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HPSCHD-L  April 2001

HPSCHD-L April 2001

Subject:

Re: Choosing Teachers / Instruments.

From:

Owen Daly <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Harpsichords and Related Topics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 9 Apr 2001 07:58:38 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (57 lines)

Melissa & Craig wrote:
>
This is not meant to challenge ... ... choices
> but to learn why such choices were made and what effect they have on the
> instrument.  Forgive me if these questions seem, at times, to be critical.
> It is merely the way in which I learn.  After all, I rarely get the chance
> to speak with a builder.  I know of only two within an days travel of where
> I live and have thus far only spoken to one.


More power to you. As I wrote yesterday, it is important for an
interested potential client to be well-informed, and I was NOT referring
either to the way James and I have interracted over the years or to your
kind of curiosity. I think it's important that I try to articulate what
I'm feeling here, so bear with me.

Those who have visited with me in the shop or at exhibitions - and not
just me, but all of my colleague builders whom I respect - know that
eventually they get tired of hearing about those details. Just get me
started ... ... No, it's not that that sometimes wrankles. But I have
had people who wanted me to *argue* them into choosing an instrument
from me instead of from another builder, and the abstraction and
fruitlessness of this annoys me no end. Often these folks will fancy
themselves potential builders and just want to see if they can make you
DEFEND your choices - again, the model is the PhD dissertation defense
(and, yes, I did one once, and vowed never again, though I did pass!).

As for getting to know instruments. I know it's tough, as Jim pointed
out, but there is simply no substitute. The closest you can come, I
suppose, is reputation from owners. I know that in Ed Kottick's book he
makes the very valid point that NOBODY wants to admit that they bought a
dog, but you can still ferret out the truth pretty quickly, I think. And
you can find out how things have held up (the 'repair history' as it
were), by asking around.

But back to the argument business. You see, there is NOTHING that I can
say on my website that somebody else cannot say on theirs. A person can
say that he or she has meticulous workmanship, and a high degree of
historical fidelity, but we all know that it ain't necessarily so. The
best I can hope for on that website is that I'll motivate someone to ask
more, and to visit an instrument or come to an Exhibition or phone up a
series of clients. But I CANNOT prove the value of my instruments with words.

Anyway, if its Consumer Reports you want, you are doing EXACTLY the
right thing, and NO builder should object. (And I can tell that this is
what you and James and David meant.) If you want to sit in and kibbitz
with half-learned folklore you overheard at intermission at a concert
somewhere (so-and-so says you can't glue up north american woods with
hide glue, so-and-so uses cappadocian elm buttons for the glides on his
stands; isn't that crucial for a good-sounding instrument? No? Why not?
Have you measured the density of cappadocian elm? ..),  that's something
else entirely.

So ask away, but don't let a good line direct your eyes, ears and hands
away from the thing sitting right there in front of you.

Owen

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