Friday, 17 July 2015

Crafting a tune: Musician builds, plays tools of his trade

As musicians, we create. However we often need tools to do so, like an instrument. Wouldn't it be fantastic to create all of the tools needed to create your musical art? That's what Gil Draper has been doing over the last 5 years. He truly gets to know his instruments from the inside out because well, he builds them! I am certain that after building the instrument yourself, you do end up playing it slightly differently, or at least can hear it differently. As a pianist, I know that my chances are quite slim of ever building a piano of my own. One thing that has always stumped me is why pianists typically know very little about their actual physical instrument. Guitarists will obsess about different kinds of wood and pickups and shapes, but many pianists are only able to point out the difference between an unpright and a grand piano. Its time as pianists to start to get to know our instrument. How does the wood used in building the soundboard change the tone or sustain? How does length effect the piano? What kind of felt produces the best tone? We all can't set up a shop building our own instruments. We can all sit down for a short while with an instrument expert and get to know our instrument just a bit better- it will make a difference in your playing. Gil Draper plays a bouzouki in his home shop on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Draper, a Knoxville musician who plays in the local Irish music band, Four Leaf Peat, builds bouzoukis (a mandolin-type string instrument) as well as guitars. Gil Draper works on retopping a 10-string Irish bouzouki in his home shop on Wednesday. Draper, a Knoxville musician who plays in the local Irish music band Four Leaf Peat, builds bouzoukis (a mandolin-type string instrument) as well as guitars. Gil Draper works on retopping a 10-string Irish bouzouki in his home shop on Wednesday. Wood shavings and a neon-green pick sit under the neck of an 8-string Irish bouzouki being repaired in Gil Draper’s home shop on Wednesday. Draper, a Knoxville musician who plays in the local Irish music band, Four Leaf Peat, builds bouzoukis (a mandolin-type string instrument) as well as guitars. Wood of various species is saved for instrument projects in Gil Draper’s home shop on Wednesday. Draper, a Knoxville musician who plays in the local Irish music band Four Leaf Peat, builds bouzoukis (a mandolin-type string instrument) as well as guitars. A recent morning found Gil Draper in his workshop putting a new top on a bouzouki he constructed three years ago during his early days as an instrument builder. Draper plays bouzouki and guitar in Four Leaf Peat, one of Knoxville’s leading traditional Irish music bands. As a musician and a luthier, he has a keen ear for the subtleties of tone and texture that separate good acoustic instruments from great ones. The bouzouki, a plucked instrument of Greek origin, found its way into [...]

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