Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Meme

Or should it be a Me Me? It is from Mulier Fortis. Simple one; What are you reading at the moment?

I am not to reading too much at the moment. I find reading at length a bit of a chore, to read things comfortably I need larger type than I used to, thank God for the net, it is a bit tedious. Anyhow I am clearing the decks for the Pope’s, Jesus of Nazareth.

At this very moment I am reading a fascinating monograph on the development of the string. Now, I have a few friends with whom I go on holiday, one of whom arranges the production of operas in European cities. I have often suggested I could lecture on the development of strings from 1300 to 1750, as part of the events surrounding a presentation of a 17/18th century operas. He has never shown the slightest interest. Amazing!
Actually it is subject that is fascinating, and by which I am fascinated. As my friend intends to publish I don’t think I can reveal the points of contention in what she has to say. I feel a personal degree of satisfaction as I knew Anna before she embarked on her career as a musicologist and I remember getting her to explore the origin of “catgut”. As most of you probably might realise, tens of thousands of moggies are not slaughtered to provide the strings for children’s violins, nor ever was it! It is the intestines of sheep that were and are used. Anna does speak about economic dependency of various German towns on this smelly domestic craft. The word “catgut” seems to have derived from the use of caterpillar’s guts, actually silk. Anyhow Anna deals with this and such interesting subjects as viol strings loaded with lead or other material; lute strings over wound with gold wire and how the introduction of such heavier stinging meant that the long necked lute gradually disappeared, giving way to smaller, more portable instruments. I am on page 167, the 42 pages of footnotes begin on page 395, there is also an appendix of illustrations, including a discussion on the problems of stinging a lautochord (the gut strung counterpart of the harpsichord). Anna has already begun to collect material for something on wire strings.
I am also reading Bede’s “De Tabernaculo”, I love his use of typology, he brings typology to curtain rings, the meanings of colour, he really has a incredible knowledge of scripture and gives a wonderful insight into the way in which scripture was read, and minds worked in the Dark Ages.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you or even Anna might like to come and speak about the development of the string instruments to our music group. I, am myself an amateur plucked gut man and would very much like to move our little band towards something that is more traditionally Catholic. I shall telephone you.

Fr Ray Blake said...

What a good idea Donald, they will be absolutely fascinated. I think it would be good to do a practical session, can you get fresh lambs intestines?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think most music group "ministers" should at least make their own strings.

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