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Posts posted by Baiorin

  1. Measures 4, 5, 6 (complete measures)? You bring up a very fine point.

    Find a comfortable chair and grab something to drink. Join the club. Practiced it; don't have the nerve to perform it.

    Note: to really simplify harmonic analysis skills, especially for these types of show pieces, look to see what notes the piano is NOT playing and those are usually the choice melodic notes that the composer has willed the soloist (or melody). Of course this is a gross over-simplification, but for the amount of time we put in playing these pieces, it's worth examining. For example, in complete measure 4, the f, f#, and b are a nice way to start the second part of the phrase. Also a great rationale for any violist overplaying chamber music with others stomping all over your beautifully colorfully notes - it's a pretty safe bet the others can't read the clef.

    I have no answers, but philosophically, played (or practiced) solo, the up-bows are more naturally accented in my own playing because this opus is built on the articulation of these spicattos and I am not a sophisticated enough player to make the adjustment of smoothing out the contour of the rise and fall of the phrase (the lowest being the a - for the minor quality - and the highest being a b which gives us the bright 3rd of the most fairest sounding of keys, the great G major, though Schubert might argue this).

    With a pianist playing a piano, if both are metronomically accurate (sorta boring) the notes "on the beat" may be a bit (or greatly) masked by a pianist's right-hand touch. One would probably have to bring out these note to overcome the volume of the piano, if the violinist's notes were played precisely on top of those chords. So then what type of accent do we choose? Dynamic? Tonal? Pitch?

    None of the above works, sometimes. We tend to practice these passages rhythmically square, but our heart tells us that the musical phrase is a bit drunk with the affections of Herr Doktor and his whims. Perhaps the theosophical point is that the rhythm is one that is allowed to ebb and flow, racing downward and slowing at the peaks while the most courteous accompanist paves a most stable road. Sorta a stylistically baroque issue, as to the color of the bowstroke. Which brings us back to the original question...

    My sincere opinion is that besides a little bit of that push on the down bows (if desired, up bow if not) to overcome the pianist' right hand, the contour of the phrase is likely the more musical issue. At the micro-level, the distinctions between the ups-downs are less crucial than playing thorough the arc of the 2nd phrase. If I had the technical control, the choice would be to play each note like the next, but would rather change the tonal color gradually through the crescendo possibly with a slight drift over the established pulse. It's the audible burn and warmth, like that of spices or alcohol in food. The change in articulation during the crescendo will help exaggerate the contrast of "the most elegant" un-accented down bow slur of measure 7 (on the down beat no less, in G major) followed by the horrific recycling of hair at the frog "because I've run out of bow trying to play 10 successive up-bows," creating a bloodbath of inept barking instead of simply re-state the primary melodic theme. Our most affectionate and snickering composer slams the door on us mortals, by leaving out the pianist (also snickering) at this crucial point, exposing the audience to a tired violinist plucking out a charming melody with the ferrule.

    In discussions with personal friends, we mostly agree that this work is not so much about the notes we play, but the managing of the silences between the notes. Other pieces are so much more about the shaping of the legato phrase and connecting notes with dripping vibrato and less-subtle, throbbing, but sexy bow changes. The one capable of negotiating (and controlling) the sonic range of white heat to audible darkness and everything else in between is the technically great musician. In the meantime, I enjoy practicing this piece because it sounds nice.

    - - - - - - - -

    This work and the last fiery movement of the very popular Mendelssohn violin concerto, are examples of pieces that truly benefit from trying different bows or violins. These are pieces that force players either to improve by locating brilliance within an instrument, or to find new girlfriends/boyfriends or wives/husbands (or pets). Empirical evidence suggests that a new bow is generally the cheaper option.

  2. A digression: Regarding tuning most stringed instrument, each player who has taken time to truly listen to what occurs to a particular instrument may notice that biasing (sharp/flat, tighter/looser) a small amount maybe necessary as playing - and the environment - are dynamic things, especially at the limits. In the shop or at home, constant adjustments are possible, but on-stage with pieces like the Bruch g minor, Berg or Khatchaturian, there should be a game plan prepared for the player. I tend to sharp, which is no-nonsense, though there are those (old school) who tune to absolute "rock solid" 5ths, then sharpen the G-string by pushing down on (squeezing) the string behind the nut a variable amount. These are often players who use or used to use gut-core strings. I did this for several decades in orchestral playing, but tired of it, and the others in a quartet were simply annoyed by the repetitive action if there was a lot of open G or C work. Intuitively, one would use less graphite on the G/C-string at the nut.

    Just a few meandering comments. And for the record, I do not adjust afterlength on visiting instruments unless suggested.

    Mr Martin's experience/experiment at the afterlength is what has been mostly observed. On instruments that have a harsher top-end in the octave above the open e-string, if the afterlengths are dead on pitch, a little bit of that tonal harshness is taken off. Switching from Westminster to a Pirastro Gold may have the same tonal effect on some instruments. There must be some (undesired) energy being absorbed into the afterlength? Or the player is able and willing to shape string tone. Several years ago, a quiet but brilliant man taught me how to make tiny - single string - bridges of harder woods and we would move these tiny bridges (like those on a koto or a chinese harp) along the tailpiece (must drill additional holes for strings). This was an adaptation from the use of the non-pointy end of toothpicks that would be slid on to the tailpiece to sharpen the D/G-string afterlength to lock in on pitch. Anyway, I believe the effects are "audible and felt" by the sensitive player and to - at least - immediate bunk or in-mates, but not so much off-stage (though I believe that a more pure tone appears to carry further into the Hall than a harsher/unevenly-distorted one). But let me put this into perspective: If one practices with a relaxed, right-hand grip (hands, period), the audible benefits are mostly about the same?!? So much of getting an instrument "to sing," is literally in the player's hands. Thus the mis-information about "some players" being able to make any (though they can make many) instrument sound good.

    As a player and teacher, the confidence of the student is crucial (mine, especially). I'd rather the students play well (heard as: Full) in the upper octaves. If their perception is that of harsh or harsh-er sound, they will back off, especially if "practice" is in a tiny practice room or apartment. Students should play at least for a short time at performance volumes to develop a better understanding of the mechanics of the hands and arms (as strange things can happen when physically tired or emotionally charged). Of course, softer rosins can help too (seasonally). One teacher/artist i knew practiced with an un-rosined bow, and swear that it was like watching a TV with the sound turned off. It was clearly "audible" visibly what was being musically expressed. Maybe I do tinker too much, but we (on the whole) are a neurotic bunch. So "tuning" the afterlength - for that matter, attention to what occurs behind the bridge - is a valuable tool, but that process does require some precision, and time, because restoring the "original" sound or feel, at least psychologically to the player, might not be possible.

    For those of us who are miked at the bridge (via Countryman, BPM, lavalier-style/type microphones) or play a lot of harmonically complex compositions in a chamber setting, the afterlength set to its functional maximum and then tuned to non-pitches might be something important (as well as tiny "foam/rubber" dampers to keep the afterlength from ringing). Usually these amplified instruments are not expensive or exotics, but ones that travel well. To avoid anomalies through the sound system, higher output and response, that is reasonably well-behaved is desired at the bridge. In a chamber setting, often the other players are the ones who complain if an instrument rings too well. No wonder it's so difficult in keeping groups together. String players ring better in the keys of a few sharps of flats (Bb,F,C,G,D,A Major, plus associated minor keys and modes). When we are asked to play expressively in more complex keys, certain notes might be biased acoustically. If the afterlength is set, then it can make this situation worse. Less than 10 percent of the players out there have this issue.

    Has there been an argument for or against integrated tuners yet?

  3. Most chinrests are geared towards a more square (masculine) jaw-line as it has been more difficult to fit those with a more characteristically feminine jaw-line who would like to play a flatter violin. Offset or centered chinrests also can shift the load/angle of the violin, which might be a consideration.

    There are obviously many factors in placing a violin or viola on to the upper body. As a beginner, each teacher will have or offer a priority as to the best position for the player - based on the method of teaching - and the student will have to trust (at the mercy of...) the instinct of that teacher and possibly friends who are players. The only assurance I offer is that elements of playing get easier (comfortable), than more difficult, and the process is often cyclical. Some would argue it is a waste of time. I would argue that it is worth adapting one's playing or technique to a better tool, if the differences in performance are significant. For beginners, it's mostly about getting things right. I too have challanges everyday, not perhaps with the early Kayser or Kruetzer exercises, but with fast down shifts, and certainly in developing fine tone production. *cough* *cough*

    The Bon Musica shoulder rest is an interesting example of trying to make a reasonable object do too many things. I'm glad it's in the marketplace, yet because it is what it is, it can have quite a few limitations for some players. I've fit dozens and it's not the easiest thing to do in many instances. If there is an idealized position available, you're certainly ahead of the game (and the minor details of that position will probably be temporary, relative to the years you'll put into playing). If one is good and practices on occasion with a mirror, check the posture to see if the right arm is independent of the main body throughout the bow stroke. If one sways or there is a variation to that bow stroke, the shoulder rest will need to be tweaked (flatter)to accomodate for that movement. The other way to ease into a Bon Musica (once it is semi-adjusted) is to lower the shoulder rest a bit - being careful not to hit the back of the violin under compression - and to put in a sponge or a folded cloth to give the player and the shoulder rest a little flexibility. The strip of foam is nice, but inadequate for some players.

    Which leads to the main comment I wanted to add. This is not to be an endorsement for the Alexander Method, but the principle is important. The posture of the body needs to be vertical enough, or that there is enough dynamic movement (if this is acceptable), that the head is supported comfortably by the spine. The body needs to be able to support the head enough that the load on the chinrest is not a large amount. Maybe from dabbling in baroque styles or from playing so many instruments with differently-styled chinrests, I do like it (how it sounds), when it's not necessary to put too much pressure on the chinrest. Of course, on that rapid down shift down the fingerboard, the chin needs to compress abit to avoid losing the violin entirely to the left hand. So there are three points of contact with the violin, but the more flexible (not necessarily better) a player gets, the smaller and looser that contact might become. I'm always amazed to see fiddlers rest the violin half way down their chests, some near the sternum. They play the violin as if they were golfing, with both elbows close, in front, and forearms nearly parallel.

  4. In reading the Patricia and Allen Strange book on contemporary violin techniques there's a lot of craziness out there in compositional intent, looping, time/space transport across galaxies. The "best" resource means comprehensive? I believe books by both Kurt Stone and David Cope? are often referenced, but they are pricey. There are two great University libraries close by so I tend to go there for research. But I do agree with WW to some degree. If there is a composer that specializes in a particular technique or sound, it would make sense to follow that provenance.

    Finale and Sibelius are both reasonably comprehensive notation software packages, but do not include esoteric markings. Most music fonts that are available with these software packages have a look that is a little wimpy. At one point, you'll have to purchase a copy of some vector graphics software, like Adobe Illustrator to create wilder markings. I've over-laid notation (and violin pictures/forms) using Illustrator, because certain markings aren't avaiable.

  5. Would anyone know who originated the used of shallow pins into partially drilled backs? The pin is clearly visible through the wood, but the pins do not protrude/penetrate past the surface.

  6. ... Did you find the Tonerite just didn't do anything? What were your observations? I have been wondering about those. ...

    Taking apart a cellphone and using that little offset motor/vibrator (and slaving it to a controller) will probably be more effective than what is currently commercially available, as the designs are not so creative. But for the price, it might loosen up a very tight instrument. Otherwise, it works as rather expensive and large mute. Playing the violin when the TR is on (warning: kids, don't try this at home) is a little fun. It's like driving around in a car with four little "donut" spares on instead of the real wheels/tires. Is it worth the hassle? Probably not. It's not milk-out-the-nose funny.

    Prof Noon would be the best person to provide pre- and post-treatment metrics.

    For a busy Mom-n-Pop store, the TR sips the wattage/hr, equivalent of a aquarium air pump, so it's cheaper than trying to get staff to prep/play the instrument. Pays for itself after the sale of a used Gliga. It is very likely to be effective in settling amateur set-ups.

    IN All seriousness, there must be shops/players using these to great satisfaction. I am glad it exists.

  7. Hello everyone, couldn't resist this topic...


    To my knowledge, there simply is no way for an exporter to get up-to-date information RE importing a piece of maple wood to all the countries in the world.

    From the practical standpoint, the only reliable way to resolve this problem is if the purchaser calls a local office in his own country and finds out the latest before ordering.

    The difficulty with any bureaucracy is getting the proper information. Finding out, and check-listing the certification requirements are the responsibility of the the importer. If the exporter is large scale, they will most likely know how to "qualify" or meet the standards of the certification. Large scale companies hire Bax and other drayage companies for this type of operation. If the exporter is a small scale operation, AND they export regularly to a large market, it would make sense that it is in their best interest to know how to qualify that certification. The difficulty is that if a small scale operation has been operating without many import/export hassles, they are not likely willing to spend time/money to meet any requirements. Some shipments, no matter who the shipper is, will get stopped. I paid $1k for a FedEx overnight package for company prototypes to Canada, and it sat in customs for 2 days. Soon after, I became an ex-FedEx user because I was told that there would not be any problems

    In addition, I'm not fond of fumigation or baking. But what are the choices?

    I've thought about wood shipment/container co-ops, where individuals will "park" the wood in an EU lumber yard (I know of a good place in Germany), somewhere, and two bulk shipments a year are planned. That way, everything is certified/treated and it arrives without too many export/import problems. Once here, it can distributed however. Also, there are many fine makers with wood of grades they would never use. I'd love to have some access to these boards for myself or others. With the price that's paid for the wood plus shipping, a maker of domestic origin might make a reasonable, if not crazy, profit. I have seen AA tops of German origin go for substantially more than when it was acquired.

  8. I'm curious to know, when a bow is stored away or put to rest (controlled environment, OK)do the majority of you let off the tension to floppy loose or slight tension? Slight tension is what I was taught at the age of 10. Slight tension is what I notice on other peoples bows, in person and in photos.


    The orientation of the bow at rest might matter for some situations/price. For inexpensive bows, leave it out in a bright area for a day outside of direct sunlight, lightly rosin to ferrule (then wipe most off), and slight tension helps keep the bits in place, and then bag/seal before returning to case.

    In a controlled environment, there shouldn't be very much shrinkage of the wedges. I'm not sure any tension is necessary. I back out the screw, prep it and leave it off (because most bows in storage are not in a controlled environment). Wipe the stick and check for any excess reactive materials or dirty cracks. I would store, but generally don't own "unplayed" or collectible bows, hair down.

    I would recommend taking the bow to a fine shop for the "once over" before a long sleep. I'm sure the charge would be nominal. They might catch something the owner might not.

    One serious collector keeps the sticks and frogs/screws in seperate cases. It might have started as an anti-theft thing but he swears that he enjoys looking at these parts. I do too. With out the prominent lines of the stick and the hair, a frog can have has many interesting details. It's pretty cool to take a peak inside a frog.

  9. Yes, Bairoin you make good observations and personally I must say other fine players have reported this type of experience to me with violins in particular... even with top end old Cremonese instruments that have been great until half way during a concert some time when they become muddy. ( in fact the grade of instrument seems not to matter) I think that the micro climate of an orchestra or around a soloist can become quite humid. The breath onto the bridge and into the F holes I believe has some effect here as can an increased level of perspiration associated with the effort of performance in some players. This is something to be considered in making and set up.

    Mr Goldsmith, thank you for your reply. It's taken me a day or to figure out how to respond.

    Because the effect is often temporary, humidity would be ideal suspect, as the timeline and proximity to the instrument appear to coincide (related to my experiences). Will have to think about this some more. Trying to think of an occasion and instrument where this had occurred in a shop. I appreciate the posting of your comments. Thank you again.

  10. ... I was surprised to find the varnish mostly worn away under the bridge feet. So how does this happen? I've seen this on older instruments but I was surprised that this happened so quickly on mine. In reality, the tension on the feet should be about the same as the top of the soundpost against the top plate, shouldn't it? Are the bridge feet moving ever so slightly and wearing the varnish away? If it is, is it possible that the soundpost could be moving ever so slightly as well? I'm asking because I honestly don't know why the varnish wears. ....

    Is it worn, or displaced? Glenn's points are the most obvioust to me. Unusual warmth this summer has caused quite a few problems in some states.

    It may depend on the player, but students can strike/bump a bridge and think nothing of it. They'd re-tune the violin and keep playing. At the lesson the instructor would re-center the bridge.

    The bridge, depending on the thickness and stiffness, rocks forward and back. I would think that this action would "wear" the varnish faster than the side-to-side (which you did not suggest). If the island is thicker, the arching would not distort that much on lower notes, but I can imagine on thinner islands that the bridge and top are not fully coupled during very active playing. I have certainly seen the "flattening" (displacement) of varnish under quite a few recent Italian instruments.

    This also brings up the issue of shoulder rest feet, as they will remove varnish too, but for more obvious reasons.

  11. According to Mr Swan, the "warm up" period takes a short amount time. This indicates a few things to me, and I have experienced this perception too. Please be patient.

    I'll only go into one example, but the frog and the mechanism is an interesting assembly. Older bows (and even new ones) have a myriad of alignment issues. From loose hair to the desired tightness, the frog most likely does not travel in a wonderful, predictable, linear motion. Why? for those less familiar with the interaction, the metal tends to win over wood and steel over brass over time. Also, older handmade or hand-filed screws can really do a number on the eyelet. The contact between the frog and the stick might be bad too, not to discount tolerance issues throughout the system. There are many issues with bows and Mr Noykos could probably put together a 100 point list for us. Basically, if the point hasn't been illustrated, it is a frog that is climbing and binding its way to the player's desired tension that is at issue.

    Because of this, there can be a delayed settling after the tension is set, and certainly after the player starts playing. Kids ask me why I back off their bows ( a 1/4 to 10th of a turn or so ) on occasion during a lesson, and it is because on less expensive bows, the frogs can and do bind. I'll tighten and re-relax if necessary.

    Anyway, dos centavos mas.

  12. A good stick should not loose camber from this amount of tension.

    For comparison, think about the number of hours in a day a stick will be fully tensioned for professional use/practice.

    I agree with you to a degree, but...

    To point, ideally if the player is infact playing, then the tension/action on the bow is dynamic. Static tension on a bow is worse.

    Kids sometimes -automatically - tighten the bow "x" number of times, not realizing the bow's was tightness/hair tension. This and a dry rehearsal hall may lead to tears.

  13. baiorin

    when your bow tightens do you feel like you have to work harder or easier at your vibrato?

    This is an unexpected question.

    Because I am more clumsy at articulating the musical intent with the right hand, the left hand can suffer a little bit. Focusing on relaxing until there is a multi-bar rest where the bow can be loosened without too much distraction is sometimes difficult if the passage has something like expressive arpeggios. If the instrument shakes, it can be a problem.

    Infact, trills during a quiet section (often in the middle movements or concerti) on the D-string can drive me nuts. Once the bow starts to tighten up, it can be more jumpy, and a fast left hand trill can set off chattering in the upper half of the bow. This is also a personal bad habit where I do let the bow glide along on these passages without much pressure or work in the right hand (good time - theoretically - to relax because there usually is a whopping musically contrasting movement/passage soon after). Moving towards the bridge minimizes the chattering, but it also brightens the tone.

  14. It's funny to think that GC Paramus is a mere hour from of one of the highest concentration of very fine bows (large city) in the world. I offer suggestions only because of the limitation of the gift certificate, though I agree with Mr Saunders' suggestion. My thinking is that, if a student were to spend an hour a day practicing, the "Return On Investement" is greater given a certain price. If they don't practice, then these bows listed below are probably fine.

    I have played many inexpensive composite bows from asia and will offer suggestions, but with conditions. I can't imagine GC having a very good stock of bows so definitely show a teacher or a better cellist the bow, as mentioned above. The quality is not always there. Even the finest of these alternate material bows have very subtle differences. At lower prices, the bows vary from "pretty ok" to "unplayable."

    Premiere Artist Model CF Bow

    Karl "welheim" Willhem CF Bows

    String Centre Fibreglas Bow

    Premiere Artist - can feel like a very low end Coda bow, which is a compliment. Many are a little too stiff. In the store, the fit and finish should be visibly better than any other bow. See below for other considerations.

    Karl Willhem CF Bow - Check for straightness, weight, and balance point. Your daughter's teacher may recommend a "length" for the BP and can explain some of the basics as to why this is important. Often the bow is too stiff, but find a quiet room (good luck - perhaps the acoustic guitar room) and have your daughter try them, if there are more than one.

    String Centre FG - The biggest gamble. Often less than the price of a NYC rehair or pizza. But on occasion, I've played some relatively good values. Usually more flexible than the CF bows, and less chattery. The hair quality can be miserable.

    A second utility bow could be useful in the future, so hopefully you will find something that both teacher and student will like. Ideally, one could purchase a guitar pick and try to get the balance in cash, but I don't know the laws in NJ. This is not to say that finding a bow in a bowed-string shop is any easier, but the pre-selected choices might be better to choose from, and some expertise, along that journey of making a purchase, is mostly a good thing.

  15. Other than ordinary atmospheric changes (temperature, humidity etc.) or strings wearing out - in my experience most of this type of stuff in handled in the realm of maintenance and/or set up. The innate nature of the violin itself is the last thing you want to change.

    Better to either keep up the one you have and like - or to trade the instrument up to one that suits you better, if necessary.

    In other words, over time, the expectations of the player may change as much or more than the instrument.

    Just want to clarify that the "fade" occurs over several hours, not years. Backstage, these instruments will play and sound more tired. Later the next day, the same instrument will feel more "crisp" for awhile, or until the next heavy two hour performance. No extra rosin, sometimes not even a re-tune, as the pitches have held. Maybe it's just me.

  16. This doesn't relate so much to the OP, so forgive this metaphysical banter. I pose this question to the players out there: have you had instruments that have started to fade? Mr Swan had spoken about bows changing - this word is used rather than "warm up" - and this occurs in predictable stages, but the most severe effects are felt (usually in the form of tightening) from the temp and moisture variations of the stage HVAC (climate/air conditioning) and lighting systems.

    When there are heavy orchestral sets, two symphonies, Bruckner, Expressionism, etc., quite a few instruments turn a little flaccid and less responsive. I'm aware of most of the compensations, including relaxing, playing closer to the bridge, slight change to the arc of the bow or the elbow. Infact, on the same series, if several different instruments are played, some instruments have more stamina than others. In a good month, say a no-name (Testore) Milanesa (breaded steak) and a modern instrument (both borrowed or on loan). Generally, the modern instrument will change comparatively little to the Testore, which becomes sonically undefined and wimpy(ier). Granted, it might be that I am physically working harder to produce sound on the Testore and there are residual consequences to the compensation. I don't believe that the instruments around me are getting better in these passages, though we're all trying to fatten up the sound so it won't sound tight and strident. It's very possible that my playing is failing and therefore, it's a unique, isolated experience.

    Anyway, thoughts from someone who use to spend 4-5 hours a day playing on different instruments. Next time a player is working on Tzigane or any heavy-handed piece (and they are a markedly muscular player), keep an eye on their post(s).

  17. First, apologies for the grammatical errors in my posts.

    Someone asked about the author of the "excerpts" book I saw in Graz. This was over 20 years ago before the Berlin Wall came down. I can't remember who it was, or from what school, but might have been dutch? or from a northern european school of string playing? I don't know why I think this, but the fingerings were "modern." The text was in German. It appeared at the time that the copyrights and distribution in Austria were more relaxed. There were pieces by composers that I'd never heard of in those stores.

    On fingerings, the book by the late-great, Robert Gerle, is not too thick and conceptually helpful.

    I might as well ask here: I've been looking for a "good" Piano Quintet version of the Mendelssohn Octet. Not an arrangement or a reduction, but an accurate transcription, measure for measure. These types of transcriptions are listed in books prior to the 1920s, but have not been able to find a copy of this particular combination at many of the large university libraries. They are helpful for coaching. I have not checked UofTexas, which i probably should do. Also, anyone know if a cello octet had performed this at one point (perhaps at a cello congress)?

  18. There are so many styles of playing, would any specific response be generalizing to too great a degree? On wiid sticks, given that everything works on the bow, I check a few areas for measurements.

    As a classical music player, there isn't a great deal of agreement from players, but me thinks that the diameter of the stick (top to bottom), right behind the head is very important. This can be independent of the relation to the belly of the bow, but an instant eye-balling the belly of the bow gives an idea of the density and stiffness. Granted, I play with a great deal of finger motion, staccato or no. If I remember Auer's text correctly, fingers are not mentioned - only wrist - in the staccato section. Also his description of the legato bow and the use of term "sons file" for sustained tones is dated.

    Anyway, if this area is too thin, the bow to me, feels sluggish - like a big car with too soft a suspension (under dampt). Consequently as silky as the bow may feel, there might not be any guts.

    If it is too thick, there is no "feel" in the hands, and it appears that my fingers are doing an awful lot of work at the bow changes. There is no suspension, and also these "thick neck" bows create a bit more noise.

    If it is just the right thickness, different rosin-types make musical sense, the spiccatos from the string bounce up, and the "clarity" (not necessarily the smoothness - the player supplies this) of bow changes can be astounding.

    Oded's topic on tool marks on top of the instrument was eye opening, because for some years I presumed that the better bowmakers were tweaking the bows after they were assembled. The undercut behind the head of quite a few fine playing bows were not always perfect (despite having beautifully even knife marks up into the curve) as there was a danger in scraping/cutting off too much material? Or for appearances?

    OK, there is so much to love in many of the French bows of so many generations (they definitely have personality), but am astounded at how many Hill (& Sons) bows that do so many things entirely, so well, at significantly less than the modern French stars. Round sticks no less! At my age, it's too much work to compensate for the odd-ideosyncracies of an epic bow. But I'm pretty confident in my personal choices and have grown to love american made bows, and would rather have 3 newer american bows over one affordable older French.

  19. There was a music book, much like Gingold's Orchestral bits on the International edition, except these were the hard parts from violin concertos and sonatas. When younger, the Auer, Galamian, Flesch books were a horrible read, so when I encounter this 3 vol. set in Graz, it was overwhelming. As was the price. I continued on to Vienna in hopes of finding it cheaper or used, but in the short time there, i couldn't locate a copy.

    This book was an inspiration to put my little "excerpts" notebook together. As it turned out, there are stylistic patterns of Sarasate (Arbos does some interesting things too), Ysaye, Kreisler, Ernst, etc., and the little time i put into it paid off. Most of these players/composers follow a traditionally harmonic form and though difficult, the "yoga" moves can be learned, but over weeks or months. The truly gifted will get it after hours or days, but they are the exception.

    Then I met a Sevcik freak who could play Dounis and my opinion of hand forms changed. Sevcik at speed is purely about agility. When i used to while about not being able to play octaves, tenths and fingered-octaves (still can't), Ms Maehashi's name was often mentioned (to make me feel better?). I had no idea who she was, but i did see Alicia de Larrocha several times and she would leap octaves/tenths faster than I could draw a double stop - or so it sounded in a large hall. Playing Wagner is probably more about agility than hand formation, as are some of the ascending lines of the Tchaikovsky concerto.

    So to get to this long-winded points. For mostly pre-Kreisler violin compositions, ideally there's a way to get there, some way. It's with the super-agile players, that modern composers have written impossible fingerings for mere mortals. For me, as it is impossible to "dunk" anything in on an professional basketball hoop, there are pieces i could never play. There are some interesting pieces written in the 20th century, and cant remember who it was but, it was basically the opening of the Berg concerto (rolling fifths -intervals - across the strings) as quadruple-stop. The Bach C-major unaccompanied Sonata, Paganini concertos are difficult enough, and sounds good, there are double and triple stop harmonics that are just too difficult to manage, and though sounding interesting, aren't worth it.

    Castleman's Ysaye recording, as a student, is recommended listening. I disliked it at first, but he successfully navigates the pieces without much personality and that's a good way to hear it.

  20. When playing opera, string players mostly make money playing below a mezzopiano (mp) and it can be great fun. It takes only one player to ruin it for everyone. Ballet string players mostly make money playing fff (most principals are monster players). It's really a trade off.

    have you ever played a wagner opera?

    Yes, Rheingold + Tristan and Isolde. These operas are long, with complex, fast and extremely difficult scales and arpeggios (40+ measures at a time) but they are not constantly loud. Look, i'm a wimp. I don't have enough stamina to make it through a full concerto, played well (or not so well - i'm not proud). Compared to soloing, most orchestra programming is reasonable. In opera, hopefully the audience won't see the section coasting in the pit. Bel canto opera is ok. Mozart is difficult. If one plays Wagner, etc., have the chiropractor on SpeedDial.

    How long does it take for Tristan to die? And if he is dying upstage, it's even quieter. Maybe there are some decrescendos that are longer in Tchaikovsky #6 or in late Mahler, but it goes on for awhile. My heart goes out to singers who are involved in crazy artistic staging. Some are asked to lie on their sides or underneath someone as they sing crushed on a mattress, upside down!. Waiting for a Las Vegas act to fly a violinist (or cellist) into the air.

  21. Is it called "hotbox" because the actual temperature became elevated in there?

    They are known as "break-in" or "work-in boxes" too. Only in a few occasions have I seen a set up that was physically hot. One was in an sound-insulated server tower.

    For guitars it can be "cycle testing" and the mechanism with the plectrum and the top can get warm. I've been too worried to use a rosin wheel, though i have worked out cam driven fingers for the first 1/2 step. I have seen a belt/strap that tightens and untightens behind the first fret of a guitar.

    The plug-in unit they sell in the magazines is ok. But having played some violins that have had them on for a week, the "box" is considerably better. The plug-in is in one frequency, no impulses.

  22. Actually you just pointed out something very important, and I don't even know what it is, but thats it. When one has several instruments at their disposal to play. Weird stuff happens with the "likability' its almost as if having all these different tones messes with your head.

    I have a hard time going to live performances now. I listen to the orchestra in a different way. Before I use to go just to hear the music, and would focus on the soloist ad his 'sound'. Now I find myself trying to simultaneously isolate all the different violin tones at the same time. Its rather nerve racking, I don't hear the music so much anymore, as much as I find myself analyzing sound. ...

    Comments on comparing instruments:

    In playing many differeny instruments, slowly warming up and slowly warming down is recommended. The warm up is a good opportunity to examine what the instrument has to offer (the various bows, contact points or fingered notes) and slowly coax the instrument to produce more. Don't be the player that picks up an instrument - in a shop, presumably - and rattles off a passage. The warm down is a good time to re-assure one's senses that the good/bad of the instrument is working for the player or not. Keep a notebook. Ending on a ravashing G minor chord is just going to give the player bumps of endorphines and adrenaline? (practice more) and the next instrument is bound to be a let down.

    Having an appetite for an instrument suggests that one loves many of these instruments equally, and as Mr. Swan has suggested, the C word is important. Too many Mistresses can cause problems. On visiting someone with fine instruments, rarely do the owners lay all the instruments out. If they do, it's sort of weird. They usually come out one at a time. Usually the instrument perceived as most valuable is saved for last, when the players arm has been "played out" for over 30 minutes. It's the worst when it's something great. Any degree of concentration is shot, the hands are a little unsure, if not shaky and everyone else is expecting to hear the legendary sound. One should not let down a host. The ever-so unfunny, "you must be warmed up by now," is chirped and we, as players, are asked to play more excerpts.

    Look, I'm not smart, nor a great violinist, and all the excerpts used to compare instruments have been played in the last 2 hours. I am not as prepared or as entertaining as Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles.

    Comment on playability:

    I used to hotbox instruments (no physical manure - experimentation only) in a sound proof box with programming/white/pink noise and the instruments generally sounded great after a week of hotboxing, then it would revert back to - about - it's original state if not played. SO I am one to believe that the instruments do get better with some physical movement. Some guy in asia (or planet waves) is going to make a killing putting a voice coil into the suspension padding of a case at the end block/chinrest. One comes home and plugs their case into the stereo jacks, hits play AND repeat of the piece they're preparing and in the morning, ol' betsy will be warmed up. Just have to be careful not to wear off the varnish.

    Comment on listening to orchestras:

    One might be able to convince orchestra management into letting an observer visit a rehearsal as an "acoustics" consultant for free. The starts and stops are great and, if allowed, one may roam around the hall. Some OM/conductors do not allow visitors to move around once they are seated. Some groups have "open" rehearsals for a minor fee and that is also a fine time to listen to the instruments. Or save your money and go visit the university orchestras perform.

    When playing opera, string players mostly make money playing below a mezzopiano (mp) and it can be great fun. It takes only one player to ruin it for everyone. Ballet string players mostly make money playing fff (most principals are monster players). It's really a trade off.

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