Making Mystical Sounds of a Handsaw Listener Gary Wood of new Brunswick, N.J., tells us about a skill his father taught him: how to get an eerie sound out of a common handsaw. Wood was a carpenter, as was his father. As an amateur musician, Wood uses the saw sound, which resembles a Theremin.
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Making Mystical Sounds of a Handsaw

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Making Mystical Sounds of a Handsaw

Making Mystical Sounds of a Handsaw

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Sometimes, we get to a point in the program that there's really nothing else to do but recall the words of the boys from Monty Python. Robert, do you want to do the honors?

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Sure, I've been waiting almost 40 years to say this. And now for something completely different.

BLOCK: And in this case, that something is a sound clip from a listener in the Garden State.

Mr. GARY WOOD: I'm Gary Wood from North Brunswick, New Jersey.

(Soundbite of handsaw)

Mr. WOOD: I'm a maintenance mechanic at Rutgers University, the state university.

(Soundbite of handsaw)

Mr. WOOD: But for a long time, I was a carpenter. I learned that from my father, and he also showed me how to make this funny sound with a handsaw.

(Soundbite of handsaw)

Mr. WOOD: This is just an ordinary handsaw like you'd use to cut a two-by-four, and what you have to do is pick up the saw and put your hand into the handle the opposite way that you'd hold it to cut a board. I use my thumb and my index finger to bend the whole thing into a slight S-curve. Just give it a whack with your thumb on the blade and it produces this eerie sound.

(Soundbite of handsaw)

Mr. WOOD: I've used it in some home recordings. I'm an amateur musician, and I've used the saw in a few recordings, and it sounds really great.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. WOOD: Especially when you put a little reverb on it, an echo.

(Soundbite of handsaw)

Mr. WOOD: It's kind of a special thing to me because my father never liked any of the kind of music I played. He was a big bands kind of country-western guy, and - but we had this little thing in common, and sometimes at lunchtime we'd sit there with two saws and make these boingy noises together and sing songs like "God Bless America" or maybe some old Marty Robbins song.

It was kind of a special thing. My dad's been gone for about 10 years now, and every time I pick up the saw and make one of these funny noises, I think of him.

(Soundbite of handsaw)

BLOCK: That's Gary Wood of New Jersey and his musical handsaw. If you're surrounded by sounds that haunt, taunt, please, tease, amuse, confuse or anything else, then by all means do tell us about them. To do so, go to npr.org and search for Sound Clips.

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