On violins and wood.

March 18, 2016, 8:58 AM · I have been (re-reading, since I first read it in 2013 when I was particularly obsessed with Howard Shore's score to Peter Jackson's films) The Lord of the Rings, and one particular chapter really caught my attention. Throughout the beginning of the book, trees and wood to make fire and all these natural things have always been a theme of Tolkien's Middle-Earth world, which is another reason why Shore's choice of an operatic natural orchestra works quite well. I suppose I should mention also, the Elves are known for their music, as music is what created the world (for both Middle-Earth (Arda) for Tolkien and Narnia for Lewis, I think). But when the company visits Lothl√≥rien, the land of the Elves, they are in a tall and dark forest where the Elves practically live in the trees. At one point during their stay, Frodo reaches out and touches the bark of a tree, and the quote really resonated with me:

"As Frodo prepared to follow him, he laid his hand upon the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree's skin and the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself." -Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 351

And that's how I've felt, especially as the spring blossoms. (Legolas says in the autumn, the trees' leaves change to a golden colour, and in the spring the gold leaves fall to the ground.) I guess I can think of Japan's cherry blossoms and their festival as well, especially in April. I love walking in nature, looking to the trees and the birds to inspire my musical composing. But I have been watching a lot of videos on how some things are made, and it made me think how much we use wood still today, for desks, floors, and of course, musical instruments. Tomorrow morning I'm going to see a new documentary called MusicWood, which is about the fact that wood used for acoustic guitars is running out because a forest is being cut down to quickly - you can look up the website and the trailer for it. But for us, as violinists (though I do have an acoustic guitar at home I sometimes play and incorporate in my compositions), I think about how violins were made, and with my new violin, how its woodwork is so beautifully done, especially the varnish, and the maple. I think about how Stradivarius's instruments survive to this day, its wood still pretty much intact, or with parts replaced. I think about modern instruments and how with mine being crafted in 2007, I am the one to bring it its moments of bliss and age it as I continue to play it. It's cool how there are so many types of wood that come together to craft such a beautiful-looking object, that hopefully you allow to sing so it can be heard with all its beauty. The violin breathes with the life of the trees cut down to make it, so whenever you play, you can think about that fact on your own wooden instruments.

My new violin, by the way... Playing it just fills me with joy, because already I can hear that I will be able to make a fantastic sound, far beyond what my old instrument could do. I have already plans to play another (more traditional and longer as compared to "Little Snow-White") Violin Concerto I will write, and I have been doing some improvisation with some friends recently, too. I'm very excited now to focus back on composition again with my violin things pretty much settled now.

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