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In 1996, while taking a lunchtime stroll in Durban City Centre to clear my head after a morning of work, I spotted a new violin in the window of a music shop marked R195-00, which was considerably cheaper than all others there. The last thing I needed in my life at that time was an unfamiliar kind of musical instrument to contend with. Apart from work I had a number of work-related and voluntary organisation committee commitments to keep me out of mischief. I was also engaged in completing a BA degree at the time.
Temptation overcame me, though. I entered, pointed, and plonked down the required sum. The sales assistant looked worried and did a lot of blinking at the price tag, but not many minutes later I returned to work carrying a violin case.
Through the university, I then tracked down a teacher in our area. Younger Daughter took a great interest in the instrument, declared that we would have to share it, and included herself in on the lessons.
A couple of months elapsed, and we squeaked and squawked our way to some progress. The teacher was, however, not too impressed at the violin needing to be passed from one to the other every minute or so. Then we had a Mardi Gras, and on the morning of it I noticed a really old violin was among the things to be auctioned there at 3.00 p.m. I duly returned at the given time, and as the bidding opened I put in a determined one at R300.00, wearing the expression of one who is prepared to keep on bidding indefinitely. Actually, had someone bid R301.00 it would have counted me out, but that figure successfully chased the other hopefuls away and for our next violin lesson YD and I were playing in stereo. The ‘new’ violin was dated by a local expert at 1703 and (instead of the £1 000 000.00 which one bearing the same name – Guadagnini – owned by David Garrett, is worth) it was declared a German copy of the Italian make and valued at R3 000.00.
In passing I might mention that Garrett went and fell on his, and it cost £60 000.00 to repair it. Oops!
Anyway, after a couple of years our violin teacher moved to the Cape. YD gave up; I tried a few more lessons with one of her advanced pupils until he became over-committed, and after that I just pottered along on my own enough to let me compose intelligently. Meanwhile the violin of YD languished in its case and when I opened it a couple of years ago I found these bits – an old repair had given in and the whole thing had simply exploded under the pressure of the taut strings.
Recently, with playing my own somewhat more frequently again, and with interest revived after a visit by gipsika, I was bitten by an urge to get the other one fixed. Forget it! I wouldn’t be able to play it without any arms and legs left, and it would cost both of both.
Finally, I wondered if I could do it myself?
The answer to that, I think, lies above. It wasn’t easy, but I completed it a week or so ago. It has taken me until yesterday to track down a set of strings in Durban. Violin strings, and particularly the E strings, are simply not to be found anywhere here at present for some very odd reason.
Anyway, I did the restringing – helped by the new tuning widget I put in my sidebar: isn’t it nifty? – and now I am delighted with the sound it is producing. It has a rich, mellow tone and an echo effect which makes my own violin pale to insignificance by comparison.
Anyone got a squished violin they’d like me to repair at a large discount on the R720 000.00-odd?
© Colonialist August 2013 (WordPress)