Monday, September 8, 2014

My Musical Trail

Oddly, I don't think I've written here about making primitive instruments and how that came to be. A few years ago it captured my imagination and my interest is growing as are my skills. It's interesting to try to understand why it is such a passion.
It really has to start with my Dad. I grew up around tools and he wasn't afraid to teach me how to use them. He was building an addition onto the tiny house we lived in and I was riding my tricycle around the frames of the new room. It was fascinating to watch the rooms take shape and I wanted to hammer nails. Soon I had a little toy hammer with a peg bench that I'd hammer one direction, flip over and hammer the pegs back the other way. Quite likely, but I don't recall, at some point I took the real hammer and some nails and pounded them into something.
By the next decade and a major house project, I could swing a hammer well enough to work with him - side by side. I learned to make cement, lay block, trowel, use a power saw, do roofing.... Meanwhile, I watched him take discarded materials and create something. He made us an awesome little go cart with old lawn mower parts and re-purposed steel from wrecked cars. He built a truck camper. He took an old wooden boat - fiber glassed it - used re-purposed parts for a front split window that opened - and made it look like the new boats of the day.
A seed was planted - with a little imagine - it's possible to create something from what most people might call junk. Through the years I've tinkered and always have a variety of tools. Mostly working with wood has been most fun but I didn't develop the patience for fine woodworking. My tinkering never came to much. I made thousands of sticks for simple marionettes. And I believe there is a very large wood burned and jig sawed coat of arms I did that hangs still at the Venango PA Golf Course.
But a few years ago it seems to have all come together with primitive instruments and I expect to be dabbling with variations for the rest of my days. It's a culmination of three interests - making something from what others may discard, working with wood and musical instruments. As I dive into the history of primitive instruments - starting with cigar box instruments - it makes greater sense to me why I love it so.
As a very simple, very enthusiastic folk singer and guitar player with limited natural music ability - I want others to experience the joy of singing and playing something. On Holly's front porch, as a group of neighbors and friends gathered, I wanted to find those simple to play and learn instruments. Google popped up a list of cigar box guitars, single string canjos, and the imagination set my hands in motion. The journey began. With this journey, my understanding of music is growing as well.
Who knows where it will all go. All I know right now is that it makes me happy and seems to be spreading a bit of that around. How good is that!

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