Play It Again, René! More Instructions!

If you want to learn to play the saw, it’s great to check out all the instructional resources you can find. Believe it or not, there are quite a few manuals, videos, and books that will help you learn to play the saw. The Forest Historical Society has an interesting set of saw playing instructions on their site. The society website focuses on forests and their relationship to human history. They have all sorts of historical documents related to trees, including beautiful photographs and some oral histories. Happily for all saw players, the Forest Historical Society considered the saw playing manual an important forest related document. After all, saws and trees are a classic combination. If you have time, check out the entire Forest Historical Society website. It’s like a tiny vacation.

The instructional booklet here was published in 1979 and was written by Rene Bogart, a cousin of Humphrey Bogart. Mr. Bogart, the saw player, played in several different groups and performed at Carnegie Hall. He seems to have focused primarily on classical music, and because of his relationship to Humphrey Bogart, he was invited to perform several times at the home of Louis B. Mayer, the founder of MGM studios.

One point of interest in the directions is when Mr. Bogart writes, “By a slow alternate action of the right foot and leg, up and down, a vibrato or tremolo is produced in the saw tone that largely simulates the tone-waves in the human voice or violin vibrato. A constant tone without this vibrato is very disturbing, like the whine of a saw mill.” Not everyone likes vibrato on the saw, but Mr. Bogart seems to be all in favor of vibrato. He also emphasizes the use of both the up-bow and the down-bow. I know quite a few people who only use the up-bow, including myself, but I suppose it gives more flexibility to bow in both directions. There are also some photos and useful technical points. Take a look!


(If the pdf doesn’t appear, click on the arrow in the upper right hand corner of the window and the manual will open in another page. Some browsers work better than others.)

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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.