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Karen Allendoerfer

C string resonance

January 28, 2007 at 2:47 PM

This is weird. Maybe it's a viola problem, but I don't see why it would have to be.

I'm learning a piece, a Bouree by Johann Hasse, in _Solos for Young Violists_. When I practice it, the intonation always sounds "off." The piece is in A major, and there are a number of B's and C-sharps on the G string in 2nd and 3rd position. They sound great on the CD, but when I play them myself, these notes just don't sound pure, they sound bad, dull, off. So I've been checking the intonation any way I can: against open strings when possible, against a piano, playing it slowly in first position, and I don't think the notes are actually out of tune. They seem to be the correct pitch.

Instead, there seems to be a Cing resonance on the instrument. That is, the Cing is vibrating and giving overtones that sound strange with a B and a C-sharp.

The analogy on violin would be that you were trying to play in E major an F-sharp and a G-sharp on the D string and the G string was vibrating and giving resonance and overtones that sounded dissonant compared with those notes.

Some of the problem may come from my overreaching and lightly brushing the C string with the bow accidentally when I do a string crossing. This should, in theory, be fixable. But other times I don't think I'm doing this, it's just that that C string is vibrating on its own and putting a low-level C drone into the air that doesn't belong. Does this make any sense?

It's driving me kind of nuts and making me not want to practice the piece and maybe give up on it altogether. I had the thought of trying the same piece on a different instrument. This is the first thing I've found about this instrument (a rental) so far that I don't like.

From Scott 68
Posted on January 29, 2007 at 2:33 PM
try a new string does it still happen?
From James Franco
Posted on January 30, 2007 at 2:43 AM
Make sure you are tuning very carefully with very tight perfect fifths.

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