May 2007

Changing Strings, Pt. 1

May 29, 2007 23:50

I decided that it was time that my strings got changed. It's been about a good 6 months for by D and G strings, and 3 months for my A and E strings. They were still sounding pretty good, but their tone was diminishing just slightly.
I had been using Evah Pirrizi's, and while slightly expensive, getting them through Concord Music made it a bit easier on my bank account (AUD$70 including shipping, as opposed to AUD$130 from the shops here). It was the standard medium gauge set, with the Gold Eing.
I decided however that since I didn't have a recital this year, that I'd experiment with some other strings to see how they sounded on my violin. Of course, when you change a full set of strings every 6 months, it's kinda hard to get an idea of which strings sound better when new. I know that most strings sound pretty good on my violin (the Exception being Obligatos, which lost their tone within a month), so I thought I'd write about my thoughts as they break in. I'm also recording myself playing a couple of easy pieces to see if I can notice any change in tone.

So I bought a set of Larsen strings from Concord, with the Gold E string and the Silver D string. I'm also wanting to try out a few different E strings, so I also got a Lenzner Goldbrokat, Westminster, and a Hill Special Steel E string. At the moment, I've got the full Larsen set on. I put them on this morning - so they're still settling in.

First thoughts.
I Have a set method of putting strings on my violin. G-E-D-A. I think I read somewhere that it you put it on this way, it creates a more mellow tone, where as if you put it on E-G-A-D it creates a more brilliant tone. Personally, I don't think it would make any difference, but I do it the same way anyway. It also means that you're working from the closest peg to the furthest peg, so it does make it slightly easier.

The G string sounded very raspy on my violin. There wasn't the rounded tone that I had come to expect from a G string. I'm hoping that it will develop as the string wears in.
The E, A and D strings were all pleasant, I had no complaints at this stage. The E found it's pitch rather quickly, the A, D and G are still stretching, though the D is probably further along than the G or D strings.

They've had about an hours worth of playing at the moment. They'll get another couple this evening, and hopefully another couple tomorrow, when I post again about my thoughts on them.

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Newspaper Article

May 23, 2007 04:17

I appeared in my local newspaper article recently. The story was supposed to be some advertising for my Youth Orchestra concert which is happening on Sunday. Unfortunately, the writer focussed the article on me, and didn't include the number for where you can get tickets. But oh well.

I scanned in the article, despite some of the details being not quite correct. Click on the image to be taken to a higher quality, Larger image (1.7MB).
Ben Clapton in the Wanneroo Community Newspaper

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Audition Success

May 19, 2007 02:10

I had an audition for my university orchestra yesterday. Results were e-mailed through this morning. I got into the firsts.
This was slightly surprising for me, because I didn't really prepare a heap for the audition. I was going to be in the orchestra anyway, because we don't have enough strings for there to be competition for places. I didn't really care whether I sat in the seconds or firsts, so I just practiced the excerpts half-heartedly, and went into the audition with the same frame of mind that worked for my last performance. "F**k it, just play"

My last performance was pretty darn good, a big improvement on previous performances. The audition I guess went pretty well, seeing as I got into the firsts. I think this frame of mind works. Maybe you should try it sometime.

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Tango, Jobs

May 11, 2007 07:30

At my university, in the reference secion we have these books called "Avec sans deux" or something to that effect. It's a french book, and there's one for each instrument. It covers the first ten years of learning that instrument. Well, they call it the first 10 years, but their 10th year is pretty bloody impressive... after playing for 13 years, I think I'm doing pieces in the 8th or 9th year. Basically, it covers all the "top" repertoire for that year of learning, in Solo, With Piano, With ORchestra, Duos (with the same instrument) and Chamber Music. I was looking for any chamber music that I could do with 2 violins (For the beautiful Ashleigh and I), Violin and Harp or Violin and Guitar (Will talk about below). As I was looking through, I noticed that it had some Violin Etudes written by Astor Piazzolla. Piazzolla was known for bringing the Tango to the concert stage, and has a link with Stravinsky in that a first performance of one of his works induced a riot in the audience.
These Tango Etudes are originally written for Flute, but Piazzolla also writes that they can be played on Violin. Having had a bit of a play, I can say that they are possibly on violin, but are probably a bit easier on the flute. But I'm enjoying playing some Tango music (because I sure as hell can't dance a Tango), and hope to explore this music a bit more.

I think that I have been a bit privilidged in my work. I recently returned to do some work at a supermarket, but quit after only a month. The reasons for this was many, but a major one was that I was doing dull, mundane work, and getting less than half of what I could get playing my violin. But there's only one problem... I'm not getting enough work with my violin to not have to do dull mundane work in a supermarket.
This has got to change. I've approached a harpist about forming a chamber group to look to start playing in a Restaurant and she seemed keen. She apparently has a couple of hours of music already, so we look pretty set there. I'm also wanting to find a guitarist who's pretty flexible in the styles of music so that we might be able to do some classical stuff, but also some Jazz and Folk music as well. Hopefully if I can get a couple of nights with these happening regularly, I'll have a nicely paying job which will allow me to be a bit more free with spending my money.

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Violin Resources

May 3, 2007 17:29

Here's a list of resources that I've found over time that are very useful to any violinist.
Tips and Tricks - Five things every player should know about caring for your instrument
A well written article from Strings Magazine about how to look after your instrument. Covers: Installing and Caring for Strings, How to deal with Bow Bugs, How to look after your instrument, How to fix a tilting bridge, and detecting and Deciphering Buzzes.

Just Wipe it Off

Dealing with rosin on the instrument, and keeping your varnish in tip top condition.

6 Things to look for when buying a bow
Material, Weight and Balance, Shape, Price and Test.

Best Bow - Finding the right stick for you
Going into more detail about the Material, Sound, Weight, Balance, Shape (Round or Octagonal), and testing it in the shop.

Stick to it - Basic Bow Care
Tips for looking after your bow. Keep it safe, clean and look after the hair.

Rosin Decoded - Deciphering What it is, how it's made, and which one is right for you
What Rosin is, how it works, which one is best for your instrument, and different types.

7 Things to consider when buying a violin
Playability, Tone and Sound, Price, Craftsmanship, Setup, The Package, The Dealer or Shop.

Rest Assured - Choosing the Chinrest that's right for you
A brief history of the Chinrest, and different styles for you to choose from.

The Straight Dope - What every player should know about Pegs
The Nature of Wood, The Cure, and The Best Wood for Pegs

Tools for Tone - Mutes
A discussion about the various types of mutes available, what they do, and why you should have a variety of them.

Orchestral Auditions
This is a list that I compiled of Orchestral Excerpts for Violin Auditions. These are excerpts that have actually been asked for in Auditions around the world. It not only lists what excerpts are expected to be known, but also what other items - some request some solo Bach, others a Mozart Concerto, some go with Chamber Music. Anyone considering an orchestral career would be wise to make sure they know all of these.

If anyone else has some articles that they think are worth mentioning, please post. I would be welcome to receiving these and adding them to my collection.

Reposted from

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Better day today

May 2, 2007 08:23

Today was a much better day than yesterday (sorry about my abrupt post).

My car got fixed, I got lined up for a newspaper article for my community news, I finally got my web server working properly (you can go visit and you will actually be connecting into my lounge room!) and I even managed to get a bit of practice in.

One girl who was reading my blog (I think she likes me, she read every blog that I have posted) suggested that I get less focussed on the practice element of my blogs. When I went through some of my old blogs I realised what she was talking about - a lot of them were "I did 3 hours practice today" Far out, I can't believe there's people out there that still read my blogs after going through a period like that. So I'm not going to tell you how much practice I did. Just the fact that I did some.

I should probably get some sleep so that I look pretty for my photo shoot tomorrow. ANd I'm going to be a complete Violin nerd and wear my t-shirt. I shall scan and post the article should it get published.

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Once again, I've dissappeared

May 1, 2007 02:38

I am still around, seriously I am!

Let's see, what's been happening. Gigs... setting up stuff for my new business venture.

My car broke down on Saturday, and I haven't got it back yet. In a bit of a bad mood, will post more later. I promise.

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