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nickia

Taking big breaths!

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Is it useful to take a big breath when starting a new phrase? Many soloists seem to do it all the time in their recordings. What does it bring? Extra power? More control?

thanks!

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You are indeed quite observant to have noticed this vital aspect in

the playing of the violin. Whilst we tend to think of the violin as

being all about the hands and hold, breathing also forms a very

important aspect in technique. Many people find that a deep, full

breath relaxes their muscles, and serves as a short pause before a

difficult cadenza or solo passage. I personally try to take a

breath every time I see one of those little "train track" symbols.

(Sorry, I know what they look like, and what they mean, but not,

apparently, what they are called) Whilst breathing will not really

affect most peoples playing, (it is a thing many professionals will

brush up on) it is a good habit to form, as it helps relax a

violinist, regardless of their playing level. I am not good enough

to notice a real tonal difference, but when I am very absorbed in a

piece, I will occasionally forget to breath, resulting in my body

tensing up. (Not to mention a great deal of discomfort)

Gis Poste!

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In most cases I doubt it's intentional. I think it's more a habit of people getting caught up in the phrasing. It can be a problem for the exact reason you mentioned... it can be audible in small halls or recordings, especially if the mic placement is close.

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No no no no no nononono ... I'm going to have to write a big long answer to this when I have more time (unless stillnew takes care of it for me) but there are some BAD assumptions here. The short version: yes it IS intentional (sometimes, as it should be) yes it is UNintentional (as it ALSO should be), no it doesn't HAVE to be noisy/audible, and YES it is important/helpful for players off ALL levels. If your teacher didn't teach you to do at-the-frog upbow pickups by having you breath in quick then exhale long, then MATCHING that feel with your bow, s/he should have. Yeesh. What is this world coming to. More detailed diatribe later.

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In these times of over-engineered, "perfect" recordings, I find an occasional breath can lend a pleasantly human element to the high-tech product. One of my favorite breaths occurs in the Szeryng/Rubinstein collaboration on Beethoven's 8th sonata, in the Tempo di Minuetto. I have no idea whose breath I hear, but I always find myself breathing with him.

J.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
pandora

No no no no no nononono ... I'm going to have to write a big long answer to this when I have more time (unless stillnew takes care of it for me) but there are some BAD assumptions here.

I thought nickia was asking specifically about big, clearly audible breaths. My impression is that's often a case of the player getting caught up in the tension of the music and taking an especially big breath that then is heard by everyone. My husband and is often concerned about that and wants feedback about whether his breathing was audible in a small hall situation. Recordings can also be a concern if the mics are really close. In big halls even a huge breath never seems to project, so what the heck.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
pandora

No no no no no nononono ... I'm going to have to write a big long answer to this when I have more time (unless stillnew takes care of it for me) but there are some BAD assumptions here. The short version: yes it IS intentional (sometimes, as it should be) yes it is UNintentional (as it ALSO should be), no it doesn't HAVE to be noisy/audible, and YES it is important/helpful for players off ALL levels. If your teacher didn't teach you to do at-the-frog upbow pickups by having you breath in quick then exhale long, then MATCHING that feel with your bow, s/he should have. Yeesh. What is this world coming to. More detailed diatribe later.

My teacher once told me to breath when playing arpeggios but I found it really awkward because it shakes up my bowing and shifting

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Yes, it is intentional, and it not only does good things for the muscles, it also serves a musical purpose. The player who breathes with the phrases is creating a natural sense of timing - we try to breathe as a wind player would, or a singer. It's not necessary to be audible, any more than an oboist or a soprano needs to breath audibly.

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Concerning breathing I don't think having a conductor who is a tenor is an advantage. A string instrument is totally different than the human voice. I would prefer a conductor for a symphony orchestra being a string instrument player too. As the majority of the members are string players the conductor should play a string instrument him/herself and have the knowledge of bowing and the different bowing techniques and the effects.

Singing is not comparable in technique with playing a string instrument.

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@ Noah,

Well, that makes sense!

I don't see the importance of breathing techniques for string orchestra players. For singers they have to think ahead to prepare in advance for a good intonation. As far as I know it has to do with muscles of the voicing system and virtualisation where the resonances should come in face and body resonance centra. As you know string instruments don't have muscles and the resonances are already fixed in the corpus for each frequency.

Suppose the whole orchestra (or string sections) takes breathes all at the same moment that would be catastrophic for recordings and for the audience. The multiplication of noise resulting in a too small S/N ratio!

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quote:


Originally posted by:
pandora

No no no no no nononono ... I'm going to have to write a big long answer to this when I have more time (unless stillnew takes care of it for me) but there are some BAD assumptions here. The ...More detailed diatribe later.

Pandora, diatrabize please - I'd like to know more. I noticed a friend of mine taking a sharp breath before a downbow (I think) years ago and I think he explained it was a cue for the pianist, but I don't think it was only in that kind of repertoire.

I did get an unfortunate and almost comical impression listening to a string quartet on the radio once. The violinist took a sharp breath before every phrase. It became clear that the "gasp" belonged to the violinist since it coincided with the violin phrasing. After a while I found myself listening for the gasp which always came on cue. I got the giggles and missed an otherwise well done performance. Couldn't the people in the sound booth have edited it out?

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