Rosin the Bow explores the many roles the violin family of instruments play in the world today through a series of public radio programs, podcasts, and a comprehensive oral history. Traveling throughout the United States and other parts of the world, storyteller, fiddler, and award-winning radio journalist Joe McHugh and his wife Paula McHugh seek out interviews with violin makers, dealers, restorers, auctioneers, tone wood producers, insurance agents, museum curators, rosin makers, bow hair importers, string manufacturers—even police officers who have played a part in recovering stolen violins. The McHughs also interview gifted musicians who perform a variety of musical genres from classical and folk to jazz and rock.

The goal of the Rosin the Bow project is to weave together a variety of experienced voices into a rich tapestry of history, culture, politics, economics, religion, and philosophy that speaks to musicians and anyone fascinated by the power of music to foster community and nourish the soul.

Joe McHugh interview Ciresa tonewood factory

Interview with Piera Ciresa owner of the Ciresa tone-wood factory in the Val di Fiemme, Italy

Val di Fiemme

Host and producer Joe McHugh and co-producer Paula McHugh on location with Giuliano Zugliani, chief forester of the Paneveggio Forest, Italy

Whether referred to as a violin or fiddle, this unique musical instrument has kindled the imagination and lifted the spirits of men and women for hundreds of years. Names such as Amati, Guarnari, and Stradivari are uttered with reverence by musicians and non-musicians alike. The instrument they helped invent is as much at home in a concert hall as it is at a prairie square dance, a Jewish wedding, or inside a Parisian nightclub. Its clear melodious tones, so like those of the human voice, have the power to make one laugh or cry, while the graceful curves of its scroll and body and the delicate curl of its maple back and sides bring pleasure to the eye as well as the ear. It is played to worship God and yet has been accused of being the “Devil’s box.” For many it is a symbol of our longing to find beauty in the world and a talisman of those enduring virtues of craftsmanship and artistry that are increasingly threatened by the dull replication and hustle and bustle of our own machine age.

Photo montage of Rosin the Bow interviewees