The more I hear of this instrument, the better it sounds.

Schubert’s Ave Maria on pedal steel

It has the vibrato and slide capabilities of strings, the chordal capabilities and ability to carry an entire piece unaccompanied of a keyboard, and better sustain than a keyboard. I’m starting to consider the pedal steel to be one of the ultimate evolutions of musical instruments. If I hadn’t started on viola (and as annoyed as I get with it periodically, I do love it even if I sound like a dead fish smells), I’d probably be looking into it, but I doubt I could find lessons around here. Nor could I fit lessons into my schedule; I already had to quit viola lessons.

But I can enjoy listening to people who can play them well.

Although I would still like to see one fitted into a nice wooden cabinet with some heavy brocade upholstery and good carving. They look like cheap formica kitchen tables, which is unjust. I suppose it keeps them from being too expensive, which is good, but I doubt the things are cheap as it is now. A nice classy looking frame to install the thing in at home would be a wonderful addition, one that just fit around the metal legs so that it looked nice, but that allowed it to still be removed and carried around, so that you could have instrument makers and cabinet makers separately.

Jeez. I’m from Philadelphia. I don’t even like country music.

Update: You know, I say that and then I turn around and talk about Tf3 and how much I like good bluegrass and Cape Breton fiddling. False hunches, indeed.

A banjo and a pedal steel? WHAT?

Seriously. I can’t listen to a pedal steel without wondering what Bach sounds like on it, and while I was listening to “Dove sei?” again for the millionth time (the Clark-Kent-looking one with Scholl and the Akademie fur Alte Musik from 1998), it struck me how like a banjo the theorbo sounded in its midrange when they wrapped back around to the A theme for the second time.

I want to hear this thing played with a pedal steel and a banjo now. Pedal steels are made for Baroque! Listen to the things!

I should just come right out and say it: I’m crazy about classical music on unconventional instruments. Bach on a fretless bass or a ukulele, Pachelbel on an electric guitar with a distortion box, Bizet on an erhu, Vivaldi on an accordion …

Update: Shit. NO NO NO NO NO. These things are insanely hard to play — every limb is doing something different. I just want to hear someone doing Baroque music on one! I swear it, these things are made for Scarlatti and Corelli.

They should come in nicer cabinets, though. As they are, they look like cheapie formica-topped kitchen tables. They need a nice wood cabinet around them, or some upholstered framing — something to spiff them up a bit so they don’t look like college-student Ikea furniture. At least a frame to go around them and from which they can be easily removed, so they’re still relatively portable.