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Hank Schutz

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Everything posted by Hank Schutz

  1. Kurt Sassmanhaus's excellent web site 'violinmasterclass.com' has a clear discussion of the effects of various tunings (all accompanied with audio/video clips) here: http://www.violinmasterclass.com/en/masterclasses/intonation For example, the demo of why thirds and sixths can not be used to verify tuning in the Pythagorean system (but 4ths, 5ths and octaves can) is quite striking. HS
  2. In the baroque arena, I find Rachel Barton Pine's playing hard to match. Her ornamentations are quite beautiful, and she plays with verve and style. HS
  3. Arcus has apparently switched to a new means of designating their various bows, for example, S5, S6, etc. (letter followed by digit). Johnson String is using these new designations in their online catalog, but, oddly, they do not appear on the Arcus web site. Does anyone know what "improvements" the new designations might entail, and how the new models compare with the old? HS
  4. Does your town have any weekly local newspapers, usually offered free? (Not talking about pure ads, but papers which carry some stories). If so, write a story (or provide bullet points) about the concert when the time and venue are set. Be sure to include some puffery about what a great fiddler you are. Add a nice glossy b/w photo of you with your violin and send it off with a plea for them to publish. Hank S
  5. I acquired a set of Passione Solo expressly for a performance of the Bach a-minor concerto (solo part). I had them on for 1.5 months and then switched them out for Larsons two weeks prior to the concert. My reactions: + Good complex sound overall + D and G string especially nice. + Fairly stable pitch after a week - Disappointed in volume; expected more from a "solo" string - Occasional squeaks from both E and A strings (first time I've had A-squeak) - Not quite as responsive as I needed for the Bach (rapid string crossings in 3rd movement) Caveat: my violin has only moderate projection, so my issue with volume may be due more to the instrument than the strings, although the Larsons were stronger. HS
  6. I viewed a pretty nice violin recently with the following label: J H LOCKE MAKER SOMERVILLE MASS USA 1899 I am unable to find any record of this maker in the resources available to me. The violin has an elaborately inlaid tail piece. There is a 1-piece back with a striking circular grain pattern; it looks more like grain than figure. I'm not sure if it is maple. The ribs and neck are nicely figured maple. A few small non-critical cracks. There is a parisian eye-like ornament is inlaid in each ear of the scroll. The violin shows very little wear and may have been refinished (but pretty nicely, I think, if so.) Any maker info would be welcome. I was unable to find any auction results, but they would be welcome too, or some indication of price in a private purchase. I can get pix, but it's an hour round trip for me. Thanks HS
  7. I play violins in theatrical pit bands several times a year, often sitting just in front of trumpets, saxes, percussion, etc. Sometimes it's darn hard to hear myself. I thought it might be convenient to have a bluetooth-like pickup on my violin and bluetooth ear piece. Does anyone know of such? Any thought on the idea in general? (Various sound attenuation devices (ear plugs) diminish my own sound too much.) HS
  8. I wonder if the colorant qualities of black walnut have been tried. (The last time I raised a question about dye materials, while claiming complete ignorance in the subject, I was nevertheless indignantly chided for making a terrible suggestion. I am not suggesting black walnuts, or anything for that matter. They sure seem to stain anything that touches them, so maybe...) HS
  9. The Whalebone Lapping thread raised these question to which I wonder if there are generally-agreed-to answers. Suppose a valuable bow by Peccatte is restored (in a historically authentic way) with a new frog, lapping, winder, tip plate -- all that's left of the original is the stick itself. Is it still a Peccatte? What if the restoration includes some historically inauthentic items (as the lapping thread suggested might be the case)? What if everything is original except the stick? I suppose analogous questions may apply to violins. If I'm not mistaken, I think I have seen an auction in which a violin was offered that had only a plate by Stradivari, and everything else was a replacement part. Apparently many Cremonese masterpieces have newer necks and scrolls without loss of identity. Just curious HS
  10. I was referring to the fine thread coiled around the string extending for a few cm in length near the ends of the string. Nowadays such wrappings are color coded so that one can identify the string type. I called it dressing because I do not know what it is actually called. The knots are no more than a single overhand knot, like the first half of making a square knot. The loop appears to be what David Tseng has shown, which I believe is called a bowline on a bite. HS
  11. Here are the dimensions. I used a fairly high-end Mitutoyo digital caliper that displays to 0.01 mm. LaBella D (no knot or dressing) 570mm x 1.1mm LaBella E (knotted) 570 mm x 0.71mm LaBrilliant E (no knot or dressing) >600mm x 0.66mm LaBrilliant E (no knot or dressing) >600mm x 0.60mm Criterion D (Knotted) 545mm x 1.17mm Criterion G (looped and dressed) 545mm x 0.84 mm (silver plate wound on gut) HS
  12. Look at it this way, this might be your one opportunity to try all-gut, dried out, oxidized, stiff strings. Apparantly you've not seen my wig. HS
  13. I think the prior suggestion of some Celtic airs is worth pursuing. Also consider tunes such as Ashoken Farewell, Amazing Grace, Be Thou My Vision. I would also refer you to the web site of Virtual Sheet Music, where one can find fairly cheap downloadable music. Virtual Sheet Music HS
  14. In a cleaning up spree, my wife found half a dozen unused all-gut strings, including violin E. They are probably 40-50 years old. Two are made in Italy, branded "La Bella". Two are German branded "La Brilliante" and two are American branded "Criterion". There is a contemporary La Bella company focusing on guitar strings, but I can not find references to either La Brilliante or Criterion. Is it even worth string these up? If so, is there some preconditioning that might be useful? HS
  15. If the quarter notes are generally played down bow and the eighth-note pairs are up bow, I think this should be doable for players with moderate skill. I normally do not think of spicatto pairs as "ricochette," feeling that more notes are required for that terminology to apply, but thats only my opinion. Ordinanarily, the conductor explains what he wants, and it is up to the concert master to determine how this is best achieved, depending on experience of the specific personnel involved, of course. HS
  16. New Formulation Tonica Experience I've had them on for about 2 weeks. My fiddle is a nice Mirecourt shop model, imported by Lyon & Healy in 1903. It has a warm sound which I like, but carries quite well. The new Tonicas have a very bright and ringing quality. Folks used to a warmish sound from the old Tonicas will not find it with these strings, IMHO. The E has low bow noise at the upper range, but the overall impression is too metalic for my taste. (An unkind judge might go so far as to say they tend towards the banjo.) Good volume and projection. I infer that the designers were striving for a more soloist quality. I played at a wedding in a heated tent where the heater cycled on and off periodically. I found the strings more temperature sensistive than the older version, so frequent tuning was required. No opinion about humidity sensitivity yet. As has oft been said on these fora, different instruments can make a world of difference. I prefer the original Tonicas. If they do not continue to be made, I'll need to either stock up while they are available, or find a new "standard" string. I do not think it will be the new Tonicas, but I'll withhold final judgement until I've been using them for several months. HS
  17. JTL are the initials of a 19th century French instrument making empressario Jerome Thibouville-Lamy. He bought up violin-making enterprises in the later part of the 19th century in Mirecourt, France. He developed a means of making violins using machines rather than manual labor. Nevertheless, some of his violins are thought to be quite good and they won international prizes in the 1880's. In one year his factory sold more than 35,000 instruments, so "rare" is not a term one would likely apply. The JTL fiddles were made in a bewildering variety of styles and quality grades, all labeled using a scheme which exhibits little discernable pattern relating model names and numbers to quality. Info on a label such as yours would need to be decoded by a JTL label expert. You could also google "JTL + violin" and see what you get. It is unlikely (but not impossible) that your fiddle is of more than modest monetary value. But if the violin sounds OK, seems to be in reasonable shape and is easy to play, be grateful for the gift. Disclaimer: I am not a luthier nor particularly well versed in old French fiddles. HS
  18. Ditto Desert Rat's comments. Tonica has been my standard brand, but I've had the new formulation Tonicas on my fiddle for several days. I'm waiting til they settle in. The "silvery E" string does indeed sound silvery. I withhold more general comment for a week or so. HS
  19. Tut, tut. I hope I have not provided the occasion for your repulsion. In any case, I am unable to find anywhere in this thread that shoe polish was suggested, unless you feel that raising a question following an admission of ignorance is the same as making a "suggestion." HS
  20. Question from a non-maker: could not some solution made from black shoe polish be used? HS
  21. I have a nice bow stamped Arnold Schmidt Mannheim. (I think that Mannheim is actually his last name, as well as the town where he lived.) I have seen a few references to Mr. Mannheim as a violin maker, but none as a bow maker. Has anyone heard anything about Mannheim bows? The stick is nice brownish-red lightly-flambed pernambuco, plain ebony frog, plain silver winder, wrapped with silver tinsel wound on some sort of fiber. I know that the bow was made prior to the early 1930's. Perhaps some of our bow-making members could hazzard a guess as to likely quality and value. HS
  22. I think the odd-vs-even issue should rather have been framed by me as a 2-vs-more issue. With just 2 players, you will almost certainly get a beat if their pitches differ. Additional people tend to make the beat less pronounced, so one important que for out-of-tune-ness is reduced. The 5-vs-15 players depends a lot on whether including more players appreciably broadens the span of likely pitches that will be played for any given note. In the Philadelphia orchestra, for example, I would guess that almost any subset of the string section will play very closely in tune, so the number of players will generally affect the quality of the sound rather than the perceived intonation. On the other hand, in my community chamber orchestra, a relatively small number of players play reliably in tune, so adding players beyond those will degrade the intonation (but may improve the sound in other ways). So in my orchestra, 5 players are more likely to sound in tune than 15. Your mileage may vary. HS
  23. There is an excellent discussion of intonation with useful demonstrations at this site. Enter as a guest, then select the Master Class link, then Intonation. (I do not think, however, that the question of how "many cents is out of tune" is addressed, but as I am not a good cent-counter, the answer would do me little good). My answer: it's out of tune when it sounds out of tune. (Really helpful, I know. But this is the way we tune our fiddles, right?) Here are some practical hints and observations (which are my subjective opinions): 1. If you are playing high and trying to match a piccolo, forget it. There's no hope. (Actually, there's never any hope to match a piccolo. ) 2. If two fiddles are playing the same high pitch, they both need to be quite good, because the most subtle misplacement of a finger will cause a very audible result. 3. Intervals of a 4th and 5th require greater precision than others (IMO). An out of tune major 3rd is more noticable than an out of tune minor third. 4. An odd number of players (3 or more) are less likely to sound out of tune if each is fairly close to the just pitch. 5. Careful practice of scales (checking with open strings if available in the selected key) can be very useful. If you're off, try to detect if there is a pattern, i.e., usually too high or too low. Then use your brain to intentionally improve your "muscle memory" to hit the right pitch more often. 6. Artistic license in intonation should be reserved for those who can hit every note spot-on if they want to. HS
  24. "I think it would be nearly criminal for a child with an amazing natural talent to allow it to languish in the fear it would harm the child to develop this one talent as far as possible." So, assuming I've gotten around your somewhat tangled syntax, I take it you disagree that there is even a moral or ethical dimension here. Indeed, it looks to me like you think that a decision by Shannon's parents' not to support her music quite so avidly would have been "nearly criminal." I think the historic record of one person or group declaring another person's or group's lifestyle choices to be "nearly criminal" does not make a very pretty picture. I did not mean by my post to suggest that I thought a "wrong" decision had been made in Shannon's upbringing, but rather to point out that it is a difficult choice with many imponderables. I'm glad for her sake that Shannon "seems to be happy." Perhaps, as you say, she will find it easy to switch careers if she ever feels the need to do so. Perhaps not. HS
  25. I confess that I am somewhat freaked out by anyone so young attaining this level of proficiency. It must have required a huge commitment of time for lessons and practicing, thereby displacing other activities that one normally associates with childhood. I am loathe to superimpose my child-rearing opinions on others, but I do know that a young child is not well-equipped to make decisions whose effects may last a lifetime. So the decision to pursue music so single-mindedly must have been made largely by the parents/caregivers, presumably with the best of intentions, but without truly "informed consent." When Shannon Lee is 30, she may profusely thank her parents for their foresight and the sacrifices they probably made on her behalf. On the other hand, she may curse them for channeling her into a path which she discovers is not her heart's desire, and which she is ill-equipped to escape from. It's a conundrum -- how best to support the highly talented without boxing them in too early. HS
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