Carbon Fibre Musical interlude.

A MezzoForte viola. Perhaps in a few years….


I have spent most of the evening, after music and dinner, processing photos or working on setting up a laptop for teaching. In the process of doing this, I have been listening to a variety of music… but for this I thought I would deviate into the world of carbon fibre.

Wooden instruments are a pain when travelling. Firstly, they break. Lord, do they break. Particularly if the airport handlers get hold of them.

Paul Casey returns to class at the University of Ottawa next week, minus his prized instrument and with a gigantic grudge against the country’s largest airline.

The 20-year-old music student says he is contemplating legal action against Air Canada after his $13,800 viola was damaged beyond repair in the baggage compartment of a trans-atlantic flight this July.

Mr. Casey was one of a handful of Canadians selected for the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, a student-training orchestra, which performed across Europe and worked with opera legend Placido Domingo.

But what should have been the experience of a lifetime turned into immense disappointment when he arrived in Belgium and found his viola with a snapped neck, a broken back and sporting about 12 cracks on its front.

“I didn’t start crying or anything because I expected that would be the outcome when they made me check it,” Mr. Casey said yesterday, noting the instrument’s case bore three “fragile” stickers.

Let us say that when I fly I leave instruments at home. But this is not an option for the travelling professional as it is for us amateurs. So they insure, pack well… and are seriously considering alternative

Secondly, tone wood is rare, and getting rarer. I love my wooden instrument and bow, but I have a carbon fibre backup. So an alternative would help.

And carbon fibre instruments exist. So to music. Let’s start beautiful

And then a little more cool and jazzy. (The concert uke and a 16 inch viola have very similar scale length, and one can reinforce the other. Seriously)

And the use of carbon fibre, midi and a home studio (the disguised carbon fibre violin — painted so it does not stand out in the orchestra)

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Yes, I can play guitar, ukulele and viola: own all of the above. But they are all wooden, and they all tell a story. Gear acquisition has, with instruments as with cameras and computers, have to be resisted.

One thought on “Carbon Fibre Musical interlude.

  1. Intriguing!
    Tradition is great, but innovation does happen; one can create better materials for musical instruments today.
    Take bagpipes, for instance – an instrument I can play (used to; haven’t in two decades, but intend to return to it sometime).
    For centuries, the leather bag was the standard.
    In the late 20th century, someone developed a Gore-Tex bag.
    It’s better, that’s all there is to it. More durable, breathable but retains some moisture, airtight. Will last a long time. Doesn’t need ‘seasoning’, as leather bags do.
    Purists will say ‘that’s not the real thing’, but it works as well if not better; it is the real thing, it’s just different.

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