Sound post adjusting
The sound post is a small cylindrical spruce stick wedged between the belly and back of the instrument, like a hidden pillar between floor and roof. In violin making one also calls this little piece of wood the soul (anima in Italian). The reason for this is that the sound post plays a considerable role in producing the sound that the violin maker can get out of the instrument.
I played the violin in school from 4th grade through 12th. But although I dearly love music, the violin was my Dad’s choice, not mine. I was never really a pro, and I did not like the sounds I made. The violin got used very little after high school and put away for good after I got married. I may have got it out three or four times in forty years. I dabbled with the piano a little, wrote songs for my family that I recorded by (painfully) typing out one note at a time on the computer. But the violin never entered my thoughts.
Then, with most of the kids gone and no one here to play guitar, piano, etc. but me, (and I can’t!) I fell into such a desert of music-less existence that it brought me to the unthinkable: the violin.
So, last spring I took the violin that my Dad had proudly brought home when I was nine and had it checked out. Hummmm. Seems like he had made a pretty good purchase after all. Seems like it just needed a new (list of a lot of things for a lot of money). But they said it was a good violin and that it was worth it. I paid the price. Then I brought it home, full of trepidation. Oh. My. Gosh. For the first time in all my memory, I liked the sound I heard. It was not that I was such a terrible player after all (although, frankly, I am still pretty much a beginner!) it was that the “sound post” in the violin was inadequate, positioned incorrectly, and needed to be replaced with a new one. It changed the tone, the sound, the vibration, the openness, the everything of my violin. It finally had a voice.
Sometimes, I think life is like that: we make an effort and we never really see much of an effect. Then, a new piece falls into place and everything is different. Our efforts were not in vain. Our skills may be greater than we supposed. Perhaps we were growing all that time and we did not even know it. Perhaps, (just perhaps!) we really are where and who we need to be.
I think this is one reason we like listening to DA: When he sings, a different vibration stirs within us, giving us music that we think is his… but really, it is just another sweet connection to our own “sound post”, and reminds us of the true music that lies deep within us. We hear a different “tone”, a new yet somehow familiar “sound”, an “openness”, that is both compelling and vulnerable: We hear a voice.
DA got his own, dear, vocal chords to wrap around like an embrace, but it is his own “sound post”, his own true self, that brings life to the music we hear, and joy to our hearts.
Bluesky is a staff writer for The Voice