November 2006

NYT article

November 29, 2006 18:41

There is a fascinating article in the New York Times about the research and experimentation going on in the science of the acoustics of a violin. It is an interactive media, so I had a hard time getting a true URL or link. If you go to the Arts section/music, it should come up.

"Simulating the Masters"

Very interesting, and containing a lot of the subject of the more intense debate-threads :).


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Christmas Melt

November 22, 2006 18:30

I have been very bad. I have been so tired from this long string of gigs that I decided to take a little break (for two days) to rest before the Christmas concerts begin.

The naughtiness falls in the fact that it has turned into more than two days. Except to play/record things for fun, which doesn't count as practicing.

I think my conscience ran away, because I feel no remorse from my minute-ago-decision that today would make day 3 minus practice. That, or this is self-preservation from meltdown. That would make a good Christmas song. The Christmas Melt in Bb.

On the other hand, I've been listening to more music for violin and viola than a long shot...and enjoying it. How often I do not enjoy listening to classical music. It is such a joy when it becomes a pleasurable activity once again.


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Choosing a Piece

November 21, 2006 12:34

Wow, my Bruch is on the home page! I feel so honored...

Last night I played a gig with a community orchestra, about 4 hrs away. It is so much fun to play with them, because the members are really there to have fun. I was sight-reading, but the usual nerves that would accompany such a situation were not there!

I spoke with the director, and we decided not to do the Mozart 5 in the fall. So I've spent all morning looking up violin and orchestra pieces. I'd like not to do a concerto, since there isn't time for a whole work. It is no easy task to pick a piece. First of all, I've never played a solo with an orchestra, so I want to pick something where I can focus on the aspects that will be new to me, instaed of struggling with the music. I also don't think I will really have much rehearsal time with the a piece that is hard to put together or has a lot of lyricism within the tempi might be disastrous.

On the way home I heard Schumann's fantasy for violin and orchestra via Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Royal Philharmonic. I fell in love. But it sounds a bit challenging for me. I could learn it, but I have to be honest with myself, and I know there would be problems putting it together musically (not even getting to technical issues). So I'm thinking about Beethoven Romance in F? I looked in Wikopoedia, and they had a huge list of pieces. I want something less showy and more romantic and poignant. Bruch Fantasy? Hm...

Any suggestions? I have until next fall to get it performance-ready. I MIGHT be able to afford lessons on it.

Also on the way home, I realized that long hours of driving is more detrimental to my neck/back/arms/hands than playing a concert. My, my... you'd think that would be a no-brainer...but...

Whew. The next few months are going to be so hectic, playing-performing wise. I'm getting so many jobs that I have to turn down due to a packed schedule already. It feels good, as if I've come to some professional level. But it is also hairy and a bit scary/exhausting just thinking about it!

Well. Off for the day....


5 replies | Archive link

November 17, 2006 08:38

at night when it is raining
and the sky is orange haze from the city
the blue specks of streaking blink
are they vision
or the anger I was forgetting about today?

the purr furry in my chest
I know she is inside
the love she knows
and chirps.
is that the slow time of my baby
or is it the love I try to remember
about today?

the soft blanket rubbing my feet
scratchy heels against warm wrap
taking me into the swirling fall of
a deep sleep dark
is that music I hear or voice
randomly wording unconsciousness?
or is it the crazy left over from today
that I try to creep away from
(with beethoven or mahler
that hummed through last week)
and I was able to share, at last?

and when morning sneaks up
without warning or crisp-
dulling for hours of wheezy and
queazy until eyes blink wide
numbness parts-
it is tomorrow again?

can I start it without the streak of light
rubbing eyes too hard of itch
red and binding at the edges?
can the question end and finality
brim to the top of my hands-
bumps of bone stretch straight and free,
sky greyed down from peach
in daytime when it is raining.

what is there to push against?
purr and wrap into,
but the floating gusts
of another day great after great.

fly-feather bow drawn like spherical graphite
marks in contrast up
contrast down
it is the air in between contact
that makes beethoven day and play out loud…

and not a sound forgotten, remembered,
and shared with merely the cuddle of my own warmth
under fleece and aged cotton.

1 reply | Archive link

A Really Long Blog...

November 17, 2006 08:34

I've been meaning to post a blog for a week now, but whenever I get to the page, I feel a lack of energy to write. Oh well.

I did sectionals again last night, this time for a longer time, with both the Prep Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra. It was fun and the time flew by. I sat down this time, which took away an amount of authority I had standing (with the older kids) because I don't seem th at much older than them. I used my violin a lot with the prep orchestra because at times they just needed another strong voice to listen to. I really discovered the value of singing on pitch...sight singing. Singing the part while conducting (when I did conduct, it was just 2nd violins) was very helpful for them.

I've been writing. It is like music floating in my heat, but words. Phrases. Then when I'm not doing anything, they kind of pick a few phrases to go toghether and I rush in and write them down before I forget. It is a pleasant feeling when they are forming in my head randomly and so naturally. I'll post them gradually. I love writing, though it is just for personal enjoyment and to share with people who might like to read them. Like Terez was suggesting...


all the nodding pales between
acid and clamp
arching by navel and rib.
this cramp fell from versions engraved
stamps moulded
at the first cry of life.
which chose whom?
coming later or already stuck
lodged between skins-
blooming after trials and sins
like a pained rose
in no one’s side anymore?


a cat squeals out in the night
my hand, pausing on the doorknob
half turned-pulls away.
I turn around, searching the quiet,
finding no sound, no clue,
it is not mine,
neither is it mine.
Stained and broken by the cure,
as if the good I had done,
the nourishment placed for something stray
had caused a violence
I could not understand.


3 replies | Archive link

When a computer is not so Coincidental...

November 11, 2006 13:59

Before I get on a roll, I wanted to say HI PAULINE!!! Sorry I've been so bad abour replying emails...

I am listening to Mikrokosmos. I love the series of pieces! My father did a string orchestra arrangement of Mikrokosmos, so I wanted to see what the piece sounded like on piano before I take all the effort to convert a hand-written score to Finale. Are there stencils or something that people used to use for hand-writing scores? Because I could NEVER get one to look that cool, and I know a lot of tricks for hand-writing parts and scores....

I'm trying to motivate myself to practice, Well, I AM motivated, I'm just in sleep mode right now. I spent all my energy doing errands this morning. Grrr. This was my day for major practice. Since I missed two days.

Of course, I am filling my time on instead. I'm just waiting for the energy to come to me in a flash of I will notice.


p.s. Oh, mikrokosmos is over and my computer randomly chose Stamitz to play next. How appropriate, since I printed off a huge stack of viola and violin music at the library today and that was one I wanted to give a whirl today.

p.s.s. I think I abused the school's library privalege of free printing...and they have it set for double-sided so I didn't even have to get out the scotch tape!!!

5 replies | Archive link

November 10, 2006 07:28

There is a viola masterclass with a guest artist at the college this morning...9-11. I really want to go . It is almost 8:30 nd I'm still trying to awaken. I should dump my head in cold water.

The sectionals went well last night, considering my nerves. I actually wasn't too nervous once we got into it. Sweating like a pig, though!!!


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Advice on Leading Sectional(s)

November 9, 2006 00:42

Yes, another blog, within 24 hours. It occured to me that it is Thursday...(sort of) and on Thursday I do sectionals with first, seconds, and violas of the Youth Symphony. My first time, just this one time, though if I do well, perhaps again in the future as needed.

I don't know what music they are going to be playing for me to work with them on, but the conductor told me she will show me what she wants me to work on with them. I don't quite know what to expect or how to prepare. Except look decent, be in control of my nerves, and act professional.

I've taught private lessons and I've been in orchestras and sectionals with just my section. But the more I think about it, the bigger the blank section of my brain grows.

I know I can do rhythms with any piece, maybe find the thread of melody and chord changes and rehearse them seperately, or follow it through the sections. I can help them with fingerings, but I don't want to change any bowings. Maybe help with how to approach the bowings. The students are of varying levels. Some quite advanced, some new to the scene (I think).

Anyone with general advice on how to run a sectional of three sections? Generic techniques on how to work on ensemble with students, and detail work without the rest of the kids getting bored and fidgety? I read the strings class thread, but this is not really beginner players and their experience is greater.

What is the worst that could happen anyway? Hmm...I could fall over, start crying and dismiss them all, I could shake and be totally obvious about it with the baton (should I take a baton?)...I could have a breakdown, or I could....

most likely, be just fine. If in doubt, I can always work phrasing, which I was best at in conducting lab band. I actually studied the pieces though.

*yawn* The apartment is keeping me up. Clarify: the neighbors are keeping me up because I live in an apartment. I can't even evesdrop because they are speaking japanese or korean or something similar. So are they yelling for the fourth hour consecutively, or having a party?

I am restraining myself. I vacuumed at 10:30, but the hint was not recieved. My violin or viola would do it, but, as I said...*yawn*.

And that is how I came to be on in the wee small hours.

4 replies | Archive link

Muddy Slop on G and C

November 8, 2006 17:26

I'm so frustrated. I started playing my viola again. I'd taken a few weeks off on account of the tendonitis, using every minute I could to get the Mahler in shape. Now the concert is done and I want to play viola again. I've been playing it daily to record, but the parts for some reason did not elicit the frustration of yesterday and today. My viola is in dire shape. Maybe because I had massive headphones over my ears and the sound I was hearing was filtered through electronics to some degre...

There are several factors. bow is in despirate need of rehairing. But I can't afford any repairs right now...even rehairing. The humidity is fierce, so the pegs keep getting stuck, as a result, I have had to do a lot of stretching in and back to tune, which has, I think, damaged the nearly new strings to some degree. I switched the stringing of the lower two strings during my practice session crisis today, which made much more ring on the upper strings, but didn't help the lower two much.

Another factor is that I noticed that my bridge is like, a mile too high. That answers a lot of questions I've been having about proportion and why my viola is so incredibly hard to play. I am so tempted to take the strings off, remove the bridge, and shave it down myself. Does anyone know if this is something that can be responsibly done at home? If so, how to avoid the crashing of the soundpost with all the strings and bridge removed? I've never had all four strings off the instrument before (or my violin..i'm too scared of the soundpost falling). I think luxurious thoughts about playing my viola with the strings in closer approximation to the fingerboard...and less tension.

The other thing is that I cleaned my instruments and bows two days ago. I didn't polish them because my violin has been mysteriously sticky for a few months and I wanted to see if it was the polish. I think it was rosin dust buildup (not from contact, second-hand rosin from the cloud that sometimes happens). I also am clumbsy when I get too excited while playing and have been known to accidentally bow my violin...sides. Maybe the cleaning polish stripped some of the finish off? It doesn't look like it, but who knows?

Anyway. The problem is that the lower two strings are sounding so thick, muddy, fuzzy...The bow doesn't do what it is supposed to, it doesn't grab the string. I'm trying more and more pressure, different bow grips, all sorts of things, but nothing seems to work. The strings vibrate just fine when I'm playing a sympathetic tone, but not when I bow them. It is impossible to play the Bach suite 3 like this, because not only can I not hear the intonation clearly, but the effort I'm using to get the viola to play is destroying the delicacy I want with the piece. I've tried tightening my bow more, but that just makes it bounce like a basketball.

I played violin to soothe myself into a better state.

Any ideas?


7 replies | Archive link

Sugar Free Syrup and Pink Stamitz

November 7, 2006 13:12

I love peppermint, I love peppermint! I LOVE PEPPERMINT!!! Every week it is a different oil. My feet are kissing me right now because I used peppermint on them and they are now all tingly and cool.

Too bad I am slopping syrup all over the keyboard. Drip....I am trying sugar free buttermilk syrup with my waffles, but there is just something fundamentally wrong with syrup that has no sugar in it. I usually can't tell the difference in sweetners except sugar isn't nearly as sweet...but this? Yughck!

Anyway. The discussion on violin viola duets got me motivated. I downloaded and printed off a few, and recorded the Stamitz last night. FUN FUN FUN!!!! Today I am going to try a few more. I tried to print the Stamitz viola concerto, but for some reason it kept printing pink. I can only go so music???? That's almost as bad as sugar free syrup.

Well. Done with lunch now. Finished pampering myself. Time to practice!!.

p.s. Buri, if you read this, I keep getting my emails to you back. Undeliverable? I am using the link on this it good? (the email adress, not the site!!!)


4 replies | Archive link

November 5, 2006 17:29

Ahh. How do you remove a posted audio file? I'd like to take off the song I posted today. The lyrics are a little TOO emotive, even if it was a 19 year old version of myself that wrote them...



3 replies | Archive link

Mahler yesterday, Song today.

November 5, 2006 13:36

So yesterday was the Mahler 5 concert. Today is play day. I am allowing myself to do whatever I want, with no pressures or negative thought. There were some fairly ragged spots in the third movement, and some ensemble problems in the finale. But I am not personally responsible and I did my best, so I am pleased. I am also pleased because I played much more of the music than I did last time I played Mahler 5. I didn't let myself fake any passages, and if I felt I wasn't right on the money in runs, I paused my bow and waited for it to become clear. Since we were using the revised orchestrated version (by Mahler), it had such exposed parts that I felt this was more responsible than my personal image.

And my bow arm was smoothe and shake-less. That is a big deal for me. I felt confident and as a result, today is happier. I still had a cold hands problem, but it wasn't painful and I took good care of my body all weekend. I now have a break from my recently crazy schedule to play viola and practice solo rep. on both instruments.

I am going to post an audio file: I am not sure it is completely worthy, because it is a song, with string quartet accompaniment. But this is what I do for fun with music. Orchestra and practicing and the "quest" is fun as well, but this is how I relax with music. The song has 12 string guitar, two violin parts, two viola parts, and vocals. I take full responsibility for all of them, which could be good or bad.. The song was written in 1999 when I was an undergrad sophmore. Ahhh....the emotive years. It is called "Hypochondriac".


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With One Finger

November 1, 2006 16:59

A friend of mine went to a market in Toronto last month. One of the booths belonged to a woman with cerebral palsy, and she could no longer speak or move....except for one finger. She used cards to communicate. Her sale? Art. Her art! She paints, with one finger!!!!

My friend found amid her work, some cards with paintings of two cats on it, and thought of me (I am a bit crazy about my babies). The cards arrived in the mail today.

I am awed. There is so much character and love in the paintings. I will try to scan the front of one and put it on here. I tried to concieve the process in which they were painted, and I couldn't. It just made me feel warm.

And slightly aware of how easy I have it in comparison. To create art for me is so much eaisier than it is for her. Not that it necessarily means less, but the actual effort takes a bit less conviction, I think.

And the other aspect...her illness. It doesn't seem the least bit sensational. It is so very close to my heart, these cards.

It has my mind revving. When I am given a gift like this, it makes me see the world as a multimedia presentation of the sincerest sort. We are so unlimited by our desires and is just one way we portray who we are and what we find worth, well, presenting.

How multi-dimentional and beautiful we all are. One thing that strikes me about visual art sometimes is that, although it takes training and talent and skill, it is the creative aspect that is of most value. How does that, really, transfer into what I do? It seems a violinists expression and own creativity come in the way of fine details in context of another's writing. has arrived at my door....


edit: she has a website:

4 replies | Archive link

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