creative corner

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The homemade lamp throws crude shadows across the old cellar,
dim light casting feeble rays against the suffocating dark,
silhouetting the famous musician crouched beside an ancient violin case.
The maestro strokes the case reverently,
It has been long since it last was opened.
Dust flies as he snaps open the catches
and he sneezes.
The air is stuffy and the violin looks stuffy too,
a nondescript piece of wood with varnish missing in patches,
the surface scratched,
the scroll chipped,
one string broken.
It is old and decrepit and scarred from many years of use,
many years of neglect.
The other items in the case appear equally unimpressive:
a roughly carved bow with some horsehair hanging loosely,
a thick chunk of rosin broken to pieces.

The maestro smiles.

He carefully removes the bow and deftly plucks out the hanging strands of hair,
turns the button to tighten the tension,
runs the rosin up and down over the remaining hair,
now nice and sticky.
Next the string.
He has no catgut, but a modern perlon string will do.
He tenderly detaches the broken string from the bridge,
starts to unroll the other fragment from the tuning peg.
The peg catches as the string comes out, but the maestro came prepared.
He has in his pocket a tiny bottle labeled
"A Composition For Pegs Which Have Ceased To Turn Smoothly."
The composition applied,
he can now thread the new string through, and tighten.
Next the tuning.
He raises the violin to its place of honor,
placing a handkerchief under his chin.
A tuning fork raps sharply against the maestro's knee,
he cannot abide the more convenient electronic devices which sound the pitches,
they offend his aesthetics.
He settles the fork on the violin body and sound fills the air.
He adjusts the A string pitch with the speed of long practice,
tunes the other strings to chord correctly.

All is prepared -
but the maestro stops to think.
How will the violin react after all these years?

In the right hands
a violin can be a revered elder statesman, rich with sonorous power,
or a heart-rending anguished threnody with depthless pools of grief and lament.
It can be a trickster sprite with sparks of demonic flair and mischievous whirls,
or a passionate courtesan with heavy lids and lips and sweat-streaked flesh.
It can be all of these things,
and many more.
For all violins ache to share and free their music locked inside,
you do not play a violin,
you release it and let it soar.

It is not the violin who requires privacy here.

The maestro blows out the light and the dreamless dark unfurls its robe,
a blanket of silence and tension muffling light and sound and sense.
He lifts the violin with a trembling hand.
And the lovers embrace as the maestro cries tears,
tears of silence and loneliness ended,
tears of music,
tears of joy.