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Improved sound with a mute?


andrewuy
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I like it too, as long as I'm using a nice quality metal mute. Makes the violin sound a little like a bowed psaltery. Saves the left ear. Keeps the roommates happy.

However, I usually practice without it as I am only a re-beginner who needs to continue to build good tone quality.

Edited to amend: ...who needs to build good tone quality - the old-fashioned way!

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Mutes reduce a violin's ovetones most. these are the tones that make a violin sound like a violin and make such a relatively small-sounding instrument audible in concerto situations, Without the overtones a violin sounds more like a tonette. But each to his/her own taste.

I recall a time in my life when I preferred that muted tone too. But I suggest you try to like the real violin sound more - or find either an instrument or setup for your present instrument that you prefer.

Andy

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Most of us use the rubber mutes because they are convenient.

But I am wondering: for solo work (like the Bartok Roumanian dances), does anyone use a different mute than for orchestral work? The reason I ask is because I think the old wood mutes produce a remarkable sound--much more interesting than these rubber ones.

J.

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you've really lost me with this line of thinking..... the purpose and effectiveness of the mute musically is as a special effect, surely - not as the normal sound. Depending on the type of mute, of course, the volume and quality of the sound will vary, and it is worth experimenting.

I don't understand what you're talking about when you say the mute effetcs the 'stop length' and intonation(fingering?)??? Please explain.

Omo

I don't like overly intrusive mutes that may even eventually damage the bridge; I've never used those rubber ones that hang around on the strings between bridge and tailpiece. One other way of inhibiting the sound is to place a paper tissue over the f-holes.

As to the most muting mute: try playing with an un-rosined bow!

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I don't see how it would change stop length. My understanding is that it works to dampen vibration of the bridge, either by increasing the bridge's mass or through the use of vibration-absorbing materials such as rubber.

Do you think the mute's alteration of the overtones your ear hears while playing could be behind the need to adjust fingering?

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I think this is most likely what is happening when you find that using a mute changes your SENSE of intonation. I seem to recall a similar sense many, many yearrs ago. Back in those days I also had an old Tyrolian violin with a very sweet and pure tone; that can seem easier to play in tune because of the lack of prominant overtones.

Realize that a violin's overtones will be harmonic (in proportion) to string length etc.) while the musical context may require the intonation to be tempered - so some higher overtones can sound out of tune - especially on the lower strings.

Andy

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I liked the muted sound long ago too and like Andrew Victor’s comments about it.

I just play at home and don’t have a practice mute or orchestra mute. I used them as a kid years ago but disliked that wire gadget and just used the ebony clothespin. Does anyone have one of those new cute Mousetro mutes and are they useful as well as decorative?

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I have been thinking over what you said that it dampens the overtones, and was about to post another question when I saw your new post.

I have noted that using the mute makes my tone more accurate, as you have said in your post, and I think it has a lot to do with the dampening of overtones. Now, if it helps in my intonation, do you think it is a good crutch for intonation practice for new materials?

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Glaesel Wire Violin Mute (Shown below).

mute.jpg

IS THAT WHAT IT IS? .... LOOKS LIKE IT MIGHT DOUBLE AS A MOUSE TRAP!

I actually just use a short piece of stiff plastic-covered electrical wire. Fits in behind the bridge (under G, over D A and under E - for violin). Costs nothing; comes in all gauges, strenghts and colors. And while it can be pushed hard up against the bridge the amount of muting can be controlled by the closeness of the fit.

Omo.

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I had one of those wooden mutes in my youth orchestra days. Unfortunately I lost it during a concert on our Spanish tour. My A string snapped as the orchestra peaked on those big crashing chords in the 2nd movement of Tchaik 5, and my mute went flying off into the audience. After that, I went for one of the wire and plastic jobs, which I also still have 15 years later. That's also when I learnt to lubricate the nut and bridge with a pencil whenever I change a string.

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I use one of these as an acoustic tone control. You can vary the tone a lot by closeness to the bridge and just take the top down slightly on a shrill violin.

mute.jpg

I've known non-classical players who like the muted sound as their default sound and why not? You can actually get very different tones from different mutes.

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I'm going to suggest something that someone should have said long ago here: if you like the sound of your violin muted, perhaps you should face the fact that you don't like the sound of a violin. Nothing horrible about that, but I have found a number of people who have "improvements" to the sound, in their opinion, and it often involves taking something away from the sound, not adding to it, that they are in the minority, and that the result is not the instrument that most people like.

I've noticed this particularly with native Asians, many of whom, I think, spent their formative years listening to the very different tonality of Asian traditional instruments, evaluate the violin in terms of that sound, and find it "lacking". It's a reasonable thing to prefer one sound over another, but, in that case, for instance, perhaps rather than trying to turn the violin into another Asian instrument it would be fairer to take it on it's own terms, I think.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think Michael is right in his assessment of both - 1)your not appreciating the true sound of your violin and 2)in certain instances, being more accustomed to the softer sounds of Asian traditional instruments.

The violin to most people playing/listening close for the first time is loud, often harsh. However more experienced hands & technique is required to soften/sweeten things up. Also, you cannot learn to make good tone with the constant use of a mute, especially the heavier metal practice mutes. When you eventually do, nothing compares.

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I've found that the sound is 'interesting.' I liked to practice with it before, just for variety, until I realized that a mute actually changes the pitch on my violin, making it flatter and then I move up to compensate and then take the mute off and some of my runs are messed. Hmm. Another thing is the tone- it's harder to see what it's really gonna be like if you use a mute.

But the variety is nice, I'll admit.

Lavender

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"I've noticed this particularly with native Asians, many of whom, I think, spent their formative years listening to the very different tonality of Asian traditional instruments, evaluate the violin in terms of that sound, and find it "lacking". - Michael Darnton

Theoretically, this is very logical indeed. But maybe, this could not be the explanation why I like the muted sound. Because although a native Chinese, I have not spent my formative years listening to the different tonality of Chinese instruments. Besides, I started to learn the violin because I like its sounds, at least when I hear others play it as a child. The real explanation at least for my case, needs some self-examination.

But what Michael pointed out is something worth examining. If it is true, could this be the explantion why different violin-maker with different nationality will try to produce different tone for his violin, according to his concept of "good tone"? Maybe then, the fine Stradivarius we have nowadays are "good tone" of an Italian tastes. Besides different nationalities associated with their different tonal experiences in their formative years, we may also add auditory uniqueness for each individual, as a factor in "good tone" experience. It proves that tone is really a very subjective thing.

But something I notice, maybe why I like this muted sound, is the fact, as mentioned by Andew Victor earlier, is the ability to play more in tune because of less overtone. Another thing is the volume. The reduced volume, I noticed is less demanding for my auditory apparatus in long practices, making me more concentrated, and more at ease to enjoy the sound. Just listen to music turned at high for hours and you will understand.

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