Musical Saw Live in Budapest R09 0013 by HighlanderImages

Today’s “SoundCloud” recording was made at a traditional old restaurant in Budapest, Hungary where a local group of musicians entertained the diners. The highlight was this song highlighting the Musical Saw playing soloist.

Though some consider the Musical Saw an American folk musical instrument believed to have gotten its start somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains in the 19th century, the origins of the musical saw are actually not confined to one country. Some sources state the saw was invented in Argentina, or Russia. Most of what we know today is about Europe, but it is believed that saws were played in all continents without the people knowing of other people doing so in other places. Carpenters and lumberjacks all over the world discovered that their tool could make sounds, thus, no country can really claim ownership over the invention of making music with a saw. Saw playing probably started at the end of the 17th century, when saws were mass produced with pliable steel blades.

The pioneers who couldn’t afford bringing musical instruments with them to America brought tools for building houses, etc. Thus saw playing became popular in the USA at a time when there weren’t other instruments easily available. During the 19th century (and probably before) many priests played the saw during church services. Later, the saw became a staple of Vaudeville shows.

The saw is generally played seated with the handle squeezed between the legs, and the far end held with one hand. It is generally played with the teeth facing the body. In the early 20th century the Musical Saw began to get very popular in America and Europe as well. It is also known as the Singing Saw, as it produces a very pure ethereal tone, and can sound similar to a woman’s high singing voice.

One thought on “Musical Saw Live in Budapest

  1. I wonder if this saw player in Hungary knows of the annual Musical Saw Festival in New York City (now in its 10th year). Somebody should tell him about it because he might want to participate. Saw players from all over the world perform there. You can see videos at

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