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Everything posted by Trent_Hill

  1. There has been a lot of discussion of tuners and tuning here, either on the old board or the new. It'd be worth checking out. I used to use a tuner that I kept on my music stand. One day my enormous dog, Jake, trying to scare the mailman off the porch, knocked the music stand over. The tuner broke. I was pretty pissed off at the dog. I started using a tuning fork and tuning by ear, checking the harmonics on adjacent strings to make sure the fifths were in tune. After a really short while, I didn't need to use harmonics any more. My violin sounded much more resonant and open, and it was easier to hear when I was playing in tune. I apologized profusely to Jake and thanked him. It was the nicest thing he's ever done for me. Hope this helps, Trent
  2. quote: Originally posted by Flyboy: Does Flesch explain advantages of pronated bow hold? Just can't believe so many people would blindly subscribe to it if it didn't offer advantages over Russian bow hold... I think Flesch says that it depends on how tight your bow hair is: tighter, you pronate; looser, you keep it flat. How much you tighten your bow hair is, according to Flesch, a matter of purely personal preference. I suspect that most people prefer playing with tighter bow hair because it would theoretically give you more "headroom." I prefer a fairly slack bow, myself, for that kinda "muzzy" Eastern tone. (I realize that "muzzy" isn't a very clear descriptor, but it's a rough day at work today.) I agree with Lydia that _The Art..._ is a great book, though I've only read it in the old translation. [This message has been edited by Trent_Hill (edited 08-17-2000).]
  3. I feel your pain, Polecat. I think there's two parts to your question: how do you find a bargain and how do you work it into your budget? If you're tight for $$, I would think that a rental program of some sort would be good, if for whatever reason you can't or don't want to deal with the hassle of arranging some sort of financing. I rented a pretty good (but still emphatically student-quality) German violin for $30 a month for a couple of years before buying the one I have now--if your local shop doesn't have a deal like that, I know that some shops will rent nationally. Some of the other posters on the board can probably send you in their direction. I'm pretty sure that Ifshin in Berkeley does. As far as bargains go: I've been wondering about that in reference to the running Ebay threads and metathreads. From what I've seen, you can sometimes find good "no-name" older instruments at stores that focus on acoustic guitars, banjos, recorders, etc.--Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan, is one such shop, as is Dusty Strings in Seattle. (Elderly has a pretty extensive web site.) They often sell instruments that don't have any real value for collectors or for orchestrally-minded players, but that are good for students or for folk playing. I'm shopping for an instrument like that myself--let me know if you run into any.... Stringworks (one of the board's sponsors) has a rental program and also sells instruments in the $300-$450 range that have gotten good reviews here. Hope this helps, Trent
  4. Let me second some of Lydia's and Andrew's suggestions: --Have a place where you practice; --Have a time that you practice (I wake up an hour before I "need" to in the morning so I can practice in the morning); --Give yourself some options when you practice as to what you can work on in the amount of time you have allotted. Here's my own contribution: Develop a ritual of some sort that eases you into your practice time and defines it as such. Because of my back, I have to spend at least ten minutes (and preferably more) at the start of any practice or playiing session stretching. Then, I play a three-octave G major scale, a short, easy piece (the first three sections of the gavotte from the beginning of Suzuki bk. 3), and then two or three exercises from Dancla's _School of Mechanism_. That takes, in all, no more than ten minutes, and after that I'm ready to work on a study, some Sevcik, and / or a piece as time permits. If I'm pressed for time, I'll work on some Sevcik exercises and stop as soon as my attention starts to wander. At any rate, that way, no matter how little time I might have, I feel like I've practiced. You might also work on your mental practice skills--there's a good book by Malva Freymuth (available from Shar) on the subject. Makes work more bearable and your time spent physically practicing more productive. Hope this helps, Trent
  5. You are time-strapped! I have some recommendations that might help, but it would help me to know what "triggers" your lack of concentration. Is it a particular exercise / study / piece? Is it a time thing? (I.e. do you find that you start spacing out after you've been practicing a given amount of time?) Are your kids / partner disturbing you? Is your practice space cluttered? Also, is it always hard for you to concentrate or have there been moments when it wasn't an issue? Trent
  6. This is a general relaxation recommendation: A lot of times, when you tense up you don't just tense up in a local area, but all over, and you wind up looking like one of those 19th-century charactatures of Paganini. Watch yourself in a mirror. Don't hunch up. When you find yourself shrinking or "losing height," relax your neck, hold your head up, and try keeping your chest open. I don't know if that'll keep your left hand out of cramp, but it's good for your back. Hope this helps, Trent
  7. quote: Originally posted by crystal: I am approaching a critical point in my learning, I think. My teacher has been taking me in a classical direction, although she can play a few celtic tunes, she is very classically trained. We're doing scale studies and Kayser studies, etc. It sounds like you've got serious time constraints. If you want to try double duty, though, keep in mind that a lot of Scots and Irish fiddle tunes are either in 6/8 time or in 4/4, in predominantly 8th or 16th note units respectively. As are, conveniently enough, a lot of studies. You could try playing some of the Kayser studies (or Wohlfart, if you're using him) as jigs or reels. I think, f.i., that study #3 in Kayser's elementary and progressive studies would make a really dandy jig, if bowed and ornamented properly. In fact, now that I've thought about it, I'm not going to be able to get the ****'d thing out of my head until I go home today, grrrr.... This is not to say that changing teachers mightn't be a bad idea, but if you're at the point that you are in learning, there's a lot of basic mechanics and technique that you have yet to learn that you'll be able to transfer directly over. Particularly with Scottish fiddling--some classic tunes involve shifting, "Italian" bowings, etc. You might also consider getting one of the Scots or Irish tutorial collections and getting your teacher to use them for "repertory" instead of some of the standard classical student chestnuts. Hope this helps or is at least interesting, Trent (still with Kayser #3 stuck in his head) When I read your reply
  8. quote: Originally posted by aroberts: Now, I know that fingerings are a matter of choice in musical pieces, but shouldn't etudes retain the fingerings of the composer? After all, these are exercises whose notes and fingerings were designed for a specific purpose, no? Quite right. With studies that are musically interesting (like a lot of the Kreutzers) if you change the fingerings you can change their purpose to something more interesting or in keeping with contemporary violin practice. If you use the 19th century editions of Kreutzer, #2, for example, is an exercise in string crossing, whereas Galamian's editing is more of a straightforward bowing and intonation drill. I think it's fun to try to figure out what purpose is being served by a particular editing--some violinists would rather shift than cross strings for tonal reasons, while others prefer the sound of the lower positions. Kreutzer apparently intended that players practice all sorts of variations on the studies--he thought that #2 should be practice in octaves, fingered octaves, transposed up an octave, transposed to different keys, etc. If you were really following his directives, you could spend a looooong time on any one.
  9. quote: Originally posted by newfie: Larry you said that classical music has not affected you, but it's like this you played fiddle music first and then learned some classical so naturally your fiddling would come out. If you played classical first and then played fiddle your classical would be more evident. Just a thought But actually, Newfie, to use one of your examples Alasdair Fraser's first exposure to the violin / fiddle / vilefiddle was by way of the "classical" school violin teacher who taught in his school. He felt grateful to his teacher, if my memory is correct, for "giving [him] his technique"--or at least that's what he said in a Fiddler Magazine interview a few years ago. (I've heard similar things from other Scottish Scottish players.) I suspect that's true for a lot of players of all styles--there are classically-oriented teachers pretty much everywhere, whereas good fiddlers who can teach basic mechanics in addition to the whys and wherefores of their styles are fewer and harder to come by. There is a big difference, though, between a classically-trained player who sightreads through a few fiddle tunes and calls him/herself a fiddler and a classically-trained player who immerses him/herself in a fiddle tradition, and vice versa. The notes may be easy, but the music's always hard.
  10. quote: Originally posted by tanguero: ... I am looking towards playing tango and arabic styles. Any idea where I can get music for this? Hasta luego, Dave Dave, I don't know about tango (tho' I bet that Mel Bay has a book on it), but you might want to email the folks at Amorfia Publications (amorfia@sirius.com) and ask about Georges Lammam's _Studies in Arabic Music_. It's a collection of some of the basic maqim (scales) and studies for them, along with a cassette recording of each scale and a song that makes use of it. Also check out the selection of books at Lark in the Morning (www.larkinam.com). If you're really interested in playing Arabic music, you might want to hold onto your violin, since the standard Arabic tuning is comething like g d g c. (Don't hold me to that!) Good luck, and hope this helps. Trent [This message has been edited by Trent_Hill (edited 08-08-2000).]
  11. Oh, one more thing.... I found a really fabulous web page on the topic. It's at www.rootsworld.com/rw/gypsypage.html. Check it out.
  12. I can't speak from personal experience here, but at the university I used to teach at, the conductor of the university symphony (who did wonders with a group of players who were not music majors) was a fine violist, a very capable violinist, and one of the best Irish fiddle players I've ever heard. He met his wife, in fact, while playing at a dance in the NC mountains. Stepping outside the celtic traditions, most Hungarian gypsy violinists (at least the lead or primas) have pretty extensive classical backgrounds. I think if you're interested in learning how to play any folk or dance style, the important thing is to play for dancers as soon as possible. That'll give you a sense of the importance of rhythm and accent in your playing--which I would think could well make you a better classical player. At least it seemed to work for some of the Russian Jewish virtuousi of the first part of the 20th century--if I'm not mistaken, most of them (or at least Elman) started out as klezmer violinists as children. While I don't think this is true for all forms of human endeavor, in music the wall is there only if you build it. Hope this helps, Trent
  13. I seem to be the resident Roma-phile on this board, so here goes.... There are _lots_ of flavors of music from the Roma ("Gypsy" is something of a slur, though I get the sense that most Rom don't mind it that much). They're spread out between India and Spain, and there are several anthologies that take off from that geographical fact The one I have is called _Latcho Drom_, and is really good. There are several good recordings of Turkish Roma music, including one from CMPRecords called _Tzigane_ and my favorite, on Traditional Crossroads, called _Sulukule_. In the Hungarian and Romanian Rom traditions, I have a CD called _The Edge of the Forest_ that's really good, and you can't go wrong with anything by the Taraf des Haiduks. The Okros Ensemble is really good. I've seen at least one CD of Hungarian Gypsy music on some French label that was really good. And you can't really go wrong with Muzsikas, the Hungarian trad revivalist ensemble. One interesting thing that they've pointed out is that there was a lot of interaction between the Roma and Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. If you like Roma music, you should check out some of the early Klezmer stuff that's available on reissue. And Greek Rebetica music is a really beautiful, fascinating universe unto itself. As far as improvisation goes, it varies: most European Roma music I've heard is fundamentally dance music, with most improvisation being limited to ornamentation and variations on the basic melodic themes. Turkish Roma stuff tends to be more "out there," w/ lots of quarter-tonal scales, lengthy modal improvisations, etc. Basically, while the music doesn't necessarily lend itself to being written out note-for-note, the melodic scaffolding isn't necessarily that complicated. There is a collection put together by Mary Ann Harber for Mel Bay called _Gypsy Violin_ that ain't bad. Boosey and Hawkes has something too, edited by Edward Huws Jones. I'd recommend starting out, though, with a two-volume mimeo collection (w/ accompanying casettes) by Miamon Miller called _Romanian Folk Violin_. They're available from Elderly Instruments (see their website). Miller explains a lot of the ornamentation, and his transcriptions are good. You might also look at Stacy Phillip's _Klezmer Collection for C Instruments_. But first, get a copy of _Sulukule_--it'll change your life, I promise. Sorry to go on at such length, but it's really Rom music that made me decide to take up violin. Trent
  14. quote: Originally posted by William Binkley: I am just taking a break now from practicing the Bach Sonata No. 2 in a minor... why I bring this up is that there are many opportunities during this sonata for an e string to whistle. I believe it's technique more than what brand of string one uses. For those "full-fisted" chords I've had to really practice getting my left elbow way over to the right and keeping my left and curved in a perfect "c" from the tip of the thumb to the first finger. Alot of people disagree with me, but if it doesn't whistle when you play it by itself, it shouldn't whistle when you're in the heat of battle. bill Bill, I think I agree with you in principle. In practice, though, I've noticed that E strings exist on a kind of "whistling continuum." Any one will whistle under some circumstances, but some whistle under most circumstances. And some of the more whistle-prone ones seem to demand that you adopt special techniques to keep them from whistling. On one violin, I could only keep the gold Obligato E from whistling if I attacked the string sharply--not good for smooth legato passages or quiet playing! And then some strings won't whistle unless provoked, but sound insipid (and make the other strings sound insipid as well). I quite like the 26-gauge Westminster steel E on my violin. It will whistle if I don't use proper technique, but won't if I do, and sounds beautiful and meaty.
  15. Let me be dismissive first, and then try to switch to provocative: You can't really answer the original question. Which is more difficult, violin or guitar? It depends on the disposition of the player as well as whatever physical talents are hard-wired into them and the goals they have. For Paganini, apparently, neither instrument was very tough. Stereotypically, cellos and violas aren't as "hard" as violin mainly b/c most composers don't write parts as ambitious for them as they do for violin. If you want a real virtuouso challenge, imagine transcribing Paganini for double bass, and then take a few aspirin. I think some instruments--such as the aforementioned bowed strings and double reeds--present pretty formidable immediate challenges for somebody starting out on them, but after the initial steep learning curve, it's possible to make steady progress. Some other instruments (for me, the single reeds and brass families) aren't as hard right off the bat, but get really tough in the intermediate stages. And others--for me, the guitar, played in any style--is pretty easy until you get into advanced music, where you're constantly running into the limitations of the instrument. That's dismissive. Here's provocative: Based on the weight of empirical evidence--numbers of people who play them, prevalence in various musical cultures, etc.--I would have to say that most of the common instruments are pretty easy to play. If they were fiendishly difficult, in the sense that attaining advanced competence was well beyond the reach of people lacking special endowments, I would think that they would have died out. Violin ain't that tough. Neither is guitar. But I've seen a theorbo, and they look like a real (expletive deleted). And what about the lute?
  16. quote: Originally posted by staylor: I would be very interested to know details of where I can contact etc. Are they all the same price? What IS the price? Thanks, S.Taylor ST, I assume you're referring to the Arcos bows. I don't have a contact address for your part of the world, but the company regularly advertises in _Strings_ magazine and _The Strad_, if I'm not mistaken. I paid US$450 for mine.
  17. quote: Originally posted by staylor: That's exactly what I would want to know, if there can ever be such a thing as a pernanbucco bow which plays better than a composite for its price range. Maybe we can hear more about the bow by C.Lozer, or anything similar? And would that mean that one could get another which is just as good, or maybe it was just luck e.g. unusually good wood which even that maker himself didn't realize, and therefore charged his regular low price? S.Taylor The C. Lozer bow is distributed by a Brazilian company called Arcos. I suspect that they operate somewhat similarly to the company that imports "Sofia" violins: they probably contract with individual makers to distribute their products. Since pernambuco is a Brazilian hardwood, the costs for shipping the raw materials to the makers are greatly reduced, which helps account for the low cost of the bow. My impressions: One of the reasons I was drawn to this particular Lozer is because I prefer heavier bows. I don't have a weight on this one, but it feels suitably chunky until you start playing with it: it balances really well and handles all the off-string bowings I currently do with ease. It draws a tone which is warm, clear, and focused. The C. Lozer bows (and Arcos bows in general) vary greatly from stick to stick. I tried out ten at Stone's shop and took two home for an extended trial. The other one (which was also a Lozer) handled incrementally better but wasn't as big or full sounding. Of the ones that didn't make the final cut, I decided against them mainly because they didn't seem to be overwhelmingly better, for my purposes, than my Glasser composite. But they might well be worth checking out. One further plug for the Lozer Arcos bows: David Stone, who's a bowmaker himself, had Lozer make a 3/4 cello bow for his daughter. Hope this helps, Trent
  18. You might also try one of Michael Kimber's shoulder rests (http://members.tripod.com/~m_kimber/mk.html) I have one. It's an open-cell foam pad that's contoured to fit the normal adult collarbone / shoulder area. While it's not too pretty to look at, it gives me enough support without encouraging clamping and is quite acoustically transparent. Kimber is a professor of viola at USM (formerly at Kansas) and played w/ the Kronos Quartet way back when. I recommend it highly, and it's cheap.
  19. Griffin, one quick correction / piece of news: Bischofberger's did catch on fire but did not destroy the shop completely; it's relocated to its old location at the corner of 12th and Denny. Haven't been there yet, so I can't vouch for it. I just got a violin bow myself in your price range from David Stone, who might be the most decent and helpful human being I've ever encountered in a music store. It was an Arcos bow made by "C. Lozer." It's a pernambuco bow that sounded and played better than any other bow I have tried in its price range, including the composites. But if you're loking for a bow that you can carry into combat conditions, I can see having a preference for a composite stick. Hammond Ashley Bass Violins (not sure of the name) on Des Moines Way carries Codas. I've never bought a bow from Shar, but I've heard nothing but good about their bow approval service. I did get a Glasser composite from SW Strings that was more than satisfactory for my uses. Hope this helps, Trent
  20. There's one compelling question that I think needs to be answered before we can ask the question, "can the violin be improved?" And that question would be, "What are you trying to accomplish with this improvement?" When 19th century luthiers modified the Cremonese models to create what we know as the "modern" violin (lengthening the neck and increasing its angle while altering the bridge's curvature and heighth), I don't think they were trying to "improve" the violin in some abstract way: I think (and I've read this argued in at least one source) that they were very deliberately trying to increase the violin's volume and projection so that it could be used in the increasingly large performance halls, with louder modern instruments such as the clarinet and the piano. What is it about the violin as we have it now that you don't want or find inadequate? If it's volume you're worried about, you could argue that the electric violin is a very significant improvement over the old acoustic models, but I somehow don't think that's what folks are looking for here. My .02, Trent
  21. I don't believe there is a single answer to the original question. Chinrests, even more than shoulder rests, have to be "fit" to individual body types. In theory, a properly-fitting chinrest will fill in the space between the collarbone and the jaw so that you can stabilize the instrument on your collarbone without clamping your jaw down. Lots of factors go into that: size of collarbone, width of shoulders, length of neck, size and angle of jaw, thickness and weight distribution of violin, etc. There's an interesting article on fitting the violin to the player by Julie Lyon Lieberman in a recent issue of Strings you should check out. Hope this helps, Trent
  22. Here's an interesting question: Have any of you ever made a stringed-instrument-related purchase that, on later consideration, made you go, "What WAS I thinking"? I'm thinking particularly of instrument and bow purchases, and even more particularly of purchases that you made after careful consideration. The Lark your parents got for you does not count. The Lark you bought after twenty years as a professional soloist might. Trent
  23. quote: Originally posted by Desert Rat: FiddleGirl, Your post also raises a question that I've had. Isn't a truly good bow a "good bow" regardless who is playing it? I know that individual bows will vary in their ability to meet an accomplished player's individual needs; given the respective variances in playing style and wood samples, this only makes sense. But, accurately priced, isn't a $10,000 bow always going to out-perform a $500 bow, regardless of who is playing it? In my experience (which is admittedly limited), no. It all depends on how the playing characteristics of the bow interact with the player and the violin. Weight is one factor: I prefer a pretty heavy bow with moderate flex, a combination which luckily works well with my fiddle. I've played with my old teacher's Peccate and didn't like it that well--while, in theory, it could no doubt outperform my current bow, in (my own) practice mine worked better. There's a really good article in one of the early issues of _Strings_ (maybe the very first one, in fact) on things to think about when shopping for a bow. If you're close to a good university library, it would be worth looking up. The bottom line, for me, is: Find the bow that sounds and feels the best to you within your price range, whatever that may be, and stick with it until you feel like you need something different and can articulate what that "something" is. That might be two years, that might be never. Either way, you're still making music. And unless you really screw up, you'll be better off than you are with your Glasser fiberglass. Although even those have their advantages--I believe that Ashley MacIsaac used them as of a few years ago. Hope this helps, Trent
  24. To expand on HKV's assessment: It all depends on you, your fiddle, and the particular needs you have. And your current bow budget, and whether you're going to have a bigger bow budget in a few years, and whether you live close to a good violin shop, and how you feel about composite bows, and... and... and.... And, perhaps most importantly, how much leeway you have or recognize between "good enough" and "good." If you look, you can get a wooden bow that draws a good, clear, focused tone and allows you to perform off-the-string bowings pretty well for well less than $800 (I just got such a bow, a Brazilian-made Arcos, and will post a review sometime soon). If you don't want to look that hard, the Glasser composite and carbon fiber bows work well and cost much less (around $80 and $180, respectively). A Musicary or Coda Conservatory will set you back about $345-450, and if you want to spend $700 or so, you can get a Coda Classic, which has been highly recommended by a number of pros here and elsewhere. You might want to search the archives--bow shopping is no doubt one of the top 5 most popular topics here. Andy Victor posted a really interesting message here on the violinist's "golden road" (I think that was somewhere in the title) that touches on your concerns. Hope this helps, Trent
  25. This is an interesting discussion. I don't think I would characterize the tone of most Baroque specialists as "ultra-clean"; I think the approach allows the grain of the player's voice to come through in a way that can be obscured by the at times automatic vibrato of modern players. But I tend to dislike vibrato in general, even in vocal music (actually, *especially* in vocal music). Here's a question: Have any of the Baroque-identified contemporary violinists attempted to bring that approach to more modern pieces? Could be interesting, if only as an experiment quote: Originally posted by Toscha: Okay, back to Baroque vs.Romantic. I personally dislike vibrato-less and ultra clean Baroque players. I tends to second Zukerman and Perlman (he also made a rather scathing comment about Baroque specialists) on this topic. I would prefer any day to hear Baroque music played with vibrato, and with appropriate classical restraint, examplified by players like Grumiaux, Szeryng and Goldberg. I even take a "guilty pleasure" in listening to overtly Romantic Baroque playing of Kreisler, Thibaud, Elman, Huberman and Casals (the last two are more careful about vibrato, though). But vibrato-less, ultra-clean Baroque playing, no thanks! At the same time, I am not a big fan of Zukerman's playing either. To me, he sweetens all the music with overdose of saccharine. With some music, he sounds fine, but other music, especially Mozart, I miss the purity of Milstein and Grumiaux. Toscha
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