Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Blackbird- The Stone Violin

The Blackbird, also known as the Black Stone Violin, is the only full sized, fully playable, stone violin. It was made by a Swedish artist named Lars Widenfalk who named the violin the Blackbird after blackbirds due to its coloring. Supposedly, Stradivari (a great violin making master, on whose designs this violin is based off of) often named his violins after birds.

According to his website,
"The belly of the violin is only 2.5 mm thick at its thinnest point. Such was the precision with which the belly was constructed, with its sound-holes, back and graceful scroll. The ribs were made in one piece by first sawing out a 30 mm thick plate shaped to form the external contour, and then, with infinite care, removing the inside using water-drill and hand-tools so as to create a thin rib, no more than a couple of millimetres thick at its thinnest point.
Stone may seem stable, static material, lacking in "give"; but when the work on the ribs was almost complete, they fractured at a point where the stone had a "give" of approximately 15 mm. Diabase is a very dense crystalline rock deriving from the interior of the Earth in the form of magma which solidified 1.6 billion years ago."
While working on two big diabase stones that were supposed to form part of the embellishment of the Norwegian TV building in Oslo, Norway, he discovered that the rock gave off a sound like a bronze
bell while using a hammer and chisel. After recieving his grandfather's headstone (a newer one was being built for a larger family grave), he reliezed that the stone was about the right size for a violin. And so he sought out to create the world's first and only playable stone violin.
A fascinating thought: what did primary rock - Mother Earth - sound like? Would it be possible to capture in a single instrument the sound of which we all form part?
Constructing the violin took some work. After most of the body of the violin was finished, when it came to the back piece, the headstone material had been used up. So Lars himself went out and cut a block of a porphyry resembling diabase, but that's black with pale flecks. The interior surface was finished with real gold to produce the finest possible tone and silver steel pegs were used to secure the neck to the body. The fingerboard, pegs, tailpiece, and chinrest were made from traditional black ebony. Inspired from the yellow bill of the blackbird, Lars used yellow ivory from mammoth to form the bridge.

The Blackbird is not the only stone violin, a Czech sculptor by the name of Jan Řeřicha, also made some stone violins from marble. These violins weigh in between 3.6 and 6.5 kg, while the Blackbird weighs only 2 kg.

The Swedish composer, Sven David Sandström, composed music specially for the Blackbird and in 1992 at the Seville Expo in Spain, at the Swedish Pavilion, the music debuted on the Blackbird. That same year the violin was blessed by Pope John Paul II in Rome, and since that year, the violin has traveled all over the world.


Wikipedia- Blackbird violin
Blackbird- The black stone violin


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