This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

Three Duos

27 April 2018

A violinist stares directly into the camera lens,
his wide eyes framed by his wire spectacles.
There's hint of humor, as if he knows a joke
that hasn't reached the punchline yet.

His partner on valve trombone
keeps a straight face,
that gives him the appearance
of a young man not inclined
to make practical jokes.

They make an unlikely pair
as a trombonist and a violinist
would rarely sit near each other
given a choice. 

Their postcard is an example
of the many musician photos in my collection
that have no names and no location recorded.
Who and where is just a guess.
The best I can say is
that the photo's paper card
was made in the United States.

* * *

The guarded expression on this next violinist,
a serious older man,
is not so direct.

His companion is a young tuba player,
perhaps his son or brother.

At the feet of the seated violinist
is a slide trombone,
making this duo almost a trio.

As with the first photo postcard
these two have no name or place.
Judging by their best suits
we can only speculate
that their photo was taken some time
between 1905 and 1918

* * *

This somber fellow holds a mellophone,
an instrument which was once
the most common alto voice in American brass bands,
but has now become an obsolete design
bearing no resemblance to the modern marching mellophone.
On his lapel is a pin with the initials US
that suggests a date around 1917-18
when the United States joined the war in Europe.

His compatriot is a drummer
with drumsticks hovering over a snare drum
that is tilted on the seat
of a twisted wire cafe chair.

Both young men look about the right age
to have joined the war effort
as either volunteers or draftees.
As they wear broad brimmed hats
rather than boys' caps,
I can't help seeing two farm boys
trying to look more mature than they really are.

This is their second appearance on my blog.
The first was in May 2010
A Drum and Mellophone Duo

Though we may not know their names,
all three duos share a quality
of a kind of brotherhood, a close friendship
formed by making music together.
It's that timeless aspect that inspires my blog.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where everyone is waiting for the train.


La Nightingail said...

All three pairs are oddly paired in relation to their instruments. Rarely would you find a violinist playing a duet with a trombone or a tuba! A drum and a mellophone - perhaps? I smiled at that 3rd drum-mellophone duo. They sure do look like they just came into town from the farm - especially when you glance at their shoes. :)

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

Three odd couples for sure. Do you think they took the photos together because they were friends, or relatives and not because the instruments related in any way? All handsome and earnest-looking.

Barbara Rogers said...

I agree with Gail and Helen...those first two just wouldn't have made a melodious duet...when I think of how the instruments sound when played well. But then, Mike's the musician of our bunch, so I would think he would have said that himself. Perhaps they were relatives playing in a bigger band, and just came together to get their photo taken for someone or another. OK, I've gone as far as I can on guessing.

Mollys Canopy said...

I wonder if the first two photos of odd duet pairings might not be family portraits, with the subjects posed with their respective instruments, although they would not typically play them together. Love the mellophone-drum photo. Such an interesting vintage instrument and yes, a country air about the subjects.

Kathy Morales said...

I've enjoyed these duos and joining the speculation about their pairing and instruments. Some do look as though they are related.

tony said...

I Imagine, with Duos especially, the personality & chemistry between the two affects the music even more than the Instruments themselves...?


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