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A Close Encounter of the Classical Kind

Posted by bj on Monday, July 27, 2009

A few times a year I set up at the flea market for a few extra dollars, and yesterday was one of those days. I had brought a couple fiddles with me to sell, since I've got a bit of an overabundance of them right now. And I always bring a player with me, so I can sit and doodle around when things are slow, especially since this is the market near where Jane lives (though she was MIA yesterday.)

Late in the day I had a very nice couple from, if I remember right, Latvia, who struggled with English in a charming way, and were interested in the little 3/4 fiddle I have for sale. Despite the language issue, we managed to have a nice conversation, with lots of laughter. Love of the instrument did overcome a lot of the language barrier. The family is living in the US for awhile, though I got the feeling it wasn't forever, and they'd eventually be moving back to Latvia. They were interested in the fiddle, or should I say violin, for their daughter. Though I didn't make the sale (yet, but they did take my name and number) they really both liked this little fiddle, and agreed that it was nicely made for the price. They weren't afraid of the fact that it wasn't yet set up and that the soundpost was rattling around inside. Apparently the woman is quite knowledgeable. She saw my fiddle on the tailgate of the truck, which I told her wasn't for sale. She asked me if she could try it. So I let her. Wow, she can sure play! Though we're definitely talking classical here, vibrato and on up the fingerboard in places that have never been touched by me. Though we laughed a lot  when she went down to the G string, since I had it crosstuned to ADAE. She asked me why, and I had to explain crosstuning to her. I wonder if she'll experiment . . . I told them to check out Tommy Jarrell on youtube if they wanted to hear real authentic American fiddling.

Then she asked me if I'd sell her my bow. She REALLY liked my bow. So do I.

I was able to give them a luthier referral. Apparently they'd found Philadelphia luthier prices to be astronomical, which doesn't surprise me, and were willing to drive a bit for good work at a fair price.

My experiences with classical players hasn't always been positive, to say the least. This particular encounter was delightful, with a lot of interest on both sides about the ways of the other, with the fiddles in the middle acting as translator. Whether they buy this fiddle or not, I hope I hear from them again.

6 comments on “A Close Encounter of the Classical Kind”

brya31 Says:
Monday, July 27, 2009 @1:46:22 PM

What an interesting day. Your not the person I bought the $8 mic from are you? hehee I know I know we are 1000 miles apart, LOL but, BJ if I ever am in PA and see you at a flea market I can promise you this I will not pick up your fiddle and play with some vibrato unless I am of course trying to turn my fiddle to get to that darn G string and a vibrato accidently happens!!! ; )

mudbug Says:
Monday, July 27, 2009 @2:28:22 PM

I WISH I could pick up your fiddle and do vibrato! She'll probably go back to Latvia and tell all her friends about the crazy lady she met who tuned her violin strangely! :-).

ViolaFiddler Says:
Monday, July 27, 2009 @11:34:17 PM

great encounter story, bj! I started out classical viola in grade school and been fiddling around it since then with folk and classical and of late OT and Bluegrass. I was only ever a first position player and vibrato is kinda sweet on a bluegrass tune I've been learning. Cool to have the crossover surprise, since I have no idea what this means, YET!

bj Says:
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 @4:01:57 AM

Rob, I'd be just as surprised if I ever added some vibrato! I've tried and can kinda do it, but it's ugly. Not that there's any need for it in OT, except on the occasional waltz.

Mudbug, yeah, I'm sure she'll be dining out on that story!

Jan, you'll figure it out, I'm sure.

jacentaaa Says:
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 @7:58:02 PM

what all fiddles are you selling? :)

Mandogryl Says:
Saturday, August 1, 2009 @4:02:28 AM

That was a great story. (Do you only sell fiddles at your booth?)
I must admit that, although I am new to the fiddle (4 months I think) I have played the mandolin for years. I do love Bach, and play some sonatas and partitas on the mando. My left hand wants to try (experiment) with it on the fiddle, but my right hand says "No, not yet. Not till you've paid your dues. Even though my favorite fiddle genres are OT and Cape Breton, I think a little Bach is good for a musician. You know, scales and all.
BTW, just how many fiddles do you own? I recently removed the neck on my old German/Chech fiddle (my best of two) to try for a better neck set. Will be gluing it back on this weekend. But I am so glad I have a back-up, albiet a Chinese cheapo. I don't think I could go a day without playing the fiddle.
Thanks for the great story!

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