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About Scoiattola

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  1. what determines the sound a luthier aims at?

    John: thanks for mentioning this performer Marie Soldat-Röger. (YouTube link) I had never heard her playing before. It's impressively precise playing, with enjoyable timing. The slower portamento is definitely dated (sounds like some recordings I have heard of Ysaÿe), but I imagine hearing this live it would have sounded less overpowering (we don't get any sense of vocal depth, just the pitch rising or falling at a relatively constant volume and rate; equalized out). I sense a careful, intellectual approach to the piece I heard her playing, and can't imagine "bad taste" integrated into her performance. I suspect she was searching for the same basic qualities in an instrument that contemporary violinists are. As an aside, wow! Kreisler, Heifetz et al. really threw the music world for a loop, stylistically speaking! It would be interesting to start a "Romantic era performance practice" revival, just to see what practical musical truths / benefits can be rediscovered. (I believe the Baroque performance practice researchers and performers have done an invaluable service to modern interpretation, and wonder if something similar could be done for the later periods?) A thought: in my opinion the best modern colleagues have already made instruments of the same or possibly higher standards (given that not all the old guys were as fastidious as Strad!). I mean that in terms of both tone and worksmanship. I don't say that lightly; I've had the good fortune to play over twenty del Gesu's among a whole raft of other Cremonese makers. As a performer I have access to quite a number of fine old Italian violins, but I much prefer my two favorite instruments (all made within the last 30 years)... I certainly wouldn't want to try!
  2. Elements of construction and responsiveness

    Then again, there's yet another variable in the equation; the tires. Or shall we say, the rosin? Nowadays, it is totally possible that there is some $200 bespoke rosin that guarantees traction in all weather conditions, and makes a fantastic cup of coffee to boot. Cheers, Scoiattola
  3. Dirty Boxes

    Bet it sounded sweet! Probably projects well in a hall... I suppose it depends on the arm muscles of the player. A baseball pitcher could probably get it to the third balcony! Cheers, Scioattola
  4. Shaky bow arm

    I find that it helps to keep all four fingers on the bow - just a little more stability overall. Individual results may vary. Heifetz certainly didn't always keep his small finger on at all times! (In his case, he was constantly engaged with the bow.) If you've ever planed wood with a large block plane, I think that is the feeling to emulate. Also, consider the act of drawing on chalkboard/whiteboard. If you "draw" a line with your just your fingers ahead of your arm, it's going to be shaky. If you draw "pulling" your entire arm (with the joints relatively relaxed, and more passively involved), with the hand kind of trailing from the arm, it's going to be a lot smoother. The same applies to the violin: If you focus on where your hand is in physical space ("drawing from the hand"), the chances that a tremor will be magnified will be increased. If you focus on where your back muscles / arm muscles, entire right side apparatus is (basically the overall "shape" / feel of the arm), with the hand naturally following, any shakes will naturally work themselves out. Lastly, if your fingers so loose they are like wet spaghetti on the bow, it can make for a very insecure feeling. Experts talk about relaxation so much, that it's easy to forget that there is some necessary tension involved with playing the violin. You will need enough firmness of grip (read: thumb counterpressure) to transfer the energy of your overall arm-weight. Another word is confident. You have the right to a confident bow grip, as long as it doesn't stray into the realm of a static (insensitive, unchanging or uncompromising) dead weight. This may sound counterproductive, but you might try a reductionist approach: Grip the bow with a death-grip; overtense your arm muscles, and basically, anything that seems wrong and tense, do it (overdo it, at least for a few seconds). Try to systematically relax, say from the back downwards. "Ok, I'm going to relax my upper arm, now my elbow joint etc..." You will find that at the end of this process lies the fingers on the bow. This can be good for identifying where your muscles actually are, and how they can relax. Hope this helps! Cheers, Scoiattola P.S. Essential tremor is good for staccato, chromatic glissandos with the left hand, and starting finger vibrato. Don't let anyone tell you differently It also seems to help Maestro Gergiev with his conducting at times.
  5. Elements of construction and responsiveness

    Quoted for truth! We've all run into fiddles that play like an early Porsche 911: lots of power, but extremely easy to oversteer. I think many players - whether they are conscious of it or not - would prefer a good old Rolls, or Bentley.* Also powerful, but somehow, less likely to encourage an accident. Cheers, Scoiattola (*disclaimer: I've not been in either a Porsche or a Rolls in my lifetime. Or a Bentley for that matter).
  6. Elements of construction and responsiveness

    Michael, Thanks for sharing Joseph's article - I hadn't read this one before. (Shock!) I notice that the grain orientation on the Italian tops was a possible variable to consider in the future. Has anyone followed this up? (Possibly with data from various CT studies?) Cheers, Scoiattola
  7. Berlioz, Paganini and the biggest viola you’ll ever see!!

    The bevel on the back reminds me of an instrument (violin) I saw once by one Marty Kasprzyk. This looks more likely to cause tendonitis though... Cheers, Scoiattola
  8. Hi Bruce, Thanks so much! Been looking forward to this paper since I first heard about it. Thanks also to Chimei Foundation for making it possible! Scoiattolo
  9. Season's Greetings to All! As this post's title indicates, this is a well thrashed horse being brought out for further examination: Recently, I got interested in violin/bow photography. Before I got started, I wanted to do my homework. A cursory search here on Maestronet brought me to Michael Darnton's chapter on instrument photography, so this is where I started. A little deeper searching was enlightening: cf. this recent telecentric lens post. A post on this thread suggests using a telephoto lens to photograph scrolls for templates, in order to reduce distortion. Tarisio's instrument photography guide has been commonly referenced, but seems to be down. Everybody was very complimentary towards it, which makes me wish I could review it! (Ditto a now defunct guide at J & A Beare's website.) While browsing the 2005 Reference thread on violin photography I found this Photoshop advice thread from 2004 with some still relevant information... This 2011 Thread on shiny instrument photography was notable for identifying two "camps" of instrument photography. Particularily interesting was an anecdote from Michael Darnton from his time working for Bob Bein. Apparently they had different ideals/goals for violin photography: Michael wanted more 3D detail, and didn't mind shadows (if I understand correctly) in order to get it. Robert wanted everything flattened out with lots of lighting, which brought out lines, etc., which was useful for identification purposes (IIRC). Of course, in an ideal world, it should be possible to get both! On a related note, I like a lot of the photos on the Music Museum of America's website. I also found this thread which includes a photo of a Vuillaume by Jeffery Holmes that I really like - I feel like it has great clarity, and I can imagine the arching of the fiddle based on the photo. Lighting seems to be key in all of the above discussions. Naturally, this is the area I have the most issue with. Most of the guides referenced above recommend using a pair of "hot lamps" set at an angle. However, (perhaps due to an EU ban?) it is currently well nigh impossible to find incandescent bulbs here in Europe. I do have a 500W bulb from West Germany that still has a little life in it, but because I only have one, it creates a lot of shadows, and not the good kind... In lieu of photo floods (which have the the side benefit of showing shadows and glare ahead of time), has anybody here used LED lighting for instrument photography? That seems to be the fashion here nowadays. From what little I have read about LEDs, they are efficient because they don't use the full spectrum of light. I would think that this would be bad for photographing violins - but what do I know? Any thoughts on Halogen lights? What are you using currently? Any suggestions for a settup available to purchase/rent here in Europe? Is there perhaps an analogue to the inexpensive Smith-Victor lighting sets available in the States? Something I could adjust/dim would be ideal. Cheers, Scoiattolo
  10. Cheeseburger in paradise...

    Ciao Maestronetizens, Long time lurker here. Saw this and just had to say something . The arching on the top is really extreme. The back - flat as a pancake... I'll be very surprised if it projects well in a hall. I could be wrong. Depends on who's throwing it? Cheers, Scoiattola