Listen: Marlene Dietrich plays musical saw (with bonus Star Trek theme)


I played with a Russian folk orchestra for a couple of years at a big state university, and we did one number where we had a saw player, and ever since I wished that we’d also done the Star Trek theme.


There’s a John Gardner short story called The Music Lover about a man who’s horrified by an avant garde performance involving saws and other tools.

I wonder if Gardner ever realized just what a truly beautiful instrument a saw could be.

Massive urge to go watch Delicatessen now

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Sounds Hawaiian, doesn’t it?

The San Francisco Bay Area has a lot of musical saw players, ranging from old folkies to gypsy-punk dance bands. If you ever need an analog equivalent of a theremin to make spooky science-fictional sound-track noises, musical saw is the way to go. One fiddle player I know decided to pick up musical saw, and said that if you’re going to play it, you need to have a garage to practice in and a very tolerant spouse; the learning curve before you can make non-horrible sounds is steep and painful.

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