drilling equipment)

Sounds a little sharp to me.
posted by hal9k at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2011


Someone please do an FPP on toy instrument bands like pianosaurus
posted by Ad hominem at 10:52 AM on September 12, 2011



Nice to see this revival, but of course, the musical saw's time in the spotlight was back in the early 1970s with the Tool Jazz Movement. What started out as just some guys tryin' to lighten the load a bit at work caught on, and some music journos started careering on it; it got all 'political' and seen as a reaction against jazz fusion and the academization of jazz. I was present at the creation. Let me tell you. . .

See, I was labouring at a construction site. And one day as I carried my hod up the ramp, I was scatting Nat Adderley's Work Song to the rhythm of the barrow's squeeky wheel rolling over those uneven boards, when this other cat started comping on a socket wrench. A couple other guys, not to be outdone, joined in on their tools, and before we knew it we'd created a whole new sound. A really really loud sound.

It was great for a while, but once OSHA started requiring all audience members to wear hearing protection, the handwriting was on the wall. The whole thing ran its course in less than a year and it was back to the day jobs for most of us. The saw, one of our quieter instruments, seemed to have more staying power with the public than the jackhammer, excavator, or tube-steel bender. Still, I'm glad I was part of it, don't begrudge the saw's success, and look forward to seeing it in the PBS concert specials during pledge week in a few years.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:58 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


We already have Silence! The Musical. Can Saw: The Musical be that far behind?
posted by Eideteker at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2011


I was at "Proms in the Park" on Saturday, and they had a performance by the cast of some new (?) 80s musical - all based on soft rock anthems and ballads. I realised that we have finished with 70s musicals (Mamma Mia; We Will Rock You) and as nostalgia has reached the 80s we must be quite close now to Grunge: the musical. I assume Ben Elton is all over that shit, but if not, and if anyone wants to collaborate on the book for Grunge: the musical with me, we could make literally fives of pounds.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:44 AM on September 12, 2011


They sound a lot like theremins which have also never really jumped out into being a mainstream instrument. My feeling about getting respect as a musician, it that if you're good enough people will respect you regardless of your instrument. However, if their complaint is that they can't find any gigs or find people to play with, I have some sympathy but really, if you play something weird, that's about what I'd expect. It's not a terribly versatile instrument, it has mainly one sound and it doesn't allow for varied approaches (no pizzicato, no chords, no hard attacks) so it gets used very occasionally where it fits.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:45 PM on September 12, 2011


Time to move out of Brooklyn.

I'm picturing you saying this like Roy Batty at the end of Blade Runner.
posted by griphus at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Will the musical saw ever receive the recognition and respect that it deserves?

Already has.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:08 PM on September 12, 2011


I've had the pleasure of hearing Julian Koster play the singing saw several times. It's delightful. Here's a video of him playing O Tannenbaum solo, which you can also hear on his album The Singing Saw at Christmastime. The saw is also great when accompanied by an accordion or banjo.
posted by PueExMachina at 9:06 PM on September 12, 2011


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