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Occam's Prune

March 24, 2009 at 11:08 PM


There is a new duet up at my favorite freebie site: IMSLP.  Vitali (of dubious Chacconne fame)duets for two violins and basso continuo.  About the level of an easy Corelli sonata.  Very pleasant material.
Thought for the day.
I believe it is really important to practice shifting intervals of a third or more in double stops as soon as possible and that this kind of work can actually take precedent over regular double stop scale practice if one is pushed for time.   Perhaps there are two main reasons for this.
Firstly,   the biggest obstacles to any kind of shifting is a failure to release any pressure on the side of the neck in both the index finger and thumb.  This is perfectly applicable in smaller shifts of course, but when we extend the distance to be shifted there is actually more time for one to notice that one has not released enough.  Indeed, while a short shift is sort of possible with the squeeze on a longer shift will protest volubly.   The second reason for this kind of work is simply because one retains the shape of the hand better working in double stops.
Another thing that has been on my mind recently apart from my cat is the question of over analysis.  I think we should know exactly what we are doing and be able to break things down into component movements to the nth degree. However, I have noticed that this doesn’t always give one the results one is striving for. Indeed, it may actually work against one simply because by paying such strong attention to our analytical part of the brain our internal vision of what we are trying to do gets smudged.   Suppose for example you wanted to play a simple bowing exercise using about a quarter of the bow at the tip.  Perhaps it involves three notes on a down bow and one on an up (or vice versa or whatever) spread over four strings.   In the process of working out how to this as efficiently as possible one may start ignoring what is actually coming out of the instrument or what the bow is actually doing.  By ret6urning to the simplest premise , `I am going to play the singe note for its full length with a good sound and think of nothing else.` Once that has been done one then simply thinks about and simultaneously plays the next note three strings away without paying any attention to any of the process of getting there.  In other words, have the mind only in the exact moment where presumably the current note is and then the next note is going to be.  By eliminating the intervening analysis one can often solve technical problems by letting the body do what it needs to do.  This is basically the Occam ’s razor of violin playing.



From Corwin Slack
Posted on March 25, 2009 at 7:25 PM

If one's now is more encompassing (i.e. if one can take in a longer stretch of music) one needn't analyze so much. I think that analytical tools are valuable in expanding one's "now" . Early on everything one does is an active thought. The more one practices the more one just "is" as opposed to actively "does". The more virtuous attributes appended to the moment the better.

Lately I find myself without a lot of thought, preparing my fourth finger more consistently. I never used to prepare 4. Then I started doing it quite consciously. Now it is (barely) starting to be unconscious.. 

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