Will L

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  1. Tape to prevent 3d position sweat spot

    It's funny to me that in the several times we have discussed this since I've been on MN, I don't remember this possibility coming up. But it makes sense, and might be the most likely culprit. After all, the thumb would be coming in more parallel with the fingerboard so there'd be little damage on the bass side, but the finger's nails would be coming pretty much straight down on the treble side.
  2. Harvesting and processing horsetail

    I'm sure there are some sophisticated tricks I don't know, but it is pretty simple. You cut it, trim off the segmented ends, slice it along the axis, and spread it. It can be used green and fresh or dried between two flat surfaces. Or you can let it dry as is, and later soak it to make it soft again. It can be glued to other things to support it. For example, denim iron-on patches work well. When you don't have much this is especially useful. I think it's best to cut off the segmented ends because they can make scratches. That obviously should be done when they are flexible. In general, the drier the stuff is the easier it is for it to break into useless shreds. (I've never figured out how to use the shreds some companies sell. If someone can explain that I would appreciate it.) The first batch I ever used gave the wood a greenish cast which scared me. But within a few days the wood changed to a beautiful cinnamon-tan, which everyone wants anyway. I thought I'd found the secret of Cremona! Unfortunately I've never had that happen again, at least to that extent. One of my teachers would tie the stalks in batches and hang them to theoretically drain the color. I don't see much point to that. I forget which way he hung them. I don't think it's a good idea to use it wet, but slightly damp seems to work ok. All in all, if you're lucky enough to have a large supply, using it fairly fresh is the best, IMO. I like it when it is still flexible for broad surfaces, but I also find it works great on the edges and chamfers when it's still a cylinder and very dry. It just requires a more delicate and controlled touch. The difference between how sandpaper and horsetail work seem to be day and night. Gimme equisetum every time!
  3. Milstein's bow technique

    I think Galamian's grip is essentially the "Belgian" grip. And I think Dr. S is right in everything he said. I love the "Russian" grip for the basic sound, but I think off-string bowing with control and finesse is difficult. IMO this problem shows in Heifetz's Mozart. I have tried many times to develop that hold but I only get so far before hitting a brick wall. Galamian studied with Lucien Capet. One of Capet's exercises is to rotate the bow along the axis–from tilted toward the scroll to back toward the bridge. It is done with the fingers, not with changing the elevation of the arm. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucien_Capet
  4. Viola d'Amore check in, please?

    Very glad you are OK and relatively unscathed, V-damore. Not that anyone who lives in hurricane prone areas doesn't know this already, or should know it, but I never miss an opportunity to stress not relying on the attic as a last resort. Especially if there are no windows. The thing is I don't know what else one can do once they make the mistake of not evacuating, because going outside has its own problems. In 1957 my grandmother died in hurricane Audrey which killed over 400 people even though it came ashore in rural areas. Most of my many relatives didn't evacuate because they and their ancestors had been riding out storms for as long as anyone could remember. But my grandparents DID go to a neighbor's house which was better built and two stories, plus an attic. As the water rose everyone ended up in the attic and eventually had to chop a hole (not sure if they went through the roof or a wall). All got out except for my grandmother who was rather large and could not get through the opening. My grandfather was found 3 days later, still up in a tree. All his remaining life he bad-mouthed the Red Cross because there he was without anything and when he got to an aid-station they wouldn't even give him a coffee because he had no money. I don't know what that was all about. The one funny thing that came out of this tragedy was that when we finally got down to Louisiana a month later we took my great-grandfather down from Lake Charles to Cameron Parish. It's about an hour drive. As we got closer we began seeing more and more debris in the fields. All of a sudden my g.g. barked out, "See! See! That's why God did this to us!" He was very agitated and jabbing his gnarled finger at something. This was all happening in French, and I didn't speak any. But my mother finally got it sorted out and told me a while later: My g.g. was pointing at a toilet bowl. A nice white, gleaming ceramic masterpiece rising from soggy weeds. It was his belief that God had punished the people so severely because they had given in to the allure of new fangled plumbing and flush toilets instead of the more acceptable outhouse which, after all, had been plenty good enough for him and most of mankind for ages. The people–to Grand-pere's way of thinking— were getting too uppity for their own good and God was taking care of business.
  5. string grooves position at nut

    Sometimes one wonders if such subtleties are really useful or if they are a psychological boost. But IMO humans are very capable of seeing and feeling incredibly minute differences and IMO this particular one is helpful. The first time I saw this was back in about 1970 on a Strad which had belonged to Heifetz. And it appeared to be carefully and intentionally done. I always figure that guys as picky as Heifetz should be our guides instead of players who say, "Aw, I can play on anything." The other thing I noticed was that the upper G side of the fingerboard seemed flared out, giving extra space in the higher positions. Of course a neck which has pulled to the right will give somewhat the same look, and unfortunately I don't remember checking the setting of the neck; but I imagine it was fine and the fingerboard was actually flared a bit. I intended to try this sometime but never got around to it. If anyone has tried it or might try it in the future, I'd like to hear how it works out.

    Ignore this post.

    The University of Nevada, Reno, is selling a Stradivari which was donated in the 1970's. It is an interesting violin which, IMO, qualifies as one of those Stradivari that Mr. Burgess and others mention in our all-too-frequent discussions of whether Strad was all he is cracked up to be. I'm familiar with this instrument and have a few interesting stories, but will wait until after it is sold to tell them. (Please note I am not implying, or intending to imply, anything at all about its authenticity or condition.) I hope all goes well for the instrument and it finds a good home. https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/about-last-week-recreational-marijuana-coming-to-henderson-unr-seeks-to-sell-rare-stradivarius-violin-kate-marshall-for-lieutenant-governor
  8. Il Segreto di Nagyvary

    Cute story. Reminds me of Art Linkletter and his show and books called, "Kids Say the Darnedest Things." How do you suppose he got to the point of readiness to make such a connection? Do you talk about violin making much around him?
  9. Noob on fingering notes

    This synchronization is an interesting point to think about. Not as simple as it seems. We can't start a stroke until the finger is in place. That is an ironclad principle. If we are playing two or more notes in one stroke, it is the placement of each finger in turn which gives the change in pitch, effects the accuracy of the rhythm, and the texture of how the notes sound depending on how fast and accurate we are. If you think of your series of notes as cutting off a long piece of taffy into pieces, quick slicing will give sharper edges and slow slicing will give rounder edges. (Not a perfect analogy.) For example, if we want clarity and good rhythm, the fingers have to be put down very quickly and exactly with the metronome. But the action must already be complete by the beat If we want a more mellow, fuzzy beginning, we can put the finger down more slowly, but we still have to consider getting it in place by the time the beat comes. All this is very subtle. The general rule is that a musician must do whatever is necessary to have a note begin exactly on the beat, and will sacrifice the end of the note before it in order to arrive on time. If you think of martele strokes, they start abruptly on the beat and it doesn't make much difference whether there is a lot or a little space at the end of the note. The player MUST do whatever it takes to prepare to start the next stroke right on the beat; that space is up to the taste and musical choice of the player as well as his technical skill. If, theoretically, we try to put a finger down at exactly the same time that we start a stroke, by law of averages we will be ahead one third of the time, correct one third of the time, and late one third of the time. (We might not really be able to tell if we are close, but if we could see or hear microscopically there would be a difference.) So, in effect, to be right it is the finger and not the bow which establishes our good or bad rhythm. We can never opt for a late finger, obviously.
  10. Only the good survive

    Of course this is a point well taken, and if you have remembered anything I have written you will recall that I have on more than one occasion stated that I'm not at all well versed on what has been done in the last 15 years or so. If things have changed that much, wonderful, but I'll have to see, hear, and play one of these urban myths to believe it. I played 30 or so Strads and not one was a BAD violin; and perhaps 10 were remarkable, and several super. And I played (let's round it down) 100 modern instruments by makers considered the best, and not one of them is as good as the 13 or so fine Strads, why should I believe that ANY modern maker is creating truly great violins? You'd think that in a lifetime of playing thousands of violins I would find one or two as good as a Strad or dG. But I didn't. Luck? In short, as far as has been proven to me, no one does more than talk generalities as if they have actually played one of these violins, but they never have shown even a recording from Y-Tube that sounds all that good to me. Please remember what the argument here is: That some modern makers are making violins as good or BETTER than the BEST old master instruments. I haven't seen "as good" much less "better." Better than is a tall order when we discuss Strad and del Gesu, and we should be conservative before we start giving out unwarranted accolades. I don't see it as helpful when people start spouting certain things as if they were gospel. It's a fair enough point to dispel myths about Stradivari, but we shouldn't supplant those myths with our own misguided ones. —MO
  11. Only the good survive

    There are a few makers who might be making instruments as good as lesser Cremonese instruments, but try and find one better than the FINEST. You won't. Or, to my knowledge, even as good. If you can make a violin as good as the Sarasate Strad, send it to me. If you can make a violin BETTER than that one, it wouldn't be a violin; it would be some divinely inspired device. Pronouncements as above come too easily, IMO. And one problem in these general discussions is that very few people have had a chance to see what a great violin can do under the fingers. Probably less with each passing year.
  12. Only the good survive

    I might as well disagree for the sake of discussion. "It is reasonable" IF by "the old guys" you mean ALL the old makers. It is NOT so reasonable if we talk of specific celebrated makers. What I means is that bad old makers, just like bad new ones, make bad violins. I'd say what is reasonable is to say good makers make good violins; that is what gives them. And guys that make bad violins are bad makers; that's why they were adjudged "bad" in the first place. Take good ol' Walter Mayson, for example: isn't it interesting that they only kept his bad violins, consigning the good ones to the fire in order to give him a reputation only a mother could love. We hear stories of bad Strads, but I'm still waiting to see one myself. Curiously, a bad Strad—or at least mediocre one—such as the XXXXXX (name withheld to avoid a law suit ) is still better than a mediocre Gagliano family instrument. A T-shirt might sum it up easily and best: GAGLIANO BAD IS WORSE THAN STRAD BAD. Or perhaps: GAGLIANO DOES BAD BETTER THAN STRAD I wish more contemporary makers could make a violin as good as the XXXXXX. I'd buy a dozen of them. And I think the urban myth is ridiculous that bad Strads got thrown away, so only the good ones remained, thereby giving the illusion that he only made good violins.
  13. I don't think of it that way. Being inconsistent would be a negative, and I find variations in Strad to be a positive, personally. IMO, if you look at the scrolls by the makers considered tops, it seems they were not making to win a prize; and I find that looseness refreshing. And, unlike most of us, they weren't trying to copy someone else or adhere to some overly constraining standard. (Not suggesting Strad didn't have standards.) I think if a noob showed up at an international competition with a scroll like the one on the Il Cannone, and Guarneri had never lived, he'd not get a gold medal.
  14. This link has enough scrolls from the old masters to keep occupied for days. To me, offhand, it looks like once Stradivari started a scroll he didn't sweat and strain to achieve some perfection based on his "ideal" pattern. There is a surprising freedom to his work considering how many of us in our youth fell into believing that he was always perfect and flawless. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/548031848382229724/
  15. Translation please!

    FWIW, Weisshaar's glossary gives the following for upper, middle, lower bouts: French: "la largeur du haut; la largeur aux "C"; la largeur du bas" German: "der Bügel, ober; der Bügel, mittel; der Bügel, unter" (probably mittel Bügel, for example, in a sentence) Italian: "la zona, superiore; la zona della C; la zona inferiore" Karl Roy is slightly different. French: The same as Weisshaar German: der Oberbügel, etc. Italian: la fascia superiore, etc.