A musical instrument you might not expect

Natalia Paruz plays the musical saw. In fact, she uses three different sizes of carpenter’s saw. She bends it and bows it to get the tone. I suspect it’s incredibly hard to play well.

She also plays the handbells, cowbells, theremin, and glass armonica (yes, that’s really how it’s spelled).

The sound of a saw is uncanny. It’s eerie and unforgettable even if it’s sometimes difficult to get the thing to hold a pitch. Paruz plays the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria” and makes it sound like a human voice. It gave me the shivers right up my back.

She’s played with the Israel Philharmonic, and Zubin Mehta numbers her among the great musicians with whom he’s worked over a long career. Natalia’s also worked as asawportrait1 busker in the New York City and Paris subways. You’d be surprised at how good some subway musicians can be. Or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised at all.

PS: Someone who commented corrected my spelling of Ms. Paruz’ last name. The spelling now is correct. The commenter also gave me a fascinating link to a New York City musical saw festival. It reminds me of the 2004 Shakuhachi flute festival, also in New York: another non-Western-standard instrument with a wonderful sound and a devoted following.

I think I’ll go to Home Depot after the opera:-).Well, easy enough…but then there’s the bow. Those in the know, tell me: I am guessing it’s a cello or double bass-sized bow that can set you back as much as two cases of French saws. But I heard Ms. Paruz indicate that different players work with different size bows.


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