"The origin of the use of catgut for the strings of violins and
kindred instruments has, from time to time, been explained in various ways.
The most interesting, and probably the
most authoritative explanation seems to be the one known among violin makers in Italy for
centuries, but little known outside the country. The story is related by Joseph Primavera,
who gathered his material in the little town of Salle, Pescara, Italy, a town that has had
for almost six centuries the making of catgut strings as its chief industry, and from
which some of the finest strings in the musical world have come.
It all goes back to around 1300 AD, it
seems, when Salle was already famous for its saddles. Not the least important feature of
these leather products was the fact that a thread made from the intestines of a mountain
sheep was used in sewing them. This thread was found to be far stronger than that made
from more domesticated and better cared for sheep of the valleys.
Tradition at Salle says that at the
dawn of the fourteenth century one Erasmo was employed in the chief industry of the town,
the making of saddles. As this man was drying some sheep intestines in order to make his
thread, some were carried away by the wind, and became lodged in a thorn bush.
Erasmo noticed that sweet musical
sounds were emitted as the material was vibrated by the wind blowing through the bush.
Being an observant man, and an ingenious one, the thought came to him that the threads
used in sewing saddles might also be used as strings in the primitive instruments that
were ancestors of the violin. Thus the business of making violins strings from
"catgut" (more will be said later regarding the origin of the word itself)
began, and so important did the industry become to the small town that eventually Erasmo
was sainted, and St. Erasmo is not only the patron saint of the town, but also the
profession of string making.
When asked regarding their strings,
the people of Salle, so the tradition states, said that they were made of the intestines
of cats, "catgut". There was good reason for this. The cat was viewed with
superstition in Italy, and the slaying of a cat was supposed to be followed by a period of
bad luck. The fiddle string makers of Salle reasoned that few indeed would attempt to copy
their trade, if it involved slaying cats.
Mr. Primavera, by searching church
records, found that from the beginning of the industry in the time of St. Erasmo, until
about 1700, four centuries, the families of Berti, Dorazio, Mari, and Ruffini were famous
for making violin strings. These families furnished the strings for products of
Stradivarius and other master makers of violins during this period. About 1640 Mari
Brothers became the leaders in the manufacture of "catgut" strings. This
tradition is followed today by the same family. E. & O. Mari, Inc., located in
Newburgh, New York, USA carries on the tradition. Many of their products are marketed
under the world famous name "La Bella". These music strings are recognized as
the finest the world over."
This word FLAMBO, started out as a sound, the way much
of music is conceived before composers decide to try and mess things up by organizing them
into some kind of structure. As we were getting close to realizing this CD project, Harris
and I sat around and experimented with various ideas for names. It was reminiscent of when
we were teenagers, and trying to find a name for our bands.Harris came up with Flambo,
and we laughed, but I liked the sound of it.
I was then given a CD of a soca band
from Trinidad, and the name of one song was Flambo. It literally is a torch, as
in the French word, flambeau. But in Trinidad, it is more like a Molotov
cocktail, a bottle filled with gasoline with a lighted piece of cloth in the top.It is
used on the ground to light a path.So, if you really need a definition, there it is....
lighting a path with explosive tendencies.