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Steve_W

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Everything posted by Steve_W

  1. I know of some good fiddlers who choke up on the bow, Laura Risk for example. She taught a workshop I attended last Summer and I asked her about her hold; I don't remember the conversation in any detail but I think the gist was that for her it was simply where the balance felt best. I've tried choking up and didn't feel like it did anything for me (quite the contrary, actually) but since some fiddlers I admire use that hold, I won't discount it! Crystal, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts if you do try some shorter bows. I suspect that even with a shorter one you may still feel the inclination to choke up, because I think it may have more to do with the balance you're comfortable with than the length of the bow. Regarding bow weight, I have 2 bows: one is a heavy, octagonal fairly stiff stick (German Voirin copy) and the other is a light round whippy one (an old Emile Dupree). I find the heavier one to be optimal for my Scottish fiddling (which is fairly classically influenced ala Alasdair Fraser--the "San Francisco Bay Area Sound" I guess since he's influenced so many fiddlers around here) and the lighter one to be good for articulating the fast Irish stuff, but I find it doesn't produce as good a tone as the heavier one (BTW I'm not saying the weight affects the tone--I don't know whether or not it does--just that in this case the heavier one yields the better sound); since I'm now playing exclusively Scottish this one usually stays in the case! I know one local Scottish fiddler who uses a Baroque bow and also loves it, even though he's using it with a modern violin setup rather than the low-tension gut strings it was designed for. I suppose if you consider that a lot of the Scottish fiddle music we play comes from the middle of the 18th century or earlier, this makes some sense(?) -Steve
  2. To me it's no big deal. For years my violin has had a boxwood chinrest with ebony fittings (which I think looks worse than your setup) because I couldn't find a new ebony chinrest that felt as good as this old boxwood one I found in my local luthier's shop, in a style that nobody makes any more. I recently changed my playing position and found a different style of chinrest that worked better so did go with ebony but I would have been happy to keep the other one on there if it still worked for me. If this were my fiddle I suppose I'd swap out the chinrest at some point when I could afford it, but as far as it negatively impacting the way your performances are received, I can't image anyone caring. I think since you're the person who looks at it close up every day, it will be more noticeable to you than anyone else. -Steve
  3. I think I'd recommend learning to code in abc; it's not difficult and it's the most versatile format. This way the user would only have to deal with a small text file and could use a reader like BarFly to convert it to standard notation or play it, or an online service like the Concertina.net Tune-O-Tron Converter to generate a pdf or midi file. There's a good abc tutorial here. -Steve
  4. In my opinion it's bad reasoning to assume that just because we think any particular performance style is beautiful, the ancients felt the same way. At any rate, this is a little later era than you're asking about but Leopold Mozart wrote the following in his School for Acquiring Knowledge of the Violin, in 1756: "There are some players who tremble at every note, as if they had a chronic fever. One should use the tremolo (vibrato) only in those places where Nature herself would produce it." Yes the technique was known, but apparently it was mostly used as a special effect, and the intensity of the vibrato used was much less than what's typical today. Here's an interesting (IMO) page on standingstones.com that has quotes from players from various eras on use of vibrato. -Steve
  5. ConcertA: No No No! Part of the fun of this tune and others like it comes from the cross-string bowing, and no self-respecting fiddler would ever go up to a higher position if it's possible to play a passage in 1st . YF, I agree with Simon, you seem to be on the right track. When I play this tune I stay on the strings with no bouncing, and I also tend to play slightly below the middle [edit: make that slightly ABOVE the middle, sorry] although where you place the bow will depend somewhat on your bow's balance point. I think Simon's comment about a relaxed bow grip is key. Good luck -Steve
  6. Sorry, didn't mean to repeat John's post! I need to refresh my browser window more often! -Steve
  7. Here's an excerpt from the Silicon Glen website that explains it: Waulking Waulking is a process for fulling Harris tweed (making it more airtight). The word 'waulking' is a Scots word from the 14th century meaning the same as "full" in English. The waulking process not only fulls the tweed but also shrinks it slightly. Name Origins The term "waulking" was coined by a non-Gaelic speaker who saw a waulking done by the feet and modified the word "walking". Waulkings were done by both hand and foot, but more usually by hand. The Gaelic name for waulking songs is "Orain Luaidh", luaidh translates to "full". In Scotland, waulking was done exclusively by women whereas in Cape Breton both men and women did it - waulking is often seen in Cape Breton at "milling frolics". complete article here. Blazin' Fiddles are great, one of my favorite Scottish instrumental groups. I don't usually like bands with more than a couple fiddles (BF have 5 if I remember correctly) but I love these guys; their arrangements transcend the typical muddle of several fiddlers playing together. All of them are great musicians individually, and playing together they're wonderful. They have a second album out now, "The Old Style", which is also excellent; I can't decide which of the two I like more. -Steve
  8. My understanding is that it's called a Schottische because the music was inspired by the Scottish strathspey, although the dance is more like a Polka than any Scottish dance! Being popular in Europe, it eventually made its way to Scotland, so to add to the confusion there's a Scottish version (a Scottish Schottische?), which utlizes some Highland setting steps. My Scottish dance group worked on one of these last week; it's a lot of fun! Nice job on the tune, Bud. -Steve
  9. JGirlViola, James McKean, in the Strings Magazine Guide to Common Sense Instrument Care says: "Be sure when you wind the strings around the peg that you do not let them bunch up against the peg box wall. Some people are taught to do this as a trick to help the pegs to hold; it is actually a good way to cause a crack in the peg box. With its taper, the peg is like a wedge, and winding the string in this manner just forces it deeper in the hole, eventually forcing the wood to give way." -Steve
  10. There's an interesting article explaining this image and how it was obtained here. -Steve
  11. Those old Gibson A's are great instruments; I almost bought a nice old 1900s A-2 at one point, but decided to stick with my Ibanez A-model clone. Of all the mandolins I've played, my favorite was a 'teens Gibson F-4 I found at a guitar show. I couldn't put that thing down; it was a joy to play. Unfortunately I only had a few hundred dollars in the bank account... ah, well. -Steve
  12. I've played mando in the past but have had to set it aside due to limited practice time. Violin was my first instrument, then guitar, so the first time I picked up a mandolin I was playing tunes on it in a couple minutes. Like Fubbi I played in more of a fiddle style than a true mandolin style, but it was still a lot of fun! I definitely recommend it to any fiddlers looking to pick up a 2nd instrument. -Steve
  13. Well I must say that coming to Scottish fiddling after a number of years of classical lessons, I've had to become more aware of my vibrato and concentrate on toning it down. A level of vibration which nobody would think twice about in a symphony orchestra often comes across as pretentious and out of place in folk fiddling so it has forced me to concentrate to make my vibrato a conscious rather than unconscious habit, and to find alternate ways of producing tone color and expression. The longer I work on this, the more I'm impressed by people like Shetland fiddler Jennifer Wrigley who, while using essentially no vibrato, can still be incredibly emotive (OTOH I am also impressed by Alasdair Fraser who was classically trained and in my opinion strikes an excellent balance between classical and folk technique). -Steve
  14. For what it's worth, Leopold Auer wrote the following in "Violin Playing as I Teach It," published in 1921, speaking of violinists who in his opinion overused vibrato: "[T]heir own appreciation of musical values ought to tell them how false is the notion that vibration, whether in good or bad taste, adds spice and flavor to their playing...their musical taste (or what does service for them in place of it) does not tell them that they can reduce a programme of the most dissimilar pieces to the same level of monotony by peppering them all with the tabasco of a continuous vibrato." and further: "In any case, remember that only the most sparing use of the vibrato is desirable; the too generous employment of the device defeats the purpose for which you use it. The excessive vibrato is a habit for which I have no tolerance, and I always fight against it when I observe it in my pupils--though often, I must admit, without success. As a rule I forbid my students using the vibrato at all on notes which are not sustained, and I earnestly advise them not to abuse it even in the case of sustained notes which succeed each other in a phrase." -Steve
  15. Well, in my local B&N I'd look under "Celtic" and "Ireland" (I can't figure out why they have 2 separate categories; I'm guessing they haven't figured out that one is a subset of the other), then check in "Scotland" just in case they misfiled it, then not finding it there I'd go home and order it from CDNow.com! Maybe you'll have better luck though... -Steve
  16. Dave, it's just called "Lunasa" -Steve
  17. Hey, I just wanted to thank the posters that recommended the Teka rest. I finally got around to ordering one from Shar and now that I have it fitted, I'm finding it a lot easier to keep my violin in the correct position with no shoulder pad (my previous chin rest was similar to a Vermeer). I wondered whether or not this rest would fit on a violin with a high arch and it turns out that I did need to build up the cork in order to clear the tailpiece, but I really like the results! -Steve
  18. In reply to: Oh? Do tell, do tell! Where did you get them? route19, the book I got is Fiddlecase Books' reproduction of Marshall's tunebooks, titled William Marshall's Scottish Melodies. It's not quite a complete collection of Marshall's works; it contains all three of his tunebooks (1781, 1822, 1845) and one leaflet (Kinrara, 1800) but is apparently missing at least one other leaflet. Still, it's the most complete collection of his tunes available. Unfortunately Fiddlecase Books chose a size for the collection that reproduces the original tunebooks' pages at less than half size (its dimensions are something like 5.5 x 8.5"), and since the printing of some of the original pages wasn't all that great to start with, it's a little difficult to read. Still, I'm happy to have it, being a huge William Marshall fan! As far as availability goes I don't know if this collection is still in print or not; it has a 1978 publication date and I had a difficult time finding a copy but finally tracked it down at Elderly Instruments for about $12 (about $17 with shipping). -Steve
  19. Ifshins is my favorite local shop but I stopped going there on Saturdays after getting a $40 parking ticket because I severely underestimated the time it would take to get helped (the "meter maids" in that area are brutal)! It actually sounds like you got quite a bit done in your hour there. Now I'm curious to stop by and try out Michael's fiddles! -Steve
  20. In reply to: I'd also include Haste to the Wedding, Mrs. Gordon of Liverpool (William Marshall, my favorite Scottish tunesmith)... D'oh! In looking through a reproduction of Marshall's original tunebooks which I received yesterday I realized that the tune I know as Mrs. Gordon of Liverpool is really Miss Gordon of Park! Turns out the author of the tunebook I learned it from had the titles reversed; I guess it's understandable since they're both Marshall jigs! The former is a 9/8 jig which I'm interested to learn now! -Steve
  21. I agree with Calliope House; I'd also include Haste to the Wedding, Mrs. Gordon of Liverpool (William Marshall, my favorite Scottish tunesmith), and The Lawland Lads Think They are Fine somewhere in this list. -Steve
  22. <Bump!> I saw a promo for this during the Perlman Lincoln Center program. Looks like it could be really interesting! -Steve
  23. Actually I tend to do most of my performances in a kilt but as I play Scottish fiddle, it's appropriate! -Steve
  24. I suppose my first instrument was a toy drum kit, on which at the age of 3 I used to accompany my father who was an accomplished boogie-woogie piano player! Not counting rhythm band in kindergarten, where we used to play wood blocks, maraccas & etc. while marching around in time to phonograph records, my first real instrument was the piano; I took a year or so of lessons in 3rd grade before switching to violin in 4th grade. -Steve
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