View Full Version : Bowlbook Back

Bob A
Apr-17-2004, 7:25pm
No one has posted here for over eight hours. If you won't amuse me, you'll pay the consequences.

No one rose to the bait about a bowlback book. I keep hearing little rumourettes about something in the works, but nada on the shelf. I want a nice fat mandolin book, sumptuously illustrated, with semi-scholarly yet anecdotal text. I'd like lots of examples of the breed, by a broad spectrum of makers. As well as photos of the various instruments, there should be illustrations desribing the more choice instruments, similar to the measurements Alex included in his book, complete with diagrams of bracing patterns. It would be good to have sound spectra of as many instruments as possible, and perhaps those interferometric studies of vibration patters, all laid out to provide for amusing comparisons between the selected instruments.

Apart from the graphic info, I need text. I like anecdotes, which I consider to be the heart of history, containing the juice that scholars suck out of their subjects. I suspect they derive sustenance from it, but they hate passing it along, for reasons I wouldn't care to fathom.

Good paper, strong binding, the sort of thing that I could drool and fantasize over when no one is posting anything worth reading. (Don't you hate nice weather? Seems to divert one's attentions from truly interesting topics to the banal; Nice weather today, yes? Perhaps, if you have no care about pollen, pollution, radiation poisoning, insect pests, gardening chores, and all that sort of diversion.

Sparks' book needs updating as well. A lot has happened in the last couple decades, and I'd like to read about it.

So. It would easily sell up to a thousand copies; reference libraries need this book, and so do we. Someone needs to write the thing, before I go blind and deaf. Won't you please hop to it?

Or at least post something new for me to read. It is quite slow here: when the weather is nice, no one wants to come to the hospital, and I languish. Not even hot enough for sunstroke, alas. But of course it's Saturday night; the masses will let their collective hair down, and business will pick up.

Any potential authors out there? How about a selection of essays; certainly we can do that, if no one picks up the gauntlet. I suspect we have access to remarkable amounts of info, that will go uncollated to our respective graves if we fail to act.

Well, maybe I'll just leave early and do some plucking. But I'll be here tomorrow as well, so don't think you're getting off easy.

Jim Garber
Apr-17-2004, 8:52pm
For an amusing window into the outside world take a look at this thread (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=12;t=14705;).

As you can see looking in that window, there are folks who are amazed that Beethoven wrote for the mandolin. Then the discussion drifts off to how awesome Chris Thile is and how can we get Beethoven pieces in tab. no offense to the folks on that thread, but I did notice that Eugene's suggestion to check out our area went more or less unheeded.

Bob, I actually love your idea of the bowlback book. I would certainly be among the first to buy one. On the other hand look at your potential audience. The percentage of mandolin players certainly has increased over the years as did the percantage of folks in the general populace who even know what a mandolin is.

On the other hand even among the mandolin community most know who Bill Monroe or Chris Thile is but how many of those folks even know the ame Raffaele Calace or Carlo Munier or Luigi Embergher. Granted in Europe there is probably a larger interest in terms of percentage but even there, I would assume the folks interested in mandolin history are a small minority.

Here is my counterproposal: instead of a lavish expensive book I would suggest a Web site. I was preparing to do one in any case one of these days -- essentially setting up #an online museum of the mandolin specializing in our beloved style of mandolin, a sort of order of the bowl. What is an advantage to a site is that it is readily expandable and adaptable.

My proposal would be this. Let me suggest as site map and we can go from here. BTW it is what I do for a living (graphic and web design), but would be a labor of love. we can have the museum section with comparative specs, perhaps larger sections on the major makers and features on the smaller ones of interest; certainly a history section with bios of important players, living and historic; events page and concert info; and links to other related sites and articles -- articles written by our folks here and there.

In any case, I think this could be something pretty worthy and something I would certainly be interested in. Anyone else?


Alex Timmerman
Apr-18-2004, 4:52am
Great ideas! It would be a good thing to preserve good articles and to keep them readable for those who are interested!
By the way, at the moment I am busy writting an essay for this board about plectra. Perhaps that brings food for thought. #



Bob A
Apr-18-2004, 10:57am
Excellent idea, Jim.

While info on the web is transient at best, it has many advantages. (Relatively) easy universal access, flexibility, graphics and color imaging are only some of them.

Still, there is something to be said for hard copy. And I am an unrepentant bibliomaniac, which certainly figures into my perspective.

I say go for it (especially since someone else is doing the hard stuff), solicit contributions for content, and see where it all leads. No reason it can't turn into paper eventually, if it seems worthy. Of course having it available on the web might raise copyright questions, and would certainly cut into a potential market, but at least the bulk of the available info would be available, and a permanent "work in progress" has advantages as well, in terms of info update and correction.

I eagerly await the next step.

Apr-19-2004, 10:03am
Just a thought,

Both bases could be covered depending on wheather the chicken or the egg comes first.

I have an inverterate curiosity with little supporting knowledge,especially compard to the breadth and depth of the historians in this part of the Mando Cafe Community, so I do not post here. However, I love to come and read and learn.

A historical website with scholarly research and articles, made interactive, could be an incredible resource. With the ability growing daily of what can be done, displayed, heard, and seen growing exponentially.

My supposition is this. Libriaries were set up for more than collecting, but often served as central clearing houses for collaborative efforts which often supported communities of scholars far afield from each other. This in turn gave impetus both to exploring the past as well as innovation of the future.

A website that would be under the care of a community such as this could mirror that and even go far beyond that into new directions. Not only displaying, but recreating the sounds, the blueprints, 3-d imagery will soon be availiable, as well as a meeting place for musicians to collaborate.

Much of this is already happening on the internet as we speak. Many books are starting their life from authors who establish communities on the internet. One feeds the other.

Anyway, I have to say that I would certainly be a visitor to such a website.

Just a thought.


Bob A
Apr-19-2004, 11:40am
Harlan, thank you for your post. Please feel free to continue to contribute. If ignorance were a factor, no one would see my byline here.

I would like to see just such a site myself. I long for side-by-side comparisons of as many aspects as possible, although I'm not sanguine regarding aural comparison thru the web, or from any recorded source, it being my unfounded contention that much of the essence of the audible output of a mandolin, especially a bowlback, is lost in the attempt to compress it into a recordable format. Be that as it may, I'm all for the spread of information.

I assume final content would be subjected to editorial vetting, to assure factual content and attenuate redundancy (and there's a thankless job). But the resources available thru the web and in the minds of our contributors, both current and to come, are extensive and worth preserving.

I hope you will feel comfortable continuing to contribute your support and ideas. I hope it is not too much to dare to hope that this thing might in fact progress toward the vision you put forth.

Apr-19-2004, 2:14pm
While I appreciate what the web has to offer, there are still reams of un-confirmable and erroneous junk floating around out here. I think a web site would be grand as a side project; a researched, reviewed, and published text would add needed legitimacy. As most of my correspondents here know, I know of some things brewing and some relegated to a distant back burner for later brewing. I don't know if any of it will ever percolate. Ah well...

Jim Garber
Apr-19-2004, 2:44pm
I have been thinking of this site. I will set up the framework I hope in a week or so and we can build from there.


Apr-20-2004, 8:31am

I agree with you that the internet is afloat with junk. That said, the question becomes why it is that way? The internet started as a result of serious research, a desire for distance collaboration and information sharing, all of the things you point out as crucial to establishing legitimacy. The internet as we know it now is evolving daily. Evolution accepts all but only supports and all

I am an inveterate reader, and yes, I do read trash too, but I crave intelligent, readable, thoughtful, educational, thought-provoking, well written material that broadens my understanding of whatever subject I am interested in.

Where does legitimacy come from? There are thousands, even hundreds of thousands of books printed each year, not including other written media that have little in the way of research but offer only opinions, usually one-sided. Let's not even discuss television, or radio. Legitimacy is first and formost established through the ethics of the researcher.

So how does this fit into the internet and establishing a website that has that legitimacy? The owner/publisher of the website determines their integrity in spite of what is already being published.

Even in this age that continues to spawn flat earthers, Erick Von Daniken believers( i show my age with that reference), and an internet run amok with trash. The quest for order remains. If the internet is to become what I think it can be( and that is my own thought and wishes), then the academics, the researchers, the ethical purists have to become involved, participate, fight, struggle, and establish legitimacy in the same way that it has always been established, and that is the willingness to have to believe in what you do, take on all critics, and find a way to reach the audience(for without the audience there is no legitiamacy).

Yes, I agree the overall idea is grand and overwhelming, but all things grand began with a single idea that someone person believed in enough to take the first step in bringing to reality. Instead of saying nay, say yea.

Jim, I hope that you follow through with that idea. I for one would extremely excited and supportive in my own feeble way. I am not a scholar, nor a musician, not an academic, but I believe that we need more sites that meet needs in more depth and with more creativity.

Sorry for the ramblin.....but I do so enjoy reading and learning from this group.


Apr-20-2004, 12:02pm
No need to apologize; it's interesting ramblin'.

Apr-28-2004, 11:03am
If a site is created please let me know. If no one minds my ignorance all I can say is that I can be taught. I would enjoy learning more from a new site with new wellsprings of knowledge.