Andrew Bird purchased Peter Seman's cornerless 5-string violin in 2017.

Andrew Bird purchased Peter Seman's cornerless 5-string violin in 2017.

Andrew Bird

Through a 25-year career and more than a dozen recordings, Andrew Bird has blazed his own musical path - part folk, part jazz, part classical. His history with Seman Violins extends at least as far back, to when he was studying at the Northwestern School of Music. “Peter’s been there for me,” says Bird, who remembers once when he smashed his violin on the first night of a two-night stand. “Someone from the shop was there and took it back to the shop,” he remembers. “The next night I had my violin back at sound check in one piece.”

Bird currently plays a five-string violin built by Peter Seman. He was looking for a viola to expand his range and Peter suggested that instead he try a five-string violin he had just finished. It was exactly what he needed. “It has the sonority of a viola with the range and agility of a violin.” And, he adds, “it looks pretty sexy.”

Bird particularly likes playing pizzicato on the instrument, which he says sounds “extraordinary” and compels him to play augmented jazz bass lines. He also finds the instrument’s sound puts him closer to two of his favorite saxophone players, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins.

The five-string has opened musical doors for him. He can’t predict how he’ll use it on his next recording, but after all these years, he says, “it’s nice to have some uncharted territory.”

Visit Andrew Bird's website for more information.