“Basel: Wehmut and Homecoming” Song Story

While studying violin in Basel, Switzerland, I had some memorable experiences. I visited the beautiful Taize monastic community in France. Quite honestly, the music (male voices and guitar) and candles created one of the most meaningful, powerful and pure worship experiences I have ever engaged in. I unexpectedly met a conductor who invited me to play with his orchestra on a tour through Germany. We played in the Berlin Philharmonic Hall with a gypsy band. Also, just before a New Years Eve gig in the back streets of Berlin, a violinist’s dress caught on fire from a firecracker being thrown at her feet in the New Years madness outside. I taught myself to snowboard while traveling around with my violin case in my backpack. (There’s not much else you can fit in after that!)

One night I was laying in bed back in Basel and heard a melody. It was winter cold and I was feeling a little homesick. Initially I thought the melody was coming from next door or outside, but I then realized it was in my head! It was a surreal experience and I quickly grabbed a guitar to capture it as I felt it would be lost otherwise. This was the first time a melody had so clearly captured me instead of me feeling I had created it. Musically, the melody does not stay in one time signature, which I’ve come to realize is pretty typical of my melodies! (The ‘Homecoming’ section also builds with unusual time signature changes). 

‘Wehmut’ means nostalgia or longing and was suggested to me by a Swiss German friend who heard the melody. Interestingly, I found out later that the word nostalgia was a term coined in the 17th century by a medical student to describe the condition of Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home who became acutely homesick.

I loved the ‘Homecoming’ section of Basel. The hammered dulcimer enters like a lingering memory coming to life.
— Sam, Northern Territory, Australia

Basel track musicians:
Live Violin and Piano: Rebekah van Tinteren and Cleveland Boney
Hammered Dulcimer: Garrett Viggers
Percussion: Dwayne Corbin
String Ensemble: Lauren Dillon, Michael Eby, Cherie Gans, Rebekah van Tinteren, Kendra Wieck (Violins), Katherine Conway, Allison Wyatt (Violas), Anthoni Polcari (Cello), Bruce Calin (Double Bass)