Words/Dragonetti bows and me (part 2)

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© Peter Morgan 2019


Dragonetti bows and me (part 2)

I have never wanted to be part of mainstream thought and have often made stupid decisions because I wanted to go my own way or plough my own furrow. It has meant rather than accepting advice I have ploughed way too many furrows. As I said stupid!

In my Art School days I was drawn to naive painting and drawing without conventional technique. Of course I knew I needed technique but I wanted my own technique. I knew I couldn’t rival Michaelangelo or Titian and I didn’t want to look like every other modern illustrator, so why bother. Why learn that stuff if you end up looking like everyone else.

That’s how I felt about playing music, I felt I should just be able to play, given what I could hear inside me, so academic work left me cold. It’s not that I didn’t practice, I did, incessantly and then some more. But it was my practice, I probably put my development back years.

But that was one of the reasons that I fell in love with Dragonetti bows, they immediately put me out of the mainstream. After one particularly horrible lesson with an internationally famous virtuoso player, I felt that I didn’t want anything more to do with academic learning. At the end of the outrageously overpriced session he said “Come back when you need inspiring again”. If only he knew, he almost put me off playing for life. He almost put me off life itself. Joy, there was not. I later found out that this man had led a less than joyful teaching life, it fitted in with my experience of his teaching.

The thing about the old bows was nobody wanted to play or teach them. I loved everything about them, but more importantly I was now on my own. It was me and Dragonetti against the world.

All the things that everyone disliked about these bows in our modern context I liked and worked hard to make use of. Musicians have said to me that I could achieve much better results with modern equipment, no I couldn’t. They have said it would be easier, no it wouldn’t. It is an easy mistake to make and I understand their position, it doesn’t apply to me though.

Francois Rabbath said of Rodian Azarkin, that he achieved what he did despite himself and his eccentric bows! Rabbath of all people should have seen that Azarkin was so great precisely because of his eccentricities. He had to be himself, just as Rabbath has unswervingly always been himself.

Please don’t think that I am comparing myself to these unbelievable monster players and musicians, I speak as an interested observer and we all have to find our own path. The amazing utilitarian art device known as Signore Dragonetti’s bow has done just that for me.

He was a free spirit and I feel him in these bows. I think a lot of players do when they use them. I also think that is why free improv players are drawn to these bows. I think the history of their existence is somehow contained within them, sometimes they play themselves. I’m not being romantic or deluded, but all my old bows have their own character and personal history. All I have to do is help them talk about it.

In return these beautiful bows allow me to be myself.