On my blog header it says "Crafts, photography, music and life in general." I've mentioned my crafts and photography, and the occasional snippet about life, but some might have wondered where the music came into it. Well, it hasn't, until now! My day job is primary school music specialist. My main instrument is the piano, but my favourite one is my bowed psaltery. I guess some of you reading this will now be saying "your what?" I'd never heard of it either until about 15 years ago when I met the wonderful Tony Westran at a craft fair. (Also see Tony's blog.) At the time he was making and selling all kinds of early and unusual musical instruments. I got talking to him and he let me try playing the bowed psaltery. I'd never heard anything like it before and I was totally captivated by its beautiful sound. There was no way I was leaving his stall without taking one home with me.
Anyway, here's a picture of it. It has 32 steel strings and is played with a curved bow. The history of the bowed psaltery is questionable, but it is probably descended from the plucked psaltery of medieval times. I wanted to be able to play authentic music on it, but it was difficult to find any. Eventually I decided to play whatever sounded good on it, and also to compose my own music for it. In 1997 I achieved one of my life's ambitions and made a professional recording, entitled "Promises To Keep". It has 12 tracks, eight being my original compositions, and the other four my own arrangements of traditional folk songs. My electronic keyboard provides the accompaniment.
It is hard to describe the sound of the bowed psaltery. It seems that people either love it or hate it! I reckon the split is 95%/5%, in favour of the former. Those who love the sound commonly describe it as relaxing to listen to, which I would concur with. I haven't mentioned it before because I haven't had the means to link to a sound file on my blog, but now I have! Clicking on the link on my sidebar (fingers crossed that it works!) will take you to my Windows Live Skydrive page, where you will find some sample tracks from my CD which you can download and listen to. I'd love to know what people think of the sound, for or against! If anyone is interested in knowing more about the CD, please contact me via my profile.
Copyright note: I just need to point out that I hold the copyright for all tracks. I will be delighted if anyone wishes to download the sample tracks for their own enjoyment. However, please do not re-distribute them in any way (pass on the link to my blog instead) and please do not add them to any other internet site. If you should wish to use them other than for the circumstance described above, please contact me and permission may well be forthcoming! Thank you for respecting this.