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The Weekend Vote

V.com weekend vote: Which is your favorite string?

October 24, 2014 10:18

violin stringsWhich is your favorite violin or viola string, and why?

Of course we need all our strings, and we appreciate them differently, depending on the music. But writing about Giora Schmidt and his quest for a modern instrument this week, I was struck with one of his preferences: that he wanted a violin with power on the D string, for those special D-string moments, like the beginning of the melody in the first movement of the Tchaikovsky concerto. It made me think, which string do I like best on my own violin, and why? When I pick up another violin, what do I want to hear from each string, and what would be a deal-breaker, if I didn't like it?

So I thought it would make for a nice vote this week: which is your favorite string? Here are a few thoughts on the various strings. First, that part of the Tchaik with the nice D-string moment -- here is Josh Bell playing the piece at the 2013 BBC Proms with the National Youth Orchestra of the U.S.; the part I'm speaking about is at 3:13:

Some people don't like the brightness of the E string, and yet check out 16:08 in the video above -- what other instrument than the violin can reach those height and still sound gorgeous?

One might have a little "thing" for the G-string (no silly jokes please!) because of moments like the beginning of the 2nd movement of the Franck Sonata -- behold Soyoung Yoon playing it in 2009 at the St. Elizabeth competition (wish I could tell you the pianist!):

Of course, the A string seems to be at the center of our universe, the beloved note that tunes the orchestra. Should it be 440, 442, higher? Do we think much about this string, or is it just a workhorse for us, between the juicy high and low notes?

And I've included the C string, as we are all one family here in the string section. Many love those rich deep tones better than anything else.

So please chime in on your favorite string, and let us know why you picked what you picked! (If you like more than one string, and yes we all do, remember that this is just for fun!)

13 replies

V.com weekend vote: Do you make funny faces when you play?

October 17, 2014 18:12

Do you make funny faces when you play? This was a question raised by Graham Emberton's blog about mirrors this week, and I thought it would make a fun weekend vote.

I certainly used to make faces, when I was a child. In fact, after those early concerts my family often had more to say about my grimaces and facial contortions than about anything else! These were of the inadvertent kind, expressions that come from concentrating very hard. These days, I probably make some funny faces, but I think they tend to be more about the music than about my physical struggles with the violin. I hope, at least!

Many people are quite poker-faced and stoic when they play. Remember the cellist, Janos Starker? Gorgeous music came from his cello, with emotional content running the full range, but his face remained fairly unchanged as he played.

How about you?

4 replies

V.com weekend vote: When you listen to recorded music, over what do you most frequently listen to it?

October 10, 2014 11:47

Recently I heard loud music coming from my teenager's room, and instead of thinking, "Typical!" I thought, "How unusual!"

That's because my kids are more likely to listen to music via their headphones or ear buds. If they play it out loud, it comes from the computer, not a big pair of speakers. I can remember blasting music over my stereo (Sibelius symphonies, etc, yes, I was an unusual teen) but my kids don't really even have "stereos."

headphones or speakers

For that matter, neither do I, these days. We have a pretty nice, albeit compact, speaker that allows us to broadcast iPhone music throughout a room. But frankly, I don't listen to as much music out loud, either. For example, listening to classical music over noise-canceling, high-quality earphones is really a treat, I can hear every single note. It also doesn't bother anyone else. And while computer speakers don't create the best sound quality, listening while on the computer is convenient. I still do a great deal of my listening in the car, as well.

Still, it's nice to hear music in the air.

When you listen to recorded music, over what do you most frequently listen to it? And tell us about the specifics of your preferred technology in the comments section, as well as thoughts on "over air" or "over ear-buds" listening.

8 replies

V.com weekend vote: How long did it take you to become a fluent music reader on the violin?

October 3, 2014 10:44

As with learning to read words, learning to read music takes time and practice before one becomes fluent.


If violin is your only instrument, learning to read music can seem a little illogical, as the concepts relate much better to the piano. For those who started on another instrument, like the piano, that background can be helpful because the concepts do transfer. But theory and concepts can't take you all the way.

When you read music, you have to read it aloud, on your instrument, in real time. Passing a theory test is one thing; playing what you see is another. To get good at sight-reading, you have to practice doing it, and that simply takes time. For me, I'd say it took a very long time to call myself a fluent note reader -- and I began reading from the very first day that I put the violin to my shoulder!

How long did it take you to become a fluent reader, to be able to play what you see reasonably well the first time? Or are you still working on that?

16 replies

Previous entries: September 2014

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