Ring On The A String

April 9, 2019, 10:03 AM · I am working on some fairly fast material right now. While trying to eliminate erroneous noises during string crossings I noticed a sound I originally attributed to me accidentally hitting the D string while playing the A string. After going back over it again I discovered I am not accidentally hitting the D string. It seems my A string has a kind of ring to it after I play on it. If I cross from the A string to the E and back again the noise happens every time. It sounds like maybe either a ring or a harmonic.

Any idea how I can eliminate this? Would you suspect the strings? I just changed strings although it might have been happening before that since I had attributed the noise to sloppy playing.

Replies (19)

April 9, 2019, 10:28 AM · Mute the string with the bow or your hand.
April 9, 2019, 12:20 PM · Is it the A string that is ringing, or (as I suspect) playing the A string excites harmonics in the other open strings. If the ring is on fingered notes of the A string, I double my suspicion. Try damping the open strings while playing the A string.
April 9, 2019, 1:07 PM · I appreciate you guys commenting. I will give this a try and report back.`
I'm going out on a limb here, but I might be able to record whats happening with a visual.
April 9, 2019, 8:24 PM · Let's say you're playing a fast passage in a classical sonata or concerto. If the passage involves a few open strings, I don't think you can be about muting the strings after they've sounded. I think the ring is part of what you're playing.

But if you are wondering if the other strings are in sympathetic resonance, then you can try your passage slowly and, one by one, mute the strings you're NOT playing on at that moment and see if changes your sound.

April 10, 2019, 7:58 PM · Thanks Paul, yes I'm not sure how I would mute a string in fast succession.

I'm posting a video example of it. I put text where the issue is. Although it sounds like I accidentally hit the wrong string, I did not. I am supposed to be playing that string at that time.When my bow comes off of the string I get the sound. Possibly I am not playing the A correctly in this case?

April 10, 2019, 8:19 PM · Honestly I'm not hearing anything out of the ordinary there, Tim. My friendly suggestion to you is to slow down a little.
Edited: April 10, 2019, 9:37 PM · I can't pick it out of the video either. I think it matters a lot if the "ring" is on the open A or other fingered notes as well. I recently had a similar problem with a metallic after-ring when playing the open A, which was traced down to exciting a high overtone (or two) on the E string. A stiffer bridge helped, and the details are in a post on Maestronet: https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329145-don-noons-bench/&do=findComment&comment=838048
April 11, 2019, 8:12 AM · Thank you Paul and Don. The defect is at 0:07-0:08 mark on the video. Maybe it's just a common kind of thing but seemed more prevalent on the A string.

Don, the ring seems to be on the open A. Maybe the term "woof" is more accurate. It seemed to be something the violin was doing and not me or maybe something that had to do with weird bow contact.. Thanks for the heads up on Maestronet. I don't really know. I was told my bridge is a bit thick. Could possibly be the E sending me something undesirable.

April 11, 2019, 8:21 AM · Sounds like you might be describing a major body resonance (or two) which are usually around open A and C to C#. The video doesn't help... if you could just play one single note that illustrates the problem, then maybe.
April 12, 2019, 1:48 AM · Wouldn't "Ring on a String" be a good name for a band, like "Bang on a Can"?
April 12, 2019, 7:15 AM · @Steve, maybe:P

The issue is I don't hear the sound when I play slower. It seems to be when I come off of the A faster. I intended to make another video just haven't had the time.
I'm probably changing strings this weekend. I'll see if the issue clears up. If I run the bow over the string slow and off again I get harmonics but it doesn't seem to sound the same when playing faster.
Maybe I'm once again making too much out of something. FWIW the mics are really sensitive and are picking up everything. I notice it though and it bugs me.

April 12, 2019, 12:14 PM ·
April 12, 2019, 12:22 PM · Sorry, somehow I produced an empty reply.

If the sound I think I am hearing is the one you refer to it does not seem to be a resonance.
Might be an uneducated guess but can it be that you are kind of unintentionally plucking a string while moving fingers a bit sideways between strings?

Edited: April 12, 2019, 12:57 PM · I think Eva is correct, if I'm hearing what you're talking about. It sounds like you're touching the string when you don't mean to, which would make sense if you don't hear the noise when you play the piece slowly. You're maybe not lifting your fingers straight up when you take them off the strings. I don't think it's a problem with your instrument.

I also second Paul's suggestion that you slow the tempo. I'd work on this carefully to clean up and smooth everything out, maybe at half the speed you're playing it, alternating focus on the bowing with focus on left hand action. One big key to playing at performance tempo is slow and relaxed practice. I know: everyone always says that. It's true, though!

Edited: April 12, 2019, 1:48 PM · Thank you Eva and Scott for your comments.

I have heared time and again the idea of playing slower. I can't seem to imagine a song faster if I learn to play it slower. This seems to work wonders for some people. I'm attempting to play it the way I've heard it.

Did you see Laurie's article recently on playing small segments of a song fast? This is sort of what I'm trying to do.I was actually doing that before I read her article.

I know. It should be easy to set a metronome and play it slower. Maybe it's a mental block I'm having to play slow.I'll give it another shot.

April 12, 2019, 2:16 PM · I know! It's hard to resist playing everything at performance tempo. My natural inclination is to think that if I'm not getting something, it's because I "don't know the piece well enough," which I think of in terms of not having memorized the notes. Most of the time, this is wrong. Most of the time, if I trip up it's because there's some physical motion I'm not doing correctly.

So "slow practice" does not mean playing the piece from start to finish at a slow tempo. It means isolating the measures in which I'm having trouble and working on them, independent of the rest of the piece, to see what I'm habitually doing wrong and to make a new habit of doing the correct motions. So I find the tempo at which I can play the trouble spots correctly, and practice those spots at that tempo until correct playing happens instinctively, and at that point I can usually play things at performance tempo. Most of my practice time is give over to etudes, scales, and this sort of isolation-of-problem work.

For a long time this kind of practice frustrated me because I felt I wasn't playing any music, but when I put all the pieces together and perform something all the way through, it's much more solid and I can actually reach that point a lot lot lot faster by focused work on problem measures than by running through the whole thing over and over again at tempo.

When I stopped thinking of practice sessions as performances, my technique got much better. I wasted so much time when I was a kid, and again when I restarted as an adult, until a teacher showed me how to practice effectively to work pieces up to playable level. And most of it happens at slow speeds. I asked my teacher how slow is slow and she said "as slow as necessary to play it right." So it's all about making correct physical actions habitual, and five minutes a day of slow and correct is worth more than two hours of fast and sloppy.

A teacher could probably have said all of this in two succinct sentences.

April 12, 2019, 2:19 PM · I don't hear a problem. An open A is going to ring a little -- that's a good thing. That's what a violin does. You can dampen it with a finger but I wouldn't worry about it. You notice it because you're up close but your listeners probably don't.
April 12, 2019, 2:41 PM · Lots of good comments. I relate to Scott Bailey's last comment very much, even though it is not specifically about the problem of the A string.
April 15, 2019, 12:04 PM · Scott, Thanks for your comments on this.I am working on some slower material and have slowed down for a bit. I like the idea of playing only certain passages slower.
It seems sometimes playing the same thing accurately slow and then fast seems to have different results. IOW if I pull off of the A string faster maybe this is exciting the A string more than a slower pull would causing the noise I hear?

Thomas is probably right that I'm exciting the A string in a way that makes the sound.Maybe this isn't out of the ordinary?


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