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Copyright 2001 Bruce Ling
Le Valse de la Rebec
(The Waltz of the Violin)
From the C.D. "How It All Started"
I was sitting in a foreign basement, were I was trying to put my life together after my wife and I separated, playing my fiddle. I was trying to get used to the idea that this violin, the finest I've ever played, actually was now mine. Through a long strange series of circumstances this violin came to me, as a gift from a friend. To this day I still can't fathom it all.
I began playing a waltz that I had never heard before, very twisty, with a very difficult bow pattern. I played it over and over till it was locked in my head and I knew it would not leave. One of the downfalls of being involved in oral tradition music is that unless it's there solid, it will soon slip back were it came from. I don't know how to write this stuff down.
I knew I was given something very special by this violin. Instruments retain what their previous owners possessed, in terms of the heart of music. I play predominantly antique instruments that have been around. I've played instruments that have been passed back and forth between many owners and their voice is muddy and/or cacophonic. I've played old instruments owned by single owners that just played on weekends-they don't have much to say, and I've played instruments that have had the heart and soul of their accomplished players poured into them daily. These are the instruments that teach the new "owner" (I use this term tongue in cheek) what the previous one knew, and also more besides. Since the day this waltz popped out of the violin, I've found myself playing classical-styled pieces I've never heard, and bowing in a way that astonishes me.
I was thinking of something to call this waltz, and this is what occurred: For some reason I started thinking of what "the waltz of the violin" would be in French, and not being very knowledgeable about French, I started putting it together word by word from what I thought I knew. Le is "the", de is "of", and so on. I also knew that in Italy in the 17th century a violin was called a Rebeca. In France at that period it was called a Rebec.
So I get all this figured out in my head and I call a good friend, Roberto Gustavo VanStee, who in addition to being an international jazz pianist, is also a scholar of the French language. (Twilight Zone music please) I run all this by him, and say, "What do you think," and he asks, "Where on earth did you hear that phrase??" He says, "That style of French is dead man, they spoke it that way in the 1600's." The violin has a grafted peg-head.
by Bruce Ling 3-2002