“What would music be if there were no magnificent woods that, thanks to the violin makers’ skill, tame the noise, the vibrations, the frictions, the beats and make the sounds? … “Musical instruments are an expression of places and cultures, they were born with the most easily available materials and evolved with the refinement of forms and construction details, and the progressive discovery of new components. The planisphere of music botany highlights a subtle but necessary link between the distant habitats of the planet and the gestures of the musician.”
Presented at Asolo on Saturday 9 May 2009 on the occasion of the conference “Giving a voice to forests, dialogues, experiences and passions”, as part of the exhibition “La botanica della musica”, the book “La botanica della musica” is first and foremost a book, and as everyone knows, every book is a mystery. The wealth of emotions that it gives us with simple paper, ink, and colors is priceless. But let’s proceed with order: the cover is a door to the vegetable world and to that of music, with the green color of the chlorophyll, the nutritional element of this global living being, and above this a cello curl. Curved, carved and worked wood. The information files devoted to plant species have pastel colors, an authentic touch of poetry, but obviously also organization and scientific content. Words use wise and concrete awareness: in describing different worlds, bound by ancient professionalism, they prepare us to appreciate values that resist over time, necessary for our well-being. But they are also a concrete warning: a real commitment to preserving material and spiritual elements linked by a vital line that requires all our participation. The risk is lost without remedy.
“The sustainable use of forests guarantees their future. Each of us has responsibilities. Always ask for certified wood”
Some pages are dedicated to botany. Others to music and instruments. These include the same theme of layout, but also an ideal one, of the profound link between the two worlds. So botany, the wood, its workmanship, the luthiers are elements in continuity, but essential.
“If it’s wood for musical instruments it must have the notes inside: worked by the violinmakers it has to play and become the source of music”
Every wood has an information file. Between one file and another, the life experiences of Giampiero Rivolta, a “wood seeker”. A fascinating journey through adventures, history, geography, and art.
“There are many things to tell. First of all, I will explain to you my job, which is difficult, complex, fascinating. I will tell you of my travels around the world to collect the rarest and most precious woods, the characteristics of the trees from which they come, the uses for which they are now employed and those of the past. The greatest skill of a man has been to be able to choose the most suitable wood for every need … The olive tree is the tree of the Mediterranean, the sun and the light, it is the tree of Ulysses … The natives of Madagascar called their ebony tree the tree of the devil because it was so hard that it drove back their primitive axes … From the river of tables coming out of sawmills each day, always the same and homogeneous, once a month or a year, one stands out, a table of exceptional beauty, like a diamond in the middle of gravel: it is the marbled poplar. On a mother-of-pearl background, the veining has an extraordinary design, with wavy fibers, sometimes curled, reminiscent of the fur of the Persian lamb. With this wood, the sides and bottoms of cellos and basses are built. It is the revenge of the poplar.”
The book is now unobtainable, but it certainly deserves a new edition.
Gabriele Rinaldi, indefatigable and creative director of the “Lorenzo Rota” Botanical Garden in Bergamo, is the author of the texts, while the botanical cards have been edited by Federico Mangili, Giampiero Rivolta, and Francesco Zonca. Texts by dr. Gabriele Rinaldi, director of the “Lorenzo Rota” Botanical Garden of Bergamo, botanical cards by Federico Mangili and Francesco Zonca. Page design by Graphy Srl Palazzago.
La botanica della musica
Orto Botanico di Bergamo Lorenzo Rota (2009)