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Emily Grossman

Paper Dolls

December 22, 2011 at 4:31 AM

Upstairs, in my parents' game room where no one would really hear our dialogue, I lay the two instruments out on the sofa and dug out my recording device. First the Flemish. During the warm-up, I noticed it possessed a rather sensitive personality, and liked lots of bow speed and little weight. I doubted I would get much in the way of projection from it, but that sweet, woody tone! I played a Mozart passage, recorded it from across the room, and then picked up my modern Italian: such bold clarity! Beautiful, singing voice... I stopped the recorder and played it back. Both sounded nice in different ways. However, the Zanetti projected more clearly.

Then, I spun out a couple of fiddle tunes, up close to the recorder. Playback: the Flemish sounded sweeter and better suited for celtic and bluegrass, but once again, the modern Italian brought some nice clarity to the party. I chose a different passage--Bach this time--and ran across the room for another long-distance take. Back and forth, back and forth, this one, that one...

And then, a strange thing began to happen. After listening to the third or fourth recording, I began to forget which one was which, and they both began to sound very similar. I don't know if it was because I began to adjust the two manually to make them sound the same, or if my ears were getting tired. Either way, my decision suddenly became clear.

When all is said and done, two different instruments of similar quality--even when taking into consideration a considerable age gap, distant birthplaces, and opposing voice qualities--seem to have very little impact on the distinct personality of the player. Each violin had something that the other did not, but nothing changes the fact that it's the same girl wearing each outfit. Take some scissors, cut along the lines, fold the tabs, and have some fun with each pretty new ensemble, but in the end, not even a magic violin will make Emily Grossman sound like anyone but Emily Grossman.

In conclusion, my most practical option at this time would be to stick with one instrument and keep saving my money to help broaden my options. Who knows, I may never meet the perfect sound. I know I haven't found it yet, but I am just as happy as ever with what I've got.

I just hope I don't fall head over heels one day with the one that I'll never be able to have.

It's been known to happen.

I suppose I could just stay home...

But what fun is that?

From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM
Fascinating post. Never having had the luxury of trying another violin in the same class as mine, I am intrigued by your reaction. Seems the personality and technique of the person playing it is way more important than the violin's characteristics.

Happy holidays and New Year!

From Laurie Niles
Posted on December 22, 2011 at 5:18 PM
You're not talking yourself out of the Flemish fiddle are you? ;) If I play my old German fiddle next to my Italian for long enough, they begin to sound the same, but I think fatigue sets in. It's like wine tasting, after a while you're just plain drunk!

From Patty Wiegelman
Posted on December 22, 2011 at 5:41 PM
Everyday, I look through the new blogs, and look for your name and read that FIRST... I sit in my chair, and "shush" everything around me and read your entire blog, it always makes me think or smile. You have a gift of writing, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say :)
From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 22, 2011 at 9:14 PM
What Patty said. Emily, you are truly a treasure for all of us v.commers.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on December 22, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Aw, thanks!

Laurie, it's more a matter of strategy. I'm not 100% convinced it fits with my big picture.

From marjory lange
Posted on December 22, 2011 at 11:37 PM
...which makes you sound more easily like the Emily Grossman you envision? I mean, unlike a paper doll, you are nuanced, layered, multi-dimensional. Which voices your heart?
From Rebecca Hopkins
Posted on December 23, 2011 at 6:33 PM
Thanks Emily for taking the time to post your wonderful blogs!

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