Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Fife

Once upon a time, I thought that it was a good idea to buy a Fife. 

For those of you who don't know, a Fife is, essentially, a piece of woods with a few holes in it.

Image sourced from here.

Most Fifes are in D tuning, which means that they can pretty much only play notes from the D major scale. They are restricted in the pitches they can reach, ranging from slightly squeaky to break-the-windows high. They look ridiculous when you play them because they are so pathetically small. And very few people (at least where I live) have ever heard of one. So....why did I buy one?

In all honesty, I wanted a wooden flute, as opposed to one of these. It was an accidental mis- communication that led to a Fife arriving in my hands. But in a strange kind of way, I'm really glad it did.

I love Irish music. Perhaps it's because all of my Mum's family is Irish, though I rarely see them. But if I close my eyes and play jigs and reels on the Fife, I feel like perhaps I am sat in an Irish pub with other slightly tipsy musicians.

What I really love about the Fife though, is what it represents. It is a piece of wood with a few holes in it. The notes are largely inconsistent and the instrument itself is entirely 'untuneable'. But, at some point, someone decided that they wanted to make music. They looked at the world around them, they thought about sound, and then they made it. My Fife is conical, which makes it very like a renaissance flute. That means that it is incredibly similar to the original, primitive flutes. It represents the human desire to make music, of any kind.

For that reason, I adore my squeaky, dissonant, pointless little Fife with all of my heart. 

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