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Mendy Smith

Gut Stretching and Other Musical Works

March 9, 2007 at 6:23 AM

Day 2 and the gut strings are still stabilizing. I tuned them one whole note above pitch the other night, and tonight they were about 1 whole note below pitch. I wonder how long they will take to settle in? Once they do, I've decided to move them over to the 16" viola for a trial run.

The last few months have been busy ones musically (and will be for several months ahead):

Monday nights is orchestra practice (concert is this Friday... check out the v-com calendar!). We strings are playing Haydn's 101st Symphony, Anderson's Bell of the Ball, a miliary march by Sain-Saens, intro to Lohengrin by Wagner, and Bach's Fugue in G Minor (viola solo!!!).

Wednesday nights are lessons: focusing on vibrato, shifting and Bruch's Romanze. I'm now on page 2, practice marks C to E + 3 measures. D to E are especially challenging. There is a jump from 3rd to 5th postion on the G string mid-bow stroke, back down to 3rd on the D, then 2nd on the A, and 1st on the A. I find myself playing on the wrong strings sometimes. Vibrato is coming along well. I have "graduated" to practicing vibrato while bowing at the same time. Not so bad! I can hold a vibrato now on one note for a whole up-bow. For my next trick, I will do 2 notes on the up-bow! :)

Thursday nights is with my trio group. We are working through Beethoven's Trio in C Major, OP 87, Bach's 15 Terzetti, and Dvorak's Terzetto. The 4th movement, Tema Con Variazioni is a challenging but typicall viola part in the molto allegro section - string crossings from open C to an increasing scale on D with 1/16 notes going from 3rd position down to first at fff. We're debating performing in this summer's farmer's market in town.

Who needs a gym?!?!

I'm looking forward to tomorrow night. Instead of practicing/playing, I'm hosting two of my colleagues (day job) from China/Singapore for dinner - home-made curry chicken served with rice adn greens seasoned with belechan (sp.).I've got this feeling however that they are going to ask for a viola recital. They've seen me tromp in and out of the office with my viola in-tow for the past two weeks, asked to see it, and showed a great interest in what pieces I was playing.

From Nate Robinson
Posted on March 9, 2007 at 7:08 AM
Interesting stuff, glad to hear you're trying the Eudoxas. One way to expedite the stretching process, is to slide your finger under the string back and forth while gently pulling on the string. Give the strings 4-5 days to adjust to your instrument. Since you have two violas you can technically stretch for a few days on one and transfer the stretched strings. Good luck!
From parmeeta bhogal
Posted on March 9, 2007 at 10:28 AM
Mandy, please send me your recipe for the greens with belachan (I usually use it to season some "meen or nasi" dishes only), if it is not too much trouble.
From Mendy Smith
Posted on March 10, 2007 at 5:48 AM
Parmeeta - you simply take some garlic, maybe some onion and ginger, and stir fry it until tender and fragrant in a little oil, then add the greens (I use mustard or spinach out here in the NW - if you can find kangkong its really good), then add the belachan when the greens are mostly cooked. Add some salt and serve!

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