Showing posts with label Violin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Violin. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

3 Stages in Learning to Play VIOLIN

Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association 2015 Summer Studio Recital
Photo by Artotem
Tackling a skill like "learning to play the violin" can seem like a daunting task. However, in reality, learning to play violin falls into just three stages. There's the beginner stage, where you're just learning finger placements, postures and playing basic music. There's the intermediate level, where you're becoming comfortable with the instrument and you're learning to play music that really shines. Finally, there's the advanced to mastery stage where you're truly bringing something unique to the world. Read on to learn how to advance through these stages as quickly as possible.

Stage #1 - The Beginner Stage

The first state is the beginner stage. The most important thing to watch out for in this stage is that you instill good habits and have fun while learning.

The two biggest mistakes people make are not having good posture, not getting the fundamentals or not caring for their instrument right from the get-go. On an emotional level, people can get discouraged if they're not learning to love the learning process in the beginning.

Having good examples is crucial for this stage. In particular, watching videos of violinists playing can really help internalize the violin posture.

Stage #2 - The Intermediate Stage

The intermediate stage is when you really start to learn how to play great music.

At the beginning of this stage, you'll still be consciously moving your fingers and having to think through your music. As you advance through this stage, notes will simply become music and the movement of your fingers will become automatic. Your violin will become an extension of you.

As you reach the end of the intermediate stage, you'll be at a level that's equivalent to getting a "masters" in playing the violin. You'll know most of what can be taught by someone else to you.

You can play beautifully, you can play songs from music sheets, you know all the fundamentals by heart and you're just a great musician.

Stage #3 - The Advanced to Mastery Level

This stage is the "Ph.D." stage. At this point, the instrument truly becomes an expression of you.

Have you ever heard someone playing at such a level that you could truly hear the emotions flow through the music? Have you heard people play the classics with their own personal twist added that really makes it come alive?

That's the final stage of learning the violin. At this point, you're not just learning how to replicate other people's music. You're learning to use the violin as an expression of yourself.

Getting through these stages can be tough without a guide. Especially the beginning stages are difficult to navigate without having good violin instruction. Having a detailed step by step guides can make a big difference. One great way to guide yourself through the process is with detailed online videos.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

How to Hold a VIOLIN in Rest Position

English: Yury Revich violin
Yury Revich violin 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A violin is usually not played in a rest position, but it is still important to understand how it can be properly done in an ensemble or during a concert. The reason is that the orchestra is not only an auditory sensation for the audience but a visual one as well, so it's very important to coordinate positions, bowings, and fingerings so that the players look and sound as uniform as possible throughout the entire concert. When every violinist is in a rest position, the orchestra looks like a single unit rather than a bunch of characters casually sitting on stage with instruments.

Rest position simply means holding the violin at your side. You do this by bringing the violin under your arm and keeping it there while supporting the fingerboard with your forearm and hand. You want to press the violin securely against you and should be able to let go with your left hand very easily even despite the fact that it should be holding the neck of the instrument. This is simply because the weight of your arm should be strong enough to support the violin without a struggle.

The appearance of rest position should be uniform in an orchestra setting and should happen at specific intervals to maintain a consistent postural alignment between all the players. When the conductor is not on the podium, all players should be in rest position. When the conductor moves to the podium, take your instrument from rest position to attention position, which is where the violin should rest on the knee. Finally, when the conductor raises his hand to dictate the downbeat, bring the violin up to your shoulder in playing position.

While some aspects of playing the violin are elementary and easy to pick up on such as this one, there are a number of techniques that are extremely challenging and take years and years of work in order to master. For that reason, I always advise every single person interested in playing the violin to get a good teacher and start learning as much from someone who is more knowledgeable than they are on the violin. You will only learn so much from yourself if you try to teach yourself how to play, whereas with a teacher your possibilities on the instrument will be unlocked by learning all the things you don't know that you don't know about the violin.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

How to Care For Your VIOLIN BOW

Turning the screw on a modern violin bow cause...
Turning the screw on a modern violin bow causes the frog (heel) to move, which adjusts the tension on the hair. - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is important to develop good habits when caring for your violin bow. A good and responsive bow makes a huge difference in the sound of your instrument. There are several key points to remember to properly maintain your bow. Most importantly, always loosen the hair when you are finished playing. This is done by turning the bow screw counter-clockwise. You should feel the stick relax back into its original arch (camber). If the bow is left tightened for extended periods, the stick can lose its camber and can even warp. Furthermore, the hair can stretch out. If the hair stretches too much, you will not be able to tighten the bow to playing tension. It is vital to remember never to force a bow to tighten because it is possible to break the butt end of the stick by forcing it. If you can't tighten the hair, you should take it to your violin shop for a possible rehair. Bows should be rehaired depending upon use and the condition of the hair. There isn't one rule about how frequently to have a bow rehaired.

An additional key to caring for your bow is to remember never to touch the horsehair with your fingers, as dirt and oils can get on the hair that will cause it to lose its ability to accept rosin. In general, it is always a good idea to wash your hands before you play your instrument. Some peoples' hands tend to perspire profusely. Not only can the sweat remove the varnish from the stick, iit can also soil the hair at the frog. For those with sweaty hands, frequent hand washing is more than a recommendation -- it is a must. When perspiration builds up around the frog of the bow, it can attract grime that can cause the frog to get stuck in position on the stick. When this happens, the frog will not move -- even when the bow screw is turned to loosen the hair. If this happens, the frog should be taken off of the stick, using care not to allow the hair to become twisted. Then, the stick should be cleaned. If you find that your hand is "eating away" at the stick or the varnish, you can have your luthier apply a long leather to the handle of the stick to protect it. This is frequently done on fine bows to preserve the makers' stamp from wear and tear.

The frog glides back and forth on the stick by a simple mechanism of a bow screw and an eyelet. The bow screw is usually made of steel and the eyelet is usually made of brass. The brass eyelet is a much softer metal than the bow screw and can strip. If you find that you cannot tighten or loosen your bow, chances are good that they eyelet has become stripped. On occasion, it is possible to carefully remove the frog from the stick and turn the eyelet one-half of a turn, in order to locate some remaining thread left that has not yet become stripped. Then, it is possible to reset the frog back on the stick and reset the bow screw. This doesn't always work, but it is worth a try.

On the stick near the frog is the thumb leather and winding. The thumb leather is there to protect the stick from the thumb and thumbnail. Over time, your thumbnail can wear through the leather and start carving into the stick. If your thumb leather is warn, you should have it replaced at your next rehair. This will help preserve the stick and value of your bow.

The head of the bow is very fragile and under a lot of tension. At the head, you will find a tip plate. The tip plate can be made of metal, plastic, ivory or mammoth and is there to protect the head of the bow. If your tip plate is not made of metal, it can break when bumped or can crack if the hair isn't carefully inserted during a rehair. If it should crack or break, you should have it replaced immediately.

Using too much rosin is a common mistake made by many players. Rosin should be applied sparingly and only when needed. You should not see a white cloud of rosin come off the bow when you play. Once there is too much rosin in the hair, it is nearly impossible to get out. When you use too much rosin, it will build up on the strings and your sound can become very scratchy -- since you are essentially playing with rosin on rosin. Also, rosin can build up on your instrument and damage the varnish over time. To avoid this, it is important to wipe off your instrument, strings and bow shaft with a clean soft cloth each time you finish playing. Microfiber cloths work great for this.

Tightening the bow too much when you play is another common mistake. There is no rule for how tight a bow should be as it depends on the strength and camber of the stick and is different for every bow. If your bow is too tight, you will have trouble controlling your bow and it can become too bouncy when an even sound is desired. You can test how tight to make your bow by playing long and even strokes. The hair should just barely clear the stick at the middle of the bow. If you see a big gap between the hair and the stick, then your bow is too tight. You can keep experimenting with hair tension until you find that you have good control over the bow.

When you have developed good habits you will find it very easy to maintain your bow. Eventually, you should be able to do this without even thinking about it.

    Sheila Graves - Violin Dealer - Article Directory: EzineArticles          

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How Can You Tell If a VIOLIN TEACHER is Good?

English: Susanne Hou performing the Mendelssoh...
Susanne Hou performing the Mendelssohn violin concerto with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra in Vernon, BC, Canada. 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The main reason you want to find a good teacher is to get access to learning correct violin technique. Why do some violin players only perform in the local school halls while others grace national concert halls and world-renowned recording studios performing with symphony orchestras? A great deal has to do with correct technique.

Don't Be Fooled

Just because a musician puts an ad in the local paper advertising their services as a music teacher, does absolutely NOT mean that they may suitable or even appropriate as a violin teacher. Notice I didn't mention qualifications?

Once again, if a violin teacher has a BA in Music or a 4th grade "this "or 5th grade "that" may also not be a definitive indication that this violin teacher has herself been taught correct violin technique. So how do you judge?

The Best Advice Here

A virtuoso Australian jazz pianist who also was the head of music department at a prestigious art school in Australia always used to say in lectures - "It all comes down to; how well can you play your instrument" That may seem simplistic however that's where the beauty lies...

If you ever try to get a job with a symphony orchestra you'll find out that they're not that interested in the "pieces of paper" you have, but you can count on having an army of people sitting at a table watching you carefully and listening to your audition. Again, I pose the question - "How well can you play your instrument"

So, therefore a good teacher will have these:

Look for a professional performance resume

Most good violinists have delivered some notable performances at some point. These could include theater or concert, TV performances or traveling overseas to perform. Recordings or touring with artists who are publicly known is a good indicator that a musician has reached a proficient level.

Look for a professional teaching resume

Also, a good indicator is a violin teacher who has some teaching experience in a quality educational music facility. Some musician is so good that they don't make very good teachers mainly because they don't know how to break down complex musical concepts into small 'bites size pieces' for students to pick up and digest. You may find these quality education facilities as high priced private high schools or colleges.

A good idea might be to call up the school and ask who the violin teacher(s) there is. Then ask if they teach privately. Ask them about fees (also another good quality indicator - generally high prices indicate quality, but not always). Also, ask them for a professional resume or less formally in conversation "who do you perform with?" If they say an orchestra of some description, make a note and look them up. They may also say a string quartet. Again, look this up on the Internet.


Starting with a teacher that will teach you correct technique from the start is absolute GOLD! If your serious about learning an instrument, spend some time to find that teacher. Good luck in your endeavors.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

CD ACCOPANIMENT For VIOLIN PLAYER And More: Find Great Choices At Music Minus One

English: Violin with sheet music in a repair s...
Violin with sheet music in a repair shop, Salzburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Accompaniment CDs make violin practice more fun and enjoyable. Music Minus One has always specialized in selling musicians the best choices for sheet music and audio accompaniment and, with our online store, it's never been easier to begin discovering the difference that our products can make for your musical life.

Music Minus One first started to offer our customers a unique way to practice over sixty years ago. Since 1950, we've continued to ensure that we maintain our current position as the top choice in sheet music and audio accompaniment by constantly expanding our catalog. Our mission has always been to help musicians find the most enjoyable way to improve playing their instrument. Music Minus One works hard to ensure that we're the number one choice for players of all genres of music and all types of instruments by stocking plenty of options for every style and every skill level.

Our store is a complete resource for all types of musicians. Music Minus One sells accompaniment CDs for violin, piano, guitar and much more. We are dedicated to giving every one of our customers a great choice for their sheet music and CD needs and stock exceptional options for nearly every instrument and vocalist. The Music Minus One online store currently sells accompaniment CDs for violin, drums, harmonica, accordion, oboe, saxophone, flute, electric bass, harp, vocalists [across all ranges and styles] and much, much more. Our products span many different genres of music, from modern pop and folk to baroque, gospel, Broadway and more. Every type of musician is bound to find the type of sheet music and audio accompaniment they desire when shopping the selection available through Music Minus One.

The online Music Minus One store is a great choice for musicians from across the entire world. We've created our site as a one-stop shop for customers regardless of where they live. We also carry the finest accompaniment editions from other fine publishers around the world in one convenient location. Music Minus One products can be purchased at retailers in many different nations and our entire catalog is also available for online ordering. Check for free shipping offers at our official website regularly to save even more on violin accompaniment CDs and more.

There are many fantastic ways to take advantage of the exceptional products on sale through Music Minus One. Why not give the musician in your life a gift certificate to Music Minus One for an upcoming special day? We sell different amounts of gift cards that take the hassle out of shopping for music lovers. Simply give a Music Minus One gift card as a present and allow the recipient to shop through our retailers or online to find exactly what they'd like.

Get the most out of your time playing or practicing your instrument by shopping for violin accompaniment CDs and more at Music Minus One. We maintain a comprehensive range of choices for any musician to shop from and are always.

    For more information on Music Minus One and our entire range of sheet music and accompaniment CDs for violin and more, visit MusicMinusOne.

    Music Minus One provides musicians around the world with top quality accompaniment recordings and sheet music for practice and personal home orchestras. To find out more, please visit

    Article Directory: Article Dashboard

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Electric VIOLINS

English: Silent violin
Silent violin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are many different types of violins out there a person can choose to play. One that is popular for performing is the electric models. These are violins that are plugged into an amplifier. This allows the sound to be generated louder as well as a further distance. You will find many bands may incorporate the use of an electric violin in all of their songs or just a few of them to provide a more unique sound. These days you can find an electric guitar in just about any genre of music.

Some people think that the electric violin is a newer type of instrument. However, they have been around for about 85 years. Of course, these early models didn’t give the same quality of sound that you get today. This is a reason why they weren’t used very much for performing to large crowds. The feedback from them was an issue that could really annoy the audience as well as hinder the overall sound they were trying to produce. 

In order to ensure there isn’t any feedback from the use of an electric violin, they are designed a bit different from other types. The most significant difference is that the design of the body is solid. You will find the various types of wiring needed for the sound to be produced lives inside of the body of the violin.

The violin has always been a well-loved instrument for hundreds of years. It continues to evolve and to keep up with the advances in music technology. With an electric violin model, a person is able to get the sound they want from it. Yet they can use it to pay in front of hundreds or thousands of people without any problem.

Most music stores carry several models of electric violins that you can choose from. If you are interested in them go and try out some of them. You may have a particular manufacturer of musical instruments that you are loyal to. If that is the case then you should check to see if they make any types of electric violins. They are lovely instruments that will last a very long time. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The VIOLIN - Music Instruments of the World

The Violin - Music Instruments of the World

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Techniques to Relax Your Fingers So You Don't Let Stiff Fingers Spell an End to Your VIOLIN Dreams

English: Young Violinist
Young Violinist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are you just starting out with the violin? Flexibility in your fingers is extremely important and any violinist who wants to be able to play a wide range of songs NEEDS to have flexible fingers. However, finger flexibility is a common area that many people have problems with. This is also the case in adult violinists who are just starting out with the violin for the first time and don't have the nimble and flexible fingers that they might have when they were a child. What usually happens is that if they are unable to improve their flexibility, they give up trying to learn the violin altogether.

The first thing you need to do if you suffer from stiff fingers is to PRACTICE. Practice as much as you possibly can. Stiff fingers need time and experience to unstiffen. In addition to making sure you practice when you can, a little cardio workout will also do wonders. This gets the blood pumping through your system and into all areas of your body, like the tips of your fingers which will help when playing. You don't have to go for a run before you start playing, but go for a brisk walk and maybe walk a few flights of steps before you pick up your violin.

This little warm-up exercise is frequently used in the world of sports. First, sit or lie down on the ground in a comfortable position. Visualize that your fingers are warm, flexible and nimble. Imagine that you are playing a piece of music without any difficulty. See yourself playing this piece in tune and effortlessly. Half of the battle is believing in yourself. It doesn't help if you have friends or a teacher tell you that your fingers aren't flexible enough and you'll never be able to play complex pieces. Practicing this visualization technique each day will help instill confidence in yourself.

Remember that any stiffness you have may also come from other areas in your body and not your fingers. A final trick is to start off playing pieces of music slow. Once you are able to play them slowly without any problems, speed the song up just a notch. Repeat the process of learning the song as the new speed until you have mastered it and then take it a notch higher. This will help to improve the nimbleness of your fingers and remove any stiffness.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About Violin From A-Z - FRANCOIS TOURTE

F.X.Tourte engraving by J.Frey 1818.jpg
Francois Tourte (Photo: Wikipedia)
Hello, today I am continuing with my series everything you need to know about violin from A-Z. We are now on T for Francois Tourte. Francois Tourte is credited for the creation of the bow as we know it today. He made is known for making a significant contribution to the development of the violin bow and is considered the most important figure in its history. He has often been called the Stradivari of the bow.

Francois Tourte was a Frenchman that started out making watches but soon changed to bows for classical stringed instruments. He began his career as an apprentice to his father who was also a bow maker.

After his father died he took over the business and in collaboration with virtuoso violinist G.B Viotti began to make important changes in the design of the bow.

The biggest changes he made were to lengthen them slightly, use more wood in the tip and a use a heavier nut. He also invented the idea of having a screw in the nut used to regulate the tension in the hair. His final innovation was the invention of the spreader block. Violinists of that time complained that the hair was tangling when attached in a bunched or roped fashion; the spreader spreads the hair out into a flat ribbon preventing it from tangling.

Tourte's bows were made from pernambuco wood and were noted for their heaviness. He never varnished them and instead rubbed them with pumice powder.

Tourte was noted for his extremely accurate and neat workmanship at the height of his career he could name his price and would destroy any bow that was not absolutely perfect before leaving his workshop.

    By Eric B Hill is a professional violin player and teacher with over 20 years experience.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Electric *VIOLIN* Shock Treatment!

A five string electric violin.
A five string electric violin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An annoyed grimace spread across my conductor's face upon hearing a Bach concerto played with crunchy distortion in the band room before an orchestra rehearsal.

Expecting to find a headbanger guitarist mocking the establishment by shredding away at a time-honoured classic, his fury slowly melted into a pitying look of concern and sad loss, as if inside his head he was thinking, “Dear God, there goes another one.”

My dad had bought me an electric violin and I was making heads turn with my heavy variations on the classics.

The Zeta Strados Modern violin, with its funky profile, maple flame finish and revolutionary bridge pickup design, has been the height of electric violin technology for some time. Technology aside, this violin made it possible for me to be regarded as cool by my peers, even though I was still playing music by dead guys with wigs.

My model even had five strings, which made it more of a violin/viola hybrid, the low range is perfect for raunchy power chords and guitar-like riffs.

Despite my conductor's fears, the arrival of the Zeta did not mean the end of my classical playing, though it did make me humbly aware of the huge proverbial iceberg of music that lay hidden beneath Beethoven and Mozart.

The electric violin made it possible for me to play in heavily amplified situations free from a fussy microphone and a clumsy mic stand and completely eliminated feedback. Word got out that there was an electric violinist at school and I played in all sorts of bands, from country to heavy metal, jazz to pop and disco to swing.

I soon discovered this violin wasn't limited to playing in loud venues entirely. My Zeta became very useful in studio situations where consistent levels, tone and timbre are required. No microphone is needed here, so engineers don't have to fuss to get the mic in the exact same spot every session and the room doesn't have to have good acoustics. I just plug in my patch cable directly into the main mixer and play, leaving reverb and levels up to the engineer.

Forget the noises of passing trains, cell phones and even the player's breathing into the mic wrecking a good take. This gal stomps to the beat, playing free from headphone or isolation booths, and chatting it up with the engineer between solos. And since Zetas are designed to sound exactly like an acoustic violin rather than a “bowed guitar,” the end result sounds unmistakably like a regular, old-fashioned violin.
Granted, there are things you can do to tweak your violin into sounding quite unlike a violin. I plug into an effects box and play with chorus, reverb and distortion effects. Better yet, Zeta makes the “Synthony,” a synthesizer that converts the violin's analogue signal to MIDI.

Jargon aside, with this tool you can make your Zeta sound like anything from a trumpet to a Chinese gong or any other sound imaginable. With more features than I can list, the Synthony isn't cheap, which explains why I'm still stuck in analogue mode.

Which brings up cost: Even though electric violins have no acoustic body, there is still a vast difference between low and high-end models. Don’t be swindled into buying a cheap $150 “instrument” from anyone, no matter how nice the thing looks in the photo.

Remember that you get what you pay for and electric violins, like any new technology, have become a market for suckers. You wouldn’t buy a $150 stereo system, why’d you buy a $150 instrument and amp? Such “bargains” sound nothing like a violin, feedback terribly when amplified and never last very long due to cheap components. Just like acoustic violins, you’re better off saving up for a good violin rather than throwing good money after bad.

Heck, it’s worth getting a fine electric violin just for the looks you get from other players! I’ve always enjoyed the double and triple-takes I get when I play the Zeta anywhere. I also reserve full bragging rights when speaking to other electric violinists. Denis Letourneau, one of my violin idols in BC, Canada, has a green one-of-a-kind Thompson violin, “Green Dragon.” He’d kill to have a Zeta though, so I’ve always got something to hold over him whenever we talk shop!

As a year-end treat I the Zeta into lessons and teach my violin students about reverb, distortion and the concept of studio recording. Shocked faces, similar to the aforementioned expression of my former conductor, meet the music as concerned parents witness their children creating gruesome variations on their lesson songs.

The kids absolutely love playing on it, especially with distortion and reverb. The shyest of students are rock stars as they bang out a G major scale at full volume. That's the beauty of this instrument: even a scale or arpeggio becomes fun for students.

I usually teach students a pentatonic scale or show them how to pull off power chords in 5ths. This literally keeps them occupied for the entire lesson and they leave only grudgingly. This at the final lesson of the summer when most kids are not at all keen to be indoors or learning scales. They leave the lesson motivated to practice their butts off and prove to their parents they are dedicated enough to deserve one too.

“I've created a monster,” I say to myself, knowing these parents will be inundated with requests for in the car on the way home.

    Check out Zeta at and tell them about my endorsement of their 5-string Strados Modern violin! Maybe they'll sponsor me...

    By Rhiannon Schmitt
    **Rhiannon Schmitt (nee Nachbaur) is a professional violinist and music teacher who has enjoyed creative writing for years. She currently writes columns for two Canadian publications and has been featured in Australia's "Music Teacher Magazine." Writing allows her to teach people that the world of music is as fun as you spin it to be!
    Rhiannon's business, Fiddleheads Violin School & Shop, has won several distinguished young entrepreneur business awards for her commitment to excellence. Her shop offers beginner to professional level instruments, accessories and supplies for very reasonable prices: Visit

Monday, June 25, 2018


Fiddle player
Photo  by rfduck 
When many people think of country music, they think of sad songs about lost loves, broken down trucks and runaway dogs. In their minds, they are hearing all of these woes sung in the traditional twangy country accents of the south. However, these perceptions of country music are far from where this style of music has evolved. Today, country music is one of the most popular genres of music, normally outsold only by rock and pop genres.

Created in the late 19th century, country music has undergone many changes over the years. There are now many sub-genres to this type of music, with some of the sub-genres being commonly played on top 40 radio stations.

To understand country music, it is helpful to know about the instruments commonly associated with it. In country music, one of the most common instruments used is the fiddle (or violin). Some of these instruments can be expensive, but most are relatively inexpensive and are very easily transports since they are light in weight and not overly large. When country music first ‘hit the scene’, the fiddle was practically the only instrument used as accompaniment. 

However, as the country music style became more popular, the addition of other accompanying instruments became normal. The banjo became popular in some country music pieces in the mid-1800s, while the guitar did not break into the country music scene until the early 1900s. Electric guitars did not become a regular instrument in country music until much later in the 50s. Other various instruments used in country music are the piano (introduced in the 1930s) and the drums (used since the 1960s). Rarely used, but distinctive sounding instruments are used in certain country songs: the accordion, the harmonica, and the washboards.

Country music has roots in several different styles of music. Its beginnings started with the settlers that came from Europe. During that time, many couldn’t read or write, so songs were created to pass history down from one generation to the next. Although country ballads have changed a great deal, going from the original songs about objective, though gruesome, events to more personal, subjective ballads without all the gore.

Today, the sound of country music can sometimes be very similar to other genres of pop and rock. Some country musicians, like Shania Twain, have many songs playing on stations that aren’t considered “country”. There are also musicians, like Sheryl Crow, who are considered pop/rock but have songs popular on country stations.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Various VIOLIN Facts of Interest

English: portrait of Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane...
Portrait of Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane Grappelli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What do the following have in common?
symphony orchestra, string quartet, Stradivari, high school orchestra, Yehudi Menuhin, string orchestra

That's right - it is the Violin.

So what is a violin?

Here are various violin facts of interest.

A violin is a musical instrument with four strings played with a bow or plucked and is the smallest, highest sounding member of the string family. A violin consists of a sound body or belly with two f shaped sound holes, a fingerboard attached to one end, four strings and a separate bow. All in all a violin consists of no fewer than eighty-four pieces.

The sound body is made of wood and it increases the volume of sound. The two f shaped sound holes in the sound body allow sound vibrations to escape from the body of the instrument. The four strings made of catgut or fine spun metal is held in place by pegs at one end of the fingerboard and the tailpiece which is attached to the belly. There is a wooden bridge near the tailpiece which supports the strings. The bow is a flexible stick with horsehair stretched across, used to produce sound vibrations when moved on the strings.

A violinist holds the violin firmly under the chin on a chin rest fixed to the left of the tailpiece and raised slightly from the sound body. A pad is placed between the back of the violin and the body to strengthen the grip of the chin and collarbone on the violin if desired. A sound is produced when the violinist draws the bow with the right hand across the string(s). The left hand is used to finger the desired note and this is done by pressing the string (s) down along the fingerboard. The length of the string alters depending on where the finger is pressed and this will give the varied notes.

Before a violinist plays music, the violin needs to be tuned. Tuning is done using the four open strings and an external source such as another instrument eg piano or oboe or electric tuner. Each string is plucked and if they do not sound the same as the equivalent note on the other instrument or tuner then the pegs are turned either tighter or looser. The open or full-length strings of the violin are G D A E which are fifths apart ie the interval of G to D is a fifth and so on.

Once tuning is done then sounds are created. The sound of the violin is nearer to the human voice than any other instrument. The violin produces sounds ranging three and a half octaves and music is written on a treble clef stave. Violin players can play a wide range of music from solo playing to group playing in orchestras eg symphony, string and high school, string quartets, smaller jazz bands and more. It is interesting to note that a violin can be modified to become an electric violin where a lead attachment to the sound body is added. You hook a lead from the violin attachment to an amplifier thus creating a louder sound suitable for violinists to play the jazz-pop music of the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Let's go back in time to the sixteenth century. This is when violins first emerged. Some great violins were being made in Italy by people such as the Amati family from Cremona, namely Andrea, his sons Antonio and Girolamo, Girolamo's son Nicolo and Nicolo's son Girolamo. Andrea perfected the violin, his two sons made some changes but Nicolo was considered the greatest of the Amatis. He had pupils, Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri who produced great violins and passed the craft on to their families.
Italians also composed some great music for the violin and these included Arcangelo Corelli (1653 - 1713 ), Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741 ) and Giuseppe Tartini (1692 -1770 ). Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750 ) from Germany composed three partitas for solo violin which was a landmark for solo violin. And this was just the beginning. There were many great violin composers over the years.
There were also many great violinists over the ages. These included the four Baroque composers mentioned above. Others included Joseph Haydn ( 1732 - 1809 ), Wolfgang Mozart ( 1719 - 1787 ), Niccolo Paganini ( 1732 - 1840, Joseph Joachin ( 1831 - 1907 ), Ludwig Spohr ( 1784 - 1859 ). George Enesco ( 1881 - 1955 ), Yehudi Menuhin ( 1916 - 1999 ) and Nigel Kennedy ( 1956 - ). Nigel Kennedy was a pupil at The Yehudi Menuhin School founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1963. This is just a small example of violinists as the list is large.

Hope you have enjoyed reading the various violin facts of interest. As you can see the violin has had a good few hundred years of history with great creators, composers, and players. This small instrument with a wooden body, strings, and bow to help produce the sound can play some wonderful music once tuned, whether it be solo or in a group. It is a beautiful instrument to listen to.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About the Violin From A-Z - STRINGS

violin strings, used and new, coiled on a work...
violin strings, used and new, coiled on a workbench (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hello, today I am continuing with my series everything you need to know about violin from A-Z. Today we are on S for strings. A hundred years ago violin strings were made from sheep gut. First, you would have to take a newly killed sheep and disembowel it. You would have to stretch the intestines to their full 9 meters. You then had to knead out the offal by hand and soak the guts in water until they were soft and malleable. After that, you would strip and crush the guts and finally twist then into violin strings.

It was a disgusting painstaking job and thank heavens that era is behind us. Modern strings today are made with far easier and modern methods, although some players still use gut strings there are also now steel core strings and synthetic core strings. The type of strings you use will depend on the style of music that you play.

Gut strings today are not made entirely out of gut like in the old days; they are now wrapped with silver or copper wire which helps to stabilize the tone. Gut strings have a warm rich tone they take longer to stretch out than synthetics but once stretched out are generally quite stable. Gut strings are susceptible to bad weather and you will have to check the tuning of your violin if there is bad weather. Gut strings are generally used by violinists playing classical or baroque music.

Steel core strings are popular among non-classical players such as that playing country and bluegrass styles of music. Steel core strings have a very direct clear sound with few overtones. They also last longer and are mostly used for smaller or beginner instruments.

Synthetic core strings are made from synthetic materials such as high-tech nylons and composite materials they have the warm sound qualities of gut but are more stable in pitch.

Thicker strings give more volume and center tones, while thinner strings give brighter tones but less sustain.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Beginner's Guide to DOUBLE BASS

Double bass.
Double bass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A double bass is one of the largest musical instruments you can buy and is commonly used in orchestral music and genres such as jazz.

But people who are purchasing one for the first time may wish to consider a number of factors before making an investment. For instance, what size of double bass do you intend to buy and do you have to stick to a budget?

Double basses in different price ranges are available, so musicians have the option of deciding what sounds best for the amount of money they intend to spend.

The age of the player could also influence their choice, as a three-quarter size instrument would probably be more suitable for younger people.

And the type of music you want to perform is another factor. For example, jazz musicians, in particular, are often known to favour three-quarter size double basses.

There are four main parts to the instrument.
Firstly, there is the bridge, which supports the strings and transfers vibrations to the body of the double bass.

This contains the F hole - a space on the main body of the instrument that allows sound to escape.
Double basses also contain tuning pegs similar to those on most types of guitar, which make the strings longer or shorter to get them into tune.

And finally, they include a tail spike, which allows musicians to balance the bow on the floor when playing the instrument.

Musicians can buy a brand new double bass at highly affordable prices, but some may opt to purchase a secondhand instrument.

However, if you do intend to buy a used double bass, do not worry too much about aesthetics, as the sound should be its most important quality. Indeed, the large size of the instrument means that you would be very lucky to find a used instrument that does not have at least some superficial damage to its body.

But a double bass with well-repaired cracks should not present a problem to any musician, although if it has severe cracks, it could make a strong buzzing sound when it is used.

People who are looking to buy a secondhand double bass should also look closely at whether it has any loose parts that may need replacing, such as a tuning peg.

And since this instrument is likely to be a long-term investment, make sure it is a good quality item that is not likely to fall apart any time soon.

Other practical considerations also need to be addressed. This is a very large instrument so do you have sufficient storage space for it? A double bass stand can be purchased to ensure it is stored safely and neatly.

And for those who plan to play their instrument outside of the home, it would be prudent to see whether it comes with a hard case, as this should stop it from getting damaged in transit.

Musicians should remember that they will need to keep their instrument well-maintained. For example, a double bass player will need to use rosin to make sure the bow is properly looked after.

But if prospective players take all this into account when making a purchase, they should be able to make the most of their double bass.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

VIOLIN Vibrato

Violin Player - Flickr - aldenchadwick CC
Gaze at and Genuinely Hear Nature's Vibrato as you Learn to Master the Violin

Late twentieth century psychologists described a "split" between the look and the gaze, describing how looking at a person or object equips you with factual, empirical data about what you see, but gazing involves studying the object with "the eyes of the heart," learning to read the soul of all you behold. All fine artists must perfect their gaze. Their art demands no less. Similarly, psychologists describe radical differences between listening and hearing, valorizing hearing. When you can detect a stone's heartbeat, you have mastered the fine art of hearing. Follow your imagination to the nucleus of your most cherished possession and hear the sub-molecular music the atoms play as they draw their orbits around their common center-little different from drawing your bow across your strings, and certainly rich with vibrato.

In order to master any musical instrument, and especially in order to master the violin, you must learn to hear. And your ability to hear the world all around you will have the most profound effect on your violin vibrato-the sounds of nature and feeling represented on your four strings.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Romantic composers used their music to recreate and intensify Nature's sublimity-Her overwhelming power and her breathtaking beauty. The greater the sublimity, the most intense the vibrato, because nothing in nature sustains one single and pitch-perfect note. Nature tends to warble, babble, trill, and sigh, all of which require vibrato. How would you ever set the music to the butterfly's wings without vibrato? How would you ever score the sunbeams glancing from the rippling brook without this technique? Lightning's flash demands staccato, and then thunder's gathering roar absolutely requires rolling vibrato from the furthest reaches of the bass clef. No vibrato, no romance.

Fast forward to the early twentieth century and the birth of the "modern" era. In all of the fine arts, "modern" works intend to represent man's domination of his environment and the rise of automation. In music, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue sets the paradigm, because it lives and thrives at the intersection of the urban landscape and human emotion-both of which demand vibrato. A "rhapsody," by definition, recreates a mood or series of emotions. As Rhapsody in Blue moves from serene-little vibrato-to reflective and vaguely melancholy-slow -to manic as traffic around the Eiffel Tower-speedy, the notes and harmonies recreate feelings and sensations, but the changes in vibrato subliminally determine the audience's different moods. Even in its disciplined, precisely noted triumphal passages, Gershwin's masterpiece includes violin and oboe descants that quiver like a nervous lover's "Will you...?" The counterpoint captures the contrast between industrial mechanism and human need. No vibrato, no mood. And the vibrato's speed determines the mood.

Just about everything in the modern world vibrates, and few things perfectly sustain a single note. The water pump in your Land Rover, for example, spins against its belt playing approximately a "high-C" accentuated with an incredibly fast vibrato. With a little practice, you can match your own to your water pump's speed, recreating post-modern nature, matching the mood of your play to the frenzy that drives your life. But make sure you include the tremulous descant set in a minor key and calling for slow, mellifluous vibrato, so that you leave ample room for post-modern human nature, too.

    Hailey Alton is a violin performer, music lover, and enthusiast. -  Article Directory: EzineArticles

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About VIOLIN From A-Z - ROSIN

Rosin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hello, today I am continuing with my series everything you need to know about violin from A-Z. Today we are on R for rosin. Rosin is the soft sticky reddish substance that you coat your violin bow with. The purpose of rosin is to allow your violin bow hair to grip the strings causing them to vibrate and produce sound. Without rosin we wouldn't be able to play the violin, the bow would just glide smoothly over the strings producing no sound.

Rosin is made from the resin of pine trees collected throughout the world. It is taken from the tree in the same way that maple is taken from maple trees. First, a hole is punched into the tree a drip channel and collection bucket is fitted. Several grooves are cut above this bucket and resin runs out of the tree and into the container.

Other tree saps will be added to this resin the mixture is then heated purified and poured into molds. After the rosin sets it is cut into blocks smoothed polished and packed into containers. Furthermore, there are two kinds of rosin. The first kind is the darker stickier rosin which is more suited to cooler climates the second is the lighter harder less sticky rosin. Both will work equally well on any violin and you should try out as many different brands as you can in order to find the one that best suits your needs. Be very careful when applying rosin to your violin if you use too much it will drip onto the violin and cause permanent staining.

    By Eric B Hill
    Eric B. Hill is a professional violin player and teacher with over 20 years experience.

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About VIOLIN From A-Z - STRING QUARTET

English: The Beethoven String Quartet from USA...
The Beethoven String Quartet from the USA; Gustav Dannreuther (violin), Adolf Hartdegen (cello), Otto K. Schill (viola), Ernest Thiele (violin). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hello, today I am continuing with my series everything you need to know about violin from A-Z. Today we are on Q for string quartet. A string quartet is a group of musicians playing string instruments most often two violins a viola and a cello. This grouping is one of the most common groupings in classical music. It can also refer to a piece of music written for the above instruments.

It is seen as one of the most important forms in classical with most major composers writing music for this genre. Traditionally it will have four movements with a large structure similar to that of a symphony. The outer movements are fast while the inner movements consist of a slow movement and a dance movement like a minuet or scherzo. The twentieth century has seen this structure abandoned by most composers. Other chamber groups can be seen as a variation on the string quartet.

Historians have come to the conclusion that the string quartet arose by accident. Composer Joseph Haydn was working in Germany for a rich baron who wanted to hear music immediately and as it happened the only available players were two violinists, a violist, and a cellist.

The baron suggested that Haydn try his hand at composing something that these four musicians could perform and so the string quartet was born. This form of music proved to be so popular that Haydn continued writing pieces in this form and the style soon spread.

Quartet composition flourished in the classical era. Both Mozart and Beethoven wrote a series of famous quartets and to this day remains a popular form and are seen as a true test of the composer's art.