Blind, buttered, and bred: Stories of parents and children
At 76 my father’s still a professional timpanist.
We’re way beyond “the beat goes on” here. He’s got the roundest most beautiful sound anywhere.
From the time we were kids, with my two brothers and I, things were pretty wild at the house. My father used to take the three of us along to concerts. When I think of it now, it was an attempt to make us sit still and listen. Thanks to that, we all developed an ear for music. Especially for our father’s music, which was forever a thrill. Every new piece we heard was somehow naturally tied to his performance, making them easy to catalogue.
Collecting stuff comes from my father too. At the house, most of our electrical appliances were second hand out of offices and stuff. Our home was built of things that people didn’t need anymore and we got for free. Making things was another influence. I mean, my father repaired all these appliances and musical instruments. And when we wanted to make a hole for example, we had everything imaginable to do it: drills, electric saws, vises… We had any and every tool imaginable and could do whatever we wanted.
My friends would say “Your house is full of weird stuff. It’s like another world.” Since they all were saying that at the time, maybe that’s the way it was. Silverware from forgotten embassies, pots and pans from defunct hotels...
Finding the things that match your lifestyle in all that has been cast away makes a great deal of sense. With no money but a little bit of imagination, things that seemed useless reveal a life of secrets. For me this has been especially true for musical instruments. Recycling, breathing new life into something, changes it. This is how I live my life now.
Back in school, during workshop, I remember that I never wanted to make what someone else made, whither it was sketching, clay, making a boat, paperweights or a footstool. When I was a kid I loved assembling plastic models. I just plain loved building things. So I started with models where every piece was set, went on to make things out of odd stuff that was thrown away, and moved on to the musical instruments I make now.
Cooking developed the same way. I’ve tried making sake, beer and wine. Things that are fun and things that taste good fascinate me. Cooking can satisfy all of our senses, but music speaks to what goes beyond them. Social relations are like playing an instrument.
Given that people perceive things differently, it’s probably a good thing to use one’s own senses as broadly as possible: tasting things, seeing things, staying open to different experiences. I think this way of sharpening one’s senses through experience comes from my father.
(translation © victor woronov 2007)