Disciple of the old world as I am, I am ever conscious of the particularly contemporary venture of our little band. Until this project, my model of music making was anything but. My violin was crafted in 1867 by the Londoner Edward Panormo, a rather bad luthier better known for his guitars. The etudes drilled into my fingers; the techniques of vibrato, spiccato, legato, staccato; my stance and very arrangement of my limbs are all practices developed in prior centuries, not decades. The music I studied solo, in quartets, in orchestra was penned by men two, three hundred years ago, the most recent of the bunch – Bartok, Shostakovich – clocking in early last century. My very identity, my social role is consistent through the ages; playing the violin was a perfectly nice activity for a young lady of the nineteenth century.

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This quaint pastime has been yanked into the present. The change is physically manifest in the sheet of metal wedged into my bridge, connected by a rubber-encased wire to the pick up that grips the shoulder of my violin. Every performance and rehearsal, I insert a quarter-inch cable into the pick-up, an act of penetration that requires such force, albeit gentle, that I feel I am intruding into the body of the instrument, a violation. Electricity courses through our instruments, wires alter and amplify our motions and voices so our bodies become electronic and our art resides somewhere between neurons and the PA system.

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But it’s not just that: new as amps and DI boxes and XLR cables are to my personal narrative, Bob Dylan horrified fans when he plugged in his guitar in pre-historic 1965. It’s the fact that I write this on the second story of a megabus speeding from Philadelphia to New York City on a Sunday night with a ticket I bought online four hours prior and showed the bus driver in the form of a 15-digit number on the screen of my cell phone. Anna and Zach live in Philly, Madalyn and I live in New York, but by the miracle of Google, we have 40 email long conversations coordinating rehearsal, testing out new ideas, passing on song lyrics and musical fragments from garage band, discussing tv shows, shooting the shit, wasting time. We plan the future in our four-way g-cal. We track our spending and (occasional) earnings on our shared spreadsheet. And we keep in touch, for hours on an end, in that small rectangle blinking orange in the lower right hand of the computer screen, fingers meeting keys with furious rapidity in gchat. We hop on buses back and fourth between cities. We pile into Anna’s car, our fearless leader at the helm, to drive to DC, to venues, following the directions laid out on Madalyn’s iphone.

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Into the soul of our music is written speed, electricity, technology, bytes, ohms, the internet, the twenty-first century. And there is such thrill in this, knowing we are working at something never before possible, not only the sounds of the music, but also the circumstances of our lives.

But today when Anna and I sat on the slope of her roof, baked by early evening sun, and played the guitar and Edward Panormo’s violin over the tops of trees and the spires of Philadelphia skyscrapers, half lit gold, half in purple shadow – well, music can still spill straight from the bow into the late summer breeze.

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