Music

“Let’s not make the musical world a scapegoat for deforestation by banning the trade in Pernambuco wood”

“Let’s not make the musical world a scapegoat for deforestation by banning the trade in Pernambuco wood”

LAt the next Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Quotes), which will take place in Panama, from November 14 to 25 (COP19), a vote will have to be taken on Brazil’s proposal to ban the trade in timber Pernambuco and, therefore, bows. This vote is decisive for the world of classical music, as it concerns all bowed string instrumentalists.

The proposal made by Brazil could drastically restrict travel and all trade related to violin, viola, cello or double bass bows. The adoption of this proposal would also lead in the medium term to the disappearance of a secular profession, bow maker, by removing any possibility of supplying Pernambuco wood (Poor brasilia echinata).

We are well aware of the major environmental issues that our society must face. We are also convinced that culture in the broad sense must remain an essential subject. Let’s not hinder the dissemination of culture in general and music in particular under false pretenses. Let’s not make the musical world a scapegoat for deforestation.

Culture and heritage

The volumes of wood, European and exotic, used by the instrument making as a whole are particularly modest in comparison with the volumes used by the paper, building or furniture industry throughout the world. Moreover, the sector has been very vigilant on these issues for several decades.

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For example, luthiers, bow makers and musicians have funded various programs for the conservation and replanting of Pernambuco and ebony wood used for bow making (International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative and Association for the Protection of Endangered Wood for Musical Instrument Making).

We, string musicians, play bows made of Pernambuco wood, because it is the material that combines all the qualities required for the expression of our art. Of course, there are bows made with other types of wood or other materials such as carbon fiber.

These alternatives can present a certain interest in playing circumstances or for the interpretation of certain works. However, in view of our musical culture and our sensitivity as performers, bows made of Pernambuco wood, in their very wide diversity, are those that allow us to convey our intentions in the best way. This is a profound question of culture, of heritage.

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