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September 2009

The Magic in a Tone

September 10, 2009 10:46

Last night, after a pretty full day at Fox Studios recording for ‘Avatar’, I had the privilege of attending a dress rehearsal of the Los Angeles Music Center Opera. 

It was Donizetti’s charmingly witty vehicle for vocal display, ‘Elixir of Love.’

I say I was privileged because I really heard some really first-class vocalizing.  If you love singing and don’t know the names Nina Machaidze and Giorgio Caoduro, I’m sure you will soon.

In any case, my mentor and teaMilstein always said that he learned more from listening to singers than he ever did from violinists.  And last night the reason why was particularly evidenced in the vocalizing of Ms. Machaidze.

A great tone is all about focus and what I’d call the purity of the vowels.’  This lady has it all, in spades. 

Now, on the violin we tend to equate getting ‘focus’ with drawing a straight bow, perpendicular to the strings, as close to the bridge as is possible.

The ‘purity of the vowels’ part of the equation has to do with the more subtle elements, like bow speed and pressure, the centering of the pitch, and the way the vibrato is shaped.

When all of these come together in a well intentioned, harmonious manner something magical springs to life.  Suddenly there is that ringing-ness that penetrates right to the core of one’s being. 

In an instant we are transformed and transported.

Truly, a cultivated tone is one of the great blessings we can bestow to this world.  And in my DVD programs I have some valuable, specific insights to share with violinists on this most important subject. 

All the Best,
Clayton Haslop


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