opening of khachaturian concerto

February 9, 2018, 3:32 PM · I'm learning the first movement of the khachaturian violin concerto and I think I'm doing pretty well with it so far. the only part that I'm not doing too well with is the very first few lines. they're all on the g string, mostly fast sixteenth notes, and it goes up to a c5. intonation is fine but the tone is yuck. part of it is because my bow desperately needs to be rehaired and it doesn't grip the strings well, but I still feel like there are things I could do to improve. thoughts?

Replies (5)

Edited: February 9, 2018, 3:57 PM · It could be your violin - have your teacher try it on the same violin.

On some violins this can be improved completely with different strings.

February 9, 2018, 5:01 PM · Have the bow rehaired, and use sufficient rosin. Also, make sure your violin is properly adjusted and the strings aren't too old.

Make sure that your arm level favors the left-hand side of the string, rather than being closer to D-string level. Use solid arm-weight, closer to the bridge.

That top C in the opening phrases is a wolf note on some violins. If it is on yours, angle the bow slightly to try to limit the wolfiness.

February 10, 2018, 5:38 AM · Hi,

Anna, what is it about your tone that you don't like? In teaching this piece in lessons or masterclasses, here are some of the things I have noticed and that you can investigate:

1- Uneven elbow height - many times people will drop the elbow on down-bows. Keeping the elbow a the same height during the strokes (one string, one level of elbow) and making sure that the strokes are lateral can be quite helpful. The principle symptom of a problem in this area is a kind of buzz on all down-bows.
2- Excess pressure - many times, people will tend to hold the bow too tightly. Releasing the fingers of the right hand (i.e. not pressing them into the bow) is important in this opening. The principle symptom of excess pressure of the right hand into the bow is scratching.
3- Contact point - often times, people will tend to play too close to the fingerboard. Moving away from the fingerboard towards the bridge can help add clarity to the sound. The principle symptom one hears for a problem in this regard, aside from lack of clarity is problems in intonation.
4- Raised shoulders - It is very important that the shoulders are open and sitting down. Many times, because of where in the bow this opening occurs, people lift the left shoulder (and the right) and bring the violin to the bow. If this is happening, you will hear that the tone sounds choked.
5- Over-spreading of the index of the right hand - Not to get into debate about bow holds, but an extended right hand index can create excess pressure and tension in the hand that can affect the clarity and quality of the sound. Bringing the index closer to the rest of the hand can release tension, excess pressure, and bring clarity. The symptom in the sound of an over-extended index is a slamming on down-bows and a kind of metallic like quality to the tone.

Hard to say anything without hearing you, but in my experience, the above things (aside from problems with the instrument, bow, strings) are the technical ones that most often come up with problems of tone in the opening of this concerto.

Hope this helps...

Cheers!

February 10, 2018, 1:11 PM · Hi Anna, you could try wearing a cheap set of 33 decibel noise reduction ear plugs when you practice as they cut out a lot of the unpleasant scratch from playing in higher positions and bowing closer to the bridge.

It is also my opinion that if your violin has not been played much in the higher positions that it will improve somewhat with more playing in time, but this is a very controversial subject and many or most may disagree with me.

February 13, 2018, 1:10 PM · Higher positions on the G string usually do not require as much force as we think (I sometimes practice passages on the D string for feel, and then transfer to the G string). Not too close to the bridge, closer to the fingerboard. Bow angle should be deep (ie higher arm, hair close to the imaginary C string). Finger strength and angle in the left hand can also make a big difference - fingers should be very curved and strong feeling but you don't have to press as hard as you think, particularly when the left hand shape is correct, reaching around the bout. Good luck - what a great concerto, btw :)


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