Saw Notes

A Resource for Musical Saw Enthusiasts

More on our saw playing friend, Ford Hanford…

Popular Science included an article about Ford Hanford and his saw in their May 1921 issue:

How Music Is Produced From A Saw

“Go to the tool box and get your saw. Perhaps it is a musical one! And there is no sound sweeter than that which can be drawn from the right kind of saw. How do you play it? Ford Hanford, the man who discovered the saw’s musical powers, tells us its secrets.

When he wishes to play, he sits down, crosses his legs, and places the handle of the saw between them. With his left hand he firmly grasps the outer end of the saw, so that he is able to bend it at will. Next, he gives the saw a sharp blow with a felt covered hammer– and then the music starts. The blow makes the saw vibrate with a tone that suggests that of a tuning fork. By bending the saw and changing the curvature, he produces other tones after a blow has been struck and the saw is still vibrating. As long as the original vibration lasts, he is able to play a phrase by bending the saw into different positions. It took hours of practice to obtain satisfactory tones.

He sits on the stage of a New York Theater and with his partner, Mr. Myers, thrills the audience that listen to the “Greenwich Village Follies.” The saw he uses is not specially made; he selected it in a hardware store after trying out several of them. The music it gives is loud enough to reach every corner of the theater.

A bass viol bow, well-resined, Mr. Hanford finds, will produce even better music than the hammer. he draws it swiftly across the smooth edge of the saw, repeating the process whenever the vibrations die down. the incredulous think that Mr. Hanford produces the music by means of an instrument placed in his mouth. he has perfect control over the saw, but says that his left hand becomes tired because of the strain to which it is subjected.”

 

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Ro

Rowena Southard, your blog hostess, is a musical saw enthusiast who lives in California. She loves all kinds of music and has a special fondness for unusual instruments.