Why is the violin the perfect instrument for the Age of Shopping? Historians have fixed the date of the first violin at 1510 (although it didn't make it to a fresco wall until 20 years later with Gaudenzio Ferrari). Since this time it has become the most revered of all instruments. It is safe to say that in the court of bowed instruments, the violin sits firmly on the throne. Graced with a delicate neck, a ravishing waist, a revealing arched belly and powerfully strong back - and a sound to match this female sensuality - it is the iconic centre of Western music. The management of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra claims that at no time in the history of music have there been so many top professional violinists as now. Musica Viva here, and concert promoters world wide say there have never been so many performances of violin music as in the present time. Things couldn't look better for the instrument of instruments. We asked a few well known violin players to share with us their views as to what makes the violin so suitable for the Age of Shopping.
Ricardo Tagliatelli, concert-master, Australian Chamber Players:
"First of all the violin is very easy to carry. I believe they have modelled the modern portable computer on it. I find it very easy to get round my department store or the VIP lounge at my local airport with a violin. Also it fits very well on the front seat of my new BMW, other drivers admire it when I am stopped at the lights (my car that is). Above all with my mega bass, 95 watts per channel, 12 Band equalisation, latest car stereo - I can really blast everybody in my street with my latest recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons when I arrive home after a busy afternoon with my accountant. Yes, the violin is definitely for the modern musician with a healthy sense of business."
Fred Hazeljuice, leader of the Broken Hill Symphony Orchestra:
"Well it's perfect, isn't it? This wonderful shape was developed years ago and it's never changed, so it must be the ideal shape for the violin. I mean can you imagine another shape for the violin?"
Yes I can. The rational violin of Felix Savat for example.
"What? Never heard of him, besides he sounds French. Look here, even if you could - it just wouldn't fetch the prices that a violin can get. The price of my Guarneri violin keeps going up every year, well above inflation. I can't lose on it, it's a fantastic investment. It makes me very happy to know that. I often chuckle away to myself in rehearsal and the visiting conductor stops to ask me why. I tell him, of course, you can't lose; you just can't lose! I tell him, forget about buying that second castle in the Black Forest, buy a violin. Can't lose, you just can't lose." (He starts to get a bit delirious, so I leave).
Anne Sophie Mutter, famous concert soloist:
"I find the violin is the exact objet trouve for someone with such a superb clothes sense as me. I can wear any of my top line numbers from Chadin or Cousteau or Merde and the violin provides the perfect de rigeur counterpoint. Herbert von was very helpful and had a divine inspirational tool for developing my personal style and expression."
On the violin?
"No, darlink my taste in furs. I just love dead furry animals slung around my shoulders and the violin sets them right off, if you know what I mean. When I float onto the platform, I want the audience to think - Gosh! What an expensive bitch. Same when I am on one of my skiing holidays at St. Belitz, when I come down to dinner carrying my handbag which I have to tell you is a miniature violin case covered in real crocodile skin which I shot on my last tour of Australia, I want all the guests who are waiting for me by the pate du Croc to think - Gosh! Here's just the violinist for our new Shoppingland!" (I think you mean Fatherland, nicht wahr? )
Dr. Prof. Ravi Supramaniac, most popular Indian violinist:
"First of all I should tell you that I am part of a great trading tradition. We have been handing our merchandising skills down from teacher to pupil since time immemorial. My great friend, violinist and yogurt eater, Sir Lord Baron Stoke D'Arbon Menuhin CBE, CBI, VIP, was the first one in the West to realise the great universal potentiality in this method. I had him sitting for 10 years cross legged before he was allowed to even play one note."
"Then I had to stop him immediately, it was unfortunately the wrong note - from a morning raga and I could see from my 15 carat gold watch (incidentally a gift from the Sultan of Oman) that it was considerably more in the region of tea time. Besides which I had to urgently call all the other famous people who I play with. You know, the major difference between Indian and Western styles, apart from sitting crossed legged, is that the violin rests on the left shoulder and is supported by the right ankle which leaves us the left hand free for using the mobile telephone. That means I can talk to Paul McCartney, Herbie Hancock, Madonna, Andre Previn, Princess Diana, deal with my stocks and shares, and book a take-away curry and some soft porn videos for the long night without having to put my violin down for a moment. Playing the violin makes the life of a busy celebrity like myself all possible. Would you like some more tea?"
Titus Leper, violin management with Eurodisk:
"Lights, cameras, interaction - hey, megabucks! I gotta be one of the hippest guys on the planet. Know what I'm saying? Like I just put together the happening idea of the next decade - entertainment and education. I have called it Edutainment! Isn't that great?! I'm totally inspired by Johannes Rosenberg's theories of Shopping, most notably his ideas about the eradication of content, creativity and originality. Edutainment is ONLY process. Baby! Through interactive software, the clients will think they are having some input into their education while having fun at the same time. But as anyone with half a brain knows, more information does not mean more knowledge - it just means more information and more money rolling along on my superhighway . As our clients sit there losing brain cells like dandruff, we will be topping up those empty spaces with more and more Edutainment . Know what I'm saying? The whole thing is autodynamic. We will make our clients waste - eh, spend - all their unemployment time hooked up to our rubbish - I'm sorry, I mean reality. Take the two products already available, done in partnership with IBM - Mozart Interactive and Vienna - the Spirit of a City . Now each of these only takes half an hour to run but if you watch them using the interactive modes, it can take five or six weeks. Now that's what I call really using up the client's time. Think how much advertising we can pack into those weeks. Know what I'm saying?"
What is your next project?
"Well we have to do the violin of course, before Sony snaps it up. Violindisc will offer 60,000 still frames of violins, 3,000 maps of where to find them, 150 video clips of how to play them, an alphabetical list of every famous violinist who ever lived, and a free authentic sized, waterproof, model violin to put on your mantelpiece or amongst the garden gnomes in your garden if you have one but if you don't it doesn't matter because this ROM disk will also gain you access to our free game included at no extra cost called Gnome Killer 2 . Know what I'm saying?"
Dr. Antony Brixhead, research violinist at VIT:
"A hundred years ago and before, when the violin was maturing in its first period cycle of evolutionary experience, wars were fought for land - vast undeveloped spaces in which the ambitious, the visionaries and the greedy saw their futures and their fortunes. Today in the second period cycle of violin history much the same thing is happening except that the vast unexplored is not land but the cycle of creative cosmic digital space. It's arrived and we here at VIT have put the gloves on and we're going to go out there and do the job. Never mind that it's sometimes difficult to play the violin with boxing gloves on, where there's a will there's a drug as my old daddy used to say. Just now, we're letting the hardware-heads set out all the fibre-optic cables but when they're down we are going to be the guys who come crashing at the speed of cosmic light through the corporate frontier posts, across the empires of computer giants and phone companies, cable systems, movie studios, and media conglomerates and into your front room - right in front of your comfortable sofa. No it won't be Time Warner, Microsoft, Sony, Sega, AT &T, or any of the others, it will be us. And we will be the ultimate virus experience - Violin . If you have no protection against the vast cycle of experiential datacide that is Violin , we can guarantee even at this stage that it will be the ultimate terminal experience. Yes, my friends. We have all contributed to building this place that is not in space - Sun Ra was wrong, space is not the place. You can hear this place - the whistle of a fax or the interplanetary distant roar of a lost phone connection - but you cannot see it, taste it, or sniff it. No matter how much the corporate, non creative whisker cats think they can monopolise control, there will always be more of it that can be measured; enough room for violinists like me to be able to manoeuvre and that's all we need. Remember the phreakers who broke into the Bell telephone network to make free calls and perform some bizarre shit on ISD? Then came the hackers, right? They were patient kids with their `dumpster diving' (raiding the garbage to find useful documents), `social engineering' (use of false pretences to elicit codes from bored employees), and let's not forget `war dialling' (number variation computer dialling to find the right all-creative number). Yeah, they made some headway getting into the cyclic potentiality of non cosmicticity that is the National Defence Program and finding a few hidden IDs in the FBI - O.K. small pickings baby. Well we here at VIT have come up with Violin , the virus that is going to `zero out' a whole bunch of neo-fascist non cosmodegradable information. You can listen to the other violinists as much as you like, but they are playing in Noddyland. This Violin is the one that everybody is going to be talking about. I'll give you a sweetener.
"For 10 years now we have been running a single ancestral organism (it's an alcestrorithm, of course) which we have allowed to mutate. From this came a whole generation of parasites and immune organisms - one of these little wonders is Violin . It's got one hell of an appetite and it's going to chomp its way through an awesome amount of information. We have already sent Violin out on a few shopping trips to check out its GP (gobbling potential). It's serious! And so I say to my brother violinists of the last cycle, in this time period, as the non linear factor of creative potentiality in the current orbit, eh I'm out of smoke - "
At this stage I would like to cross over live to our studio where we will have a few words from our expert Dr. Professor Frank Franklin Junior . Doctor, we have just seen an example of the kind of behaviour trends now happening in our cities at this time; are you also dealing with phenomena like Violin in your regular clinics?
(speaking with that irritating kind of Harvard accent) "Eh, I would say that in some respects we are dealing now with the classic psychopathic symptoms. But in other ways it is a new kind of `sociopathy' based on the fundamentals of the harmonic series and personified in that instrument of uncertainty - namely the violin.
"As Henderson pointed out already in 1939, there are three kinds of psychopathic personality: the predominantly inadequate, the expressively aggressive, and the socially erratic. What makes the current situation so dangerous (and I would say here that masturbation hasn't helped) is that we are dealing with mass psychosis - the exception has become the rule. It is a question of mass delusions and hallucinations, the kind of processes available in regular shopping activity. That's what makes Violin so dangerous. Almost the whole population can accept and go along with a complete reduction of creative brain capacity - indeed, the eventual demolition of the brain is guaranteed and considered a socially acceptable trend. Evidence of this mass psychosis could already be seen in the 1980s with the election of Reagan as president in the US. A quick analysis of the `Evil Empire' and `Star Wars' speeches shows clear evidence of the kind of delusions and hallucinations associated with the stark raving mad. Voting him back for a second term was evidence of mass psychopathic disorder - and in world terms, a horrifying act of diminished responsibility.
"In some ways Violin will have a relatively simple (although quantitatively vast) work load. This is simply because 99.7% of the industrial world is permanently drugged on shopping. As some of you may be aware, there are in the US already 14 (24 hour a day) shopping channels on cable TV. This figure is expected to triple in the next four years (that's not including satellite TV). In addition, staggering quantities of psychoactive drugs are being consumed - sedated by benzodiazepines by day and nitrazepam & flurazepam by night to the sound of a million string orchestras.
"The environment for
is further prepared
by brain crumbling activities such as staring at TV soaps
and/or MTV for
long periods of time. Yes,
will be able to walk right in and
clean up the rest of what was once
considered to be `the ascent of human
consciousness'. You can't say what the
response of humanity will be to this
ultimate surrender because all capacity to
respond to anything at all (let
alone anything remotely interesting) will have
ceased to be possible. Eh,
"If I could just plug my new book The Big Violin in the Sky . Plans for a big mirror violin parked next to Mars to heat up the planet through extensive warming, another one parked by Venus like a sun umbrella to cool it down. Astrologists suddenly figured out that the signs of the Zodiac are all wrong and there is the biggest sign of all right in the middle - if you join them all up - and that it is a fucking big violin covering most of the milky way. Completely alters the stars in all the newspapers -"
Thank you Dr. Franklin.