Musical Saw Player

Benedict Popescu - TV Debut - 1986


Allow me to introduce myself. I am a 'humble' musical saw player from a 'humble' country - Romania. My first contact with the musical saw was around 1960 while I was still a small boy. One day I heard a Romanian romantic song played on the radio with a very unusual instrument. The sound was so nice! My father was somewhere around and I asked him immediately: 'Daddy, please tell me what instrument is this ?' He said: 'It's a musical saw…'. I kept that beautiful sound in my mind and in my soul for many years. In 1981, while attending a musical festival in Eastern Berlin, I had the opportunity to actually encounter the musical saw. Among other participants at the festival was a group from Sweden: a boy with an acoustic guitar, a female vocalist and a young man with a… musical saw. During that festival I resolved to buy a saw and begin to practice as soon as I could. The moment arrived one year later - in the autumn of 1982. One evening, following an advertisement in a newspaper, I found someone wishing to sell a musical saw. Then I thought: 'This is mine - I'll buy it at any price…'. When I purchased it, I found out that the instrument had belonged not to the vendor, but to one of his friends, a saw player who recently had passed away. However, the seller was kind enough to put me in touch with a man who plays the saw: Costache Gheorghe - a retired drummer from the Orchestra of the Romanian Athenaeum. I arranged an appointment with him and he gave me my only lesson on the saw - for half an hour: How to hold the instrument and bend it properly, and how to bow the edge of the blade, and how to obtain the 'vibrato' effect… After one year of intense practice, I was able to record my first song on the saw in the studio of the Romanian Television. I was very careful to let my teacher, Costache Gheorghe, know when the record was played for the first time on the channel. His comments were something like: 'It sounds so good… I couldn't believe that you've played a musical saw…



It was one of the greatest satisfactions of my life. It followed a long period of practice, trying to discover by myself the secrets of the instrument to improve my playing skills. After so many years of practice, if other saw players wail that their hands become tired after only five minutes of playing, I would say that now I can play even nine or ten hours without stopping! Concerning the repertoire, I have given much attention to enlarging it, trying to find more and more music which sounds great on the saw, and approaching the whole spectrum from folk to classical. Although just a few years ago my repertoire consisted of only five or six pieces, I can now play more than a hundred tunes!

Home Page