August 2007


August 26, 2007 20:26

How many men and women in their mid-fifties do you know that still take auditions? For sure not professionals.

It's fall and the town-gown orchestra that I play in from time to time is starting up. New students have enrolled so the annual ritual starts tomorrow. You would think that our conductors (graduate students who overlap from year to year) know some of us and don't have to hear us. But they're kids too and this is the way it is done.

They asked for polished performances and not works-in-progress. That seems kind of funny. When have you heard an amateur play something that was a finished performance? Years ago I thought I could play Meditation from Thais. It was finished so I thought. Now I am more likely to play Paganini's Caprice 24 than touch Meditation. i.e. horribly unlikely.

Kiddies make sure you get good enough or you'll be playing auditions when you're old.

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Up bow and down bow

August 11, 2007 16:43

Have you ever wondered what playing would be like if someone had found a way to create a continous tone on the violin? No up bows and down bows just a "virtual" round spinning bow?

Huge amounts of violin music would suddenly become impossible to play. Have you ever noticed and thought about the things you do between up bow and down bow? What if you didn't have this space to make changes and that you had to move from note to note, chord to chord with tone still occurring.

I bought a critical edition of the Paganini Caprices recently. The editor said that there are no accents on any of the chords in Caprice No. 14 and that all notes of all chords are to be sounded simultaneously and fully without retakes. It is extremely difficult with an accented detache but a legato harmonium sound seems completely unattainable. Even a flatter bridge (like Paganini's) would just introduce another set of problems.

Paganini aside, I have found that playing technical passages legato is a great tool for cleaning up my technique. It exposes the sneaky little cheats I use to hop around the violin and forces me back to honesty.

I don't really want a round spinning bow but it is a useful thought.

I read this to my wife, an organist, who reminds me that this is very much the challenge of the organ.

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