The saw might just be the most musical tool out there and one of the most attention-grabbing folk instruments ever. Here’s Chrissy demonstrating at a rehearsal. Bowing the saw sets it vibrating, which makes a musical tone, a little like rubbing a wet finger over the edge of a glass. Then by bending the blade, it changes the resonating length of the saw, which smoothly shifts the pitch. To create vibrato, you shake or bounce your knee a little.
And yes, that’s a plain old saw that’s been used and still could be used to cut wood. We’ve also been experimenting with running the sound through effects and it sounds astonishingly creepy and beautiful.
There’s a full version of Cruel Mother with two saw solos here: