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About Zeissica

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  • Birthday 10/28/1966

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    Violin & Viola playing, astronomy, audio, family & friends.

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  1. Thanks jezzupe - that's what I figured, but knowing the crowd around here, I thought there might be some strong opinions on the subject.
  2. Between steel wire, braided steel (Wittener), plastic, and Kevlar tailpiece gut material - what are your thoughts about the effects on the sound of a violin or viola?
  3. Another vote for Heritage - the premium is reasonable, and their instrument division must handle a fair number of musicians because they seem to "get it". And, Phillip, you're in the club with another cellist: Lynn Harrel (another Strad in a taxi story...)
  4. But, any standard wooden violin will end up needing repairs for open seams, etc. if they are used outside, in the sun, humidity changes, and the like. A middle ground might be to look for a used CF violin - there are bound to be bargains out there.
  5. I owned a L&C carbon fiber viola for several years and played on it quite a bit, although 100% classical. What I liked about it was the toughness, the fact that it stayed in tune better than most wood instruments, the planetary-geared tuning pegs made tuning quick and easy (no fine tuners needed) and it was loud. It was also light weight, although a "real" violin is also pretty darned light. I didn't care for the carbon fiber fingerboard though, it felt "plasticky" and made a bit of noise as the strings were pressed down by the fingers. I don't think you would hear that at a distance, but I noticed it. The Mezzo Forte instruments have (I think) have ebony fingerboards, so if I had to do it again, I would get one of those instead. The sound was loud but lacking in some "depth" when compared to the better wooden instruments, but probably for fiddle playing, it would not be a problem. Hope this helps!
  6. I play both violin and viola, and my viola is a 16-3/8" which for me is the "sweet spot" in size. I usually find that with practicing a few scales on either instrument, I'm ready to dive in on practicing literature, then onto rehearsals and performances. I agree that the best way to find the right viola is by shopping personally. Give the shop an idea of your price range and ask to see what they have in the size you want. From there, play them until you find the one you like best for feel, playability and sound. If you can bring a friend who has an educated ear (another string player) it is always good to get the "across the room" perspective on the sound.
  7. You'd probably starve.
  8. Some thoughts. First, the Firebird Suite, and most Stravinski, is quite difficult in spots, so don't beat yourself up too much! Depending on how much time you have between now and the rehearsals/concert, I might suggest two different approaches. 1. "Plenty of time, many weeks or months available": start by slowly going through and finding fingerings that work for the tempo you are working, which should be very slow at first. Use a metronome and carefully dissect each problem bar to figure out where the notes land in time, and continue to refine your shifts and fingerings as you gradually notch up the tempo. The goal for scenario #1 is to actually play all the notes, in time, reasonably accurately. 2. If you really only have a few weeks or less before the first rehearsal, then concentrate on hitting the main notes that *can* be hit, but accurately and in time. A fair amount of what happens in The Firebird is texture - there is a lot going on, and a bunch of loud passages from the brass, percussion, etc. There are some violin/viola runs towards the end of the Infernal Dance that are extremely difficult. No sense in making a mess and getting out of time with what is happening. What I'm suggesting is halfway to "faking" the part, and I don't think there is any shame in it. The goal is to stay with the part, don't play anything that will stand out as being "wrong", and still enjoy it. Here, I would still suggest dissecting the challenging passages with a metronome, and pick out the notes "on the beat" and aim for them and hit them. Based on what you've described so far, this 2nd scenario seems more likely. One tool I use in preparing for orchestral rehearsals/concerts is the Amazing Slow Downer (app) to play along with recordings at slower tempos until I figure out where the notes fit into the piece on a bigger scale (with other things going on).
  9. Yes, I should have mentioned that, too.
  10. The pattern itself reminds me a lot of a Da Salo pattern viola I saw recently made, if that is any help.
  11. Love the Viola Cam! That about sums it up for much of Baroque and Classical accompaniment parts. BTW don't forget the absolutely gorgeous and equal (to the violin part) viola solo part to Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante! As a 6'1" violist, I want to chime in here about instrument size. When I was growing up in the '80s, it seemed that large violas were in demand, and there was something "manly" about playing them. I had a 16-7/8" instrument that sounded great, but ended up being one of the reasons I quit playing after I got my degree. The strain and pain was just too much. When I started up again 14 years later, I was fortunate enough to borrow a 15-1/4" Gagliano viola made in 1775. It had a lovely sound but did not really project all that well. Later, I bought the Yoshikai viola I have now - 16-3/8" and fits like a glove, and has a really big, clear sound. I believe it is a Guarneri pattern instrument. I friend of mine played for years on a 1790s Cuijpers viola that was (I think) 15". It sounded tremendous in his hands - fantastic projection and tone. How do you get a violist to play a downbow staccatto? Write a whole note and indicate "solo".
  12. Zeissica

    Bow wood

    I have a bow with very similar wood, probably German, that was described as Brazilwood in an appraisal.