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hardest instrument

Cod Fiddler 29 Sep 09 - 09:04 AM
GUEST,banjoman 29 Sep 09 - 07:35 AM
Tattie Bogle 28 Sep 09 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,Bardan 28 Sep 09 - 02:26 PM
banjoman 28 Sep 09 - 09:44 AM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Sep 09 - 02:09 AM
dick greenhaus 27 Sep 09 - 11:13 AM
Darowyn 27 Sep 09 - 04:03 AM
fumblefingers 26 Sep 09 - 06:10 PM
frogprince 26 Sep 09 - 04:20 PM
Bill D 26 Sep 09 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 26 Sep 09 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 26 Sep 09 - 12:14 PM
Jack Campin 26 Sep 09 - 10:55 AM
deadfrett 26 Sep 09 - 10:31 AM
Tootler 25 Sep 09 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 25 Sep 09 - 04:26 PM
Murray MacLeod 25 Sep 09 - 02:49 PM
DPF 25 Sep 09 - 12:48 PM
DonMeixner 25 Sep 09 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,Bardan 25 Sep 09 - 12:16 PM
gnu 24 Sep 09 - 03:28 PM
Murray MacLeod 24 Sep 09 - 03:25 PM
The Sandman 24 Sep 09 - 01:12 PM
Bill D 24 Sep 09 - 11:26 AM
Tattie Bogle 24 Sep 09 - 11:20 AM
Weasel 24 Sep 09 - 10:56 AM
open mike 24 Sep 09 - 10:06 AM
Stu 24 Sep 09 - 09:50 AM
Acorn4 24 Sep 09 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,Phil Williams 24 Sep 09 - 07:53 AM
GUEST 24 Sep 09 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,paco griffin 24 Sep 09 - 06:16 AM
SteveMansfield 24 Sep 09 - 05:57 AM
Tattie Bogle 23 Sep 09 - 08:52 PM
Smokey. 23 Sep 09 - 08:49 PM
Bert 23 Sep 09 - 08:39 PM
GUEST,Dave Hunt 23 Sep 09 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,Dave Hunt 23 Sep 09 - 07:15 PM
Tim Leaning 23 Sep 09 - 06:51 PM
greg stephens 23 Sep 09 - 05:49 PM
Jack Campin 23 Sep 09 - 05:38 PM
Stower 23 Sep 09 - 05:26 PM
Les from Hull 23 Sep 09 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,jbp 23 Sep 09 - 04:32 PM
Bettynh 23 Sep 09 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,jbp 23 Sep 09 - 04:26 PM
GUEST 23 Sep 09 - 04:24 PM
kendall 23 Sep 09 - 07:31 AM
Will Fly 23 Sep 09 - 06:55 AM
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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Cod Fiddler
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 09:04 AM

Take a look at the Bandoneon - a type of concertina Argentines play the Tango on.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandone%C3%B3n

I think anyone who knows about concertinas will acknowledge that the bandoneon ifs insane!


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,banjoman
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 07:35 AM

That reminds me of the old joke about an octopus and a set of bagpipes.
Barden - sounds like a great idea - suggest we use your head to start with

I was once challenged to make a banjo from an old Tefal Frying Pan - that was pretty hard but its still in my collection and plays well. Especially useful for playing at banquets and barbeques. Its a very hard instrument


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 08:24 PM

Could be quite cymbalic that?!
Of course, in the Les Barker parody of "The Roseville fair" the head went right through the middle of the banjo!


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,Bardan
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 02:26 PM

Surely this could be tested scientifically by bouncing various instruments off of someones head and asking which is the hardest? I await your nominations with trepidation.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: banjoman
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 09:44 AM

Its easy to play any instrument badly - the hard part is learning to play properly. personally, as someone who has played five string banjos for over 50 years, I find that the hardest instrument for me is the Tenor Banjo. Although I can get a tune out of it I have never mastered being able to make it sound the way really good players do.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 02:09 AM

I would have said a Lithophonic instrument of some sort...


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 27 Sep 09 - 11:13 AM

On the standard Brinnell scale of hardness, I'd guess that a National Metal-Bodied Guitar probably tops the list.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Darowyn
Date: 27 Sep 09 - 04:03 AM

I'd agree with the people who nominate the Pedal Steel.
I can play a lot of different instruments, mostly stringed ones but including fretless ones. One of my favourites is the non-pedal steel guitar.
I had some money to spend on myself a few years ago so I went to Music Ground to buy a pedal steel.
After an hour and a half trying various models, and trying to sort out the copedant (that's the tuning and pedal/knee lever setup) I realised that I could not manage the basic trick of playing a simple major scale in one bar position.
I left without one. I still don't have one.
It was this imaginary conversation that kept running through my mind...
Wendy:- Did you find a nice one, darling?
Me:-    Yes, at a good price too.
Wendy:- How much?
Me:-    Only £1500. It's a beautiful thing.
Wendy:- Can you play it?
Me:-    No.
Wendy:- You're a Wazzock!

So I just fake the PSG licks on my non pedal, and I'm happy with that (and richer).
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: fumblefingers
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 06:10 PM

Pedal Steel


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: frogprince
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 04:20 PM

Ever heard the album "A Tool Box Christmas"? There are lots of musical concepts that come off better than you might expect; this, to me, was definitely not one of them.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 01:22 PM

Many years ago, I saw on TV a guy who played tunes on a bicycle pump....you would NOT pay admission for it, but it sorta demonstrates ingenuity.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 12:20 PM

remembered now, and it should still be in a box at my mum's attic..

David Bedford - "Nurses Songs With Elephants"

(Dandelion, 1972) collects the title-track, a minimalistic work for ten acoustic guitars, Trona (1967) and Some Bright Stars for Queen's College (1969), a composition for 80 college girls' voices and 27 plastic pipe twirlers.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 12:14 PM

"vacuum cleaner hose".

Try getting a precise melody out of this instrument
whilst holding one end and whirling the rest of the hose
in a rapid circular motion
around and around over your head.

Back in the late 60's/early 70's there was a commercially available
virulent neon green plastic variant
of this instrument
on sale at fairgrounds and seaside novelty gift shops.

Wish I could remember it's proper name ???

I used to have an avant guard prog rock LP featuring this instrument
on at least one track.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:55 AM

"The Flight of the Bumblebee on the tuba?"
Somewhere in my very strange collection of vinyl is an album called "virtuoso tuba" which contains said piece on said instrument. It can be done. We have the technology.


It's a standard party piece, a lot of brass band players can do it.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: deadfrett
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:31 AM

Pedal Steel Guitar...Murray, check out Rob Ickes. Also, look for an album called the Great Dobro Sessions. Dave


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Tootler
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 04:52 PM

you aren't really good on an instrument until you can play in any key in my opinion

A good criterion, but there are instruments for which that is an impossibility. The twenty button anglo and the diatonic harmonica are both examples.

Perhaps then the measure of a really good player is someone who can go beyond the apparent limitations of an instrument.

I also suspect that all instruments are equally hard to play at some level. Some make it relatively easy to get started, but then the difficulty level ramps up when you go beyond the beginner stage. Others are hard to get started on but then plateau so you can make fairly rapid progress after you are over the initial stages.

To play at top level on any instrument takes total dedication and hundreds even thousands of hours of work. Much as I enjoy playing my instruments I am never going to be better than competent, but as long as I enjoy my playing, can hold my own in a session and occasionally give others some pleasure, then I am happy. It is also important to continually strive to improve.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 04:26 PM

Where would you put Tut Taylor and Josh Graves. Jerry Douglas is certainly in a league apart.

I could say I've heard many adequate Concertina players but there is only Alistair Anderson thats really any good. But I haven't traveled the world and my experience isn't broad. The US is a big place. Trust me, there are many Dobro players you may have missed.

D


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 02:49 PM

Don, I beg to differ.

Jerry Douglas stands alone.

There are many "very good" players, (I have heard many "very good", totally unknown dobro players in bluegrass sessions during my sojourn in the States), but there is only one truly great player.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: DPF
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 12:48 PM

I have to admit after playing hurdy gurdy for the past four years that I don't think it's one of the most difficult to play. Especially the left hand (melody). When you get into right hand and trompette technique (the kazoo sounding rhythmic portion of the instrument) that separates the competent from the merely hopeful. Maintaining the beast is another story altogether.

Personally, I think anyone here who is taking the time and energy to play an instrument and wanting to do so in the vaster culture we're embedded in is doing the hardest work. Anyone turned away from the spectator sport mentality towards music is taking a vaster leap philosophically than even the progression towards mastery.

However, I still want to know how many cornetto players can fit in a phone booth.

"The Flight of the Bumblebee on the tuba?"
Somewhere in my very strange collection of vinyl is an album called "virtuoso tuba" which contains said piece on said instrument. It can be done. We have the technology.

"I still maintain the hardest instrument to play is the one you really don't want to play - the easiest is the one you have fallen in love with and have an aptitude for and are prepared to dedicate time to."

I couldn't agree more. The passion and desire to make the sounds that strike you down to the core is the greatest inspiration. When you do what you love, you love what you do wherever you are in the process.

Dan


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 12:33 PM

Murray, there are much more than 1.

Don


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,Bardan
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 12:16 PM

Surely it all depends on the individual. Physically speaking some people are just better suited to some instruments. (Doesn't mean a bloke with titchy fingers can't play the bass but it'll be harder.) And I don't know temperament or feel for the instrument in question or whatever. Then it depends on when on the learning curve- it's a bitch to get decent tone out of a fiddle, but once you can it's not all that hard. I'm sure there are other instruments that are easy to get the basics on and then turn out to be devilishly difficult later on. (Maybe ones designed with a particualr key in mind- you aren't really good on an instrument until you can play in any key in my opinion- not a qualification I've got yet on the fiddle really before people accuse me of taking the high ground.) Then there's the issue of whether technique is the most important thing. All I can really say is I've no bloody idea but the pipes look difficult as does any instrument you have to take an hour tuning up.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: gnu
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 03:28 PM

Hran.... just because REAL musicians think it's just banging on a drum.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 03:25 PM

how many great DOBRO players are there ?

Answer = 1.

QED.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 01:12 PM

Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Steve Shaw - PM
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 06:37 AM

Playing instruments is the easy bit. Playing music is the hard bit.

Having said this, I have to nominate the bodhran, as I've yet to hear anyone (with the possible exception of Ringo McDonagh) who can play it in a way that actually enhances the music they're supposed to be accompanying.
well,I disagree with that,I was playing with a very good one on tuesday,they are rare,but they are about Colm Murphy is another,he recorded with us when I was in the group Suifin,thereare about 3 or 4 in this area who are good.
I nominate the fiddle


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 11:26 AM

well....hmmmm...

The Contrabass Sarrusophone is played so seldom anymore, that it's ranking is debatable.

But as I was looking it up, I saw this in the 'related' list...kind of a 'digeriDONT'.

makes you wonder....


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 11:20 AM

But you do find other brass such as in Bellowhead, Shooglenifty, etc, plus the occasional sousaphone or euphonium, or........tuba!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao6eOiIT3XE


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Weasel
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 10:56 AM

not many french-horn players on the folk scene!


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: open mike
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 10:06 AM

the hurdy gurdy i mentioned
above is definately NOT THE
'crank organ' type.

which is why i included a link.

http://altarwind.com/hurdy/
http://www.hurdygurdy.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLlIbMA6VFA


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Stu
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 09:50 AM

Shakey egg. Especially if it's stuffed back where it belongs.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Acorn4
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 08:05 AM

The Hurdy-Gurdy

You spend 3 hours tuning it and end up with something sounding lika a kazoo!


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,Phil Williams
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 07:53 AM

The Harp. Followed by the Uilleann pipes


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 06:49 AM

whether Show Of Hands are more HTML standards-compliant than Bellowhead

ROLF! At least that one's easy to work out. Whether it matters or not could go on for ever (who does this World Wide Web Consortium think they are?)

Getting back to the subject: anything that requires you to first develop precision and co-ordination in order to make a sound that isn't unpleasant is definitely harder. Fingering and so on is largely a matter of developing the muscle memory.

Any fretted instrument is pretty easy. I always used to tell my beginner guitar students that as long as their fingers are holding the strings down in the right places, their E chord sounds just as good as Eric Clapton's. Unlike a learner violinist who will take months to get past the strangled cat stage.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,paco griffin
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 06:16 AM

The most difficult instrument to learn by far is the concrete guitar.... I'll get my coat!


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 24 Sep 09 - 05:57 AM

From above - (how does one put it in italics??)

Basic HTML is a whole bunch quicker and easier to learn that any musical instrument, but I suspect that's probably also partly a mind-for-that-sort-of-thing thing.

1. Type, or copy & paste, the text you want to italicise.
2. Where you want the italics to start type <i> into the message editor
3. Where you want the italics to end type </i> into the editor
4. Preview to make sure you've done it right
5. Bob's your Uncle.

Replace i with u for underline, b for bold, and loads more HTML fun is yours for the Googling.

Two hundred message angry debate about
  • whether you should teach total beginners to insert tags as they go or to insert them later,
  • which is the hardest HTML tag to do by hand, and
  • whether Show Of Hands are more HTML standards-compliant than Bellowhead,
starts in 5 ... 4 .... 3 ....


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:52 PM

Of those I've tried:
Drum kit, as you are doing 4 different things at once (assuming you have two hands and two feet!): I could just about keep 3 going, but add in the 4th and it all went AWOL!
And my dearly beloved button accordion, different notes when you pull and push and no repeating sequence as on a piano keyboard, basses not matching the right hand, etc, etc. Mine is fully chromatic, so, in theory I can play in any key, but it's just knowing where the likes of D# are when needed.
I did once try Uillean pipes, but my fingers wouldn't stretch far enough, nor for low D whistle.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Smokey.
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:49 PM

Brass, in general, but especially the french horn.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Bert
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:39 PM

Gotta be a lithophone.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 07:36 PM

Or watch this guy!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDdG97MesZM&feature=related


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 07:15 PM

From above - (how does one put it in italics??)

Certainly one instrument considered difficult to play is the bandoneon
_____________________

Bing an Anglo concertina player I found it not too bad at all.
I think the hardest is Jews Harp - easy to get a simple 'twang ' devilish difficult to get a good melody - listen to any of the Wright family - (John, Micheal, David and ?Lucy?) to hear how wonderful it can sound in expert hands - (or mouths!)


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 06:51 PM

Bodhran then banjo.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 05:49 PM

I'm with Steve Shaw. It has to be the bodhran, or possibly the drum kit. How often do you hear a good player? I have heard hundreds of great pipers and fiddlers, and players of other instruments quoted hear as "difficult".


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 05:38 PM

The more common opionion in Indian music circles is that the sitar isn't that difficult. It's got frets, so the intonation issues are partly solved mechanically. The ones that are considered a real bugger are the violin and the sarod, where you have to play way up the neck and hit microtones with absolute precision, entirely by feel. Watch somebody like L. Subramaniam (I presume he's on YouTube).


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Stower
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 05:26 PM

I'd say the Renaissance lute is the most difficult instrument. Right hand thumb inside position takes ages to master; sitting even slightly wrong can give you terrible back ache for days (the lute is slippy and bowl backed); it is VERY easy to get a horrible sound out of it and takes ages to produce a lovely, full, round, fat tone; you have to get your right hand right inside and between 6 and 10 courses of closely spaced strings (depending on your period of lute); the music for the instrument tends to be comlex; and the left hand stretches can be inhuman.

Still, it is a beautiful instrument - just to look at, let alone to play.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Les from Hull
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 04:38 PM

Of course, there are smaller ones - called baby sitars!

Some people find learning any instrument difficult, some find it easier, and I'm sure that there are many factors at work here. Your second instrument is easier often (as the esteemed Mr Sables says).

Certainly one instrument considered difficult to play is the bandoneon.


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,jbp
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 04:32 PM

I think kendall has posted the best answer to my thread!!! but keep the discussion going I'd like to know more about instruments you consider hard because some I have never heard of!!


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Bettynh
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 04:30 PM

Good grief!
This is a sitar


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST,jbp
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 04:26 PM

that last one was me about the sitar


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 04:24 PM

what is a sitar?


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: kendall
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 07:31 AM

Many instruments are easy to play but very hard to master. So, I should think that the level of difficulty rests mostly with the player.

As Ted Williams once said, "Playing baseball is easy if you are a baseball player."


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Subject: RE: hardest instrument
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 06:55 AM

Equating complexity with difficulty isn't necessarily true. In drawing, one of the hardest things you can do is to draw a perfect circle freehand - every time.

I've been playing guitar for 45 years, and mandolin and tenor banjo/guitar for nearly 35 years, plus keyboards, bass and various others. I took up the violin recently, and I'll consider that I'm getting somewhere with it when I can - every single time - hit the note I want with perfect intonation. In other words, the equivalent of constantly drawing that perfect circle...


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