Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hidden Talents

I just happened to stop by the library yesterday, and picked up a book on the background of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde "because it was there." The most interesting information I came away with was extremely by-the-by, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the writing of the aforementioned novella; Robert Louis Stevenson played the tin whistle, the piano, and something called the flageolet. It is going to take more reading than I have done to figure out exactly how a flageolet works; by most indications, it has largely been replaced by the tin whistle, so the fingering must be generally straightforward, however RLS describes taking his apart for cleaning, "into seventeen separate members," which would indicate a construction much more complicated than that of a whistle.

Here is a page from a flageolet website which lets the author speak for himself on the subject. Just as intriguing is the mention of tunes he wrote, some of which are in mothballs (or whatever you put valuable, generally unread manuscripts in) in Monterey. I wonder what it takes to have a peek. It might be too much to expect the musical equivalent of Kidnapped, but to say I am curious would be an understatement.

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