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Everything posted by Steve_W

  1. Hello. Didn't we have this conversation once before? It sounds very familiar... At any rate, after much searching I recently found a copy of the out-of-print DunGreen Collection so looked this up there. The one in the DunGreen collection listed as King George (V) is the one posted on The Session, but according to Kate, different fiddlers know it under different names. The version in DunGreen is from the playing of Alex Gillis, and he simply called it "King George" as did Joan MacDonald Boes, Willy Kennedy and Mary MacDonald. However Carl MacKenzie recorded it under the name "Old King George Strathspey", Buddy MacMaster recorded it as "Old King's Strathspey"; Brenda Stubbert recorded it as King George V, and Natalie MacMaster recorded it as King George (V)! Not sure this answers your question but I hope it's of some help! -Steve Oh, meant to mention, Banzai, if you'd like a scan of the relevant pages from DunGreen, PM me with your e-mail address. -Steve
  2. The consensus here seems to be that wound E strings may be the lazy player's solution to curing this issue but they work well for getting rid of the whistle. I don't think anybody has mentioned the Pirastro No. 1 E, which is my current favorite. Quick break-in, works with a wide range of string sets. I've used the Kaplan Solutions successfully however find that it seems to have a longer break-in period; the last one I put on seemed harsh-sounding for at least a couple weeks (with Infeld Reds), and I would have swapped it out if I'd had the time between performances to break in a new string. When I was finally ready to get rid of it, I realized it was blending well with the set, so I've left it on!
  3. Yes, many fiddlers who play this music are unschooled in violin techniques (or classical technique, anyway) yet still manage to put together a powerful interpretation. It's definitely "music for the people!" BTW, many people think that this style represents an older style of Scottish fiddling, since the first migration of Scots to Cape Breton was from the Highlands and Islands prior to the 1790s which was the heyday of Scottish fiddling (the Gows, William Marshall, Mackintosh and all those guys...). It has other influences (Irish, French Canadian) but Scottish is the main one, so I'd definitely call it "Celtic!"
  4. Cape Breton fiddle style is all about the dance. The things they do that don't seem like good technique make a lot of sense in context. They use short, heavy strokes of the bow in order to get a percussive sound which helps the dancers. They tend to use a lot of bow pressure and play loudly, since they need to be heard over the dancers, and they don't use much in the way of dynamics even in the slow airs. Many of them use a flattened left hand which they say aids in achieving the 4th finger ornaments they do, but limits their ability to move up and down the neck somewhat. They do a lot of droning, both to imitate pipes and to increase the volume. They also often use a "non-western" scale that uses a C that's midway between natural and sharp (often called "C super-natural") which comes from the highland pipe scale, (that sounds out of tune to a classical player) and they tend to throw in "wild notes" that don't belong to the key the tune's in that also comes from the old highland stuff. It's often not "pretty" music but it's a kick to dance to. Buddy was popular in his day because his style was so great for dancing; he was a powerful fiddler who could play for hours at a time and play hundreds of tunes from memory in an evening. Even though he's lost a step or two, he can still put out the tunes, and he's still popular for what he represents, and because he's a grand gentleman! Natalie MacMaster, on the other hand, has transcended the genre somewhat; she's had lessons in proper classical technique and does a lot of LH and RH stuff that most of the CB fiddlers can't do. Some of the locals grumble that she's moved on from CB style but she's still quite popular there. Her stuff's a lot more accessible to a non-CB enthusiast and might be somewhere for you to start if you're trying to learn more about the style, Allan. At any rate, her "In My Hands" was the recording that first got me interested in the style, and "My Roots are Showing" is another good one, more traditional. If you're interested in Buddy's recordings, I'd say go with Judique on the Floor (an older recording done in the 80s), or The Judique Flyer (from 2000). You should be able to find these fairly easily online. -Steve
  5. Banzai, have you read Arnold Steinhardt's recent book "Violin Dreams"? You might enjoy reading about his challenges with the Chaconne. It comes with a CD that has 2 different versions of him playing the piece, recorded early in his career and recently, and it's fascinating to listen to how his interpretation has changed. At any rate, I think I know what you're going through; I picked up the music for the sonatas and partitas when I was in high school, and after struggling with even the "simplest" movements was about ready to give up! (35 years later I'm still playing and still don't feel ready to tackle the Chaconne!) Keep persevering! Also, are you aware of the Violin Masterclass website? It has lots of video explanations of techniques that might be helpful.
  6. In my experience Tonicas & Dominants work similarly on my violins. I think the Tonicas have a bit more complexity of sound under the ear, but it's likely nothing that would be evident to listeners. (I did find that Thomastik uses larger ball ends than Pirastro, but that information is probably only useful to players who use a Pusch tailpiece with integrated fine tuners... Pirastro strings fit; Thomastik not so well!) -Steve
  7. Is this a microfiber cleaning cloth? What I do with mine is periodically soak it in isopropyl alcohol for a while then rinse it out in water and let dry. Gets rid of all the stickiness. -Steve
  8. Hmm, I think the color balance in your second photo is WAY off...
  9. A belated thank you to everyone who responded on his thread. The measurements do fall into the range that skiingfiddler posted, and I finally had a chance to take the instrument back to its maker this week for a checkup. After a bunch of measuring he said the violin was to his specifications, and was pleased to see that nothing had shifted in its 6-year life! He did move the soundpost slightly rearward and that made a subtle but positive change in the fiddle's tone. He said that in his experience, the shop I initially took it to, and particularly the guy I spoke with, has a tendency to badmouth any fiddle that they didn't make or sell... I suppose I should have been suspicious of that assessment in the first place but they have a very good reputation in this area!
  10. This is likely apocryphal but I read somewhere that Mozart's son used to tease his father by playing a melody on the piano but stopping before the resolution. This bothered Wolfgang so much that he would come running into the room from wherever he was in the house to play the final chord...
  11. quote: Originally posted by: PhilipG Funny, but you reminded me of my situation. I have finally (at least I believe) found the right spot for a sound post for a violin I picked up on eBay about a year and half ago, a Schweitzer copy. The instrument appears to be incredibly vibrant, even with Correlli Crystal strings, which I believe are supposed to be somewhat tame. I am now wondering what the instrument would sound like if I put Dominants on them or, as I would like to try, Infeld Reds. Having an instrument as vibrant as this seems to be, trying a different set of strings would be a neat experiment. Perhaps costly, but then, to be able to find a set of strings that would really make the instrument stand out that much more, would be worth it. Huh, that's the first time I've heard a "Schweitzer" described as being vibrant, which is a word that I think of as having more pleasant connotations than I'd use for the tone of those fiddles! My Schweitzer copy screams like a banshee with most synthetics; it's loud but not pretty! Infeld Reds didn't do anything for the sound, and Dominants and Tonicas were OK but not as good as the Corelli Crystals, which is what I'm currently using. The other strings that sounded decent on it were Pirastro Gold Labels so maybe Passione's are a way to go, but I don't think I'd waste high-priced strings on it... Maybe yours is better than mine, though!
  12. Irish - I wouldn't go with the Krassen edition; all that added ornamentation just gets in the way. Get the reprint of the original. Scottish/CB/etc.: I have a bunch of tunebooks and the ones I use the most are Jerry Holland's 2 books, the Athole collection, the Mel Bay reprint of Ryan's Mammoth (it has a great selection of hornpipes and clogs in particular), and Carlin's "Gow Collection of Scottish Dance Music". For Cape Breton tunes I've also found some great stuff in Cranford's Winston Fitzgerald collection, and if you can find a copy of the DunGreen book, it's excellent (but long out of print and nearly impossible to find--supposedly a revised edition is coming out soon, although it's been coming out soon for about 5 years now...) ABC notation is great; I use JC's tunefinder and Andrew Kunz's Fiddler's Companion sites a lot. The only problem is that it doesn't allow you to browse! -Steve
  13. I played a friend's new Diamond SX over the weekend and liked it a lot. I prefer my Arcus Sinfonia, which is basically the only bow I've used since I got it about 3 years ago (I love that bow; you'd have an easier time getting me to give up any of my fiddles than the Arcus), but I found the Coda to be immediately comfortable which was a bit of a surprise since I usually have a momentary adjustment period with a different bow (because of the light weight and slightly different balance point of the Arcus). The Diamond was a little springier than the Arcus; it took a fraction longer to settle down on the strings when going from off- to on-string bowing, but it was very controllable and I knew I'd have no trouble performing with it. It had a really nice response and gave a great sound. Considering it was less than half the price of the Arcus I thought it was a good deal; I'd definitely consider one of these for a backup bow.
  14. Thanks Craig, I think I'll take it to another shop and get a second opinion before I take it up with the maker. The only complaint I've had with this violin is that it's a touch on the bright side, and my original intent on taking it in to these guys was to sit down with one of their people and see what the effect of moving the soundpost around a bit might have on the tone. I was somewhat taken aback to hear there might be major issues with it since it's a fairly new instrument by a well-trained and decent luthier! I wondered about the soundpost comment as well; I assumed that the comment had something to do with the position. The main point seemed to be that the angle of the neck was wrong, and that the G string was too far off the fingerboard, but as I said, I don't notice this in playing...
  15. When I took my good fiddle into my local shop for a minor adjustment a couple days ago, the guy looked at it and said that he was surprised I could play it because the neck angle (overstand?) was too low. Not only that, he said, the fingerboard was scooped too much, particularly on the G string side, the bridge was a mm or so too low, and the soundpost was a bit short. Although I'd noticed this instrument was a bit difficult to play in comparison to a couple of my other instruments, I hadn't experienced any major problems (probably mainly because the music I play isn't too technically demanding, and I also play guitar and have a lot of finger strength). However this shop has a lot of professional clients and does a high volume of business and I'm sure they know what they're talking about. At any rate, when I asked what it would cost to correct these issues the guy quoted an approximate price but said that since this instrument was made recently by another local luthier, they wouldn't touch it, and to take it back to him. They've gotten into contentious situations before, including one maker threatening to sue them because of something they corrected on one of his violins. OK, I see their point although it's inconvenient for me... Anticipating some discussion on this with the maker, I'd like to be more informed on what a typical range of measurements for overstand, bridge height, string height off the fingerboard should be. Can anyone give me these measurements? This violin is based on the Strad Milanolo model. Thanks -Steve
  16. Integrated fine tuners can be very handy in performance situations where you may need to make quick minor adjustments in tuning--though possibly more so in fiddling than in classical playing because of the more frequent use of open strings. I have Wittner Ultras installed on 3 of my 4 violins (using synthetic strings) and really like them. The Ultra replaced an Ebony Pusch tailpiece with integrated tuners on my main violin, a good bench-made Strad copy, and made a significant difference in its tone, which was a bit dull with the Pusch and is now somewhat brighter. Edit--back to the original topic, I don't have experience with Evah's but I've used Pirastro Obligatos and Tonicas with fine tuners with no problems (not to mention Thomastik Dominants & Infelds and Corelli Crystals).
  17. Thanks Marie for bringing this thread back to the top again. Here are 3 of my favorites--they're older and I doubt any are still in print but copies of all 3 are available through abebooks.com: Travels With My Cello - Julian Lloyd Weber--this guy is a heck of a raconteur; very entertaining reading! Music Talks: Conversations with Musicians - Helen Epstein (this one has nice articles on Dorothy DeLay, the Juilliard Quartet, and Yo-yo Ma, among others) Quartet: A Profile of the Guarneri Quartet - Helen Drees Ruttencutter (an expansion of an article that appeared in the New Yorker around 1978-9; really great writing.) PS, I agree absolutely with the recommendation of Body and Soul. I found a beat-up paperback copy several years ago and have read it at least a half-dozen times (and had to replace it with another copy). Definitely one of my favorites, even if it is about a pianist!
  18. Here's the link to the article: Violin taken in subway is reunited with owner. What a nightmare; nice to see the violin reunited with its owner! -Steve
  19. "If you transpose from Bb major (two flats) to G major (one sharp), then you have transposed it UP a sixth. It means that you are raising all the notes by six notes. (You know this by counting: Bb to G is six, because you count 1B 2C 3D 4E 5F 6G = 6). " Don't forget, when transposing you can either go up or down! I like to go the direction with the smallest interval then adjust by an octave later if needed. Maybe because I originally learned to read music on the piano rather than the violin, I find it simpler to think in terms of 11 semitones to an octave rather than 8 notes to a scale, so that Bb to G is either 8 semitones up or 3 down. This way you don't have to worry about intervals between notes, modes, or anything else; you just count the same number of semitones up or down for every note you're transposing.
  20. Typically you'd look at the range of your piece and decide where you want it to fall on your instrument, then figure out the key it needs to be in based on that range, and how many steps you need to move the notes to get there from the original key. A key wheel like this one might help you with figuring out the individual notes. A lot of the music publishing software programs will do this for you. I use BarFly for working with tunes in abc code and Sibelius for more complicated music projects, and both of those handle transposition with the click of a button. Sibelius goes further and alerts you if anything in your tune is outside of the range of the instrument you've specified. for your score! I hope this helps -Steve
  21. I think Jen got this from a post I made on another forum, and I heard it from the CBMusic mailing list, confirmed through a friend who's a friend of his, and others. At any rate, the latest news (as of last weekend) is that Jerry didn't have his leg amputated last Friday as expected; instead they removed a piece of bone and reinforced the area with a steel plate, so that's good news. However they determined that this was not the primary site of his cancer and they're still not sure where it is, so further testing is required... This is all information that's on the website that Jen linked to above. -Steve
  22. $1500 puts it right in the middle of the Arcus range, close to the Sinfonia. That's not outlandish, for a good CF bow. But although I know several other Arcus players, I don't know anybody who has tried the Yamaha...
  23. Does anyone have any experience with Shar's Ultra Light Music Stand? I've been curious about this one and it looks like it might fit Lymond's requirements. -Steve
  24. Yeah, no kidding! Sounds like a great trip. I'm surprised nobody else has contributed to this thread, so I'll chime in to bump it up although my plans aren't too exciting. As a dance fiddler, the Summer is mostly down time for me since most of the groups I play for are on Summer break, so it's a chance to regroup and work on my "chops", hopefully learn some new tunes, etc. I'll probbly fiddle for a few performances at Scottish games, then off to Boston in early August to attend the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School; that'll be my first time in that part of the country and I'm looking forward to it, hopefully getting some time to see the sights as well. I'm looking for venues where I might hear Irish or Cape Breton music there (or orchestral or chamber music for that matter), if anyone has any suggestions...
  25. I've always liked Arnold Gingrich's "A Thousand Mornings of Music" which I've read probably a half-dozen times over the years. Gingrich was the founder and publisher of Esquire Magazine. In his 60s he developed a passion for the violin (which he'd played as a child but had given up as a young adult) and this book relates his experiences with playing and collecting violins. He owned some really nice instruments (including an early Strad) and through his connections had the opportunity to play some of the most famous violins. His writing about his collecting experiences gives anyone who dreams of owning a great violin a vicarious thrill. This book was published in 1970 and is apparently long out of print but was fairly widely distributed so should be relatively easy to find--I see Amazon has a few used copies. -Steve
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