We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Curiously, the violin is certainly
expanding its market and the demand for craftsmanship at the playing level has
always spurred craftsmanship at the instrument level.More importantly, the same drivers are there,
the sheer art in both the playing and the making.Every instrument represents a new beginning
in terms of achievement and the buyer will always be a connoisseur.
There is likely no instrument
more demanding of the performer and the craftsman both
Most workers in wood get a great
deal of satisfaction in turning out useable product.The violin represents a master work.For that reason it will forever be supported
and this is a pleasant surprise in the modern world.Yet craftsmanship itself is finding a market
everywhere and is resurging after a century of been discounted out.
US violin-makers second fiddle to none
American violin-making is enjoying a rebirth, craftsmen say, despite the
rapidly improving production by fellow makers in China which artisans here see both
as a threat -- and a boon -- to their livelihood.
Even with US
interest in classical music slipping,
and some orchestras folding in harsh economic times, support for the artisans'
business is such that hundreds of individual American violin-makers are
"Violin and bowmaking in this country is the best it's been in US history,"
and the instruments being produced are among the world's finest, Jerry
Pasewicz, who heads the American Federation of Violin and
Bow Makers, a collection of 180 top US artisans, told AFP.
Whether China can mount a serious threat to the high end of the craft
-- known as lutherie -- is in dispute; some believe it will take several
decades before Chinese instruments, which now dominate the student market, come
close to rivaling the best violins of Europe and
the United States.
But China's massive
production ramp up over the past decade is introducing large numbers of
aspiring musicians, including thousands in China itself, to the art of playing
"As they start to grow up, they seek a better instrument,"
said Pasewicz, who has been making violins for three decades and owns a shop in
Feng Jiang, a violin-maker in Michigan,
says the state of American lutherie is nothing short of "a renaissance,"
thanks to institutions like the ViolinMakingSchool
of America in Salt Lake City, Utah, and
the ChicagoSchool of Violin Making.
"In the past 15 or 20 years it's increased a few hundred
percent," he says of the number of US makers.
But "the only reason we exist at all is that people are playing
That is where China
is having its dramatic impact. Violins were hardly played at all there until
Mao Zedong, the founder of communist China, considered it a
revolutionary instrument and workshops sprung up during the 1966-1976 Cultural
The Asian giant has squashed European low-end makers and now
manufactures the bulk of student instruments -- so many that it has
dramatically brought down entry-level costs for violinists and allowed dealers
to set up broad rental networks.
Not just in the West, but in China, the largest untapped market.
Jiang has a foot in both worlds. As the son of a Chinese violin maker,
Jiang built his first instrument in China as a youth in 1989. In the
late 1990s he moved to the United
States, where he now makes six to eight
violins per year.
He sees tremendous potential for China's
artisans, several of whom have trained in Europe and the United States,
closely studied ancient instruments by masters Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe
Guarneri del Gesu, and returned to improve the quality of violins in their
Still, "for the violins that professional people appreciate... I
think we don't see a lot come from there," Jiang says.
But some believe China,
with a 5,000-year history of craftsmanship and a reputation for rapidly
absorbing the skills necessary to dominate an industry, will rival Western
production within a decade or two.
US luthier Christopher Germain routinely
travels from his Philadelphia workshop to China to meet
fellow craftsmen, and says "all the components are in place for them"
to become a force in the high-end industry.
"They do whatever they need to do to improve their product,"
Dave Belazis of Foxes Music outside Washington
says that while China's
craftsmanship has "revolutionized the student violin industry," he
doubts their instruments will knock top American products off their perch.
is producing some of the finest instruments in the world right now. It's the
first time in the history of violin-making the Americans have an edge in the
industry," he said.
Americans have won gold at the International Triennale, known as the
Olympics of violin-making, in Stradivari's home town of Cremona,
maker Kelvin Scott won bronze at the latest competition, in 2009.
The very top tier of American luthiers number little more than a dozen,
experts say. Among them is Christophe Landon who makes a handful of instruments
a year, selling them to the world's greatest players for as much as $60,000.
Landon, who is French but has lived in New York for more than half his
51 years, sees it not as an us-versus-them battle, but a global community whose
savvy use of the Internet has helped them share technological expertise.
"The level of violin-making is much higher than it used to
be," he said from his Manhattan
studio, where he is producing a replica of a true gem: a Guarneri violin dating
from 1734 and valued at $4 million.
Expertise is rising worldwide, and he sees "fantastic"
promise in Chinese makers as they absorb international skills and methods.
Violinist and dealer Stefan Hersh agreed that Chinese makers have
evolved quickly, but added: "I don't think that China as an entity will ever truly
be a threat to the top of the violin world."
Lower down the ladder is where the "China effect" is being felt,
Hersh said, and that is what could squeeze mid-level and new American makers.
"Quality violins coming out of China make us all look over our
shoulders and do better work."