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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » ‘It feels like an extra limb’ – musicians on the bond with their instruments

‘It feels like an extra limb’ – musicians on the bond with their instruments

Delivered... Michael Hann | Scene | Thu 20 Feb 2020 5:00 pm

Horrible things happen to instruments in transit – as Ballaké Sissoko and others have recently learned. Five musicians explain why the damage goes more than skin deep

One thing successful musicians have to do a lot of is travel, and when you travel with an instrument, you increase its chances of getting damaged. Early this month, the Malian musician Ballaké Sissoko’s kora was taken apart by US border agents when he left New York, something Sissoko only discovered when he picked it up in Paris. A few days later, Louis Levitt discovered a four-inch crack in his $100,000 double bass after it had been unpacked for security screening at Newark airport, and a few days after that, specialist instrument movers dropped Angela Hewitt’s £150,000 F278 Fazioli piano while removing it from a studio after a recording session, rendering it “unsalvageable”.

The loss of an instrument, though, is about more than inconvenience or financial cost. It’s about the loss of something that can feel like an integral part of a musician’s being – it’s their means of self-expression. And after years of playing one instrument, simply swapping to another isn’t as easy as it sounds – musicians and their instruments have relationships and losing one can be as hard as losing a lover. Here, five musicians talk about the instruments they play, and what those instruments mean to them.

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