In the Workshop: Collaborative Multisensory Ethnography of Musical Instrument Making
- Juliet Glazer and Giovanni Cestino
- Department of Music, School of Arts & Sciences
Student Creative Production Grant
In the Workshop: Collaborative Multisensory Ethnography of Musical Instrument Making experiments with audiovisual research and presentation methods to explore the multisensory relationships that makers of violins, violas, and cellos forge with the materials, tools, and sonic possibilities they craft. Many contemporary makers of violins, violas, and cellos working around the world aim to craft instruments that closely resemble those made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Cremona, Italy. While they strive to create historically accurate copies, they increasingly use new and high-tech tools to do so. In Juliet Glazer’s ethnographic dissertation research on violinmakers in Italy and the United States, she has learned that makers spend much of their time crafting and refashioning tools: sharpening blades, making wooden jigs, programming CNC machines, even designing and building tools suited to the needs of their individual bodies, workspaces, and tasks. The first thing violinmaking students learn is not how to carve wood, but how to sharpen blades. Glazer and her collaborator Giovanni Cestino probe these phenomena with questions inspired by new materialist political philosophy (Miller 2005; Bennett 2010) and the cognitive science of tool use (Malafouris 2016): How do violinmakers theorize the relationships between tool, body, and seemingly immaterial sound? What might violinmaking sound and look like from the tool’s perspective? They propose to build on audiovisual ethnographic methods (Feld and Brenneis 2004; Ferrarini and Scaldaferri 2020) to address these questions through the creation of two short films of approximately fifteen minutes each: one composed from interviews with violinmakers and film footage of makers at work, and one composed from experimental audio and film recordings that engage the tools’ perspectives.