May 30, 2006

Zither and Yon

It's that time of the week, and here's another edition of the world renowned: Tuesday's Tunes!

Many a tune wrestled for my attention as I pondered today's post. But I decided to change things up a little this Tuesday, and instead of a tune, I have decided to bring to your attention an instrument that has been instrumental in the making of tunes.

My grandmother grew up on a mountain. As a result, she posesses many of the quirks that people who grew up on mountains in an age when TV was a novelty and the future meant living on the moon (I'm still waiting) tend to posess. She also exhibits many quirks that are all her own. She has an interesting taste in colour, to say the least. An almost incomprehensible sense of colour, actually. For example, the dining room is a flourescent green, to go with the wood paneling of the TV room and the attic where we slept as girls is painted a shocking pink, the stairs leading to the pink room are a shiny yellow and the kitchen is blue wallpaper with tennis rackets (she's never played tennis, nor has she ever seen it played, it was on-sale at the co-op).

She's a quirky lady, so it is only natural that she plays a quirky intrusment. Introducing:

The Autoharp

Pictured here is June Carter Cash, google tells me she played a mean autoharp. What is it? Why, quite simply, the autoharp is a zither-like musical string instrument having a series of chord bars attached to dampers which, when depressed, mute all the strings other than those that form the desired chord (thank-you wikipedia.com)

Get it?

The autoharp hasn't been around long when it comes to harpy like instruments. It was developed in the late 19th century and grew in popularity with the musical genre we've all come to love known as Bluegrass. I think even David himself would have been jealous of this little gem.

It has only been in the last couple of years that I have been allowed to experiment with the thing myself. Grammie has two, one from the 70's and one from the 50's. I'm not allowed to play that one... it's an antique. You'd think that an instrument with all the chords already laid out for you would be fairly easy to play, but getting a pleasant sounding "strum" is quite tricky. It is a picky instrument, and will tell you with a distinctly sour note if you do something wrong. I've mastered "Amazing Grace" and have moved on to "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder". Grammie has even written a few of her own tunes, but I've yet to decipher the code. I'm hoping to also add "Bringing in the Sheaves", and if the melodic values allow, maybe even "Redeemed How I Love to Proclaim It".

You can find these and other classics over here.

I love the autoharp. Musically it's a little mucky, with a tone similar to strumming the inside of a piano, but it's a quirky instrument with a quirky personality.

And it suits some people just perfectly.

5 comments:

Becca said...

Strangely, I can TOTALLY picture you playing the autoharp.

Who knows, maybe you'll be the next June Carter Cash!

Emily said...

I love it.. I want to see you in concert Evelyn especially if you can play "Redeemed How I Love To Proclaim It". Now I'm going to ave that song in my head all day.

Marc Gunn said...

The autoharp is a beautiful instrument. Have at it!

Shannon said...

I"VE SEEN THE AUTOHARP!!!
I've even Seen the wonder that is Ev'y PLAYING the autoharp!!!

Oh Ev'y your grandmother Really Really does have interesting taste in colors... sigh

Crystal (Levy) Bueno said...

Your grammie really DOES have interesting taste in colours. As evidence, she made us a quilt for our wedding 9 years ago in tangerine orange, bright pink, black and deep teal. It's so weird and unique, I LOVE it. No matter how I decorate my bedroom, this quilt always matches something. Three cheers for Great Auntie Hazel (& the autoharp!)

- Crystal