Thursday, June 08, 2006

Flachsmarkt and Music

Last Monday I went to a Flachsmarkt, which is similar to a Reinaissance Festival, with Biff*, a friend from choir... it was quite interesting.

With this post, I hereby officially retract my erstwhile proposal of quitting work and starting a band. Instead, I'd like to quit work (and driving school!) and study the Drehleier (English: Hurdy-Durdy) for 18 semesters. A quick nine year break to study an ancient musical instrument is somehow appealing at this point.

The Drehleier** is a fascinating instrument... it looks like a mixture of an accordian and a violin, but with guitar strings. By adjusting the strings you can create different sounds: violin, cello, and bagpipes, for example. Instead of plucking the strings or playing with a bow, there's a miniature keyboard (think: accordian)... and while playing, you must continually turn a handle which turns a wheel which strums the the strings.

Biff had evidently seen the man who played the Drehleier play before, so he asked him to play a demo for us. Not only were we given a mini-concert, but a complete history! As he told us the history, he played musical pieces from different Eras, which was great. First we heard something Baroque-ish: a piece from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. He also played an Irish-sounding piece and various classical pieces.

This is hilarious... the whole time he was playing, I was spinning the idea around in my head of whether it'd be appropriate or not to ask him if he could play a Beatles song.

Mary: "Sure, I realize that you're one of only two people in the world who can play the Four Seasons on the Drehleier... but I'd rather hear Love me do."

Somehow I couldn't bring myself to ask him.

When he came to the modern musical era, though, guess what he played... Yellow Submarine! By the Beatles!!! And I didn't even have to ask! It was perfect.

Only 15-20 people in Europe play the Drehleier technically correct, and to study it, you must attend a special school for 18 semesters. I wonder if this is really necessary, and if it's really this complicated and time-consuming. But then again, Germans have a bent towards unnecessary complication. Or maybe it's "geregelt" somewhere that Drehleier-learning requires nine years.

The other high-light of the day was an open-air piano concert. I'd actually told Helmut and Syd about Victor Borge last Sunday... and the man playing the piano was a young, slightly calmer, modern-day, European Mr. Borge; it was fabulous. He had a gorgeous white grand piano (it said "Berlin" on it - is that a manufacturer?) which he set up in the middle of the lawn under a tent. His playing was beautiful (everything from Mozart to Lizst to Gerschwinn), and he simultaneously told jokes and stories, took requests, involved the audience, and sang/screamed. Very creative.

The only disappointment is that he didn't dramatically tople off the piano bench while playing.

Lyric of the day: "So we sailed up to the sun 'till we found a sea of green. And we lived beneath the waves in our yellow submarine. We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine..." (Thanks to the Beatles!)

* name changed to protect privacy

** "Hurdy-Durdy" sounds stupid, so I decided to proceed using the German word.

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