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Musical saw

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Playing a musical saw

A musical instrument plucked from the toolshed, the musical saw is often a standard, manual wood-cutting saw. However, it is often the case that professional "sawyers" might opt for a custom-made musical saw. These saws generally have a longer blade for a greater range, thinner metal for sweeter notes, and are cut from the original sheet so the grain of the metal runs parallel to the cutting edge of the saw (providing cleaner vibrations).

Custom or no, the saw is generally played seated (although a few sawyers perform while standing, using a style reminiscient to the seated method) with the handle squeezed between the legs, the cutting edge facing away from the body, and the far business end held with one hand. The player creates sound by bending the saw into a lopsided S shape -- the top curve is imperceptible -- and drawing a bow across the bottom curve. The pitch produced depends on where one draws the bow, and the shape of the curves. For sustained notes and increased volume sawyers often use vibrato by a quick, sustained vibration of one of the legs.

It is also possible to play this instrument by tapping it with a mallet rather than drawing a bow. A particular practitioner in the late twentieth century was fond of substituting his harmonica for a mallet, thus being able to say that he was "playing the saw with the harmonica". However produced, the sound made has an eerie, vocal quality.

The musical saw, though not normally struck when played, is often considered a percussion instrument. In any case, it is classified as an idiophone under the Hornbostel-Sachs system of musical instrument classification.

Musical saws have been produced for over a century now. In the early 1900s there were at least ten companies in the United States alone manufacturing saws. These saws ranged from the steel variety we're familiar with today to gold-plated masterpieces worth hundreds of dollars. However, with the start of World War II the demand for metals made the manufacture of saws too expensive and many of these companies went out of business. By the year 2000 only three companies in the U.S. were still making saws: MusicalSaw.com, Mussehl & Westpahl, and Blacklock.

Two other important companies exist in the saw world: Sandvik, maker of the Stradivarius saw and a company in France which produces a toothless saw with a range of three octaves.

External links

Free tutorial - How to master the Musical Saw in 5 days (http://www.musicalsaw.com)de:Singende Säge nl:Zingende zaag

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