To Be Nothing
Conversations with Knut Hamre, Hardanger Fiddle Master
232 pp., 6 x 8 in, 40 color illus.
- Published: October 8, 2019
Dialogues between student and master about music, learning, teaching, the healing power of art, and the art of life itself.
Knut Hamre has devoted his life to playing the Hardanger fiddle—a unique folk violin with resonating strings beneath, like a sitar's—and to teaching new generations the secrets of this ancient music, rooted in a stark and beautiful land. Benedicte Maurseth is one of his most accomplished students, an internationally known artist who has recorded for the ECM label. In a book that brings to mind such classics as Zen and the Art of Archery and Wabi Sabi, the student and her master together explore the quest for excellence and originality in the heart of a living tradition.
At once mystical and practical, To Be Nothing is a series of dialogues about music, learning, teaching, the healing power of art, and the art of life itself. With photographs evoking the rugged landscapes and people from which this music springs and the exquisite beauty of the fiddles themselves, this is a work as serene as a fjord, and as deep.
There are deeper levels to Knut as well, levels that become evident after you've known him for a while. He's always been old, he's always been young. There is a kind of equanimity in him; a rooted feeling. What you see is what there is, but at the same time there are layers behind layers. The unity of Knut, his fiddle, and his music is something I haven't often seen.
Maurseth, with vibrant prose and the craft of a storyteller… has brought us something we can apply to any instrument, any tradition, and to the way we live.