Rosin and Whistling D string
When practicing tonight some rather odd sounds emanated from my violin towards the end of my practice session. It is difficult to describe, but very much like a hollow whistle and it was definitely from my D string.
Stopped, replayed the phrase, and it happened again. I've been working on this piece for 2 months and certainly never heard THAT sound before tonight - and as a returning beginner I've heard some odd sounds over the last 3 months - though much less often now - and this was new. After it happened the 3rd time in a row I decided to rosin my bow just to see if it would fix it, and it did - I usually just give it 2-3 swipes every 2 days and that did take care of things. (Piastro Oliv rosin)
Is this a normal sign of needing to apply rosin? A sign of something else?
Wipe the melted rosin off the string.
Wouldn't there be visible rosin on the string if there were too much? I wipe off my strings after each practice session... I should have mentioned that.
It definitely could mean you need to apply rosin. Try rosining more often and see if that gives you a more even and smooth tone. The same issue can happen to me when I think I have enough rosin but actually don't, for example I used to rosin every few days, but now I give a pass on the bow almost every practice session after I warm-up to get a feel for the bow. Those kinds of squeaks and whistles also happen more often for me when the strings are getting worn out as well. How old are your strings?
The most common cause of whistling is poor technique, if your strings are clean. I can't remember the last time I managed to make the D squeal, but if your bowing is crooked, too light, too close to the bridge, or all three, anything is possible.
My strings are only 4 months old so age shouldn't be a factor. The second and third times it happened I was very focused on what/how my bow was doing & where it was. At my level that cannot be ruled out of course. The rosin application made an immediate difference, but that could also have been from a change of focus.
In my experience the D string is the first to let you know if there is a problem with the bow hair.
It also only happened on C (D3).
In the identical introductions to his violin and viola books "TONE experimenting with proportions on the violin/viola" Simon Fischer has written "High, harmonic-like, whistling sounds are the result of the bow being moved too fast or too light for the soundpoint; low, scraping, pressed, gritty sounds are the result of it being too slow or too heavy."
Thank you Andrew! As I become more experienced it will be easier to figure out what is going on and how best to address it. I certainly wasn't ruling out my technique, which is quite basic at this point. It was very perplexing as I thought I had ruled out "the usual suspects", or thought I had, which led to the rosin conclusion. Then I couldn't find that particular symptom listed as a common sign of that.
Going one step further, Simon Fischer enumerates 5 bowing soundpoints, Point 5 (five) is just over the end of the fingerboard and point 1 (one) is as close to the bridge as you can usefully bow.
Andrew - thank you for the additional explanation, and the light just dawned on me. It wasn't that the weight on my bow and my speed was incorrect (which meant I didn't find my usual suspects at fault) - but rather that particular combination should have been on another sound point instead of right in the middle where I normally play - thus producing that very strange sound. Time for me to do some research and find Fisher's full discussion on this. I just received "The Violin Lesson" and haven't had a chance to dive into it - that will change this weekend.
Just a minor point about Soundpoint 5. For most violins the end of the fingerboard is at 2 octaves + a fifth, which is where Soundpoint 5 is. If you have a violin with a Baroque length fingerboard (as one of my violins has) the end of that fingerboard will be at 2 octaves, which is not necessarily the location for Soundpoint 5. So there may be a useable Soundpoint 6 at the end of the short fingerboard - you'll have to experiment and see what happens.
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