Is fiddling an asset or a hindrance for classical violin improvement?
I guess this is a similar cornerstone as joining a community orchestra, in a different way.
I have been asked to join a semi-pro band. The band style is classic and modern latino, hints of jazz and rumba. Fiddling, in a word. I am really happy about it and I am sure it is going to help me to develop my musicianship, but I'm not so sure about my violin-ship.
These new rehearsals will come at the cost of classical practice and I will have to take away some time from them. I would like to know from your experience if what I can get from playing in the band regularly makes up for that and which areas of my playing can get affected so that I can direct the formal classes to compensate for it.
You may find that fiddling and other popular music pays the bills more so than classical. That area of music is in need of well-trained violinists, versus self-taught musicians who have no intonation. Give it a shot and you may never return.
I'd love to learn how to fiddle! Take it and run with it! I did fiddle club in high school and it was the most fun thing I had done senior year besides marching band. I love the Celtic style. Good luck to you!
I object to the dichotomy that either you are a "well-trained violinist" versus "self-taught musicians who have no intonation." That is a pretty foolish thing to say, since you obviously don't know much about oral-tradition fiddling. There is no need for "well-trained violinists" in any area of music besides European classical music. There are many languages played on the violin, and while some violinists seem to think that only they know how to play the instrument because they have played classical music, I will point out that it was first used to play oral tradition dance music, and thus European vernacular "fiddling" has a couple of centuries of tradition before anyone thought to make the stuff "legit." Fiddlers may not learn their music off of a page, but to imply that they are not highly trained within their own tradition is ignorance.
I would agree with Paul Smith, I teach jazz violin, and I often have to undo some classical habits that make jazz violin sound cheesy . When Itzhak Perlman recorded a jazz album with Oscar Peterson, Didier Lockwood wrote an article ripping him apart haha in the same vein that Pat Metheny wrote an article on Kenny G recording over Louis Armstrong.
Oh, I am going to do it for sure. It is going to be really fun and I am going to learn a lot.
I agree with Michael on this.
In the style of fiddling I have engaged in in the past, LOTS of drones were played, sometimes almost all drones. When starting Suzuki, I found it difficult to hit single strings reliably, and certainly my intonation on a single string suffered, as I used to slide into the correct note, using the drone string as a check. The styles you mention are not of the "fiddling" style I usually associate with folk fiddling, i.e. perhaps not as much drone work.
I got into Irish music a few years ago and now play both that and classical...but when I first started doing it, I stopped practicing classical for awhile because I just wanted to learn as many tunes as possible so I could play in sessions. No regrets, but Carlos I think the biggest difference is that most likely you will be playing primarily in first position, as I was in Irish music. The only thing that "suffered" in my classical technique was that I became much less confident with shifting and playing in higher positions simply because I wasn't practicing that for a long time. Nothing else was really affected. If you want to keep your classical chops simultaneously with your new band, I'd recommend doing lots of work on shifting when you get some time to practice classical. Congrats on the new gig, it sounds exciting :)
All this is very well said. Especially what Paul wrote about entering this new language with humility, and about the historical contexts and styles! There's a great deal of discipline and hard work involved to learn how to play the music properly, so you don't won't like a classical violinist who thinks he's gone slumming. I don't think you will regret your decision, Carlos.
The violinist, Jan Purat, in my grandson's band (Steep Ravine Band, my grandson was vocal and guitar) has a degree in violin performance from UCSC. The band disbanded last year after about a 5-year run but much of their original music is still on youtube ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwvNihGahLM ). If you can find their performance at the Strawberry Festival in Grass Valley, CA where they played some of the old Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt classics you will be blown away. They issued 3 CDs of their original stuff (all still available).
You touch my fears, Andrew. Apart from my classical/modern style concerns, my biggest challenge is how to jump to the chords with a good lick or riff. How to be in, as a part. How to add.
I came to fiddling rather late, but I found it liberated me considerably from some of the constrictions of classical music playing. To have to learn tunes quickly by ear and to improvise can be intimidating when you have been trained to adhere to sheet music. And continuous vibrato that is so prevalent these days in classical playing -- you have to learn to drop that and treat it selectively, as a a valuable but dispensable ornament. As for intonation, that is not as simple an issue as it appears, since there are ancient scales, and certain essential notes that are played differently in traditional oral music, which may sound out of tune or wrong to someone trained in mainstream classical music, as any good ethnomusicologist will tell you. A classical musician can easily blunder into this area self-righteously without sufficient awareness of the history and context.
I am remembering a video I just saw of Anne Akiko Meyers playing something with "blues" in the title. It sounded like a classical player who decided to try blues without any real feeling for the genre.
I think there's something to be said for playing other genres idiomatically. As David points out, being able to play concertos at a high level does not mean you won't sound corny playing something with some swing, and that you can just paste your approach to classical pieces onto any other genre. I remember a few years ago it seemed like everywhere I looked, there were strings quartets "classicalizing" pop music, and every time I listened to one of those covers, they sounded atrocious. Do classical players not understand the concept of a groove? Are classical players incapable of dancing? I don't know, but I think it takes time to adapt your technique to the conventions of the genre, and that a lot of bad crossover attempts are the result of a lot of hubris.
@Christian, were one of these string quartets the Dallas String Quartet, playing electric instruments? Sometimes it worked, kinda, but everything was instrumental, and to have one violin always playing the vocal line sounded like a forced match after awhile.
Yeah, that DSQ one is like almost there, but somehow so far off. I'm not a crazy Michael Jackson fan, but whenever I think of this phenomenon, I think of how I can never hear a version of "Smooth Criminal" (including the DSQ one I just listened to) that doesn't sound super 4-square, even though I can see that they are trying. They should call it "Hemophiliac Cat Burglar" or something. I think the string quartet may inherently be ill-suited to playing something where you'd be counting on your rhythm section in another arrangement. Basically, it always sounds like a string quartet is playing.
Carlos, it's a skill you might find useful as a diplomat - Someone in your host country might relish jamming with you!
Is it something that you are drawn to do? I feel like being motivated is a huge part of the equation, so if it's something that motivates you to practice and play and explore more music, then it seems like a good thing!
You won't wreck your technique, if that's what you're asking. One thing I've noticed about playing violin in a jazz trio (or an orchestra, for that matter), is that you do have to actively work on making sure your posture, hand positions, etc., are properly maintained. They can erode more easily than you expect because you're often given inferior seating or cramped quarters on gigs. If you need a pickup I recommend the Fishman V-200.
I have the Fishman V-200, and one of my luthiers dislikes it because you're supposed to put the little piezo "blade" into the high side of the bridge, which he said deadens the highs. My hearing is so crappy, I couldn't pick up the difference. Supposedly the L.R. Baggs piezo bridge is a better route. God, be sure to get a D.I. box, or else the impedance mismatch will make it sound like you're playing a chainsaw. I got a little $30 passive DI from Guitar Center, and it worked as well as my L.R. Baggs Paracoustic DI. No tone controls, but....
Carlos -- go for it. My experience at doing both classical and "fiddle" genres has been positive. There should not be any conflicts with left-hand technique, but there might be differences in bowing; some genres bow too hard and heavy. The fiddlers can be very good players in the second violin sections of community/amateur orchestras, with superior velocity, left-hand agility, and string-changing technique. My mariachi started as semi-pro, then quickly became fully pro. I was in a contemporary conjunto which led to doing more singing, arranging, and improvisation. Other Hispanic genres that I would like to do , but have not found locally, would be the traditional tango orchestra and the Cuban Charanga orchestra.
Good luck in trying this Carlos. Classical training is a good foundation to lean on for this.Probably the best foundation, so long as you find out how the rules are different.
Spanish from Spain and South america Latino are very different kinds of music. The Latino is indeed more popular internationally and it is more danceable and fun. That's why the band has some of them in the repertoir. But at its core, the Spanish modern music "rumba" has a leg and an arm in flamenco.
Interesting music. Very improvisational on the violin. More so than other folk types of music.
I see some videos on youtube for flamenco violin. How well do you learn by ear?
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