The Singing Saw

In the classification of musical instruments the singing saw is categorised as an idiophone, the sound is created from the vibration of the instrument itself, as with Tibetan bowls or the glass harp for example.

Many years ago the Forgotten Fish Memory Orchestra were working on a project together with the great architect/recycler/artist Davide Manzone. He was constructing a pyramid for them from glass, wood and metal. This structure was to be used in their performance ‘Pyramid of Babylon’.During this construction the orchestra continued their musical rehearsals amid the clutter and chaos of building materials, sheet metal, gigantic wooden beams, welding equipment and thick plates of glass. This environment did not hinder them but became a creative source. They began to experiment with numerous potential ‘idiophones’- shaking , hitting and bowing all manner of glass and metal objects. It was only a matter of time before the toolbox was ransacked and the saw was made to sing. Astral Gonad showed a particular aptitude for the instrument and he has been their singing-sawist ever since.

To produce a musical tone from a saw it is necessary to bend it in an S-shape. Two curves, one up, one down. The bow is used only on the straight section of the curve . The bowing angle has to be precise and the grip of the bow is of considerable importance. Because of the thickness of the saw, a cello bow or contrabass bow give the best results.

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