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Alistair

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Everything posted by Alistair

  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
  16. Does anyone here listen to the old wax cylinders? I have seen them at garage sales on occasion, but the cylinders + the machine to play them + putting them in working order = too much for my bankroll, heh. I listen to some old 78s once in awhile of the great ones from those days, but that's as far back as I go (unless it's on CD of course, hehe). --Alistair
  17. Wacky, I have never heard of that. I do remember in high school some home schooled kids were really good. I'm a bit removed from the high school scene now, though, hehe. I can't imagine why anyone would want to win a state competition THAT bad. Does it really help so much in conservatory admittance? I always had the impression that if you could REALLY play then that's all you had to prove in your audition, but maybe it is changing? --Alistair
  18. Hi Mr. Green, Sounds like a lovely concert, wish I could go have a listen; too bad I am on the West Coast though, ack. Best luck, and let us know how it goes. --Alistair
  19. Hi, it appears that the feet on your new bridge design are much narrower than a traditional bridge. Is this true, and doesn't this diminish the effectiveness with which the bridge causes the table to vibrate? Interesting, and nice pictures --Alistair
  20. I have the Oistrakh set that Steve mentions, it's great. Highly reccomended, I listen to it all the time. And the Prokofiev F minor (also on the set) is one of my favorite sonatas along with the Franck --Alistair
  21. I think we only mentioned those exceptions to show that there are exceptions and hard rules or numbers about practicing are unrealistic. Some people need more practice than others, and some people need less, and it IS possible to practice too much (as Auer and many others have said). I think part of Auer's point when he wrote about practicing, was that two hours (or four hours for a less felicitous pupil) per day adds up to a lot of time if one starts at a young age (five or younger) and that if you don't have the talent in the first place then you aren't ever going to become a successful soloist anyway, so no point in killing yourself practicing 8 hours a day. Two hours a day from the age of five will get a body quite close to that golden 10,000 hour figure by the time they are 18, and that doesn't include time with orchestras, chamber groups, etc. On the other hand, someone who picks up the violin at age 14 and gets very serious about it, will probably NEED to practice more and more intensely than all the people who started at age 5. But if someone says that all soloists practiced 4+ hours a day to get where they are, well that's just not true. Sometimes less is more. --Alistair
  22. Hi Tononi, thanks for posting that, it is nice to hear from someone who has actually studied with Mr. Redrobe and, obviously, you have been very satisfied with his teaching. By the same token, though, I know of a teacher in my own town who is a shameless self-promoter, has had hundreds of satisfied students who love him and think that he is a genius, yet he has never accomplished anything notable on his instrument or ever had one of his students reach a high level (professional or conservatory level) of accomplishment in his decades of teaching. This is why I think credentials are so important, because it is very easy to fool people, and there really are great teachers out there whose reputations are diminished by the phonies (not saying that these things are true of Mr. Redrobe, only that I have never seen anything to demonstrate that they are not). Just a small point to add: I (and many others here) do not claim to be an authority or expert on the subjects I post about. My posts here are intended to be taken as they are found, for whatever wisdom, intelligence, or lack thereof happens to be found there. I assume that people will use their own best judgement when reading my posts, and do not expect them to accept anything I say based on faith or my own authority on the matter. If I DID claim to be an expert and authority on violin technique and pedagogy, however, THEN it would be perfectly reasonable to object to my anonymity and to expect to know who I was and why I deserve to be considered an authority. I make no such claims, and such an objection is thus quite silly, imo. Too bad Heifetz isn't around, he could really tell us if Mr. Redrobe is passing on his legacy. But that really gets to the heart of the matter, doesn't it, because Heifetz' legacy is something that many of us hold very dear and we do deserve to know why we should believe someone who claims to be "passing on the legacy of Heifetz" or teaching us lessons that are "direct from Heifetz". It's easy enough to SAY that long after the man is dead. There are people like Erick Friedman and Eugene Fodor, who did study with Heifetz (in person) and are passing on his legacy directly, and you don't have to take their word for it. --Alistair
  23. I took to heart what a few posters said here, and e-mailed Mr. Redrobe directly to inquire about his credentials as a violinist and pedagogue. I think it was a bit silly of me, since he is a professional, not to just go directly to him in the first place (most professional musicians are proud of their credentials in my experience, and happy to advertise them). Unfortunately, though, it was as I expected: he said that he doesn't care what anyone at Maestronet thinks about him and declined to provide any credentials he may (or may not) have. I don't consider "European Assistant to Erick Friedmann" to be a credential, because nobody knows what that means. A lot of people here seem to have accepted Mr. Redrobe's authority on faith and his own self-promotion, and I would warn them to take anything he says with a large grain of salt... or at least find out what his credentials are (if that's even possible) before you start paying him money to learn his supposed 'secrets'. --Alistair
  24. I think you are right. By the early 20th Century very few young virtuosi were writing their own cadenzas. It's still not unheard of in this day and age for performers to write their own cadenzas, though, just very rare. Josh Bell composed some cadenzas for his own performances, for instance. In terms of new works, I don't know whether contemporary composers write the cadenzas themselves or not, but it probably just depends on the performer they are writing for. --Alistair
  25. Hehe, yeah, supposedly Milstein only practiced 2 hours per day in his youth, but Auer said that was all that was needed for a talented pupil as long as they started young. Kreisler, of course, is famous for never practicing at all during much of his concert carreer (dunno how much of that is legend, though). Ok, here we go, did a quick google search so now I don't have to rely on my poor memory anymore: http://www.musica.uci.edu/mrn/V8I2S01.html Scroll down to the section "Effects of Practice" and they cite some studies on practicing, including the (one of the?) study that the 10,000 hour figure is rooted in. These studies of practicing have tended to indicate that sheer hours of practice is a lot more important than most people realize, and sheer talent is a lot less. I think that argument goes right out the window when we talk about aesthetics, and obviously some people just have more natural technical felicity than others, but it is not as big of a difference as many people think (imo, and according to these studies). --Alistair
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