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Hugh Livingston is a cellist, composer and sound installation artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, for a couple of years now he’s been dropping in and collecting video of instrument making in progress. The clips below are his working sketches for a piece which I believe will involve a live performance by a string quartet.



I particularly like this first clip showing fingers endlessly repeating the same movements, the crunching, scratching sounds and agitated activity remind me of termites or squirrels at work. The long slow cuts, rolling up a shaving and then carefully putting it back down are both sensuous and claustrophobic. In the middle of it all comes the cello track, a rudimentary heart beat just starting to form.

This is my life folks, fussing and fiddling with pieces of wood all day long, making the same shapes over and over, searching for sound….

String Instrument Technique (demo) from Livingston Sound on Vimeo.

At first I was reluctant to post this second video because it doesn’t portray the conventional romantic view of violin-making,  I usually try and keep things like blue gloves and packing tape out of my pictures, because people don’t necessarily want to know how the sausage is really made. What the video did for me though was to open my ears and eyes to the rhythms and textures that surround me in the shop.

LuthierSketchB sm from Livingston Sound on Vimeo.