Rio de Janeiro - July 2007
1. Various of Brazilian Symphony Orchestra at rehearsal in Rio de Janeiro
2. Violinists handle their instruments and bows
3. Various of orchestra
4. Violinists playing
5. Close up bows
4. Bass player using bow
5. SOUNDBITE: (Portuguese) Valeria Guimaraes, Bass player:
"This bow was made by Joao Brasil a very good bow maker, who is now dead. He lent me many to try out and this is the one I liked best".
6. SOUNDBITE: (English) David Chew, Cellist:
"By tucking the bow you can feel the spring, you can hear the sound. You actually get the right balance of the bow. When you use it for certain technical things like spiccatto we have a certain point of the bow which has the balance, therefore we need a very good bow for spiccatto. One can spend thousands and thousands of dollars, pounds or reais, whatever you like, in a good bow and this is why we look for the best pernambuco (north east region of Brazil that include Atlantic rainforests) wood for a bow".
Rio de Janeiro State - July 2007
7. Various of patch of Atlantic Rainforest
8. Farmer points with machete and shows pau-brasil tree
9. Farmer enters forest, cutting vines with machete
10. Various of farmer showing pau-brasil tree in forest
11. Pau-brasil (or pernambuco) sticks, ready for making violin bows
12. Bowmaker working
13. Stick being heated on gas burner
14. Bowmaker bends heated wood
15. Finished bows
16. Bowmaker testing bow by playing viola
17. SOUNDBITE: (Portuguese) Alysio de Mattos, Bow Maker:
"Since it is a Brazilian wood, a tree only found in our national Brazilian territory, we should be able to get permission for the use of this wood, since ours is a small production."
18. Tilt down from pau-brasil tree
19. SOUNDBITE: (Portuguese) Alysio de Mattos, Bow Maker:
"It (the tree) provides me with offspring for replanting."
20. Various of Alysio de Mattos showing his pau-brasil tree plantation.
Rio de Janeiro - July 2007
21. Professor Haroldo de Lima with students
22. SOUNDBITE: (Portuguese) Professor Haroldo de Lima, Botanist, Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens:
"... to plant pau-brasil to guarantee the stocks of wood in the future so they can continue playing music, so violin players can continue to play with good bows, and the solution is to plant Brazil Wood Trees, plan them well in the right places and harvest at the right moment. We know Brazil Wood takes between 30 and 50 years to grow a good tree so we have to think about that now. Future generations, besides knowing Brazil Wood, the tree that gave our country its name need to continue to listen to the music created by the Brazil wood tree".
21. Terra Brasilis map by Lopo Homem - from Miller Atlas - 1519
If you think the problem of endangered species is all about tigers, elephants and orangutans, ask a violinist where he gets his bow.
The best violin bows are made from pau brasil, a tree from the Brazilian rain forest that has been exploited for 500 years, and was once so economically vital for the red dye it produced that it gave its name to the only country where it grows.
Pau brazil, the wood used for making violin bows, will be subject to CITES trade controls following the recent 71-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES.
Pau-brasil or pernambuco is the wood from which most of the bows used by violin, viola, cello and bass players are made.
Nearly 200 bow makers around the world have found no substitute for the unique qualities of pernambuco wood.
The pau-brasil bows have been coveted by musicians since Mozart's time in the mid-1700s for their sound quality, density, rich colour and strength in holding a curve.
It takes a lot of wood to make a violin bow.
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