little saw history
The musical saw is called "Singende Säge" in German and "La scie musicale" or "Lame sonore" in French. The exact history of its origins is not recorded. Presumably wood-cutters of several different cultures (Scandinavia, South America) discovered the magical sound of the saw in the early 20th century at the same time. One known fact is, that the "Weaver Brothers" featured the musical saw in a Vaudeville-Show in 1919 and toured in the USA and Europe with it. Clarence Mussehl saw that show and listened to it and immediately began to inqire into the playing of the saw and also to expedite the development of that instrument. In the twenties a real boom set in, more than 20.000 musical saws were sold all over the world. In the meantime there were even saw factories in the USA, France, Germany and Sweden.
While Marlene Dietrich was filming the movie "Café Electric" in Vienna in 1927, she learned the playing of the saw from Igo Sym, a Bavarian actor and musician. She had previously studied the violin so resumed her studies on that instrument in order to perfect her sawing technique, acquiring the name of "First Lady of the musical saw", a reputation which lasted for decades. While performing in her shows during world war II, for the support of the American forces, she always took her saw with her. On the radio shows of 1944/45 she also amused the listeners with her saw playing and the comment, that she would once in her lifetime love to perform at Carnegie Hall with her saw ...