I was wandering about the web this afternoon, during my lunchless lunch break, trying to relax off my morning busywork, when I found a link at Alllooksame to the blog of Summer Block Kumar, which was praised as a blog about China. Anyway, one of the first posts I came across had a cool snippet of information about music and Russian serfs, from a book that’s on my shelf but as yet unread:
“Serfs were essential to the Sheremetev palaces and their arts . . . Many of these serfs were sent abroad or assigned to the court to learn their craft. But where skill was lacking, much could be achieved through sheer numbers. At Kuskovo there was a horn band in which, to save time on the training of players, each musician was taught to play just one note. The number of players depended on the number of different notes in a tune; their sole skill lay in playing their note at the appropriate moment.”
— Orlando Figes, in Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia
I am so moving that book to the top of my pile. Thanks Summer Block Kumar!