As some of you are aware, I’ve been attempting to learn to play old time fiddle, something I ought to have taken up 45 years ago if I expected to actually master the instrument. None-the-less, I’m doing my best and I’m gradually making some progress. Practice, however, makes a lot of noise. These days, Tuffy P works from home and is in a lot of virtual meetings. Once it sunk in that all her workmates could hear my feeble attempts at fiddle playing, I became quite self-conscious about disturbing her meetings.
Then one day a musician friend asked me, do you have a mute? A mute? What is this mute? He informed me it was a little rubber widget that fits over the fiddle bridge. Eureka! I ordered one up online and it came by post a couple days later. When I play with the mute on, I can still hear it, but it is a fraction of the volume of unmuted fiddle.
I understand there are also electric fiddles which you play with headphones on. They are very quiet unamplified, but through the headphones you can hear how badly you’re really playing. However, I’m not so interested in something like that. I like playing acoustic instruments, so it’s muted fiddle around here, at least until I get a lot better at playing.
I’ve played banjo in jams with some excellent fiddlers. I just accept there is some kind of magic going on because humans obviously can’t play that well. There are stories about some fiddlers making a deal with the devil and I halfway expect a fellow with a natty suit, bolo tie and pointy goatee will show up one day, give me a wink, and say I can help you with that. Not to worry, though. I’m not about to trade a hundreds of millions of years roasting in the fires of Hell just to play Western Country as well as Tommy Jarrell.