The Phono Fiddle

This is a strange animal of an instrument and would seem to belong more in a bestiary than an orchestra. Not to be mistaken for a Stroh Violin, it’s an invention from the early 20th Century, in England . It has a thin necked fretboard, a single string and no resonating body. Instead it contains a tiny diaphragm from an old wind up gramophone. The single string of the instrument passes over a kind of chunky needle which in turn is connected to the diaphragm. The whole sound is then amplified through a metal horn of ones own making.

In Fish Memory, the horn was very kindly donated by Milu Ling, it was a dusty old cornet which was hanging unused and unplayed on her living room wall. Now it sings with the voice of a tinny violin from the 1920s. The instrument having only one string, it is a difficult beast to tame, but the sound cuts right through the sonic density of the other instruments around it, much in the way that the Jing Hu does in Beijing Opera. The Phono Fiddle was designed as a novelty instrument and therefore has no tradition or musical genre to inhabiit, but it fits well with many diverse musical environments… Arabic, Irish, Chinese, Situationist.

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