In this Chopin year, we're going to be hearing a lot about idiomatic instrumental composition, and in particular, the ways in which the physical, tactile acts of playing interact with aural considerations. Most of the talk will, of course, be about the keyboard, from Bach (see here) to Chopin and on to Bartók and Ligeti (tactility is also a hot topic among the complexers). But here is also a new article about the complex handedness of Jim Hendrix and his choice of a left-handed guitar.*
* Playing "wrong-handed" is a minor fascination of mine. From time to time, one hears about pianos with inverted (right-to-left bass-to-treble) keyboards, which can be emulated with a good midi keyboard and are, at turns, frustrating and fascinating to play. Also, there is the example of the violinist Rudolph Kolisch, a close associate of Schoenberg, who played left-handed, which offered an acoustic advantage in quartet playing and some advantage in teaching as well, as he could face his right-handed students and demonstrate with a perfect mirror image. Noticing that some old recorders came with alternative seventh holes (one of which could be filled with wax), I once spent some time learning to play with the hands exchanged, an exercise which seem to increase both physical and mental agility.**
**I am strongly right-handed. Once, in a theory class, when having some problem executing left-hand passagework at the keyboard, I whimped out and blamed my weak left hand. My teacher, a student of Boulanger then said that this was no excuse, telling the story that Madame Boulanger would raise both hands and say "there's no difference." I really wanted to shout "Of course there's a difference, and that's a wonderful, musically interesting thing!" But I refrained, knowing well that my teacher liked to slap the back of his students' wrists whenever encountering either unsatisfsactory performances or dissent.