my first youtube

April 23, 2012 at 05:41 PM · Here's a short snippet from me - performance anxiety and all.

At my nephews wedding in Witten Germany.

Replies (69)

April 23, 2012 at 06:41 PM · Bravo! Thanks for posting.

April 23, 2012 at 11:58 PM · Good long bows, that's what I like to see. It's well more than half the battle. Congratulations!

April 24, 2012 at 02:00 AM · Nice playing Elise. Nice selection for a wedding. The guy running the video camera was some kind of space cadet though.

April 24, 2012 at 03:38 AM · I am very interested to know what you are actually thinking about as you are playing this piece of music?

April 24, 2012 at 07:41 AM · Paul - video shot by my nutsy brother! :) To be fair, its the end of a longer recording where there was actually more of the violinist, I just cut out the last piece.

April 24, 2012 at 07:43 AM · Henry - so glad you asked but before I tell you, could you maybe give me a clue why you are interested? I'm hoping something came over as I think I do not play it in the usual way.

April 24, 2012 at 08:15 AM · Careful what you say or you might find you are on the receiving end of a meat cleaver ....

April 24, 2012 at 08:57 AM · We are hardly surprised that Peter is fearful of the 'meat cleaver from downunder' because it will chop any pretentiousness with a swift blow...

If you can obtain a copy of this book......'You Are Your Instrument' By Julie Lyon Lieberman...

Then you can answer my question after you have read it...if you wish? Because your piece sounds well rehearsed but you may benefit from the aspects of performance as discribed in this book.

April 24, 2012 at 09:02 AM · So are we (Elise and me) both pretentious or is it just me? Don't answer, I can probably guess. I take it that you want Elise to read the book, and not me, as I'm sure you must think I can't read and in any case it would probably be a waste of time even if I could, as my fiddle reading ability is about nilch? (wink)

PS I was about to remove my tongue in cheek comment but I see you have responded so I'd better leave it there so people can make sense of it ...

April 24, 2012 at 09:14 AM · You guessed correct..!

No, I have not any recomendations for you because you are 'too far gone'..!

No wonder I don't watch the TV any more......

This is very entertaining..!

April 24, 2012 at 09:35 AM · You give up too easily - no staying power!! (wink)

I'm sure you can think of some good advice to give me - you could make an entertaining video about it and stick it on youtube ...

April 24, 2012 at 09:38 AM · crack me up...haha

April 24, 2012 at 11:14 AM · Easy pieces are so difficult!

April 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM · Bart

Just playing a three octave scale is difficult - for me anyway. I've been recording scales all morning in various keys and also one finger scales. Just shows one how bad one can get.

I'm in need of a few tips.

April 25, 2012 at 01:02 AM · I'm in need of a few tips.

I have just one tip and it is the biggest kept secret of violin playing..........

'Always'..I said! 'Always' anticipate the next note before you play it., if you did not hear it, then go BACK! Then anticipate groups of notes and phrases, but only when you have achieved mastery of the first stage.....practise this very slowly.

Eventually this ability will become automatic with lightening speed, but this only happens through *SLOW* practise.

April 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM · Henry that last one is excellent advice.

What was i thinking? Well with this piece its pretty much memorized to the point where I can express - least when I play by myself :-\ Here I felt I got about half of the way to expressing what I wanted to say. Estrellita is usually played very romantically, as if its about a young girl 'in love with love'. I find it a darker piece with some 'pains of life' sort of whistfully thinking fondly about a lost love rather than in the throws.

The biggest lesson here for me is that the point where you can perform a piece is actually only aonther starting point towards being able to really express it. The reason being that you can't anticipate the dynamic with an audience.

It would be interesting to record the evolution of a piece that starts as novel and eventually becomes stock-in-trade.

April 25, 2012 at 09:29 PM · in response to my own post I just found this on Estrellita posted on Ponse's Wikipedia page:

"In 1912 he composed his most famous work "Estrellita" (little star), which is not a normal love song, as is usually thought, but "Nostalgia Viva" (live nostalgia)."

I'm going to give myself a star; thats exactly how I hear it! :):)

April 26, 2012 at 11:27 AM · "'Always'..I said! 'Always' anticipate the next note before you play it., if you did not hear it, then go BACK! Then anticipate groups of notes and phrases, but only when you have achieved mastery of the first stage.....practise this very slowly.

Eventually this ability will become automatic with lightening speed, but this only happens through *SLOW* practise."

Henry - thanks for the tip. But I have been peaching this for years. Even on here!

Just to qualify, you can only hear the note first when playing slowly - or slower. In a fast run there is no time to hear the note first and it's a much more an automated process. Of course one note off a bit and you will know. I've also checked this with some of the top solo and chamber music players around, and they are in agreement. Try playing a scale of three octaves in one bow - up and down - and it has to be very fast - so no time for hearing each note first!

But in 90% of music, yes, it is an excellent tip!

April 26, 2012 at 12:04 PM · But can't your brain anticipate a run though peter? Just as your fingers and bow seem to be able to do - that is when the note sequence is fast you hear the entire run rather than each individual note before you play it. I think I do...

April 26, 2012 at 01:56 PM · Hey Elise!

I will just say my critizism without any holding back ;) don't be afraid!

1.) Practice the shifts, they have to be clean in 100 % of the cases when they occur, yours are maybe in 30 percent of the cases really clean. Big shifts are very hard to do in performance, because usually one feels very different to when one practices. I usually take into consideration not to shift if possible and make a string crossing, when I feel its some kind of unsecure at that moment.

2.) I like your sound, but you could sustain a little bit more, it doesnt sound like a singing line to me, more than seperate words. It has to do with the bow! in fact a better contact with the bow will help you with the shifts a LOT too!

3.) I don't really understand the rhythm, but maybe it has to be free? Anyway I would recommend you to have a clear rhythmic structure, wich you actually should feel with your whole body. (metronome)

So to conclude: stronger rhythmic feeling, and a better bow contact/control will help you with the most obvious problem of intonation while shifting.

My recommendation: Practice slow bows on different notes with straight bow with crescendo to the tip and decresc. to the frog.

Practice the shifts seperately, there are many ways to do this, I hope your teacher can tell you some. Be very (!) precise with intonation while practicing them. (use a tuner if you want, it can be an earopener!)If you can do a shift 10 times in a row perfectly clean, then maybe you will have a slight chance to have it clean in concert too ;). Anything less is unsecure and will give you bad results. (obviously I am simplifying and exaggerating a little, but I hope you know what I mean).

But I yould love to hear more of you! some sonata or some solo, where I can see better your hands and how you play. From that far its difficult to help with technique. At least for me. Especially when the camera man is used to make action movies! ;)

Edit...By the way: It just came to my mind, that it may also be important to listen to your wrong shifts without correcting sometimes. Stay on the wrong note and identify if it is too high or too low, don't repeat mindlessly! And enjoy!

April 26, 2012 at 02:20 PM · Yes, I would basically agree with all that Simon has said, in a bit more detail than I posted. There was a lack of pulse, sustaining of sound, and security on shifts.

We are being very hard on you, but you hopefully welcome some constructive criticism. And don't forget we have all been there and in my case still go there sometimes.

April 26, 2012 at 02:53 PM · This is terrific Simon (and Peter) and exactly what I need. The fact that you make the effort to give me critique is very inspiring indeed. I know I have a lot to learn so finding out that there are errors (in particular ones that I am not aware of) is not a surprise or hurtful at all.

I actually performed this before about a month ago at my birthday party - that one was so out that I would be very embarassed to post it and I have worked hard on improving. its a great piece for intonation, not too fiddly (excuse the pun and with lots of sustained notes after shifts. I (hope) this one has its good elements at least - and some of my musical message is getting through. Its interesting though that when I played it I thought I was maybe overdoing the emotion - on playback it sounds a little subdued!

One question: am I using too much bow pressure? Before I found I was not letting the tone ring enough. Here I have lots of volume but I don't want that at the cost of tone.

Back to the studio!!

April 26, 2012 at 03:12 PM · I am glad you like the critizism, I try to be as clear as possible when I teach. I don't like talking around in honey voice too much. I think everybody who takes a violin lesson should be in love with music enough to take the music first instead of being personally injured by constructive critizism. And someone who wants to express something with music wants to know how to get the form right. Celibidache said something like that: "first you have to take things in order, learn the music, rehearse and so on. After that the real musical idea, wich is not to describe with words will open itself up by itself...if everything comes together"

I think it is true that you cannot force a musical expression, so the russian way to do it is most understandable for me: technique before musicality. Also, if you will develope a good technique, the audience will know that you care and will be more likely drawn into your musical expression. I am not a fan of audiences who stop listening after one out of tune note, but in fact audiences today are very spoiled! 100 sears back even the great Fritz Kreisler did some wrong notes. He even recorded them :D luckly!!

I would recommend you a slower bow stroke and with that comes more pressure and weight. But what is most important is the evenness of your bowstroke, also sustaining when you make a bow change.

have fun, I will practice now too ;)

April 26, 2012 at 03:51 PM · Check out Simon Fischer's tone production DVD. Also, Drew Lecher's idea of the crescent bow is really helpful for bow changes and for maintaining your sounding point.

[Crescent bow: Think of your bow making an arc with the scroll as the center of the arc. So, not a totally straight bow]

Congrats for posting on youtube Elise! One of these days I will do the same.

April 26, 2012 at 08:16 PM · I think you come across as very poised and confident, and I like that about this recording. I wish I could provide as in-depth a critique as the others, but I'm sorry, I just really don't like that piece and I don't want to listen to it again. I thought I would like it based on the title, which is sweet and evocative, but I didn't. It's not you or your musical interpretation, though, because after I listened to yours I found a recording by Heifetz of the same thing and I didn't like that any better. I don't hate it, it just doesn't do anything for me.

It made me wonder, do you really love that piece? If so, I think you'll be fine, and you'll be able to post another YouTube recording in a few months that you'll be really happy with. I have never been able to get a piece I didn't really like to performance standard because I just didn't want to put the time in, listening to myself play it.

April 26, 2012 at 10:42 PM · I absolutely adore the piece Karen! As said, you had better love a piece if you are going to perform it as a solo, because after all that work hate will come out in your playing. What kind of pieces do you like?

April 26, 2012 at 11:58 PM · Then anticipate groups of notes and phrases, but only when you have achieved mastery of the first stage

As I stated....groups of notes! This includes 'fast runs' or 'very fast 3 octave scales'. You anticipate them in thier entirety. I never checked this with anyone because I know it to be the truth and it works!

Did you read this Peter?

[Crescent bow: Think of your bow making an arc with the scroll as the center of the arc. So, not a totally straight bow]

I thought there was something on your mind....

Its interesting though that when I played it I thought I was maybe overdoing the emotion

What other distracting thoughts caused you to fluff the shifts and play out of tune?

April 27, 2012 at 12:45 AM · I think the out of tune was probably less distracting thoughts and more lack of technique! I am improving with anticipation of notes and hitting them. This is definitely not taught enough - I think people try to be secure in finding a method of climbing the keyboard that is failsafe - but even if you find the right place for your finger it will not be in tune unless that note is in your head already.

I read this first in Flesch - that the phytical difference between in tune and out is smaller than we can possibly remember. All we can do is get as close as possible and then adjust instantly. Even Heifetz admitted that - that he also played out of tune, he just adjusted faster!

I hope the above makes sense, I'm writing this in an irish bar after a 'generous' wine portion for my dinner.... and now to (try to) practise!!

April 27, 2012 at 01:07 AM · lack of technique

But the technique of sliding your finger up to a note is not difficult.

but even if you find the right place for your finger it will not be in tune unless that note is in your head already

So you practised this piece over 'n' over and the notes are still not in your head?

I think it was the anxiety of the performance that caused your muscles to tense up blocking all sensations, and your mind to wonder aimlessly.

April 27, 2012 at 01:13 AM · My teacher constantly reminds me that slow pieces are very difficult to play well. You did a great job at displaying good confidence and continuing to play pleasantly regardless of the odd mistake. This is something I still have to learn. One thing I do now is select medium to faster pieces for performance, until my stage anxiety lessens, because otherwise each of my errors is amplified.

Thanks for the video.

April 27, 2012 at 01:25 AM · You did a great job at displaying good confidence and continuing to play pleasantly regardless of the odd mistake.

Oh Yes,I forgot to mention that....Well done.

Of course, evrything I have said applies to me also! I am just reiterating for my benefit really.

April 27, 2012 at 02:23 AM · Elise,

Putting together what you are saying in this thread with your comments on performance anxiety, i am wondering just how nervous you were for this performance, and how you would describe the difference between this video and the way you play when you are completely relaxed at home.

April 27, 2012 at 03:33 AM · Elise, you asked what kind of pieces I like, and I actually have no idea. For solo violin, I suppose I tend to like sonatas, unaccompanied (and accompanied) Bach, and fiddle tunes in various styles. I also like pretty much all the "Rock Violin" I've heard arranged by the Dueling Fiddlers. But I generally prefer to both play and listen to orchestral, choral, and chamber music that includes violins, over solo violin pieces.

April 27, 2012 at 09:42 AM · I think what is the difficulty here is, where to spend the awareness and how to react to what you are aware of.

Elise did spend most of her awareness to the musical aspect, this is why she plays confidently until the end.

If she had spend more awareness to intonation, maybe it would have been more in tune, but the confidence would sink because of the awareness of the intonation problems.

Also it can develope to a problem if you are too aware of technique during a performance, that you get even more stiff and feared if you start playing wrong notes while being aware of it.

To me intonation is a very important factor of violin playing because it shows the determination with one practices and plays. But in performance there must be more! That is why I try to practice performance pieces way (!) before performance if possible to not only get the intonation as good as I can but also to understand what is behind the music and develope some thoughts about it. Because that is, what helps me with performance anxiety most. Knowing what you want to say. And before that being sure, that you gave your best to get the technique right in practice.

To me: Practice is like science. You study yourself and your weaknesses and work on it, you study the music and make it your own.

Performance on the other hand is totally different. There you must try to tell something, other than being inwardly.

That las part was very good with Elises video, but the first part, the technical preperation maybe lacked a bit of awareness for intonation. I am sure, that everyone can learn this. As I said before a electric tuner is a good trainer for the ears. Many brass and woodwind players constantly practice with electric tuner. Why no violinists? Of course, because we vibrate too much in practice ;)

for intonation: sensa vibrato!

April 27, 2012 at 12:12 PM · Roy: at home I play perfectly of course! :D I'd like to think that everyone plays better in the safety of the studio than in the performance hall. However, I've heard from several people - and I guess these are the natural performers, that play better with an audience. I actually think I am a bit of both - from my experience dancing, I just have to get over the (very large) hurdle of achieving good and reliable technical competence - then I will relax and I think perform well. Least thats what I'm banking on!

April 27, 2012 at 12:17 PM · Simon: you raise a very very important point. Performance is about making music, its not the practise studio. If you have technical weaknesses this is not the time to fix them since then the performance will be both technically weak and unmusical - in short a disaster.

I posted the video knowing full well that there are flaws in my playing (intonation errors). Why? Because this really is where I am at and I am not ashamed of it. For me this was a good performance - it obviously would not be for Hillary Hahn :D But I am not she, I am on my own journey and I am proud of my progress thus far. While you need to feel you can do a good job with a piece, I think its wrong to wait till you are perfect - the result will be no performances and, most important, no record of your progress.

Hopefully, the next one will be a lot better and I will have documented my musical growth - in no small part due to the very positive and constructive feedback I have received here.

April 27, 2012 at 02:17 PM · Actually John, wistful is a good word for this piece. Perhaps my most acurate depiction would be the implications of that wonderful phrase: 'parting is such sweet sorrow'. Wistful, nostalgic, heartache - a deep love missed but not regretted. Perhaps the woman waiting for her lover to return from a long voyage and praying the bright little star will protect him.

oh dear, I see I have gone soft and prosaic on you...

April 27, 2012 at 03:35 PM · I think John's comments are interesting and they help me to get at why I personally don't like this piece. I didn't even realize that your version was out of tune until after I heard Heifetz' version and realized the two were different in places (and again, I didn't like Heifetz' version any better, it just sounded different).

I would find it very difficult to play this piece in tune (myself) without the help of an electronic tuner, because I don't understand where it is coming from or where it is going. The opening sort of sounds like part of a major scale, but not really. Obviously that must be on purpose, but why? I'm willing to say that my lack of understanding here is my own issue/problem, and I don't mean it as a criticism of the players.

But I do think that that type of question, where the musical phrase is coming from and where it is going, is worth asking yourself and answering in your own mind, when you are preparing a piece.

April 27, 2012 at 04:46 PM · Elise, you're the same as everyone with violin- we all want to be a lot better, it's a very difficult, but thankfully the effort itself is quite satisfying. This is a very difficult piece to play, and takes a lot of advanced bowing techniques and dynamics to make the phrases come alive- here's a vid of Josh Bell, and he's using a LOT of very advanced technique to make it "wistful", which is a good word for it. Ponce called it "nostalgia viva." Keep it up!

April 28, 2012 at 12:28 AM · I enjoyed listening to Bell play that piece, really nice piece of music, this version will be the next piece I will learn to play.

How about the expression on his face? Tells you much about his thoughts? Does'nt seem to be concerned how the bow is moving. Isn't worried about the shifts. Cares not what the audience think.

He is engrossed by every sound he makes, every moment of time is absorbed by his passion, his entire being is immersed in the beauty of this music.

April 28, 2012 at 01:49 AM · looks like I made a sale - even if it was for some other guy ;) :D

April 28, 2012 at 06:53 AM · "I think John's comments are interesting and they help me to get at why I personally don't like this piece. I didn't even realize that your version was out of tune until after I heard Heifetz' version and realized the two were different in places (and again, I didn't like Heifetz' version any better, it just sounded different)."

I find that incredibly strange. You can't hear its out of tune until after you heard Heifetz?!!!

I listened to the Josh Bell Proms encore and it's a perfectly reasonable piece of music. Not great music but OK. I don't know it, but would think it not that difficult. I'm certainly not going to find the dots and play it myself, but that's just a personal thing.

April 28, 2012 at 07:40 AM · just as well we all like different music isn't it? Actually its always surprising to hear of people who dislike something you love.

Next up, tango by albeniz

Vive la difference....

April 28, 2012 at 08:21 AM · You could'nt name a piece of music I did not like...

I am surprised some people/musicians have a dislike for certain pieces!? wha, wha.

April 28, 2012 at 08:53 AM · I'm the same Henry - every piece I hear I want to play. And if you look at my studio you will see that I have tried :D Actually, my new challenge is to be focused - but that is not to only play one piece but to keep playing the same few pieces while exploring others.

April 28, 2012 at 09:56 AM · Carmina Birana (Banana?) Carl Awful

Played it and never want to play or hear it again ...

April 28, 2012 at 10:33 AM · Carmina Burana

Great piece of music, the opening nearly blew me out of my seat.

It was especially good to see my baby sister up there singing in the chorus..

April 28, 2012 at 01:13 PM · You guys are the odd couple :D

the banana song - great happy music...

April 28, 2012 at 09:15 PM · I believe its originally a vocal with piano! I'm playing from that music, not the stratopheric Heifetz version (which I also have). The Heiftez version (which I think JB is also playing) is, well Heifetzian and tends to bring out the happy-line. The song is plainer and also more plaintive - and I think more wistful, as you put it.

April 29, 2012 at 09:35 PM · This is not a difficult piece and does not have any problematic hight notes. What's all the bl**dy fuss about?

April 29, 2012 at 10:35 PM · I think there is spill over on the versions. The original version (which I played goes up to in 6th position, but its on the D string so its a choice) but, as you say Peter, no high notes.

However, the Ponse/Heifetz (JBell) version goes much higher (I don't have the music in front of me).

April 29, 2012 at 11:49 PM · A very attractive Mexican soprano

Maybe you should listen again with your eyes closed and try your hardest to wipe this image from your mind!?

April 30, 2012 at 01:51 PM · Where's the link? Come on John - touch of the S D?

April 30, 2012 at 02:30 PM · Thanks John. Perhaps I should clarify my earlier remark. What I meant before was that I was taking Heifetz as a kind of "gold standard." That is, I know that his intonation is going to be about as good as it gets (perfect or not), and his interpretation is going to have integrity and interest and meaning, even if it's not necessarily to everyone's taste. But it isn't that Heifetz alone makes or breaks a piece for me.

What I don't like about this piece is that it doesn't seem to have a really clear tonal center that is obvious to me. As it sounds like John is saying with much more knowledge and understanding than I, it modulates frequently, and that makes it hard for me to hear whether it is in tune or not. And the problem, to my ear, is compounded by the fact that there is only one musical voice. So there are no chords or counterpoint or anything to compare and contrast. That sort of context is, for me, enormously helpful in being able to hear intonation.

I suppose I do have a pretty strong personal preference for music that has a well-defined tonal center, in the Western tradition. I don't generally like to listen to atonal or 12-tone or traditional Indian, Chinese, Kabuki, etc.

This piece obviously doesn't go that far, but it's not Beethoven or Mozart, either, where you can pretty much tell what key it is in just by humming a few bars.

Sometimes I like music that modulates frequently, for example Franck. The two pieces of his I know reasonably well, the violin/piano sonata in A and the symphony, used key changes in interesting ways that I was able to follow. And then there are composers such as John Rutter (who writes music for church choirs to sing) that use this technique in annoying ways. He just keeps repeating the same melody and gooses it up another half step with each iteration.

But in this case, Ponce modulated too fast, or too frequently, or in a weird place, or something, I don't really know what. I just didn't really get it. I don't mean this as a general criticism of the composer, of Elise, or of others who enjoy this sort of music. I consider it just a matter of personal taste.

April 30, 2012 at 02:59 PM · Karen - I find your post very interesting because I have to think to understand the concept! I bet we have a very different childhood music experience or something. My mother is jewish and we grew up with cultural songs which use different scales - much as gypsy (and modern day jazz) - that I guess you would hear as modulating, going off the tonal core. Perhaps thats why I am drawn to such music and why playing it comes naturally to me.

It always amuses me when there are things I do naturally that others find alien (and vice versa of course). We truly need others as a mirror to understand ourselves! And I think I learned something here....

April 30, 2012 at 04:02 PM · Elise, I'm sure we did have very different childhood music experiences. Such childhood music experience as I had came from just a few sources: church hymns (especially Christmas carols), nursery rhyme songs (Old Macdonald, Wheels on the Bus, etc.), and school music class once I was in school. I started violin in a school music program. There was pop radio, top 40, etc., but I'm not really counting that. I'm basically a musical "mudblood" (Laurie's term) in that my parents aren't musicians and don't play instruments and I just did it on my own in school. I didn't grow up in any sort of folk tradition at all, so if that's where you're coming from, I'm kind of envious!

April 30, 2012 at 05:29 PM · Heifetz's version is mostly in F# Major then modulates to A Major and D# minor for only a short while toward the end, then back to F# Major (Although in one video on YouTube, it starts in G Major, perhaps due to recording speed?) The transitions are quite elegant in my opinion, and I did not find Heifetz missing any notes. Apparently, Joshua Bell was playing Heifetz's arrangement in F# Major. Elise's version is a completely different arrangement that stays in F Major throughout. I suspect that Karen's feeling of this piece lacking tonal center is not the result of key modulation.

Elise, thank you for posting this video. I'm sure many of us can learn from your performance and the critiques here. I'm of course much less experienced than you are in violin playing (however I was a singer for a long time), but I'll give my observations anyway:

1. I think you did quite well overall. If you were nervous, at least I could not tell from the right hand (no shaky bows). Also, you know this piece inside out - no memory slips or missing notes. Brava!

2. You seem to be making the piece harder for yourself by making bigger shifts than necessary. For example, in the 1st slur 3 (F-A-C), instead of shifting in the middle of the slur (which doesn't make a lot of sense to me) from F->A, I would shift (if at all) before the slur from E to F and play at least the next four notes before shifting again.

3. Half steps need to be closer (A<->A# and E<->F). Most of the time, A# is too sharp, and sometimes A is too sharp/flat.

4. This piece can use more dynamics and rubato (without losing the rhythmic core) - try to play it as you would sing it (It's a song after all).

5. More and wider vibrato - perhaps it's due to recording quality, I could hardly hear vibrato.

April 30, 2012 at 06:52 PM · Joyce, I may have misunderstood what John meant by "modulation." I don't really have the right words to describe what I'm talking about (although a "modulation cloud" does sound kinda cool . . . )

As I said, I'm not intending to criticize the piece, and certainly not trying to start a debate, only to say that it might be harder to hear intonation for some than for others, at least partially due to the context and the relationship between notes in different pieces.

April 30, 2012 at 06:52 PM · Intersting critique Joyce. You have perfect pitch and a knowledge of harmony and keys.

I just dont get this stuff about it being a difficult piece harmonically (Karen) - it is fairly simple music and modulates in a fairly conventional way.

Where is the problem? (OK, it is not great music ...)

April 30, 2012 at 06:59 PM · I don't know, Peter. To you it sounds straightforward, and I don't get that, either. We can't hear directly what the other hears (or doesn't hear). I like Elise's point: sometimes we need another's perspective to understand our own better.

I don't have perfect pitch and my understanding of modulation and keys is rudimentary. But I'll give this a try. Taking what Joyce said, that the piece starts out in F# major and then modulates to A major, one can ask if that is straightforward.

Relative to F# major, A major is not the dominant, and it is not the subdominant. It is also not the relative minor. (Those three are the most common modulations, according to wikipedia.) Going the shortest route, it is 3 steps away by the circle of fifths (F# to B to E to A). Is that straightforward or not?

I am way over my head here with respect to knowledge of modulation and keys, but perhaps my ear finds that many steps difficult to follow, unless I have other cues. Franck's symphony in D-minor, which I referenced above, is acknowledged to be quite complex in terms of key modulations. It's no doubt more complex than this piece, but paradoxically because it is a symphony with many parts going on simultaneously, it might be easier for me to hear and make sense of the modulations, when they occur. Does that make sense?

April 30, 2012 at 09:00 PM · Joyce: you may not be very experienced on the violin but wow do you have an ear! I've heard before that the way into music is to sing since its the most direct link between the brain and the audible note. Obviously you have that connection. And is Peter right that you have perfect pitch because your call on the keys is bang on too.

You are also bang on with respect to many other aspects. Yes, the piece was memorized (the music on the stand was for something else) and yes, I hit all the notes - only slipping on one near the end so that it was oddly short (but it might sound intentional). Also the piece was understated (rubato, vibrato) which, together as said with the occasional off-tune note, were the only real overt consequences of nervousness. I had practised this a lot so it was just about in my fingers.

I'm going to have to revisit the slurring/shifting issues. This is the way it felt right to me, but I am a bit of a fan of 'old style' violin playing with glissando and if any tune fits that this one surely does. but sounding off to your singer's ear is definitely a red flag for me.. I could shift later, after the A that might be even nicer...

I'll fool around a bit.

Thanks for the critique, much appreciated.

May 1, 2012 at 02:50 AM · "I'm going to have to revisit the slurring/shifting issues. This is the way it felt right to me, but I am a bit of a fan of 'old style' violin playing with glissando and if any tune fits that this one surely does"

Elise - I'm a great fan of glissando and the style of the great fiddlers - for example Kreisler and Heifetz. But they do it with great taste and superb timing. It's a life study in itself.

I would say though that you probably have it in your blood, you just have to master it. I'm a wierd one off, and people sometimes complain that I sound a bit like Kreisler - but I always thank them and say that is a real compliment. They don't get that, they think I should be insulted!!

EDIT: That is why I hate the dry academic approach which now pervades, i.e. the HIPP method. For me it bears no relation to creative music making.

May 1, 2012 at 05:35 AM · Shooting from the HIPP? Whats that?

Edit I did a search on 'HIPP method violin" and this came up:

May 1, 2012 at 06:16 AM · historically informed period performance

and opatamus by itself, according to Urban dictionary is a hippopotamus that has ceased to be hip....

May 1, 2012 at 06:33 AM · Peter and Elise: to clarify, I don't have perfect pitch. I just have "perfect" relative pitch. :)

"Relative to F# major, A major is not the dominant, and it is not the subdominant. It is also not the relative minor. (Those three are the most common modulations, according to wikipedia.) Going the shortest route, it is 3 steps away by the circle of fifths (F# to B to E to A). Is that straightforward or not?"

Karen, A Major's relative minor is F# minor, so modulating from F# Major to A Major can be thought as F# Major -> F# minor -> A Major. It's not unusual.

"I'm going to have to revisit the slurring/shifting issues. This is the way it felt right to me, but I am a bit of a fan of 'old style' violin playing with glissando and if any tune fits that this one surely does."

I think glissando probably works better with longer notes, or when you can shift with precision on shorter notes. In the slur I mentioned (and other similar places), the notes are short. When you shift in the middle, you are cutting the note even shorter, so the A was almost indiscernible to me...

May 1, 2012 at 07:01 AM · perfect relative pitch would seem to be the best of all worlds! Are there any downsides?

Actually, I wonder if I'm a bit that way mIntonation is work for me - it seems every possible note on the violin has to be learned as its own entity with its own particular character.

I think Peter and I both hit on perfect pitch because you commented not only on whether it was in tune but picked the keys of the pieces so confidently.

May 1, 2012 at 07:35 AM ·

May 1, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Kinesthetic feeling? You've got my number. What book is that?

[Edit - I found it: "The Art of Practising the Violin." Sounds like a must-get, thanks.]

May 1, 2012 at 06:36 PM · Elise, the way pitch works for me is that when I hear any tonal music, the notes are translated into "do-rei-mi" in moveable-do solf├Ęge in my head without conscious effort. And somehow I just know which notes are the tonics after hearing a few notes regardless of how many times a piece modulates. It's second nature to me. To name the keys and note names I hear though, I need a reference pitch (C works the best), so the piano app on my phone comes in handy. :) There are many advantages, like I can sing/play back/jot down anything I hear quickly and transpose it to any key. I also believe that I can memorize music quicker than most because of it. The downsides? Beside not being able to name the notes without "cheating," I would not be able to write down or play atonal music by ear, and I imagine memorizing such music would be extremely difficult for me.

It would be interesting to know how other people process pitch. When you hear music, what exactly do you "hear"? For people with perfect pitch, do you go through a similar mental process like mine that associates each pitch with its note name?

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