June 2006

Practice, and Bowed radio

June 21, 2006 07:14

I'm currently listening to the latest episode of Bowed Radio - a podcast of music by String players from around the world. The latest episode features an exclusive track by the Turtle Island String Quartet that has been mentioned on these boards before. I haven't heard the track yet, but from the reputation that I've heard on here, I have high expectations :>

I got through a fair amount of practice today. 5 sessions - 30-45 mins each. I'm pretty please with that, because the practice that I did do was very intense and should help me quite a bit. I'm very enthusiastic at the moment, which is good because I have my violin technical exam on friday. I'm hoping that this enthusiasm can take me through the holidays as well, so that I can get some really good work done on all my pieces.

I'm also hoping to get some work done on my compositions, though I'm waiting until my exam is over before I get onto that.

Apart from that, all is going well.

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Isn't it nice when things just work?

June 15, 2006 07:53

Honda make some amazing ads, one of which is the Honda Accord ad known as "Cogs" (Take a view of it Here.

Basically, it's a complicated chain reaction of events all made by parts of the Honda Accord. Apparently it took 606 takes to shoot, and uses no computer generated animation. It ends with the line "Isn't it nice when things just work."

That's kinda how I feel with my trying out of new bows. As you know, I've been trying out some bows for a while - a JonPaul Avanti which I was keen on at first, but started to be not so enthusiastic about as I played with it. Last night, I got four bows to try out from the dealer my teacher goes to. They were all very nice bows, three older and one newer. Probably all of them Pernambuco, and all well within my price range. They were a variety of sticks - two round, two octaganal. One shorter than the others, one heavier than the others. One had a rather interesting screw (non-standard, it had more a panel that made it easier to grip).

I was told to be in the Carpark by the stage door at the Perth Concert Hall for 6pm (Makes it sound kinda like a Drug deal). I was taken into the greenroom while my teacher was on a break from rehearsals and tried out the bows. I tried all four with a fairly open mind. I was attracted to the two octaganal sticks. I played them a bit more, just really fiddling around. I was cautious to play out too much as there were many people around outside that I admired, so I was a bit sub-conscious. I took the four away to try at home.

Today, I got the chance to really try them out. I tried a number of bowing patterns out on Kreutzer 2 with all of the bows, listening to the sound and feeling how each bow reacted. Again, I was attracted to the two octagonal sticks. I started playing some of my pieces that I am learning, listening for the sound more carefully. I eventually decided on the heavier bow, finding it more stable in my hand and producing a louder tone.

And you know what? I remember when I first picked it up in my hands, and I noticed the heavier bow I thought to myself "I'm not sure about this" - I wasn't sure whether I needed a heavy bow. But when I put it to the strings, it just felt right, and it just worked. When I tried it out more thoroughly, again, it just worked. It did everything I wanted to, and I knew that this would be the bow almost from the first time I played it.

I have been looking for a new bow since the beginning of semester - around late February. It seems odd to me that this bow turns up and within a day I have decided. I guess it was worth waiting for.

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What is a musical instrument?

June 13, 2006 22:27

Some of you, my beautiful readers, may remember my blog/bitch session about one of my classes just recently about Electronic music. Well, it appears that this isn't the only thing that I find appalling in Music in Western Australia.

The Government of Western Australia is in the process of implementing a new system of education for secondary schools called Outcomes Based Education - known as OBE. This differs from the previous system in that instead of students being awarded Grades (A-F) they are instead awarded a Level. The level is a number of different outcomes that must be achieved in order for that level to be awarded.

Now there's a lot of debate at the moment as to whether this is a good idea or not. I'm not going to get into it, because that's not where my problem lies. My problem lies with the new Music course.

As part of OBE Music, it becomes possible for students to take music and for their instrument to be the Turn-tables, and this is then compared against a number of other more traditional instruments such as the violin and flute etc. The student has to study the same course, and know how to read music, but are the turn-tables really a musical instrument?

Well, by the dictionary definition, yes, and no. A dictionary will tell you that a musical instrument is a device for producing musical sounds. And yea, a turn-table will kind of fit in with that definition. But is it something that is producing musical sounds, or is it reproducing.

See, the problem with turn-tables is that you have to have an LP of pre-recorded material on there. Therefore, by playing it you are reproducing the music that was already recorded by someone else. Sure, the DJ will add scratches or play around with the straight recording, but really it is reproducing the music that has already been produced.

Now some people may argue that that's just what traditional instrumentalists do - we reproduce music that has already been written. Well, yes, in a sense that is right. We do mainly perform works by composers that are a couple of hundred years old. Here's where it gets difficult.

With traditional instruments, a composer will write a piece of music, and they will never really know how it will sound because there are a number of different factors, such as instrument (and the various instruments out there - we all know that most people would choose a Strad over a cheap imitation), skill level of the player, acoustics of the room etc. And again, advocates of the turn-tables have a counter in that there are a number of different factors in producing a good turntables scratch - quality of equipment and speakers for example.

But was the music that they are reproducing originally intended to be reproduced that way? Now this bit I'm not so sure on, and I'm sure that as this style of music grows that people will begin to create music intended to be mixed and scratched over on the turn tables.

So should a Violin be forced to compete with a Turn Table? In my opinion, No. In the previous syllabus, there were two streams - Classical and Jazz. Classical had their requirements, Jazz had theirs. I can't see why there can't be a contemporary syllabus that allows the implementation of Turn Tables, Rock guitar and bass, Pop singing and other such styles of instruments that aren't considered classical. The requirements are different, and as such they aren't require to compete against other styles which can lead to arguments over which style is better, which of course is a useless argument.

Of course, with this course Classical musicians are always at an advantage, often having started from when they were very young and knowing a lot of the music theory stuff that teachers would have to teach these new musicians. I just hope that the classical musicians won't be disregarded in order to bring these newer musicians up to the required level.

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Go Aussies!!!!

June 12, 2006 08:19

Tim Cahill 84' and 89'
John Aloisi 92'

And with those three goals, Australia registered a historic first world cup finals victory over Japan, 3-1. And the whole of Australia was watching, cheering on our boys in the game that we have been waiting for since November when it was finalised that we got into the finals.

It's 11:17pm at the moment, and luckily I don't have anything on tomorrow morning, because my adrenaline levels are far too high for me to sleep. Lucky Bram who has all the matches are a fairly respectable time, here in Western Australia, the earliest matches start at 9PM.

But anyway, Go Aussie, Go!!! This gives us such a great chance to make the second round, and has sparked the life into Australian Soccer.

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Exam Prep, Bow trials

June 7, 2006 20:58

Well, I'm on study break at the moment. I have three assesments left - a viva voce for aural, an exam for history 2, plus a technical exam for my violin. I'm feeling fairly confident, here's what I need to do for the tech exam:
Clapping Fingers (scales in one position, across all four strings and back down, in 7 positions)
2 octave arpeggios (Minor, Major, relative minor, sub-dominant, sub-dominant minor, dimished 7th, dominant 7th)
one string scales and arpeggios (as above)
3 octave scales (3, 6 and 9 notes per bow), plus arpeggios
4 octave scale and arpeggios on G
2 octave scales in thirds, sixths and octaves
A shifting excercises - 2nds, 3rds, 4ths and 5ths
Kreutzer 2 and 13, plus own choice (Kreutzer 11)
Weiniawski etude duet (equal parts)
Telemann Canon sonata
Orchestral Excerpts

All scales and such to be done on G, B and Eb (Major and Minors)

Gee, that sounds like a lot, yet I can get through all the scales in about 15-30 mins.

I'm still trying out the Avanti. On Tuesday, finally! I will get to try out the bows from my teachers dealer. So hopefully, I'll be able to make my decision soon. Gee, it's only been a semester since my violin was sold... a semester since I told my teacher that I was looking for a bow, a semester since the dealer was contacted and told that I was looking for a bow. I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully, they're alright.

I joke with my parents sometimes that I should put an ad in the paper looking for a rich benefactor to support an emerging young violinist and composer. Music isn't really a cheap venture to get set up in...

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