Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Clarion Music Center in San Francisco Chinatown

DSC03099 clarion music center strings

One afternoon a couple of years ago, my son asked me to take him and a few of his friends to San Francisco Chinatown. Because they were way too cool to be seen with anyone of my generation, I had a couple of hours to shoot some photographs.

I stopped dead in my tracks when I came upon this window:

DSC03095 Clarion Music Center window

I don't play any musical instruments but I dearly wanted to step inside to quell my curiosity. What would I say if they asked me if I needed any assistance? "Yes, I'm in the market for a lion dance costume."?

DSC03096 chinese lion dance  heads

Fortunately, the shopkeeper was already busy with a customer.

DSC03097 Clarion Music Center gong

This girl reminds me so much of my Chinese classmates when I went to school here in The City. Many spent their after-school hours in their family's shops and restaurants where they were safe, within easy reach of homework assistance, and where they could pinch-hit in case their parents had to run errands. I was pretty certain she had no desire to help me, though I'm sure she could have if I asked. She could have told me all about the drums stacked up right behind her...

DSC03106 Clarion Music Center drums

...and which drumsticks would be perfect for each. She could have told me about the rain sticks standing up in the bucket; or at least that's what I think they are.

DSC03104 drumsticks and rainsticks

She could have told me about the Scottish bagpipes or the names of all the different stringed instruments.

DSC03098 Clarion Music Center back wall

DSC03103 Clarion Music Center string instruments

I happen to know that these octagonal two-stringed Chinese violins are called ehrus .

DSC03100 erhu cabinet

The use of python skins for these instruments has been regulated in China since 1988.

DSC03101 erhus

I was pleased that the person behind the cash register, no doubt the proprietor, quietly let me use my camera.

Enjoy a clip from the Travel Channel here:

and, thanks to Ruth, here's a part of the soundtrack of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

If you need any exotic musical instruments, or if you are just curious, be sure to visit the Clarion Music Center in San Francisco's Chinatown.

DSC03107 Clarion Music Center


CC said...

We have a marvelous Chinatown here also, but I have never seen these musical instruments. Fascinating. I like the red violin. A neighbor here plays violin in the
Philadelphia Orchestra. I will share this with her.

Great photos.

Unknown said...

Oh, those stringed instruments make me want to touch them! They are so beautiful! I would even touch the ehrus. My family thinks I'm crazy because I've always been terrified of snakes, yet I always pet them at the zoo reptile house. I'm glad they started regulating the killing of the pythons, even though I wouldn't want to encounter one in the jungle or bush or whatever they call it in China.

Your son should invite you to take him on more of these excursions. ;-}

Veri word: march. As in march to the beat of a different drummer?

~✽Mumsy✽~ said...

What a wonderful and beautiful instruments! I bet your two hours must had been in the shop and went by quickly..

Kala said...

Looks like you had a lot of fun in the shop. Some of those instruments look fascinating.

Astrid said...

Instruments like this always fascinates me, I think it is wonderful that the owner of the took pride to the fact that you were able to use your camera.
This is a wonderful series of pictures.
I haven't been around for a while (at your blog), but being a baseball fan, I love the series about the field-caretakers at the diamant.
.....a little secret, don't ask me biggest wish....walk the Golden Gate bridge onto the middle and spit into the water...
In the Netherlands I (used to) do that on every bridge I walked on...when my son was younger we really did get a kick out of it.
Today we are off to see Hoorn/Enkhuizen)

Dutchbaby said...

Dear CC,
Thank you for pointing out the red violin to me. I was so struck by all the unusual instruments that I had never seen before, I failed to see the more familiar objects.

Do you get to listen to your neighbor's music? That would be marvelous.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Susan,
Proof positive once again that we are like-minded women. I too had a snake phobia (I just looked it up, it's called ophidiophobia) for many years but I think I'm finally outgrowing it. Unlike you I have no desire to touch a live snake - even in the zoo. My sister and I are still traumatized over the time our mother poked a python in a zoo in Indonesia. We have a huge python skin from Indonesia. It's made many an appearance during show 'n' tell in the kids' elementary school classes.

I like your veri word. I chose March 4th as my retirement date, now twelve years ago, because then I could say that I marched forth on March fourth. Lame, I know.

Marilyn Miller said...

What a very lovely visit to Chinatown. I loved seeing the music store.

When I was a young girl my grandmother lived in SF and took me to Chinatown for my 13th birthday dinner. I still remember the sights, sounds, and tastes of Chinatown.

Relyn Lawson said...

What amazingly gorgeous instruments. Wow! I love that she let you take photos. So many shops don't let you any more. I wonder why that is?

Ruth said...

I concur with the others. I just groaned with pleasure when your first photo opened. And then it only got better. Almost more than I could take! So sensuous, rich, elegant, unusual!

The python skin ones look like honeycombs.

And a bagpipe! Do they play those in China? Well, I wouldn't be surprised, since almost everything started in China.

The textures, patterns, colors, patinas, light, ambiance, that girl doing her homework, the history, the culture - all of it is just making me swoon. The only thing I'm missing (and I think I would just go into a state of ecstasy) is the mournful sounds of those beauties. But you know what I just realized? I had it last night, because Don put on the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon CD, which we hadn't listened to in ages. I call that synchronicity. :)

I'm not exaggerating in any of my praise. This made my day. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Not lame at all...I probably would have done the same thing had I been clever enough to think of it! :-}

California Girl said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. You visited from Ruth's blog, I believe.

I love the look of your blog and am intrigued you're in publishing, if I'm correctly reading your profile.

I'm a southern Cal girl but would live in SF if I could ever have afforded to. NH is a lovely place to live but it is damn cold in winter.

I look forward to reading your posts & seeing your photos.

Vagabonde said...

I am late again reading your posts, so I comment on a couple and my comments get to be long. Isn’t Oak Alley splendid! I love looking at your pictures. When we went there I did not have my digital camera. We came late in the day but were told that if we stayed at their bed and breakfast we could visit the grounds at our leisure, with no one around. So we did stay overnight, and walked all over. A lovely historical place. And now about these instruments in Chinatown – many I did not know – your post was so informative and pretty to look at. I enjoy all your posts.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Mumsy,
Actually, I was only in the shop for a few brief minutes. After all, I was not customer, only a lurker.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Kala,
I didn't know what most of these instruments were, but they were certainly beautiful.

Ginnie said...

Can you imagine a place that would hold all the varied instruments around the world from all time, DB! You have found a small corner of a niche that gives us a taste of what it would be like. Amazing.

rochambeau said...

You found the most supreme music shop imaginable Dutchbaby! Thanks for sharing. I like Chinatown~a lot! I like Asian people, food, and stuffs.
Were you there at the celebration when Japantown opened? I was.

Your photographs of Chinatown are great!

I'm asking for a SLR for my birthday. Could you please recommend a good one for a good price? Many thanks~


Dutchbaby said...

Lieve Astrid,
I love your funny urge to spit into the water from a bridge. My kids and I love playing poohsticks ( but that would be impossible on the Golden Gate Bridge since there are six very busy lanes of traffic to cross. I hope you and Ginnie have a chance to come to San Francisco one of these days. May be you can catch the San Francisco Giants at AT & T Park too!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Marilyn,
What a lovely way to spend your 13th birthday. Visiting Chinatown is a unique experience.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Relyn,
It is so true that shopkeepers are more and more reluctant to grant permission. I don't completely understand the objection.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ruth,
I thank you very much for your praise - it makes me feel ten feet tall! I was going to make this a Wordless Wednesday post but I just had to say something about the girl doing homework and the python skin.

As for the bagpipe, the Clarion Music Center specializes in exotic instruments from all around the world. I think we can safely say that the bagpipe is an exotic instrument.

I love knowing that we were in synchronicity. You inspired me to add a couple of video clips featuring the sounds of these exotic instruments. Great idea, Ruth!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear California Girl,
Welcome to Dutchbaby! Ruth continues to bring me great friends through her impressive blog.

My sister and I became accidental publishers when our father left a small publishing firm after his death. After ten years, we are now in the process of shutting down the business.

I hope that you will have a chance to live up in the Bay Area one day. I think it's paradise here.

Thank you for your visit and all your comments!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Vagabonde,
It is never too late to visit my posts, especially when you leave such a lovely comment.

I am envious that you got to spend the night at Oak Alley Plantation. I'm sure it was a wonderful experience.

These instruments were foreign to me too.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ginnie,
I can imagine that a person who collects exotic instruments would consider this store to be heaven.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Constance,
I'm so happy to hear that you like all things Asian because I am half Chinese. In turn, I love the South and its famous Southern hospitality and scrumptious food.

My husband is the camera aficionado in our family. He loves Canon lenses. I recommend you call B&H Photo in New York and talk to their extremely knowledgeable sales personnel there. You tell them your requirements and they will recommend the best camera for your price range. They observe the Sabbath day, but they will be open for business again on Sunday. Here's their website for their phone number:

Happy birthday, Constance!

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