I play a lot of music. I play music in my car on my ipod. I play music in my house on my record player. I play a lot of music at work on last.fm
. I play music on the radio. But what I don't do with any regularity is play music on instruments. Anywhere.
Yes, I am the proud owner of a thrift store organ that is dying in the most lovely, short-circuit kind of ways. And I have a mandolin, which I pluck at and think, "If only I had a violin bow for this." But I don't. Or, at least I didn't. Until I made the rash, why the hell not decision to get one, and along with it, a violin. I've had a love affair with the violin since birth. My big brother, now a professional musician
, played the violin for me while I fell asleep in my crib. But when it came to learning it? Nah. I'd leave that to the bro.
But like I said, rash decisions. I bought a student violin on a whim and within, well, hours, I was at the Santa Fe Complex
bow in hand. I'd been invited by local musician Ross Hamlin, one of about a half dozen people to ever hear me play music, to Philip Mantione
's first UUUUT Experiment.
The goal was simple. Play, just don't play louder than 65dB. Bring whatever. People brought drums, guitars, laptops and bowls of shiny beads. We played for 90 minutes and within 20 I'd broken my first string but was feeling comfortable on my new instrument. I guess all those years of dozing off to violin music paid off. Somehow I knew how to bow without making that horrid dying cat sound new violin players are so well known for. I sounded, I think, like someone who didn't know how to "play" but had been tinkering with this instrument for months, not the hour or so I'd managed to get in over the weekend.
The experiment went well, though a little too long. The group played for 90 minutes, only hitting the naughty mark a few times. Even though I'd never met most of these musicians before they were really open to my being there and the group had waves of really wonderful sound.
Mantione invited all the musicians involved to give feedback on the experience, which he plans to continue at regular intervals with slight tweeks. One of my favorite ideas was to do the performance outside. This might be problematic for the electronic musicians who came but if we could set up in front of the Complex and run electricity indoors with the audience (if there were to be one, there were only about four people last night, unless I missed someone) flowing out into the parking lot the atmospheric sounds from nature as well as Agua Fria would be an interesting addition, especially for the electronic artists who captured the sounds to play them back during the performance.
Sadly, I will be out of town for the next UUUUT Experiment: 3 pm Sunday, April 19 at the Santa Fe Complex but I urge all to come and check out one of the most welcoming environments I've ever been part of.