Nam June Paik – Solo for Violin

Posted on May 1st, 2010 by

A visit to Dia Beacon (August 2012) has reignited by enthusiasm for this piece, and the horror of performing it.  At the performance below in Mexico city, the audience was so horrified, that they remained in stunned silence (the concrete floor of the Galeria Rufino Tamayo had shattered the violin to the four corners) until I returned to begin the second piece.

I just remember looking up at the fiddle, held above  my head prior to smashing it thinking: ‘Is that the right/I mean wrong violin? How can I be sure…..?’ But a moment to find that ‘great barbaric yawp’.


Nam Joon Paik – Solo for Violin

Galeria Rufino Tamayo

Mexico City 2004




That’s quite interesting – I did not see it before. One other occasion which I saw of this certain kind of expressive gesture is in the Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Opera Eight Songs for a Mad King.
I have actually had a moment like that in Prizren while playing an electric guitar. Whilst playing a very drone part of riffs with one of my bands I very naturally and spontaneously started tuning the guitar higher and higher and higher and higher until the strings (1,2,3,4)
Than I continued pulling the strings out the ones left and others and throwing the guitar side to side in the ground. It was kind of a Yoga moment which I have experienced in other yoga practices.
Another moment was the past month I was playing with the same band in an electric keyboard and Theremin what happened next was a really simple thing that the drummer did catapulting me and the band to another degree of playing or to say different degree of playing. In on of the pieces that we played he has a certain counterpoint rhythm which he goes on to loop whilst we improvise and at a certain point he stopped playing the pattern which he usually plays and chopped it of in more than half time.
It was a fascinating rush of adrenalin and I just felt my insides flipped for 20 times a second and the whole of the band and me got to another degree. I pushed the piano with the stand down hitting it with my head and hands and taking the Theremin playing it with my head with the audiences head with the band members head the guitar player jumped from the drums in the ground like jumping in the pool damaged the strings the bass player nearly damaged his whole bass playing with the bass with a lot of energy and later with the strings in the cymbals. It was quite an interesting experience.

Liburn Jupoli