The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #24470   Message #279701
Posted By: Rick Fielding
17-Aug-00 - 02:09 PM
Thread Name: Skepticism and the Zither.
Subject: Skepticism and the Zither.
Well, to be honest, this comes from the great thread on crop circles. Some wonderful writing there, if you haven't checked it out yet.

It started me thinking why I almost always take the skeptics point of view. I remember hearing the old saw "I'm from Missouri, I've got to be shown", and figuring "yep, that's me".

Now, there are many "serious" things that I remain skeptical about, which obviously include UFOs (I'm as skeptical about Government explanations as I am about the crafts themselves), Religion (verry skeptical of those who make their money by encouraging others to believe), Politics (leaders who promise not to lie, knowing that it's an impossibility).....but on a much smaller (and nurdier) level, here's a couple of things that I've been very skeptical about:

When I first heard Anton Karras play the music from the film "The Third Man" on the zither, I was dumbfounded. Never had I heard something as beautiful or mysterious. I'd seen pictures of concert zithers but couldn't for the life of me figure out how the player got "those notes, and those chords". I've always been able to figure out instruments pretty quickly and can usually get some kind of tune out of anything within a few minutes...but this had me stumped. I figured that Karras must have been overdubbing (or there were two zither players)

As luck would have it, I finally met someone who played Concert zither about 3 years ago. She was in her 80s and I asked her if I could record her and use it on the radio show. She said "yes", and I watched her hands closely as she played some old traditional Viennese waltzes. T'was nice but nothing like what Karras did. (the slides, vibrato, lightening speed, diminished chords etc.)

After she finished, I asked her to play "The Third Man" and she got verry huffy...indicating that she didn't play "pop crap". oops!

Peter T. just lent me the Soundtrack on CD and I sit with headphones on, still amazed, and still trying to figure out what he's doing....realizing that I'll probably NEVER figure it out.

Three possibilities will always be there for me: One, that there really ARE two instruments (the liner notes say not). Two, one day I'll figure it out. Three, Anton Karras was simply a total musical genius (although he spent all his life playing in Viennese bars) and could make his fingers do incomprehensible (to me) things.

Just being a Zither skeptic has given me so much enjoyment over the years, it would almost be a shame to find out "how" he did it now.

Guess I feel the same about Roswell New Mexico, The Shakespeare/DeVere controversy, Crop circles (do they ever do rectangles?) The Warren Commision, the Bible, and how Django Rheinhart played so fast with two fingers.

It's the journey that makes life so damned interesting, not the destination.

Love to hear from other skeptics who find the "hunt" entertaining.