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Everything posted by Etorgerson

  1. Update. I can now say that I have only positive results upgrading my violin with the Concarbo. I took off the strong tension Virtuoso strings and switched to Larsen Tzigane mediums and was able to lose the wolf note eliminator.
  2. I bought a Glasser as a pit/outdoor/-20 below zero / >90 degree instrument. It plays well, is easy to play with good intonation, and can sound passable for a student. It will need a professional setup on the bridge and it can use a denser ebony tailpiece without adjusters as it already has geared pegs. They can also keep it as a back-up for when a better step-up instrument goes into the shop.
  3. I realize that I am coming late to this party, but I have just had a positive experience with a lightweight Concarbo violin tailpiece on an 1895 Berlin made violin. I originally bought the instrument for its warm and broad sound, perfect for giving a fuller almost Maggini like quality when playing second. Lately, however, I have been wanting more projection and clarity, especially when sitting principal in a section. I had tried harp and standard tailpieces in rosewood, boxwood, and ebony some hollowed, some not, with kevlar, dyneema, titanium, nylon, and steel tailguts matched with different strings, currently Larsen Virtuoso strong. I installed my Concarbo harp tailpiece using a metal tailgut with the G after-length tuned to C. First the downside, I needed to use a mute or 2g wolf eliminator on the G to kill a low C wolf. The rest is all positive. It has a more easily controlled broader dynamic range with more projection. It is much clearer in sound and pitch at both ppp and fff. The G and D are less cloudy and husky in the low positions while the upper positions on the a and e have maintained their singing qualities. It sounds more resonant and open. Compared to other combinations, some setups had sounded more shrill and brittle, so I was worried that based on a weight, the Concarbo would be shrill as well. Not so. Weight is not the only determiner. I have spent the last several days basically relearning my instrument’s new positive characteristics and look forward to playing it again in live ensembles.
  4. As a former music recording engineer in studios in Chicago and L.A., mic placement and room placement will make a HUGE difference. For example, the reason why you hear so much bow noise in Heifetz recordings (Itzahk calls this his zzzht sound) is because he liked a very close mic placement. Invest in a floor mic stand with a boom arm so you can experiment with mic placement. To get a good setup, try talking to the mic while moving around the mic to narrate what position you are playing from. Start at about 3 feet up from your violin at about 45 degrees from the violin facing squarely at the top/bridge/bow. For room placement, try the mic in different places around the room. You will find different reflections at the microphone can make a huge difference.
  5. The upper G-string wolfiness or huskiness is why I use a harp or diagonal style tailpiece. I find that the longer after-length relieves some of the lack of pliability in the upper positions and opens up the sound.
  6. How many different shapes of mask have you tried? Some have valves that may help with air exchange. Some cover more or less of the jaw bone if your grasp on the chinrest is the issue. Some dermatologists in my area have reported that you should avoid wearing masks when you are far enough away from others because of the humid environment between the mask and skin. That said, I would not choose to go maskless in an enclosed room with a student - unless there is a lot of air exchange ie open window or exhaust fan to the outside. I would be concerned about suspended virus circulating in a small room beyond the normal recommended safe distance.
  7. There are various grades. That said, mine is junk. I have tried many changes to make it at least playable as a back-up instrument for outside performances to no avail. I keep it only as a keepsake that my grandfather gave me on a visit to Tokyo. He was one of the first Suzuki teachers. I was a brass major beginning a degree in composition. I think that one should consider something like a used Chinese Andreas Eastman, Snow, or maybe Samuel Eastman, Shen or Yamaha as a more basic starter..
  8. If you are just starting out, Jargar d and a are inexpensive and Spirocore chrome c and g won’t break the bank. That would be a fair quality set that is inexpensive. The cheapest playable set that I have used is D’addario prelude steel strings. These all shoukd be available at any local dealer or mail order house. As to set up, get thee to a luthier if you are not experienced. Could be many things from loose seams to weak tailgut to warped bridge to fallen post, to problems in the neck or pegs.
  9. My viola. It is mislabeled and looks like it has been abused- crushed bout from an overtightened chinrest clamp, scars on the treble side table. But it sings in the upper positions like a violin, even on the c string yet the lower register is rich dark and full. I can play it for hours on end without fatigue. It has a nimble diminuitive neck that facillitates the most difficult passages, polyphony, and etudes. It is so well balanced that I rarely play with a shoulder rest. Many of my colleagues have offered to buy it if I ever want to sell. It is labelled 1926 West Germany (hah, learn your history) EH Roth with a convincing label but it doesn’t look like any roth I’ve ever seen and it lacks the brand marking on the inside. could have been built by daffy duckenheimer for all I know, but I don’t care. I’ll grieve if it goes before I do.
  10. Two French conductors of excellent quality that I have worked with often sang parts in solfege. I’ve been curious about learning. Fixed or moveable? Are there reference works or methods that you would recommend?
  11. To get back to your original question about viola bashing, I play the two least ergonomic and compromised instruments in the string section- bass which is almost always played at th 3/4 size by everyone but professional classical bassists, and viola. The viola was developed in two primary versions- a smaller more agile one closer to Hutchins’ physics ideal violin resonance length of about 15.5”ish and a larger one which should be about 21” to match the viola’s frequencies. For most average human hands, it gets much harder to play in tune using violin style fingerings on an instrument larger than 16”. Many top professional section players play instruments around 17-18” with great success. The smaller one often sounds brighter like a big violin. The larger ones can have that big chocolate saxophone-like sound. As a consequence, there is often a wide variety of tambre coming from most amateur sections. Part of the compromise in size also restricts playing much above fourth position for many instruments. For some, it’s ergonomics, for others the sound chokes on the g and c strings up there without devices like slanted tailpieces. Another issue is the nature of the part writing. Violists often get hypnotized by simple repetitive first position parts and get startled by sporadic intricate solo violinistic phrases. As a consequence, viola sections are often called out in rehearsal for intonation or uncoordinated ensemble playing leading to yet-another-viola joke syndrome.
  12. Matesic, for some reason, I can read alto on cello or bass, but not bass or tenor clef on viola. It’s some kind of mental block that I have not had the desire to fix yet.
  13. To work on treble reading for bass, I often read out of fake books, song books, or 1st position violin books as the range is usually reasonable for high position bass work. I also practice playing down the octave ala dvorak cello. There’s plenty of material on imslp.org for free or you can see what your local library might have. For trombone, I grew up messing around playing trumpet and tenor sax parts for reading Bb in pepband events (games etc.) Think tenor clef, but with the accidentals to transpose. Reading in C, see above.
  14. Look at Simon Fisher’s books. Basics in oarticular. Not a method per se, but very comprehensive with excellent technical details.
  15. I agree with funkyd04. Just last week I was playing sextets on bass with a german bow for two works and switched to cello for Rimsky-Korsakov and the rest of the evening. I prefer German on bass for control and increased dynamic range as well as a more relaxed arm position that lets me play for extended periods. When switching to cello in the same session without warm-up, I noticed how much less arm weight the cello could tolerate and quickly adjusted. Normally, I don’t switch on the same session and sight reading had taken more of my attention than the transition. I would personally only consider German grip on cello if I had issues in the right hand or arm. My preference on cello bow is to use the stringvision rubber cover for the frog to get the results that you seem to be looking for. When I have used a German baroque bass bow on cello, I had issues with my hand angle and right leg when playing on the C string. You will be reaching less up on the A string though, which might be part of the control issue you mentioned. I remember reading about a scandinavian cellist playing underhanded with great success (Finnish with a French bow?) Let us know how it goes.
  16. I grew up working in recording studios with many excellent musicians who double, some of whom are in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, others top jazz musicians. It's the musicianship that comes through whatever instrument they play. Just last night I sight read 4+string sextets on both bass and cello with my regular chamber group in which I usually play viola. I play violin in one community orchestra, viola in another, and bass in two more. I have a BA in composition and sang and played trombone at university. Your question is a good one. For me, I often practice the same thing on multiple instruments. I have transcriptions and or transpose clefs for some other pieces. My musical goal is not to play concerti as a soloist, but play parts musically with good tone and technique in amateur chamber and orchestral groups. Playing in different groups forces me to work on the technical challenges in the repertoire, which often translates to the other instruments. I also become more aware of differences in things like fingering choices and patterns. I find it fun to play in different sections and experience pieces from different perspectives. Practice the basics on each instrument daily until you are able to physically play it well with relaxed automaticity. When you get to the point where you are comfortable, concentrate on technique, musicality, and variety in expression with the bow. Continue to practice sight reading daily on whatever instrument you are playing. At some point you will be able to skip days on different instruments and just work on musicianship, letting the technique benefit from the cross-training. Whatever instrument(s) you choose, be a musician and play musically. That means in time, in tune, and stylistically appropriate to the piece, director, and or group and if you can do that sight reading, so much the better. That's what get noticed.
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