Alistair

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  1. I read that as "Guilty as charged." No offense, Reedman, I really appreciate your posting that as it was a very honest message without much BS. The best thing to happen to music in a century is the internet and mass file trading (ala Napster and all the newer ones). The Internet and file trading technology places Art back into the hands of the people. Of course the neo-luddites accustomed to economic control of all popular entertainment mediums (i.e. music industry, hollywood, and all their symbiotically dependent politicians) are trying to kill this innovation before humanity really can be benefitted and freed of the economic shackles that have been binding Art for too long. Don't forget what Reedman said: radio stations care only about the bottom line, they would kill all music if it was a profitable option. That's why the Internet and peer-to-peer technologies are so important, because they change the dynamics of this economic hustle. Why are internet radio stations being killed off? It's simply because they can operate so cheaply and independently and are thus an economic and political threat to the neo-luddites. --Alistair
  2. And the movement of the elbow will be quite small and subtle, perhaps only a one inch shift in elbow position in order to move from the G to the E string or vice-versa. I think this is something you are probably doing automatically without realizing it. Your elbow will generally shift into a comfortable evenly balanced position relative to your hand, and that's all you need it to do. --Alistair
  3. I will second that sentiment! Unfortunately most people can only afford bad violins and bad wine, eheh. I do wish someone would come up with a good carbon fibre, mass production, injection molded violin haha Another thing about rentals, to add to what FINPROF said, is that if you don't know what you are looking for then you will often get scheistered with the crappiest rental instrument in the shop! This happened to my mother and younger sister several years ago when they went to rent a violin for her as a beginner. Well I TRIED to tell them to wait for me to come so I could make sure they don't get ripped off, but they wouldn't listen. So they went to the local dealer and asked him to select the best rental fiddle for them. Of course he pulls out the cheapest $50 violin he has, plays a little something with really strong vibrato so that it sounds good to the untrained ear, and tells them it is a great and special instrument that he has been saving for someone who really needed it -- the usual BS. Well they decided it was too much hassle to get another violin (and I think they didn't believe me either!) when I told them they got ripped off and my sister quit the violin soon afterwords. --Alistair
  4. I don't know, I don't think I have come across anyone that loves classical music but doesn't like chamber music. I'm sure there are some out there, though, eheh. Chamber music is my favorite too! The great string quartets are SO much fun to listen to! But, like Jane, I really don't go much for brass or woodwind chamber music, so maybe I am just biased, eheh. --Alistair
  5. Right, I will agree with you both on that point, thanks for clarifying it. I should have said they can SEEM like a good investment, and that they have been a very good investment during the 20th Century. --Alistair
  6. There are a few ways a player can pretty easily tell how their instrument is projecting (not including what I also believe: that you can learn to generally hear the projection quality in the type of sound and instrumental response you get). - You can hear how strongly the instrument echoes back to you in many/most circumstances. This, for instance, is how Opera singers often test out their voices in a large hall. They see how well they fill up the air and how much projection is needed. - You can tell by the interaction between your playing and the instrumentalists you are playing with when you are playing a solo. This is how you can find out really quickly that your instrument has no projection when you are a young kid trying your first solo with a group. - You can tell by the reaction of the audience when you are playing a solo. This is more of an intuitive thing, but I think most performers will be able to tell how the audience is reacting to them and whether or not the audience can hear them. I really don't think this is rocket science at all, I think it is actually pretty simple on a pragmatic (rather than theoretical) level. Whether you try the violin out by yourself in a big room or on a concert stage with an orchestra behind you, you ought to be able to tell if the instrument is projecting or not. I think people who can't tell or don't notice are probably just not thinking much about projection. --Alistair
  7. In addition to all the mechanical things people have pointed out, it is also what MANFIO says: the sound, the response. Just like it is hard to watch a TV with a bad picture, it is hard to play a violin that sounds bad. And if it sounds bad and is a really cheap junker then it probably isn't made from very good tonewood and doen't respond well and basically most advanced technique and subtleties will be impossible. Even a child that is not at that level will become frustrated because they can tell that they are severely limited by their instrument. --Alistair
  8. Ok I will give it a shot: 1) The best violins were made in one town in Italy from about 1650-1750, so they are pretty darn rare today and not replaceable. 2) Because they aren't replaceable, and because nobody even knows why they aren't (centuries worth of very smart people have failed to reproduce the results of Stradivari and Guarneri Del Gesu), and because they are so old, a mystique has built up around these instruments. 3) Old and Rare Antiques + Best + Irreplaceable + Mystique + Upper Class Elitism of Classical Music = VERY EXPENSIVE INSTRUMENTS. I say "upper class elitism" only because there is this certain type of old-fashioned upper-class twit of the year type that congregates around classical music and will spend exorbitant sums on whatever suits their fancy. 4) The top instruments as described above drive up the value of all other fine instruments. 5) *this should be #4* These instruments are rare, old, and irreplaceable so they are a good investment so lots of rich people and museums buy them thus also contributing to the high price. 6) The best instruments (as above) bring a mistique to the whole business of violins thus creating a considerable violin collecting market at all levels, not limited to the wealthy or the best instruments. 7) Professional level instruments (not the best as described above) require: exceptional tone wood (costs a lot) and a highly skilled maker (their time costs a lot), both of which have been in short supply for at least a century or two. 8) Nobody has been able to "beat the system" by creating professional quality violins on the cheap (in spite of the many scheisters and self-deluded souls who think/thought they have). 9) A lot of violin dealers are evil. Haha, that last one is only half-true Hope this helps, sorry it is sort of terse and I am sure someone will probably take objection to some/all of my points but I stand by them for now. --Alistair
  9. Hi Ken, I agree with the other folks here who have basically said: you are doing this for yourself, so do it the way that makes you happy and the way that you enjoy the most. As far as technique, it is not just elitism or smugness that makes people say classical violin is superior and more demanding, that is just the simple fact. In other areas, like improvisation, fiddling and jazz are FAR more demanding than (today's) classical music requirements. Fiddlers and Jazz violinists often play with poor technique because they can get away with it, classical violinists CANNOT get away with it because of the nature of the technical requirements that they are presented with. Think about it this way: for several centuries the primary method of learning classical violin has been regular one on one private tutoring (focused mainly on technique!) with a master from the time a violinist is a young child, coupled with massive amounts of independent practice. I can think of very few endeavors outside of classical music which are calculated to create such a high level of technique (ballet is the only endeavor that comes readily to mind). Here is an example to think about (please don't hang me if I get a detail off, it's been a long time): I saw Mark O'Connor live in concert several years ago. He played his fiddle concerto for us, and he and the conductor commented on how difficult it was, and he also gave us some tidbits from his second fiddle concerto (then still in development) and (he and the conductor) talked about how some of the bits were "almost impossible" and how there were very few fiddlers in the world who could play it. Ok, the point is the "impossible" bits he demonstrated were riccochet(sp?) bowing across four strings -- this is something that EVERY professional level classical violinist can do, and most of the future virtuosi probably mastered this in their early teens (it appears, for instance, in the end of the first movement cadenza in the Mendlessohn Concerto). Young student classical violinists, especially those without proper instruction and therefore in the back of their school orchestras, may often be seen to use the same "technique" that is often seen in fiddling (flat wrist, flat fingers, hunched over, fourth finger curled up and unavailable, etc.). They must improve this technique if they ever are to reach the next level of classical music, but that is not the case for fiddling. However, many of the more technically adept fiddlers, like Mark O'Connor, you can observe to have a technique quite similar or even identical to that used by classical violinists. So, I don't mean to be knocking fiddling at all, technique means nothing by itself it is only the use that is made out of it that matters, but if you are looking for realy powerful technique that lets you make the instrument do what you want then you really can't get away from classical violin (it's hard to re-invent the wheel, as they say). Which is not to say that classical violinists don't MURDER fiddle music, because they DO. You are SUPPOSED to play open strings in a lot of fiddle music, it is SUPPOSED to sound a bit harsh and edgy! I really hate to see some nice fiddle music arranged for classical instrumentalists, haha. Most swords cut two ways. So, to sum up: go with what makes you happy, go with what you enjoy; you don't have to be Mark O'Connor or Stefan Grapellie or Jascha Heifetz, and you can't be even if you wanted to. --Alistair P.S. Sorry, didn't mean to run on so long.
  10. That's great, congratulations on your successful performance! --Alistair
  11. As you can see from Engprof's posted link, Juzek instruments come in all ranges of price and quality. They have also been produced for a number decades (since the 1910s or 1920s I think). For a cello with a large (albeit repaired) crack, it does not sound like a great deal. But it depends on what line it is from, from the Master Art line of instruments, and depending on how old it is, it might be a pretty fair deal. Some of the guys on the pegbox forum know a lot about Juzek's, maybe they will post here, and you could also do a search on there and find out some more info that way. But if you are a player, then it is mostly about how the cello PERFORMS, and I hope it is great --Alistair
  12. I know Perlman has worked closely with Dorothy Delay (in teaching), so he certainly wants for nothing in terms of being/becoming a great teacher. I do hope he passes on a rich legacy in teaching, because I consider Perlman to be the last great virtuoso. I used to think Perlman was overrated, but now I think he is underrated, although my opinion of his playing has not changed. Funny thing, that. In the history of the violin there are only a very few TEACHERS who single handedly changed the violin world. Galamian is certainly one of them. I haven't had a chance to read the book, but I will keep my eyes open for it. --Alistair
  13. I think classical music is coming back, and I don't think it is in any danger. Classical music is still HUGE for movie scores, and most people have actually been HEAVILY exposed to it even though they don't realize it (especially through movies and television). I think what really hurt classical music in the 20th Century (along with almost all forms of 'High Art') was the incredible pretentiousness and self-indulgence of the so-called artists in their pursuits of 'original' ideas through atonalism, aleatoric(sp?) music, minimalism, etc. The backlash against this is already underway and I think it will become very vicious in the next 50 years or so. Art for the people is coming back in a big way. History will dole out just desserts to the many pseudo-deep BS-artists that held sway in the 20th Century. Sorry for carrying the off-topic subject further, eheh. The hardest part of being a poor amateur violinist is having a crummy fiddle and a crummy bow, eheh. --Alistair
  14. I believe Andrew Victor has echoed my thoughts on this issue. As a player I would far prefer an instrument that sounds really great with some weird string set-up and poorly with dominants, than an instrument that sounds merely good with dominants and about the same with other string set-ups. If it sounds really great then I don't care what strings I have to use But I guess the onus is on the maker or dealer to let the buyer know if the violin has 'special' needs, eheh. --Alistair
  15. I think violinists (or others) can learn to tell the difference, though, even with the violin under their ear. When you play a solo with an orchestra or ensemble, then you learn to tell the difference FAST (as I found out in high school during some very frightening rehearsals, lol, thank goodness a set-up change saved me). Heck, opera singers have to learn to tell the difference, in terms of initial volume versus carrying power, or they are dead in the water. I'm not an expert on the physics of it, but to me it always seemed like a difference of loudness versus resonance. The sound has to carry even when you are playing quietly, no? I would imagine that tonal complexity can also help to make the violin carry better (easier for the ear to pick out from the rest). But if you are playing in the middle of a violin section in an orchestra, then you don't usually want to stand out anyway, so you might not be paying such close attention to this issue. --Alistair