COMPOSITE of a sonogram of a violin's sound and
a NORWEGIAN SPRUCE (Picea abies) Ridgeline . . .
the European Alps [click photo for next]
WHY I CALL Picea abies FIDDLE-TOP SPRUCE
Victor Schauberger, the great Water Wizard of the Alps, noticed
already more than 100 years ago that it was getting increasingly
difficult to find Spruce trees—the signature tree species of the range—
of sufficient stature and quality to harvest for the wood of violins.
Indeed, you will not find a Norwegian Spruce in North America,
where they are widely planted as ornamental trees, without all
the symptoms of illness—thin, misshaped crowns, too few years
of needles on the branches, and the tell-tale adventitious 'hanging
branches' which shouldn't be there, as if the tree were gasping
So we live in paradoxical times. On the one hand, there has never
been such a surfeit of technical virtuosity and talent. Young
violinists of extraordinary ability, equipped with their Paganini and
Tchaikovsky, compete fiercely with each other in competitions
around the globe. And yet, I wonder how many would
recognize the tree which gives birth to their sound?
Or how many, like Victor Schauberger, would be concerned
about a tree's plight?
We live verily in the Dark Age of the Literal Man. Outward appearance
and Matter rule, both in the Arts and Sciences. And yet, we literally
mine—that is, extract the ore, putting nothing back—the
great works of our historical past, and contribute almost
nothing to build a really creative tradition:—New works. new
types of ensembles, new forms of concert ritual, new ways
of teaching the young, new and better ways of using our
own physical bodies in performance, and most especially,
a new and more true relationship between Nature and
No. Instead we merely repeat. So the Muse, the spirit,
the life of the sound, looks down on us, and is silent. And
we think we need more of some outward thing, more money,
more subsidy, to fill the concert halls again. How petty. It is
our hearts that are bankrupt.
And so we chose to remain in the Alice-in-wonderland
reality of the plush concert hall, while outside, the real world
pounds at the door.
Fiddle-top Spruce, a fine name, I think. I would encourage
any young person to summon courage, and quit the lie
that is contemporary performance practice. Walk the land.
Listen to the wind. Watch the flowing waters. Strap your
five-and-dime fiddle to your back. Play your Bach Chaconne
and Biber Passacaglia—the heart and soul of a mountain tree's
repertoire—under the stars of moonless nights to the
kindred beings you meet, as you find your own way.
Then the sound that you make may project further, may
resonate with something much deeper, than just
| download mp3 WHY FIDDLE-TOP SPRUCE [4.9 Mb]
RECORDED w/ the P/P voice computer. I rather
like hearing a machine talk to me, as a form of
meditation, about what it is
to be human.
| LISTENING (In German): SWISS RADIO DRSII
Vom Baum zum Klang – wie das Holz zur
Geige wird | From Tree to Sound—How wood
becomes a violin | This is both a wonderful idea
and a wonderful program, well worth listening to.
even if you do not have much German.
On the road in the Northwest of America.
The one thing
NORWEGIAN SPRUCE—a long-line sonnet
A sonogram of the violin's vibrating body reveals to us nothing
Of the mystery, of the spirit, of its sound. Better to observe
By the light of a winter's moon the noble Spruce harvested
High in the Alps, older than a symphony by Mozart,
Yielding the light, resonant wood needed for the violin's top,
The soft feminine side with its graceful curves, balanced
By the harder, more powerful lines of the back of carved maple.
Yet, where now are we to find such trees? Science cannot
Help us, for it knows as little of the spirit of the violin's sound
As the seed growing in a mother's womb, So we listen. We
Experiment. We send rockets into the depths of space with
Recordings of Bach etched in gold. Is there anyone out there
Who might know? Might know this spirit of a sound that ripens
Slowly, deep roots in rock, that holds the stars, of 10,000 nights.
All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego © 1999 -2011 picture-poems.com