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Stephen Fine

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Everything posted by Stephen Fine

  1. I think the medical data on legalized hallucinogens suggests the opposite effect (feelings of empathy/sympathy/connection). You could make a case for legalized amphetamines or the fact that alcohol is legal. Both of those cause anger and aggression and disinhibition. (But Korean law is very strict on drug use... Korean citizens aren't even allowed to experiment with drugs outside of Korea. Singapore is also quite strict. Needless to say, K-Pop is a worldwide phenomenon, but I don't think toxic fandom has anything to do with hallucinogen use in the Netherlands or Oregon or whatever.) I agree about the instant communication though. I think it's just natural human desire for attention. In order to get more attention people on the internet take stronger and stronger [stupid] positions. Also, there are 8 billion of us on the planet now. Surely, we must expect a fair number of dummies.
  2. Maybe Jaap Schröder's book, Bach's Solo Violin Works: A Performer's Guide Maybe Joel Lester's book, Bach's Works for Solo Violin: Style, Structure, Performance
  3. Yup. It is essential to buy your boarding group. It's increasing my ticket cost by almost $100 these days since you usually have to pay around $20 per flight leg to upgrade to an earlier boarding group. On the other hand... for the first time since 9/11, I've been allowed a few times to stow my viola in the coat closet at the front of the plane. That used to be my go-to move and I'm glad the option seems to have returned.
  4. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/11/14/what-the-suzuki-method-really-taught
  5. I see, thanks. I zoomed in and now I see that the word is is underlined.
  6. Am I missing an obvious pun or joke? Who is speaking? The student or someone observing?
  7. You could try making some guesses and translate in the other direction... I was able to figure a few... końka is tip środek is middle żabka is frog
  8. I've also heard organ instead of harpsichord for basso continuo. If you want a delightful use of a little organ with strings, check out Dvořák's Maličkosti (Bagatelles) op. 47. Surprisingly few recordings with harmonium (instead of piano). This one is nice.
  9. Arguing about pitch seems silly when Mr. Warchal has already told us that string makers design a string for both pitch and tension and that a high tension string tuned to 400 has a higher tension than a low tension string tuned to 443 or whatever. The only people who argue that we shouldn't tune to 440 or we must tune to 432 are engaging in some extreme pseudoscience. Within a certain range, it seems to me that the only people who should care are singers singing at the top or bottom of their tessitura. I saw a neat paper years ago analyzing the pay/budget of string players in Baroque/Classical era. I've gotten so used to high quality strings being readily available that it never occurred to me how important string technology was. They spent a substantial portion of their yearly budget on strings.
  10. I'd say the difference between new and old strings is not a subtle one under the ear. The closest comparison I can make to your experience is occasionally, I'll notice that an instrument does or does not like the weather. I know that some people like to tinker more than others, but I've never thought to recreate the sound of a violin on a "good" day by adjusting the set-up. I'd say that one sign of a well set-up instrument is you don't get much variation day-by-day. Consistency is important. Anyway, as you say, it sounds like you came to the right conclusion: just keep playing.
  11. After a few months aren't the strings just older and duller anyway? I wouldn't think you could fix that except by buying new strings. Moving the bridge around several times a day seems like a bad idea to me. If the feet are flush to the top, it's at the correct angle. Leave it there. Tuning the after length is not something I've ever known a player to mess around with, generally that's an issue of set-up that should be toyed with once or twice a year (at most) by a professional. Honestly, sounds to me like your problem is psychosomatic. Or, I guess, it could be the tension issue that Michael mentioned if you're moving your bridge around constantly. But I only adjust my bridge every few weeks or so... it generally stays where it's supposed to.
  12. I think I've noticed that [certain] Tartini tones are more prevalent on better instruments. I assume it's a complicated interaction between overtones.
  13. This has been a fascinating read... Coming from the player's perspective, I think being able to push an instrument is an essential quality in a good instrument. When trying decent instruments, they all turn "on" and make a nice sound easily enough. Some may be too bright or too dull or whatever and that's somewhat to taste. There's that boomy/hollow sound that I think we steer away from. But what makes an excellent violin stand out is how you can continue to push and push and push and different things keep happening. It is not my experience that there is "resistance". Fine violins turn "on" just as easily, they just go much further when you ask them to do things with extremes of bow speed, pressure, and contact point. And touching on the idea of selling your playing with body language, I'm not sure Heifetz is the ideal unless you can actually play like Heifetz. There was a fascinating psychological study done on a piano competition. Hopefully my memory will serve: Audiences of piano experts and non-experts were shown videos of competitors at a major piano competition. They were shown videos with the sound muted and with the sound on. Both the experts and non-experts were better able to predict the actual winner of the competition with the sound muted than with it on. The audience is always deeply attuned to our body language.
  14. Recording myself and posting it online is something I never would've done when I first came out of music school. My standards were much too high. But even in school we were encouraged to use recording equipment (I was in school during the brief period when people thought that minidisks were the future, so I had a minidisk recorder). Now, while I still cringe at recordings of myself, I've come to realize that what I was taught was important in music school (technical/musical "perfection") is not, in fact, very important to an audience. The music does not reside within the perfection. Perfection is just a party trick or a feat of athleticism and focus. It's separate and only detectable by some people anyway. Technical problems can detract from the music, but music can happen without technique.
  15. It's interesting, usually people have the opposite reaction upon hearing themselves play: "I sound awful!" So much of learning to practice actually comes from training yourself to hear what's really happening. A mirror in the practice room can be revealing for some technical issues, but there's nothing like watching a video of yourself playing to make you, literally, self-conscious. These days, I'm often pleased enough when I hear recordings. My intonation is still better under the ear than a microphone several feet away, so that when I think something was quite out of tune, the recording will only sound minimally out of tune. But I find that my bow changes are not as smooth in reality as I think they are as they're happening, and my vibrato isn't as consistent as I want. Probably, the most valuable thing for performance though is being able to hear when phrases aren't clear, or when a note is much too loud or soft in the phrase. And always posture (and how posture effects issues of sound production).
  16. I've written elsewhere about Larry, but I can say a little here too. His rehearsals were down to the minute. They started on time, ended on time, they were meticulously planned, no time was wasted. He didn't talk too much, his instructions were usually short, a word or two, but what I remember most was how he taught us the structure of the repertoire by rehearsing us divided by musical idea, so instead of "strings together" or "brass" or "woodwinds" he would ask to hear "violas, second clarinet, third horn, and timpani." He would weave the music together like this, putting together the different textures... He had to have an amazing knowledge of the score in order to do this so effectively. Most of the remembrances I've read by classmates and others who went to Rice mention, at least in passing, the fear which Larry inspired. He could be cutting, and he would occasionally do the terrifying thing of asking for difficult passagework stand-by-stand. But the fear inspired work and dedication and the Shepherd orchestras were often called the best college orchestras in the country. Classmates of mine are now principals and section players in major orchestras around the world. I quote him as saying in a rehearsal of the Symphonic Dances that he regarded West Side Story as the greatest American composition of the 20th Century. I think he was right about that. Anyway... it is very sad that he's gone, sad to think of the generations who won't get to experience a rehearsal under his baton.
  17. Both the melody and harmony are different. They are close enough that it's a good theory, but different enough that I don't think any use of the word plagiarism is appropriate.
  18. There's even extra labor involved even with the premium raw hair. David spends some time combing and picking through the new hair as part of the rehairing process. Also, consider that if a bow maker sets their rate too low, they'll be swamped with rehairs and will never have an opportunity to make new bows. Playing a stringed instrument is expensive! Took me a second to decipher this since postal banking (tragically) hasn't existed in the US since 1966.
  19. Somewhere around $100 is "normal" I think. Anywhere from $65-$130 seems in the range. And, yeah, maybe it takes just a bit longer than 30 minutes? Specialized labor is expensive.
  20. Hi friends, The second week of concerts of my chamber music festival (the Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival) got canceled this year when my friends Jimmy (clarinet) and Ian (pianist) came down with CoVID and my friend Ellen (violinist) came down with Shingles. So instead of rehearsing all day, my friend Charly (cello) and I (viola) went for scenic bicycle rides and went swimming in cold mountain rivers and tried to enjoy ourselves while our friends were suffering through pain, weakness, fever, etc... Honestly, it was a bit stressful despite having nothing to do but relax. One of the last beautiful afternoons we pulled out our instruments and did a little bit of reading. Beethoven wrote the Duo for Viola and Cello during his classical period for two nearsighted friends and titled it Duo with Two Eyeglasses Required. I'm pleased with the recording quality of the iPhone balanced on a music stand. Amazing how far technology has come. Anyways, please enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpIzg96SZjc
  21. Hildegard (1098-1179), a Doctor of the Church and one of the great composers of all times... she couldn't have imagined this, coming up on 1,000 years and her music is still performed and found to be fresh. She was a synesthete, her senses closely tied to her spiritual visions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zabEN84nWZQ
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