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About gowan

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  1. Beautiful work. Do you like the sound with the "distorted" arching? Are you experimenting to see what the distortion does to the sound? Would you expect the undistorted original-when-new arching would sound better that the current arching? I don't know what to think about this. If age produced distortion makes a wonderful instrument would it be possible that further age and use would push it over the edge to sounding worse?
  2. @Bill Merkel When I've gone to medical offices or hospitals during the pandemic I have not been allowed to use my own mask, no one is. They hand out disposable mask when you enter and they are not N95 masks. I think I understand why they do this: used masks can become loaded with virus particles and thus become worse than wearing no mask.
  3. Yes, it is sad not to be able to attend live performances or play with other people. Watching and listening on-line is better than having no way to listen to the music. I agree that you lose the emotional connection with the performer. I have spent countless hours listening to music on records and can have an emotional response that way. I have seen a number of Metropolitan Opera live streaming performances. Considering the difficulty of seeing such a performance live in person in the opera hall, I am grateful for this opportunity. And with the Met streaming, I get some things I would not get were I to attend a performance in the hall, such as better view and interviews with the stars. One aspect of this situation is so-called Zoom (or screen) overload. Watching a computer screen for a long time takes a toll on our visual apparatus. If I am on line for hours working, I am unlikely to want to watch the screen in the evening. As a player, I miss my regular chamber music and orchestra sessions. Playing with a group on line has its own difficulties in the form of needing software and equipment to make it possible to play together. Zoom is not very useful for this, too much latency and feedback. Better experiences can be had with software like Jamkazam or Jamulus but they need the users to avoid latency as much as possible and might require an upgrade of your computer, an ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router, and a good microphone. I was a child during the years before the development of effective polio vaccines. I remember not being allowed to go to playgrounds or the beach in summer. Now polio has almost been eliminated. There will be vaccines for COVID-19 eventually. We just have to wait to learn how well they will work and for how long the immunity they give will last. Just hang on and stay safe.
  4. As an amateur player I enjoy playing string quartets. One day our quartet ventured to play something really difficult, Beethoven opus 130. At the end someone said "Well Beethoven must be turning in his grave after that". I responded, saying "If Beethoven didn't want people to play it he shouldn't have published it." Kopatchinskaja certainly has an idiosyncratic approach to her work. I find it interesting, drawing my attention to things I hadn't previously considered, not just the score but also the sounds of the instrument. Many soloists play the "received" interpretation, according to Carl Stross. For me that is somewhat uninspiring. I might appreciate aspects of the performance but it doesn't make me rethink the piece, as Kopatchinskaja's does. As for her bare feet and her "distressed" garb, I think she's thumbing her nose at the women soloists who wear stiletto heels and strapless gowns. I am sure that bare feet on the floor makes a better connection and sense of balance than wearing high heels, and strapless gowns draw the attention to the soloist's body rather than the music.
  5. I don't know this app but I do know something about another app called Jamkazam. The most important thing in minimizing latency is to have as much as possible with hard wired connections. Have your computer directly connected to your modem/router via ethernet cable, no wifi or blue tooth. Same for microphone and headphones; bluetooth headphones introduce latency. You need a good microphone to eliminate background noise or feedback. Your headphones should be either earbuds or over the ear phones, that don't allow much sound to get out and reach the microphone. You might need a sound module to connect the microphone to the computer by hardwire. That's about all I know, not from my personal experience but from people who do have experience. Here are a couple of Youtube videos about using Jamkazam:
  6. Unless you are buying very highly priced instruments, possibly collectible or attractive to big buck investors, you can't count on making money when you sell it. Also, violins are not very liquid investments, i.e. you might have to wait for years before it sells, or you sell it at auction and often get a lower price than you paid. My attitude, unless you are a dealer, is don't buy an instrument unless you love it.
  7. If you look carefully you'll see that the cello da spalla is held up by a strap, somewhat how a guitar is, so that makes it more comfortable to play than a viola played under the chin and held up by the arm. Also, the position of the right arm and hand is clearly more effective and comfortable than on either the cello or the viola.Another point: a modern viola ( and also the violin ) have a body that is too small to support the core pitch of the open C (G) string. The body of a viola that is large enough to support fully the open C string would have to be too big to play held under the chin. I don't know how the cello da spalla fits into this but its size suggests it might be large enough to support the open C string.
  8. My impression is that Gould wasn't playing the music well. He's banging, for example. I suppose he had decided he didn't like the music so he played it badly to support his decision, then attributed his own poor playing to Mozart. Well, it is true that Mozart's concerti were written quickly for performance by himself, with improvised cadenzas so his talents don't show so much. His sonatas for piano and violin were written for his violin students to to play. Mozart's heart is seen best in the great operas. His later string quartets and especially his string quintets also show his true ability. His quintet for piano and winds is also a masterpiece. I've always wondered why Gould bothered to make recordings of Mozart's piano sonatas. The box set made for Columbia back in the day were roundly booed by the critics. It isn't that Gould only played Bach well, he made well regarded recordings of Brahms intermezzi and early Beethoven sonatas.
  9. Seems like a violoncello da spalla held wrong?
  10. I think you meant "Luis and Clark". As for "professional quality", wouldn't that just be an instrument usable by a professional? If that's so then practically anything could be used by a professional player. It is really a subjective thing. I understand the idea that an instrument made by hand by a skilled luthier could embody some sort of mystical character. However, the most important point is having an instrument that you really enjoy playing regardless of its origin. There are people who have posted on this forum speaking negatively about Hilary Hahn's Vuillaume instrument. Clearly that instrument satisfies her and it couldn't be said to hold her back in her career. And some instruments by legendary makers are rejected by some professionals. Frank Zimmermann lost the use of the Lady Inchiquin Strad violin due to the financial collapse of the bank that had loaned him the instrument. In a short time another well regarded Strad was found for him but Zimmermann never really liked it. Happy ending, he regained use of the Lady Inchiquin Strad. My point is that the label or origin of the instrument doesn't tell you whether you will like it.
  11. There is an interesting cultural problem related to artists who demonstrate despicable or criminal behavior. Wagner was a hateful anti-semite, Caravaggio was a murderer. Both were great artists. So the question is does immoral character or behavior make their artistic creations unacceptable works of art? In the context of this thread must Bernstein's conducting and composing and Levine's opera and symphony conducting be tainted because of immoral behavior? Must we refuse to listen to Wagner's music and reject enjoying looking at Caravaggio's paintings? The philosophical issue is whether works of art by immoral or criminal artists somehow embody the artists' despicable actions or beliefs. Regardless of this philosophical quandary, no doubt the horrible actions must be rejected and punished when possible.
  12. When a musician plays a piece differently from what I expected to hear, rather than rejecting the performance out of hand I try to understand what the musician was doing and why. Maybe a rhythm is a bit off by my taste but by doing this the musician points to some other aspect of the piece that I hadn't paid enough attention to. I notice this often when Patricia Kopachinskaja plays, but with other performers I also get this experience. I always appreciate hearing something new in a piece I thought I knew. How you feel about this depends on what you want to get from hearing a piece. I sometimes find that a recording that I loved 50 years ago doesn't move me anymore. This doesn't surprise me because a lot of life has gone by during those years and that ought to affect my response to the recording. I'm sure most people are familiar with the saying that you can't step into the same river twice. I think the same thing applies to listening to or giving a performance of a piece.
  13. In this vein, I am strongly right handed but I have learned to play violin and viola with the normal set-up. If I tried to play fingering with my right hand I think it would be as awkward and clumsy as when I try to write with my left hand. I learned how to be dexterous with my left hand. Of course, the Latin root of dexterous means the right side, so in theory one could not be dexterous with the left (levo) side.
  14. Many people paint all production of good from the East with the same brush. Consider Japanese cars produced in the 1950's with those produced now. A lot of mass produced things used to be made in China but standards of living in China have increased Now quality of instruments in China varies from mass produced using milling machines, etc., to totally hand made instruments that can be comparable to those made by good luthiers in the West. Too often all Chinese instruments are lumped together and the lower quality ones are described as applying to the entire group. As an example, I might mention the Jay Haide instruments which are at a high enough level of quality that they are sometimes used as backup, second instruments by professional players. These are Chinese instruments and produced in large enough numbers to be widely available.
  15. gowan

    Old strings

    I clearly experience changes over time in the strings I use. I dislike the sound of brand new strings immediately after I put them on my instruments and it takes some time for them to settle in, more for some brands than others but all of them have to "break in". So I'm surprised when I read about concert performers putting new strings on just before a concert. This break in effect might be local in the sense that it is audible to the player but listeners might not hear it. Certainly new strings require more frequent tuning, presumably because the strings have to stretch out. I do experience a degradation of the sound after some time, with my schedule of practice and playing often need to change strings after around a year of use. I've also experienced having strings go false after a time. FWIT I generally use Evah Pirazzi strings.