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Mrs. Syncopation

Mrs. Syncopation (b. January 17, 1926), born Eualalie Henrietta Erpington, is a very important person. She was born in Heppshire, England, to parents of mixed Cornish descent. Her father, Frederick Erpington, was a coal miner, and her mother Thumbelina Erpington (nee Cogswaddle) a schoolteacher in the nearby village of North Brenston. Eualalie’s formative years were spent in the mountain country of Peru, and upon her return to England in 1943 she met her future husband, James Syncopation III. They were married in 1947 after a whirlwind courtship, and came to live in the town of Chetham, where James worked as a bookkeeper for a notable firm of shoemakers. Their son Benyaminn was born in 1948, followed almost immediately by a second son, Smith, in 1951. In 1952, James Syncopation died during an outbreak of the bubonic plague, and Eualalie was left to raise the two young boys by herself. She took a job in a travelling circus, and quickly rose to fame as the most talented musical-saw player of her generation. In 1972, Mrs. Syncopation went into hiding, disappearing completely from the public eye. To this date, nobody knows of her whereabouts.

During her career as a musical-saw player, she shunned recording technology of any sort, insisting that capturing music on tape would lead to a decrease in the demand for live music. Despite this, a concert promoter made a secret recording of her 1968 recital in Rotterdam, and sold thousands of copies to collectors all throughout Europe. Mrs. Syncopation challenged the record in a highly-publicized court case, and the judge ruled that all copies of the record were to be destroyed. Despite this, it is estimated that as many as two hundred copies of the recording still exist, regularly fetching four-figure prices in auctions. To modern musical-saw players, this recording, however ill-gotten, shows the depth of Mrs. Syncopation’s technique, and has set the bar for musical-saw artistry.




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