That’s the most low-effort title, ever. But, it’s accurate!
I thought I had all day today. I don’t. No, I have to go check out a venue – in person. Never let drummers be in charge of anything! I’m gonna make him drive me.
So, because of that, this is just titled “Strings…” Why? Because I’m gonna tell you about strings. Ain’t a word of it gonna be useful, either. None of it.
I’m grumpy! Telling you about strings is gonna fix my grumpiness.
I’m telling you right now, ain’t a damned bit of this going to be useful.
Strings. I told you that already!
(That might be the briefest intro I’ve written in a long time. You’re welcome!)
Music has a history across every culture. There are zero cultures without a history of music. None.
We, however, mostly stick with Western music.
It has been a long time since I slacked off in school by taking courses in Greek Mythology. But, if I recall correctly, there was a fella they called Apollo.
He was pretty much a dick.
You might know that he’s the god of the lyre, but do you know why?
Bitchin’ solo. That’s why.
If you read Homer’s “Hymn to Hermes” you’ll see why – and why he’s a dick.
Hermes, not to be outdone, is also a dick.
Zeus had knocked up Hermes’ mom. I’m pretty sure this meant he was going to eat the babies, or some shit. It’s Greek mythology. I’m sure he’s also a dick.
Little swaddling Hermes escaped while his mother slept.
He promptly stole some cows from a fella named Apollo.
He then took ’em to a cave – where he found a tortoise.
Hermes’ first thought? “I’m gonna take this assortment and play a bitchin’ solo.”
So, he kills the fucking turtle and hollows it out.
He then slaughters a cow, so that he can use the intestines to make a single string.
He then attached the string to the turtle and played a bitchin’ solo.
Then he ran home and was home again when his mother awoke.
Apollo was pretty pissy about his missing cows. He stomped down to her place and bitched. She called him a dirty rotten liar. (Which has nothing to do with lyre.)
Zeus came down and said he’d seen the whole thing and that Apollo was telling the truth. He pretty much snitched on Hermes.
Well, now Apollo was really pissy.
Hermes then brought out his instrument built from wanton stolen animal slaughter and played Apollo a pretty bitchin’ solo.
Apollo said, “Give me that fucking thing and I won’t kill you.” Keep in mind that little Hermes was but a swaddling babe at this time.
Apollo then declared himself god of the lyre, pretty much stole credit for the invention, and played pretty bitchin’ solos.
And that’s where the idea of using strings for instruments comes from – at least according to the Greeks.
They kept doing that, for quite some time. They played themselves some turtle shells with cow intestine strings. They played the fuck out of them, I presume.
More stringed instruments would be invented. One thing they many had in common was the use of intestines as strings. At least in some parts of history, you were expected to make ’em yourself if you wanted to play a bitchin’ solo.
Eventually, they were able to make wires that were thin enough and made of metal. But, when you picture that nice lady in ye olden days, playing the harp with 64 strings on it? Yeah… That’s like three cows worth of music.
She didn’t just pop down to the music store, either. She straight up murdered that cow and stole its innards, just to play a bitchin’ harp solo. You don’t want the ones from butcher shops – they need special preparation.
They made metal ones and life was pretty sweet. Except, many people wanted their guitar strings still made from things like cow and silk. Crazy people still do that sort of stuff today.
But, then WWII hit.
“We didn’t have no metal for guitar strings, see. We didn’t have metal ’cause the war was on and we needed the metal for the war.”
So, stringing your guitar meant murdering a cow and finding some silk.
Some dude said, “Hold the fuck on. I found something.”
At a military surplus, some luthier named Augustine, had spotted some nylon cord.
Except, the strings are not all the same. So, he had to figure out how to wrap three of ’em with just a little wire, and he did.
He then approached DuPont to make ’em. They pretty much said, “That’s retarded.”
He then staged some executives a blind test and proceeded to play them a bitchin’ solo with different sets of strings. They liked the nylons better.
And that’s why you have nylon strings and don’t have to go slaughter an appropriate animal every time you want to string your guitar.
Hmm… I should con the hoodlum into trying to recreate ye olden strings!
Do note, you can buy gut strings. They usually use sheep or goats. There are people who still make their own – and they’re crazy, as I already mentioned. Like, they’re crazier than regular guitar players – which is saying something.
Frankly, nylon really does sound better (to me) and has greater consistency. Still, I suspect it’d be an interesting project to make them. I’ve never actually made gut strings. Hmm… I’m not sure if I’m quite that crazy?
It’s a good excuse to get sheep or goats. Anyhow… I have to leave sometime this afternoon, ’cause my drummer is really not very good at passing along information. I don’t even know when I’m supposed to leave. I’m sure as shit not driving myself. Until next time…
Shut up and play us a song!