The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

New Music, New Dance

Finally I've come to grips with the cobza, tuning it 3/4 of a half note
lower, and returning to the tuning in fourths. This makes it easier on the
fingers - especially for right-hand. I've worked out ways to play the
strings individually - they're now tuned more or less eee' aa dd ggg so
the e' is a minor third below the g, which is interestng. It's also
possible to pluck the ggg strings somewhat individually - this makes for
very fast arpeggios, slides, etc. Traditionally the instrument's played
with a pick, often with sweeping motions that make it sound something like
a washboard; it's used for accompanying violin this way. I've heard a few
plucked solo pieces; there are maybe 3-4 on the net that don't sound oddly
clumsy and therefore endearing. At least for myself, a bit of the frustra-
tion is going away; I'm ecstatic (for me) about the following. The first
is perhaps the oddest; the second is a tour de forest (for me), and the
other two build on different techniques. By all (net) accounts, the cobza
is going out of existence, except for revival groups; it's the crumhorn or
serpent of stringed instruments. But it's fun to play - the entire top of
the instrument becomes an odd dancing space for finger-boarding.

The confdance piece is a record of an odd dance my avatar did in Second
Life while I dutifully prepared for an online component of a conference
coming up in Australia. I liked the dance so much I kept the recording,
offering it for your (viewing/listing) pleasure.

- Alan (just found a signed Bill T. Jones book for a dollar!)

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