Strings, horsehair and ‘new music’, from Wood and Wire Music

Strings and horsehairThough i’ve been remiss in keeping things going on the blog the music goes on and on with me, redefining and rediscovering and just continuing the muse as I can.  Two recent recordings both share a connection with the electric violin, an instrument I’ve felt driven to spend time with the last 4 years but at the same time have had yen/yang with it.  I am a guitarist of many years and that core I defined rather intensively pursuing a solo fingerstyle approach for many of those years driven by the stylings of the late Michael Hedges, who though left the planet sadly much too soon, influenced many as he did me.  That said since about 2005/6 I’ve been expanding, feeling some that the solo fingerstyle path I had sown needed a ‘rest’.  I was feeling the need to grow, to expand, to experiment as my musical tastes and influences have always been wide.

So with that going on the violin, fiddle as I often call it entered my psychy on Fathers Day in 2007 when asked what I wanted for ‘my day’ I suggested to my wife a cheap electric violin from eBay and so it happened.  I had a bout previously with the violin while I was living in my native Arkansas, experimenting with it in the mid80’s.

Well like most things it’s tough for me to acknowledge being a beginner at something when I had years of musical experience.  That was of course the insecurity of the ego talking.

I began working with it, self teaching, trying to get consistent sound, getting bouncing bows and squeaking all the way to a few months later when doing a gig for someone at a craft fair who had been a ‘fan’ of my guitar work, when I decided to pull out the violin and use with some looping tools, she came up to me after a few minutes and said ‘would you please stop! it’s getting on people’s nerves!’  And when playing in the subway one time I was playing this thinly toned not meant to be acoustic electric fiddle and I came to a stop and some admiring ‘fan’ screamout from somewhere on the platform, ‘you are the worst fucking violin player I’ve ever heard’!  So it’s been a struggle despite my popularity and ‘fan’ support.

I have however continued to experiment and grow with the instrument, staying at it for awhile, then feeling some backslide and then retiring it and then again getting inspired and out it comes again.  I’ve in the process acquired 2 more violins, a cheap ebay acoustic and a hand-made curly green maple electric that I love and as I like the exotic in most instruments am drawn to this one on eBay.

One thing that I will say that has been encouraging with the instrument however is that with each put it down/pick it up two months later, I find that I’m not losing what I know and manage to gaina bit more momentum.

Another element is both and interest is that in now way do I try to approach the instrument as a trained or traditional player in the trained sense.  I do like ‘traditional’ Appalachian style fiddle playing however and spend some time researching the old tunes.

The most productive energy in this last chapter has been through using the instrument with more effects and another tool I often use, phrase sampling or ‘looping’ as better known.

For last few months I have been enjoying a re-emergence with it after being asked last summer by an influence who knew I was spending some time learning the violin asked me ‘how’s the violin coming’.  I was embarrassed sad to say as I had been a period of ‘putting it down’ but when I got home that was haunting me.  I ‘rosined up the bow’ as the saying goes and had at it again.  This time it’s stayed with me in a more defined way.

This story post blog has all been to set the stage to announce two CD and digital download releases I did in February of this year, participating in the online event known as the RPM Challenge.  This event calls musicians to create and release a CD of their music all created and produced in the month of February.  There is no prize or competition it’s all a ‘challenge’ with the prize being the personal satisfaction and then taking the recording where they wish.  I’ve participated each year since 2007.

Since the violin was figuring so much in to my time and current interests I decided for this event I would do a solo violin CD and do it in my own style which is playing sometimes plucked sometimes bowed and on two tracks using two violins in sequence.  Effects and looping were employed and i’m rather proud of this record affectionally titled, ‘Hack’ which is available as a free download on Bandcamp at

Another project that I’m excited about which created the second release for the RPM event was a NinJam based trio with two great fellow musicians and friends in Florida, that we dubbed kOss pHactor.  kOss pHactor’s make-up is live, experimental, improvisational, textural, sometimes noise, music and our CD dubbed kOss pHactor is also available for free download on Bandcamp at

kOss pHactor includes Jeff Duke (electric guitars/electronics/master control), Ray Istorico (electric drums/waveDrum/Florida sunshine) and myself (electric violins/electronics/Brooklyn chaos or ‘kOss’).

Thanks for following my musings and for checking out the releases!


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About Jim Goodin

I'm a musician with focus on new and experimental music, podcaster and voice over guy. I'm a runner and biker.
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