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Everything posted by Trent_Hill

  1. I've been using a program called, I think, Transcribe!, available from a UK company called Seventh String Software--I think its website is http://www.seventhstring.demon.co.uk/. It's capable of slowing down tracks, without pitch change, from half to 1/16 speed, will transpose tracks up or down up to an octave, will "loop" parts of a composition, and has a spectrum analyzer that can pick out the pitches of individual notes in loops w/ durations of less than a second. It works in conjunction with other cd recording or "ripping" software for computers (such as RealJukebox or MusicMatch), and will play through entire tracks. You can download the shareware version for a 30-day trial, and it's only $29.95. I've been using it to work on Greek and Klezmer tunes. By slowing things down to quarter speed, you can not only get the notes with relative ease, but you can really hear some of the fluid, "rubbery" ornaments that pass in a blur at normal speeds but that contribute so much to the sound and feel of the music. The program has several other features that are really interesting, but I don't have access to it right now--on vacation, yi ha! Hope this helps, Trent
  2. Lee, while the question you pose would be a problem in a "perfect" physical system, I think our old friends friction and inertia save the day for us. Once the strings are mostly in tune, the incremental changes in string tension that affect perceived pitch greatly don't affect the tailgut (which is pretty stiff) or the violin (stiffer still) much at all. Then, there's the friction of the strings crossing over the tailpiece: while tightening one string at or around concert pitch might stretch the tailgut ever so slightly, that's no guarantee that it would thereby reduce the tension enough to allow another string to slide over the bridge towards the fingerboard enough to affect tuning. Whereas a sudden, sharp change in tension applied to the violin / tailgut (say by a breaking E string) would result in the violin / tailgut pulling back enough for the other three strings to be pulled tighter and out of tune. What you've described is much more of a problem on electric guitars equipped with spring-loaded vibrato tailpieces. The springs are very flexible (i.e. it requires less force to make them stretch), and slight changes in tension have very audible results. Did I do OK for an English major there? Trent [This message has been edited by Trent_Hill (edited 12-22-2000).]
  3. Brian, my situation is similar to yours, and I suspect the solution will be similar as well. I suspect, first, that you're going to need to ditch the Guarneri chinrest: while they work well for some people, they really don't work well for those of use who are "long-stemmed" (as my luthier puts it), and they're almost impossible to modify. That's important, because you're going to need to get thee to a reasonably well-stocked violin shop and find a chinrest that fits your jawline well. Then, you're going to need to get them to build it up. What they will likely do is remove the existing chinrest clamps, fill in the holes, plane the bottom of it, graft more ebony onto it until it's high enough, and then redrill it and remount the clamps. What you will get in the end is a comfortable chinrest (for you) that enables you to keep the violin secure between your chin and collarbone without contorting your neck, head, and shoulders. It'll look like a piece of modernist sculpture, granted, but it's worth it. Another approach is to find a luthier who carves custom chinrests; Julie Lieberman talks about one of them in an article in Strings from this past year. After you get a comfortable chinrest, you can sort out the shoulder rest issue as needed. But until you do, craning your head to conform to the chinrest is going to put a lot of strain on both shoulders and your back. Hope this helps, Trent
  4. You might also consider checking out SHAR's online catalog of sheet music (www.sharmusic.com) and having it delivered to whatever hotel you're staying at.
  5. True story: I had played for about three months and had just bought a slightly better crappy fiddle than my first crappy fiddle. I was walking out of the music store when a guy who had been in there (and had heard me play in a way that dishonored neither me nor the crappy fiddle, but that suggested that we were made for each other for at least the time being) came running out, stopped me, and asked me to play in a folk / "acoustic rock" band he was putting together. I gave him my number, explained that I thought I needed to woodshed for a few months before I would even be in the neighborhood of ready, and went my way. Three months later to the day, he called, still needing a fiddler. By then, I realized that I was still a ways from being fit for human consumption qua vilefiddle, but still, it kinda blew my mind. Even in Seattle, I've gotten offers to play from people when they realize that I'm a violinist. And while I'm much, much better than I was four years ago, I'm still not that good. But sometime in the next few months, I'm going to give myself the benefit of the doubt and put a band together. The observations about guitarists is true, btw. I speak as a pretty good guitarist. Trent
  6. Hello hello one and all. I was replying to the pop music recommendations for youngun's thread when a related topic sprang to mind: What are some of the good web radio stations you guys have found? I've listened a bit to NetRadio's early music and chamber music programs, spent a lot of time listening to an Australian Arabic-language station (ABS), dug Amsterdam Free Radio, and sniffed around some of the Eastern European stations (Radio Skopje, Radio Proto, and one of the Turkish university stations). Radio Bartok out of Budapest is a real gem, too. Any other finds?
  7. quote: Originally posted by Old&NtheWay: As for V. Mage, the intellectual depth of your witty reparte belies the fact that this whole discussion is beyond your meager grasp. Check back when you grow up. Oh, c'mon, O&ITW, V.Mage responded with the passion that is typical of a serious fan of pretty much any sort of music--I've heard more hostility from some old-time players in my day, and some of my classical violin buddies are even worse! Your daughter's probably going to gravitate towards the pop bands that help her map out her identity vis-a-vis her peers, but if she hasn't found them yet, she should definitely check out Radiohead, whose stuff is really engaging and musically non-obvious w/o being pretentious. And then there's P.J. Harvey, who's also really good, and Beth Orton. You could just try to encourage her to tune into a good college station and see what she finds there. I agree w/ the basic thrust of V.Mage's take on Creed--bands like them are one of the reasons I spend most of my time listening to Greek and Turkish music from the 20s and 30s.
  8. There are a few books that I've heard of that might begin to address your question. Two of them are by Christopher Small, who's an English musicologist: _Music, Society, Education_ and _Musicking_. The other is by William Weber: _Music and the middle class: the social structure of concert life in London, Paris and Vienna_. All three, but Weber especially, are historically-oriented accounts of how the concept of "classical music" was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. I've never actually read the Weber, but I've seen it quoted approvingly in a lot of the literature. I have read chunks of the Small books, and they're intelligent, contentious, and funny. To paraphrase him from one point in _Musicking_: "Classical music is the ethnic music of the Western European white middle class." (And, yes, he's a fan and performer of it, though he's fairly ambivalent about some of the claims traditionally made about it.) Hope this helps, Trent [This message has been edited by Trent_Hill (edited 11-25-2000).]
  9. If your son is basically content with the contour of the chinrest--i.e. if it fits his jaw but not his neck--you might also consider having a luthier shim it up with some extra ebony. I'm having that done with my favorite chinrest. If you want, I'll write up a report after it's done and installed.
  10. My favorite: Van Halen's "Eruption" lifts stuff from all over the place, but there's one lick in particular that's stolen directly from Kreutzer #2. Seems Eddie took violin lessons as a young lad. There's a discussion of the song (Van Halen's, that is) in Michael Walzer's _Running With the Devil_, which is a fine book in its own right. Trent
  11. I'd consider something like Dancla's School of Mechanism (a/k/a School of Velocity), op. 74, or Schradieck's position studies. If you spend 15 minutes or so a day doing Dancla, you won't lose too much ground, and they're pleasantly melodic.
  12. True confession time: I got one shrotly after they first came out, back in my serious guitar-playing days. I don't know that it helped my playing directly, but having it banging around in my jacket pocket did make me think about music more often. I think a guitar pick would have as much effect. I think they can be dangerous. Since a lot of guitarists play with the instrument waaaay too low, they (over)compensate by (over)developing their flexor muscles with devices like that, setting themselves up for a boffo case of carpal tunnel. Some Dounis of Flesch-style tapping exercises would probably be much more effective and much less likely to result in injury to your hands or fingerboard. This reminds me of a quote in Hemingway's _Death in the Afternoon_: A fan asked a famous bullfighter who was slight of build if he lifted weights as part of his training for the ring. The bullfighter did not. When the fan expressed shock, the bullfighter said, "I think the bull is strong enough for both of us." Trent
  13. Devil's advocacy is a good job, to be sure.... I think it's interesting that, in the Western European classical tradition, it's not just the violin that's played like it has frets; most instruments, including and maybe especially the voice, are played that-a-way. Like somebody said (I think) on another thread here, in any particular musical culture the voice is usually the model for instrumental phrasing and tonalization, and there's not a whole lot of emphasis on note bending or melismatic effects in Western singing. You get a really different sound even in many European musics outside the classical tradition--check out, f.i., Naftule Brandwein's clarinet playing or the work of some of the old Greek violin players like Dhimitrious Semsis or Oghdhondakis.
  14. quote: Originally posted by Soundboot: Wouldn't anybody want to play bowed chords? I think this is where a fretted violin would come into its own. C'mon, don't be such a bunch of squares!!!!! The fretless fingerboard isn't what makes chords tricky on violin--it's the arched bridge. Soundboot, why is it "square" for people to hesitate to endorse an "improvement" of dubious value? I think violinists, like most instrumentalists, have been quick to jump on innovations that addressed a real or perceived need: five years ago, there were no composite bows on the market, whereas now they're standard. A little farther back (early 70s), we had the introduction of synthetic-core strings. Going back, we have the reverse-curve (Tourte) bow, the chinrest, the steel E string, etc. etc. Real innovations, at least in the physical structure of instruments, usually are in response to real needs. What is the need that frets would address, and who needs them? Maybe performing guitarists who'd like to use fiddle for a couple of songs, but that doesn't sound like a huge market. I think one of the guitarists in Los Lobos uses a fretted fiddle for that reason, but then you have Merle Haggard, who wanted to learn fiddle so he could play Bob Wills tunes onstage. And he did, in his 40s. (I am surprised, though, that some company like Fender hasn't tried marketing a fretted electric violin. Maybe they're the real squares?)
  15. Remember that the violin family of instrument--which are fretless--didn't just come out of nowhere; they evolved during the late 16th and early 17th centuries and supplanted the viol family--which are all fretted. You can produce beautiful music on the viols, as with the violins, and while you can't manage some of the left-hand articulations (like true glissandi and portamenti) with the viols, those ornaments weren't really used that widely in music of the period. So why did violins supplant viols? I suspect it had to do with volume. Violins were louder, brighter, and could be played more effectively in increasingly large performance spaces. (Keep in mind that the changes that were made to the violin's construction in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were made to get more volume out of the instruments.) Fretting the neck of an acoustic violin works against optimizing volume because the wider the string vibrates, the more likely it is that it'll buzz against the frets. You can compensate for that by increasing the tension on the strings or by increasing the heigth of the bridge, but beyond a certain point that inhibits the free vibration of the top plate (thereby reducing volume) and makes intonation more problematic. That's why the violin, in a sense, lost its frets. There's no reason why you couldn't put frets on an electric violin, but then you'd lose some of the left-hand articulation possibilities that are now characteristic of the violin, not to mention the capacity to play in non-equal temperaments. And if you don't have that, why not just play electric guitar?
  16. quote: Originally posted by Jascha: Ludwig, the same thing puzzled me for quite awhile, but I think I have found the answer now. Please tell me if you think it is reasonable. A typical shoulder rest is bound to the instrument by the same means as a vice grip (you know, those things that carpenters and other craftsmen use to squeeze wood close to each other while it is being glued to make a good seal), but much weaker, of course. Well, it occurred to me that perhaps this squeezing of the plates dampens the vibrations much moreso than simply placing the naked violin against your shoulder would. So, even though your instrument has more contact with your body when playing without a shoulder rest, in terms of surface area, it is the actual squeezing tension of a shoulder rest on the wood that hinders the vibration. Does that make sense? Actually, I don't think it works that way. For starters, unless you have the rest adjusted very poorly, the legs don't grip the ribs at all, and don't compress the edges of the back much either; remember that one of the big complaints about Kun rests is their propensity to fall off. In the only actual tests I've read about, with the same violinist playing the same violin behind a screen, listeners felt the violin was louder with either a Kun or Wolf rest than without, though some of the other rests (particularly the Playonair, if I remember correctly) did dampen the sound considerably. I think Andy Victor has posted on that test before. One writer on rec.music.makers.bowed-strings suggested that some really good, really responsive (and really expensive) instruments might sound better for having the back plate's vibrations dampened from contact w/ the shoulder. The reason he gave, which resonates w/ some things I remember from a cursory reading of _The Violin Explained_, is that the sound volume produced by the back is a small fraction of the violin's sound, and if it is vibrating out of phase with the belly, it could actually cancel out some of it.
  17. quote: Originally posted by rainyann: I am waiting for the PolyPad sold by Michael Kimber to arrive for my son's viola. Has anyone else out there tried it? Renee I have. It doesn't give me quite the support I need, but if my neck weren't quite as long as it it, it would be perfect. It stabilizes the violin on the collarbone w/o locking it in place, is acoustically transparent, and very, very light. I'm going to try it again after I get my chinrest back--my luthier is building up the one I have been using with some extra ebony, so I might not need quite as much support from the shoulder rest.
  18. quote: Originally posted by Sevcik: A few weeks ago, my new viola teacher suggested that I try playing without my beefed up shoulder rest. At first, I thought, no way, he is crazy. But then I checked the archives here, and so many people were adamently pro-restlessness that I decided to give it a try. To my surprise, after a week or so of a sore shoulder, a viola hicky, and wrestling with keeping my instrument from sliding out of my hands, I finally grew to like not using my shoulder rest! It really gives me greater freedom and really makes a louder, more focused sound. I am amazed at what a difference it makes. But here's a question for all you restless people out there: how can you keep from getting fatigued without a shoulder rest? Tonight I played a really long concert: a short commissioned piece, the Walton viola concerto (with Cynthia Phelps, it was AWESOME!) and the Franck Symphony in d minor. Halfway through the first movement of the symphony, I was starting to feel a little sore, especially in my left shoulder and back, and by the end I could barely keep my viola up. What can be done about this? Or is it just a matter of getting used to playing that long without a shoulder rest? Thanks for any help you can offer! Julia, I tried playing w/o a rest and then went back to a different one, so I might not be the best person to respond, but I think the idea behind playing without a rest is that you simply rest the instrument on your collarbone, rest your chin or jaw lightly--very lightly--on the chinrest to stabilize it, keep your left shoulder away from the instrument, and increase the pressure on the chinrest only when downshifting. In theory, this allows you to play with a free left shoulder and arm. It sounds to me like you're tensing your shoulder and clamping more firmly with your chin to compensate for not having a shoulder rest. If you're doing that, it would make an apparent difference in what you're hearing b/c more sound would be transmitted through the chinrest and jaw into your ear. If you're experiencing the sort of pain that it sounds like you're experiencing, you're not sore because you're tired, you're sore because you're injuring yourself. Take it easy for a few days, stop practicing as soon as you start feeling the least bit of pain in your arm and shoulder, and concentrate in your practicing on not clamping down with your left side. If your teacher is really serious about your not using a shoulder rest, he should be serious about helping you with the biomechanics of making the transition. Hope this is helpful, Trent
  19. Lydia, I've used several of them in the past, particularly exercises nos. 1 & 2. My old teacher is a huge fan of them, and I find that when I do them, it helps my playing. Why aren't they in print? I'm not really sure. In some ways they overlap with other tapping and finger-independence exercises like Dounis' _Absolute Independence of the Fingers_ series and Flesch's _Urstudien_. The problem with the Daily Dozen is that they're incredibly strenuous and potentially dangerous, so I can see why lots of teachers would be hesitant to recommend them. Still, you would think that one of the publishers would keep them in production.
  20. That's very sad news, Theresa. My heart goes out to you and to his family. Trent Hill
  21. While I've worked on material from the Flesch scale studies before, I've always avoided the chromatic scales. My new teacher told me, at the end of my weekly lesson yesterday, that she'd like for me to work on them. So I did this morning, in C, and the results were not pretty at all. Think "train wreck with heavy loss of life." My big problem with them is intonation--I have little if any sense whether the half-steps are in tune, too wide, or too narrow. Any suggestions or advice? (Paradoxically, I found after working on them for a bit that my C major scales and arpeggios sounded much more in tune.) Thanks, Trent
  22. quote: Originally posted by Mark_W: Whilst eagerly awaiting MMUUSSIICCAALL's citation of posts in support of his bashing theory, here's a question I was planning for a separate thread: DO classical players automatically have the right skills for fiddling? A while back I saw a piece on television about Perlman's career. At one point he was shown playing along with some old-timey fiddlers, just jamming, really. Of course the notes and rhythm were letter-perfect, but somehow he couldn't help but put in a bit of classical vibrato, a sort of Viennese flourish. A good time was being had by all, of course, but I wonder just how well he'd do if he had to take it up seriously. It's not that easy to change the professional habits of a lifetime. Mark_W Actually, Mark, one of the things I admire about Perlman is that, while he obviously loves Klezmer music, he's very upfront about not really being able to play in the idiom as well as some of the people he klezzes around with. I seem to recall hearing that he took up accordion b/c he could learn how to play Klezmer music on it from the ground up. One of the things I've noticed about most of the really good players I've encountered here and elsewhere is that they acknowledge how difficult it is to really make music on the instrument, regardless of whether they're talking about the simplest fiddle tunes or solo Bartok. It's one of the things I like about the violin / fiddle / vilefiddle / whatever. The exceptions to that general rule were pretty insecure about their playing anyway, and sometimes not very good on top of it.
  23. Then, too, there's something to be said for switching instruments from time to time--it forces you to rely on your ear, rather than the feel of the violin and bow, for things like intonation and tone.
  24. My goals seem to expand and therefore recede a little further out on the horizon the longer I play and the further along I get. For now, though, I have about three different ones: 1) Be able to play chamber music with friends; 2) Be able to play in my next folk/rock/Balkan hybrid band; 3) Be the guy other musicians around here call when they're recording and think, "Gee, this track could really use some funky violin." I think I'm almost ready to begin 1 and 2. 3, well, that might take a little while. In the meantime, I religiously practice an hour a day and look forward to my weekly lesson.
  25. When I was 18, I was a member of one of those record clubs, back when they were, in fact, records. The club in question was holding a special $2 sale on a bunch of discontinued/cut-out albums. I ordered three more-or-less hard rock albums I had heard of and wanted to get, and then, just for the h*** of it, ordered one by a composer I had heard of. It was Schoenberg's orchestral transcription of "Tranfigured Night," conducted by Boulez. As it turned out, the club had sold out the three rock albums I had really wanted and sent along the afterthought. I was sorely disappointed, but since I had the thing and couldn't return it, went ahead and plopped it on. I was riveted from the initial theme, and after the piece was over, sat in my chair, transfixed--transfigured--for a good half-hour or more, trying to figure out what what had hit me. I'm not really a fan of "classical music" per se, though there's a lot of it that I love. But listening to that record was my paradigm for a real aesthetic experience for years to follow. For violin, it was probably one of the earlier compilations of Greek-Oriental music I got back in the early 90s.
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