Amidst recorder makers, organ makers, vendors, trumpet makers, viol makers, shawm makers and racket makers we resided in the Painted Hall of the Royal Naval College for three days. It was a wonderful time and we received visits from scores of interested visitors for whom we played and improvised music on the Ruby Gamba. With the trusted Boss loop station and a TC Electronic DSP device. One woman stood at some distance and slowly said: “I don’t like the look of this…!” and so we invited her to perhaps listen. After a while she looked puzzled and full of question marks at the instrument and said: “This can’t be electric!” She told us she was hearing an instrument that confused her, while it made her think of a beautiful acoustic viola da gamba… with no corpus… and then we showed her the loudspeakers and she was even more astonished, but satisfied.
“O, Gosh” in the UK or “awesome” in the US are among the standard reactions we get at exhibitions. In Greenwich we heard an occasional “remarkable” and even an “interesting” although one never knows what that really means.
On another occasion we talked to a very interested man and drifted through some topics until we hit “food”. Now food and music are of course deeply related. He mentioned a bakery of organic bread. 2 hours later he was back again. “I have a present for you”. Out of his bag came an 800gr Rye Bread. This is England, this is social life at its best, where deliberation and spontaneity meet into an exquisitely British flavour.
We played a demo-concert on Saturday that was met with great enthusiasm and I wonder whether viol-country England will adopt the Ruby Gamba as a meaningful Other Instrument for marking out future professional careers and amateur playing alike!