Question about the first note in Bruch nº 1 violin concerto

Edited: May 23, 2017, 10:27 AM · Hi,

I've watched this performance of Mr. Perlman, and I've noticed that in the first note (a G in the G string), he is also vibrating a G in the D string, minute 1:10.


Replies (103)

May 23, 2017, 10:32 AM · Try it. By vibrating the G (3rd finger in 1st position) on the D string, you can put a little bit of vibrato onto the open string, because of the sympathetic vibration between the notes. I'd be curious to hear the technical explanation, but you should be able to hear the difference on your own. It's the only way to vibrate on the open G.
May 23, 2017, 11:07 AM · My personal opinion is that vibrating an open G sounds bad. The vibrato sounds totally different from a normal vibrated note. I never do it.
May 23, 2017, 12:20 PM · IMHO, that note should never be vibrated. I mean in this piece of music. By vibrating this open G you lose all,the magic at the start of the piece.
Edited: May 23, 2017, 12:35 PM · Ahh, the old argument (see Flesch,) is vibrato an effect or a color, a part of the sound? Is the real instrument the voice and are instrumentalists vocal or not?
To each their taste.
Edited: May 23, 2017, 2:46 PM · To make it clear:
1st G: the G in the G string
2nd G: the G in the D string

Christian, if you PLAY the 1st G, and you have pressed down the 2nd G, the 2nd G will move (make sound) because of the 1st G (resonate). But this doesn't work the other way around, I mean, if you do vibrato on the 2nd G that's being resonated, this vibrato does not get transmitted to the 1st G, there's not enough power at all,the 2nd G is the slave, the 1st G the master. Besides, if there were any kind of transmitted vibrato, it would get killed by the bow which is constantly telling G to move a certain way. Also, I think it's not possible to transmit vibrato through resonance, because resonance only works when 2 strings are the same pitch (440, 220, 880...). When you do vibrato, you're going for example from 440 to 450Hz on A. If you want that another A resonates and vibrates (vibrato), this second A must be changing simultaneously its pitch synced with the master A sound. In other words, the master and the slave must be vibrated (vibrato) more or less the exact same way, wide and speed.

After reading the comments, I just figured out that may be he is trying to accompany that G sound with a slightly touch of an octave higher G, for fuller sound?
And vibrates (vibrato) the high G because why not?

May 23, 2017, 3:57 PM · It does work, though - if you play only the open G string, while vibrating on the G an octave higher, it will produce a vibrato like effect. Also works on the other open strings - give it a try. I highly doubt Perlman is playing (ie making it sound with the bow) the higher G at all.
May 23, 2017, 5:00 PM · What you probably get from that trick is a little amplitude-vibrato, not a pitch vibrato- moving in and out of resonance, sympathetic vibration. I always thought it looked a little silly, compared to an elegant plain, open G. Besides, you don't want to start that phrase full-blast, it has a long implied crescendo. jq
Edited: May 23, 2017, 5:13 PM · I also think this "octave" vibrato trick sounds weird and is seldom useful, least of all in the opening of the Bruch. Bruch knew what he was writing when he wrote a long note that would be played on an open string.

On the other hand, there is the issue of the intonation of the open G when performing with a pianist. If the violin "A" is tuned with the piano and the violin is tuned into perfect fifths (which it should be), the open G will sound flat. Normally I would say that the difference between equal temperament and perfect fifths is often overrated but on that note you can hear it. The "fake vibrato effect" demonstrated here by Perlman covers over that discrepancy somewhat. But there's no reason to use it with orchestra.

May 23, 2017, 5:37 PM · Heifetz uses it too, who are we to argue with the master (and I think the note sounds a bit monotonous if played straight the whole duration-you can only alter the sound of an open string so much). :)
May 23, 2017, 7:08 PM · One possibility is that pros like Perlman and Heifetz have realized long ago that it's impossible to tune one's violin perfectly against an orchestra, especially from offstage, and maybe the "vibrato thing" is a form of compensation based on their experience as performers. I respectfully disagree with AO ... I think the stillness ("monotony") was the composer's point.
May 23, 2017, 7:37 PM · But they also vibrate unisons with an open string in them (which does seem fine).

If stillness is the beginning of Bruch 1, why is the immediate aftermath so cheery and bright? :D

Edited: May 24, 2017, 1:21 PM · To All and Nicolas Temino ~

Re: Vibrato on the sustained Open G in Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in g minor, 1st mov't ~

The first thought which came to mind after reading all the Replies posted thus far was, my goodness, the secret of "How" to suspend this opening note is in the emotion and as we know, different people experience differing responses to single Events or trends & occurrences in their lives ~ It is in this regard that we must respect differing reactions or responses yet remain true to deeply held inner musical conviction's ...

My thoughts travelled back to the recording I made a good while ago of this hidden beauty of a violin concerto in, of all places, Manchester, UK ... Not identifying the ensemble, Conductor nor recording facility, purposefully, I recall the recorded performance being 'at peace' when beginning my/ our Bruch Violin Concerto journey on open G, then joining together. The fact that Tim Ripond begs the Question of 'Why'? I.Perlman uses vibrato on the opening G which is our lowest natural string and note on the violin, seems inquisitively brilliant which stirs one's thoughts searching for reasonably solid and musically satisfying answers ~

Having studied with Nathan Milstein ~ a Master of suggestion - tonally and emotionally, who for decades was critiqued for initially starting a note sans vibrato, I think Nicolas Timeno might be a Milstein Man! If not yet, he is subconsciously so & hereby proclaim Nicolas Timeno as such! In attending
seriousness, guiding principles from my view re vibrato on an open string/s is an emotional response which can be most effective if a given composed open string is purposefully placed 'naked' for extra emphasis of emotional expression ~ i.e., a sigh; great sadness or opening thematic hint which then reveals itself as the musical story develops in the composition. It is this element that caught my attention and true interest in words of Mr. Timeno.

If we step back for a minute or three and remember our collective horror upon seeing/learning of the terrorist attacks in Manchester, England, just yesterday, we will know How the opening G string Note of the 1st mov't of Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in g minor in the wake of its horrid aftermath must begin ... Less is more to quietly grow the open G with a hush of the bow (perhaps with an V (Upward) subtle vibrato of the bow) but with veiled condolences in the sound, at least at this terrifying juncture in 'real time' ...

With my deepest personal condolences to all the innocent little fallen ones, the injured and families, friends & Best of British left behind in utter trauma, disbelief and Grief, I am

Deeply upset in America ~ Elisabeth Matesky

*With all due respect to I.Perlman for his view in the particular time he
recorded Max Bruch's Violin Concerto # 1 in g minor ~

May 23, 2017, 9:55 PM · Perhaps I need to try the passage on a better violin, as I have just remembered thar I have only played this passage on an intermediate level instrument (where the G string of course left something to be desired). :)
Edited: May 24, 2017, 1:31 AM · also my feelings go to Manchester.

now A.O. I don't think that movement is bright and cheerful at all. after all it is in G minor, which in the scheme of Schubart* stands for "Discontent, uneasiness, worry about a failed scheme; bad-tempered gnashing of teeth; in a word: resentment and dislike."

*Christian Schubart. Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806). A classic. Worth checking out!

May 24, 2017, 9:26 AM · But, the very beginning when you shift up to the D and hold it is LESS somber than the rest of the piece IMHO.

Anyway, I guess we are all agreed on open G then, sans vibrato? :)

May 24, 2017, 10:34 AM · Tim, I guess I don't understand your response. I'm not arguing anything theoretical here. I took a few years of physics in college, and I don't quite understand why this works. Perhaps you are applying the vibrato to the sympathetic vibration that would otherwise be occurring an octave up from your bowed note, I don't know.

However, if you pick up your violin and test it, you will see that you can apply an audible vibrato to that open G. The answer to your question is very simple and you can test it yourself - It will literally take you under a minute to test it. It will literally take you less time to test it than responding to this post.

I don't really have an opinion on the musical reasoning for doing or not doing this, but anything to make the first movement of the Bruch less monotonous is welcome in my eyes.

Joshua Bell does it here:

Hilary Hahn does it here, though she works into it halfway into the note:

Janine Jansen does it similar to Hilary:

Literally every single video I've clicked on so far does it. I'm not entirely sure about Sarah Chang, since it doesn't show her left hand at all, but it sounded like something to me.

May 24, 2017, 12:45 PM · You can most definitely vibrato open G. Bring your finger to the end of the string, by the nut, and vibrato over the contact point with finger vibrato
Edited: May 24, 2017, 1:32 PM · To A.O. ~

Please realise a better violin will not add nor change sentiment! Didn't you ask me if my mentor, Jascha Heifetz, had 'vibrato exercises'? Btw, I did respond & wrote, "to my knowledge, No!" Try accessing that Discussion to read my post for you and other's.

The sentiment and 'mood' of any piece of music determines the fingering/ bowing decisions violinists (and, indeed, our other fellow string players) make. Or at least this should be or better said, is paramount as a First Consideration!

The Bruch 1st Violin Concerto in g minor is set in a key signature aligned with somewhat 'darker' moods. Remember: Max Bruch composed Kol Neidre which is a Holy Ode to God, dear A.O. The temperament of this deeply sensitive composer is etched in the first note and following bars of his violin concerto 1st movement ~ For your own review, please listen to a recording of Nathan Milstein in this violin concerto - if it is still available? Sentiment and mood are one in the same and a contributor here, Jean Dubuisson, has offered you sincere assistance. Do read the offer, okay!

One of my mentor, Milstein's, mantra's was to firstly know the musical score. This is where one begins and trying out a better violin has little relevance to sentiment. If it were even a Woolworth Violin, and one possessed the inner feeling for dignified solemnity as composed in the opening lines of Max Bruch's 1st Violin Concerto in g minor, the sentiment would be heard and FELT by all ~ Sadly, once you have experienced the ravages of profound grief, you will know music which expresses these sentiments or hints of such immediately ~

Wishing you well on a journey which Life provides at differing times for all ~

Elisabeth Matesky

Edited: May 24, 2017, 3:23 PM · Yeah, I know, Christian, I was simply trying to explain why you can't induce a vibrato effect in the open G by doing vibrato at the resonated G in the D string. I think I am right when I say that. I'll do it with numbers (no decimals and approx), tuned to A440:

You have the bow on the open G and also your third finger pressing the G in the D string. Now, the open G string resonates at 196Hz, and the D string which is pressed at G resonates at 392Hz, that's a fact.
When you play the open G with the bow, it vibrates at 196Hz. This vibration is transmitted through air (the air vibrates) and hits your ear and also of course the D string. The D string (G note) gets hit by this vibration at a frequency of 196Hz, and because it resonates at 392Hz which is a multiple of 196Hz, starts moving and vibrates. OK, first notice the open G is way louder than the G that is resonating in the D string. If you do vibrato on the D string, you're changing the resonance of the G from 392Hz to 400Hz for example and back to 392Hz, this depends on how wide the vibrato is and its speed. Because the open G's resonance is all the time 196Hz, there's no way you can transmit vibrato from the G of the D string back to the open G. Also, if you managed to do it by changing somehow the resonance of the G synced with the resonance of the D, the power of the D string (think about it as volume) is so limited that it couldn't transmit the vibrato back to its original "master". Besides, in this example you're already doing vibrato at the open G, so it really makes no sense.

So, once you understand this, then you realize that the vibrato that is listenable in the open G is not because of the G note in the D string.

Yeah, I tried this months ago, and yes, the answer is that somehow the open G makes a kind of vibrato effect. My theory is this vibrato of the open G is there because of the movements you're doing with your left hand. In other words, I think that you can make vibrato happen in the open G when you have ANY note in ANY string vibrated (vibrato), because I think what matters is the movements of your hand that somehow moves the neck and changes the tension of the strings slightly.

I think I've tested myself this some hours ago and came to the conclusion that yeah, you can make the open G do vibrato by doing vibrato in the B of the A string for example.

Can you guys try it and tell me if you notice more or less the exact same result as if you were pressing down the G on the D string?

Thank you

Edited: May 24, 2017, 3:37 PM · @Dear Ms. Matesky: with all due respect, I read all of the post (thank you for the response!).

But, I think you might have forgotten what a beginner instrument plays like, what with not having played one in what I assume is several decades.

Take a $500 violin, and play the Moses Fantasy on it. The G string will be raspy, full of wolves, and very resistant to any tonal shaping (not to mention rather poor tone quality).

Now, can we really say that a violin does not dictate choice of fingering after seeing the above?

My first sentiment IS to not let the instrument define my fingerings, but this is not possible on an inferior instrument, where, for example, wolves in the higher reaches of the D string prevent me from adequately singing with it as I would want to.

Similarly, I might have found the open G monotonous because on a lesser bracket instrument, much of the gorgeous ringing is absent or diminished (especially on the (open) G)). :)

May 24, 2017, 3:49 PM · Yes, you have to dodge the wolf tones on your instrument.
To be somewhat provocative, I'll go even farther than that non-vibrato on the open G; also non- vib. on the next two notes (Bb, open D), then gradually add vibrato to the long Bb on the D string ! We had a similar discussion on another forum re: constant vibrato. My opinion was that sometimes non-vibrato can have a dramatic, expressive effect. jq
May 24, 2017, 4:47 PM · @ Elizabeth Matesky. I have tracked down an accessible recording of Milstein playing Bruch #1 with the Philharmonia Orchestra (the conductor and date weren't available, unfortunately).

The recording is available for streaming on the Naxos website. It is on disk 7 of a large compilation of Milstein's recordings on the Warner Classics/Parlophone label. The Naxos catalog reference for streaming any or all of this compilation is 5099969866753.

It is necessary to be a paid member of Naxos to be able to stream their CDs. The Naxos membership comes automatically with paid membership of IMSLP for an annual subscription of $22 (Canadian), giving the member unlimited streaming access to the Naxos CDs. Incidentally, paid membership of IMSLP includes useful advantages when it comes to downloading sheet music.

I am streaming Milstein's Bruch as I type this post.

May 24, 2017, 5:12 PM · Wonderful price, almost a joke.

Can you really stream whenever you want and all the time? you want all the CD's at Naxos for just $20 per year?

I guess their CD library is huge and you can find pretty much any CD from Sony,EMI, Deutsche Gramophone... from artist like Perman, Zukerman, Barenboim, Kissin, Hahn, Mutter, etc... right?

Edited: May 24, 2017, 6:07 PM · Well, well!! At last a jq sane voice just above! With all due respect, dear A.O., please know I have not & will never forget the challenges of navigating on an 'inferior' instrument and I truly mean this ~ Just because one was blessed to own some grand violins & play a truly Great one which was owned by my close friend & out of this world, Violinist/Mentor, Nathan Milstein, (who loved swapping fiddles playing a del Gesu I had for nearly a decade & recorded quite a few Masterworks on), does not erase early stark memories of playing upon what you term 'inferior' fiddles ...

I'll let one secret out here to illustrate a point: NM used to say, adamantly, 'you should be able to make a bad violin sound glorious if you have the mastery of the instrument in your hands." This was his firm belief & as jq aptly writes, "you have to dodge the wolf tones on your instrument." This is a truthful statement & to be sure, requires a heightened degree of violinistic skill to do so ... I feel badly for you having to manage on an 'inferior' fiddle ~ Is there some way I can help? Here's an inside tip (again from my 'other' mentor, Milstein ~ "use your bow as a paintbrush - brushing/ brush stroking each Up (v) & Down bow from the right shoulder" ~ Not the wrist or forearm or heaven only knows what else. When on a wolf note or approaching one, brush High sort of over the wolf note but quickly brushed w/ No down bow pressure & absolutely avoid going anywhere near the Bridge. I'm rather frustrated because I know how to do this and it can help 'dodge' (to quote jq) the wolf note/s and the ghastly sounds accompanying such wolfs.

Believe it or not, on a very great fiddle I play, when way high (or, contrarily Down) on Sul G in 6th pos., in one of the most glorious exotic melodies in Aram Khachaturian's 3rd mov't. Violin Concerto, there is a wolf spot on my fabulous fiddle and I go Over it with brushed quickened bow speed to find its best sound response, avoiding that dreadful noise ~

So, where am I??!! Truly wanting to help, do you need a referral to a fine violin shop or luthier to try out some inexpensive violins or use on loan, on lease or rent? Keep in touch and advise how long you have been playing yet from your mention of the Moses Fantasy, you must be a keenly aware player ~

If this discussion suddenly closes, you can go to my Profile under contact info & send an Email to the address listed. Keep going on violin despite real challenges ~ (As the great tennis Pro, Roger Federer, I so admire says, "it's always too soon to give in or up!")

With all good wishes from America ~

Elisabeth Matesky *

*JQ has an excellent idea re sans or hinted vibrato on open G & continuing
on to the Bb, & to open D ... My only ?? is the slight swelling emotional
crescendo effect indicated, but I'm going to try his suggestion ~ Humm!

Edited: May 24, 2017, 6:10 PM · To Trevor Jennings of Canada ~

Hearty Thank You's for such brilliant sleuthing finding Milstein's recording of Bruch's Violin Concerto
No. 1 in g minor recorded with the Philharmonia!! I may email a family member to find out the date & Conductor!! How special and kind of you to do this for all of us!! As Tim Ripond says, "Wonderful price, almost a joke!" ... Tbc later ~ thank you so much!!

Elisabeth Matesky in America ~

Edited: May 24, 2017, 6:16 PM · @Ms. Matesky: Thank you, I was not literally saying that a bad instrument cannot made to sound good or that one wolf is an issue, but it is usually worth more effort than anybody would ever want to use to play through 5-6 wolf notes/a poor fiddle. :)

Also, how do apply this to said open G (the instrument dictates most of the sound here)?

Thank you.

PS: I live right by Tutti Violini, so no referral needed. :)

PPS: I learn the violin rather intuitively and quickly, but beginning in group lessons (high school) means that my technical deficiencies (mostly regarding things such as vibrato, trills and runs) all need polishing/quite a bit of drills so that the emotional and expressive side come out through the (usually more advamced) things I can already play such as octaves, harmonics etc.

If I'm being confusing, please let me know. :)

May 24, 2017, 6:18 PM · Also, as far as I know, Trevor Jennings is English. :)
Edited: May 25, 2017, 3:57 AM · Yes, I can confirm that I am British and living in England.

IMSLP is located in Canada, which explains why when I paid my subscription online last year it was in Canadian dollars, then equivalent to just over £17 in the UK.

Naxos tells us that subscribers have unlimited access to their music database, which currently stands at over 130,000 discs, and this increases daily. It would take an individual literally a long lifetime to listen to most of that!

For internet bandwidth reasons the Naxos streamed audio has a top cutoff of 16KHz. This is no problem, because if you are older than your early twenties you are unlikely to be able to hear frequencies higher than that. Personally, at my age I cannot hear anything above about 10KHz, which means that old hissy tape recordings now sound just that little bit cleaner :).

A comment about the difference between downloading and streaming, which I know confuses some.

Downloading means that a complete audio file is sent down the internet in one go. Typically, this will be in one of the compressed formats such as mp3. The time taken for the download depends on the user's broadband speed - with high speed broadband a CD could be downloaded in about 1 minute.

Streaming is entirely different. The music is coming through the internet in real time, and that is how you will hear it.

Edited: May 25, 2017, 5:01 AM · "I have tracked down an accessible recording of Milstein playing Bruch #1 with the Philharmonia Orchestra (the conductor and date weren't available, unfortunately)."

Looks like that's the 1946 recording with Leon Barzin conducting, the man who got to be 99 years old, was one of the founding fathers of the New York City Ballet and, for a long time, married a new wife every ten years...

May 25, 2017, 7:03 AM · I've come to the conclusion that compulsively vibrating open strings is dorky.

Don't be a dork.

May 25, 2017, 7:18 AM · Here's an inside tip (again from my 'other' mentor, Milstein ~ "use your bow as a paintbrush - brushing/ brush stroking each Up (v) & Down bow from the right shoulder" ~ Not the wrist or forearm or heaven only knows what else. When on a wolf note or approaching one, brush High sort of over the wolf note but quickly brushed w/ No down bow pressure & absolutely avoid going anywhere near the Bridge.

That is excellent advice. I know NM used to extol using everything in one unit and advised against excessive finger, wrist, and forearm movement as separate things. Well, in my opinion he was one of the three greatest players ever, so we should take note.

Edited: May 25, 2017, 7:36 AM · I've come to the conclusion that compulsively vibrating open strings is dorky.
Don't be a dork.

So Perlman and Bell et al are all dorks?!?

I must remember to tell them if I come across any of them ...

Not sure what a dork is mind you. Must be US slang?

May 25, 2017, 7:47 AM · Can you guys try out what I said 2 posts of mine before and tell me if you hear the same effect?
May 25, 2017, 11:33 AM · Tim: "I think I've tested myself this some hours ago and came to the conclusion that yeah, you can make the open G do vibrato by doing vibrato in the B of the A string for example."

I will try this tonight and get back to you.

Edited: May 25, 2017, 2:45 PM · I'll check it out, Tim. Reading back my previous post came out a little aggressive. I could see the physical mechanism not being the one that would most often get posited, as violin is not immune from cargo cults.

It sounds like you are saying the vibrato may come more from the amplitude-modulation component than from the frequency modulation component, which could make sense.

But as far as your physics goes, you seem to be claiming that there is only resonance induced by an undertone, but my understanding is that a tone at 392 can still cause resonance at 196 and other undertones. It shouldn't be as strong as the other way around, but it should exist.

Anyway, I'm getting out of my depth as far as acoustics goes. I think the more relevant stuff is whether it sounds good, and not whether it's theoretically possible, unless you find a better place to vibrate an open string. Many here seem to think it doesn't sound good.

May 25, 2017, 5:14 PM · Oh, don't worry Christian, I didn't feel that your message was aggressive in any way. It's just this communication method, sure internet is fast and very open, but the way of communication is so poor compared to real life face to face communication.

Yeah, according to my knowledge of physics, the G string can not vary its frequency in this scenario, which is the most common vibrato. The moment you've mentioned variation of volume (amplitude) instead of pitch, I instantly agreed. Yeah, it must totally be an amplitude vibrato. The reason is still unknown for me, but as I said, I guess it's just triggered by the left hand "harsh" movements on the neck.

About the resonance I meant that in order to induce vibrations in a string (aka the strings sounds), the master/original note of the string must be a multiply of the string you're trying to resonate. So yeah, if the master string is 220Hz, a 440 string will vibrate, a 880 too, but also a 110 string. The problem is that when trying to resonate a 220 string using a 440 string, the effect is so much weak, indeed half of the time is countering itself, but inertia counters that countering a little bit too. Hahaha.

I'm interested in reading your feedback about my exercise.

May 25, 2017, 6:14 PM · "So Perlman and Bell et al are all dorks?!?"

Just because they do it doesn't mean everyone else has to.

Edited: May 25, 2017, 7:40 PM · I think Jim Hoyle too... what a dork! :p

But, HEIFETZ is of course flawless! :D

Or, how about don't be a Scott Cole, since we all disagree with him on the dorks... :p

Edited: May 25, 2017, 7:54 PM · We don't all disagree with Scott. I agree with Scott. I think if you're going to vibrate an open string you should have a musical reason. Maybe Perlman and Bell have their reasons. I strongly suspect, however, that a lot of open-string vibrato *is* compulsive -- people do it just because they can.
May 25, 2017, 8:50 PM · @Paul: I dunno about others, for me personally it seems as though the open G crescendo was not prominent enough in volume or tonal variation unless the musical line is interrupted by taking two bows for the note, so amplitude vibrato seems the only realistic way to make the crescendo at least seem bigger to the ears (barring playing close to bridge, but this is a bit too harsh of a sound for Bruch, even on a wound gut). :)
Edited: May 25, 2017, 10:26 PM · Okay, after trying out the B on the A string with open G, I don't think it does anything. But then, I tried out a G on the D with open G, and I don't think that is doing more than a tiny, tiny amount, which is way less than the positive benefits of letting the open D ring while playing the G. And, I used to be a believer in doing it. I have now completely changed camps, and agree with Scott. How's that for novel on these boards, a religious conversion=)
May 26, 2017, 3:25 AM · Really?

I swear I hear the same kind of effect in the open G if I vibrate either G in the D string or B in the A string or D in the A string.

May be I should recommend a note that includes the three fingers so the vibrato is more prominent and aggressive?

I still defend that you get the same effect in the open G by doing? vibrato on any note. As I've explained before, there're no benefits for the open G if you choose to vibrate a G in the D string. I'm gonna try it later again. Basically if I don't find any physical explanation, it's hard for me to believe that only doing vibrato on a selected G will induce this effect on the open G.

Edited: May 26, 2017, 3:33 AM · A.O.: there is no crescendo in the opening open G (the crescendo comes after) and of course there is no tonal variation in one note. The reason why most soloists (coming from different traditions, both American and EU) do the vibrato is to give the note a little more body and expression.
May 26, 2017, 4:15 AM · No one has told me what a "dork' is!
Edited: May 26, 2017, 5:25 AM · To Herman West ~

As a born in America soloist & pupil of both Jascha Heifetz and Nathan Milstein (at differing periods in time), it would be most interesting to me in learning more about the logic behind the views you mention in writing to A.O. just above?

Thank you!

Elisabeth Matesky *

*Internationally recognised Violinist/ Chamber Duo Sonata & Piano Trio player/ former member, Sir Georg Solti's Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Artist Teacher of Advanced Violin, Chamber Music & Orchestral Repertoire + Bowing Studies

Edited: May 26, 2017, 4:45 AM · As an American amateur who did not study with either Heifetz or Milstein (for real), I would like to inform Peter Charles that a "dork" is someone who is "dull-witted or socially inept." One of the most common symptoms of dorkiness is a tendency to employ something called "British humour."
May 26, 2017, 4:52 AM · I see. I'm pleased you didn't aim that at me. I'm trying to discover American humour (note spelling! Which you got right ...) But so far I can't find any!

So, a DORK would probably be a symphony/opera orchestra conductor, and some of 'em do try and employ British humour - with absolutely no success. But even the worst ones can just about conduct 3 in a bar. Often seen with three dubious ladies in a bar as well ...

Edited: May 26, 2017, 5:38 AM · To A.O ~

Re: needing 2 bows to grow an emotional crescendo ~

One holds the bow tight at the heaviest point ~ i.e., the Frog yet brushes on to the Open G from slightly behind with body on a sway and as the tightened bow hold lessens while brushing the Down bow downward yet intimating a more involved emotional relationship with the Open G on its way to the Bb, hints of vibrato take place and one can actually vibrate the next open D to begin a growing emotional involvement as 2 shy want-to-be more than friends' 1st blush of an air kiss then a bit more & more ~ Not intending to suggest the first bars as just allegorized, of Bruch's Violin Concerto #1 in g minor is the message of the composer, (hardly!), I've used the above idea to try to attempt answering your all in one question /answer re having to use 2 separate bows to intimate a slight crescendo not being necessary, but to attain this required only one open G string bowing control & slurring over to open D, one truly must aspire to have mastery over the wood with horse hair attached-termed a Bow!! I always breathe much air in, literally, before brushing on to the Open G string -- as a singer who has much air intake prior to starting to suspend the air (voice) and volume out (which I liken to a Down bow.). Better imaged: a fine Conductor always gives an Upbeat prior to the Downbeat indicating tempo, sentiment and volume beginning a phrase or phrases. Breathe in or start Up (V) bow, and breathe Out coming back Down bow expelling the air & in so doing, lessening volume and/or intensity of the Music. (A word ~ There are millions of variations to this Basic Principle in various genre's of Music & certainly in Opera!! I hope this hasn't been written about too rapidly for if read too quickly, the mind might become overwhelmed if never before exposed to the above ideas & parallels between bowing & breathing ... If some or all is unclear, just say so, A.O., and we can try again!

With best wishes for a peaceful and productive Memorial Day week end ~

Elisabeth Matesky

May 26, 2017, 5:42 AM · @Ms. Matesky: I was thinking only of the the first note, but it has no cresc (but thank you for the stylistic suggestion). :)

Are you aware that your masterclass with Heifetz is on youtube? :)

Search "Heifetz Khatchaturian".

PS: I don't think we have Memorial Day in Canada, not so many memorials as the US. :D

May 26, 2017, 7:37 AM · "how about don't be a Scott Cole..."

A reasonable suggestion. With my more advanced students, I try (depending on the situation), NOT to make clones of myself. I prefer to have my students try to come up with their own fingerings, bowing, and phrasing if they are able. I try to get them to record themselves playing something different ways and deciding for themselves. If my student really feels strongly about vibrating that open G, then fine. So when they leave me, my hope is that they're not "me" but they are using the tools I gave them to make decisions.

May 26, 2017, 8:37 AM · 50 replies about one note ! I would never suggest that Perlman, Bell, et al, are wrong; their playing is several orders of magnitude greater than mine. This is an art form, not mechanical engineering, we have choices. Much of what we do is part of an aural/oral tradition. Early recordings demonstrate an evolution of style. One way to break free of that tradition (and I am Not suggesting that tradition is wrong), is to use the composer's score as our starting point, instead of the edited version from a single famous soloist. Done with this one. ~jq
May 26, 2017, 8:59 AM · Hahaha, I didn't notice that, but it's quite funny.

VIOLINISTS: weird musicians that discuss about one single note, yeah, one single note, for hours. Let them be, poor nature creatures.

Now about my exercise, I insist, tried it right now, I can totally make the open G string do vibrato by doing vibrato on any other single note, it hasn't to be another G at all. Bow on G string, playing, and do vibrato on any other note of any other string.

I'm quite positive it's just that when you do vibrato on any note, you're actually moving the violin around slightly (shaking it) and your bow also is not as steady as if you were not doing vibrato. These two effects cause that the bow goes a little wild on the G string instead of a constant steady movement.

I'd get kind of shocked if I read that you don't notice anything. I'm definitely bringing this up in my next violin lesson.

May 26, 2017, 11:02 AM · This conversations is ridiculous. Open strings can be vibrated, except maybe for E, but typical G is the most common, especially in the Bruch. Calling it "dorky" is also dumb. If the some of the greatest living/dead violinists vibrate their open G strings, it is certainty not dorky. These people have been taught by amazing teachers. Perlman vibrates the open G because he likes the sound better than a plain open string.
May 26, 2017, 11:13 AM · The reason I call it dorky is because it's become such a "rule" of open D and G. We're "supposed" to do it and everyone says to.

I'm just saying do it if you want to and not because some famous guy (and his teacher, and his teacher before him) does it.

We don't all have to be clones of our teachers or of anyone in particular.

May 26, 2017, 11:20 AM · Tim, I guess let me clarify: I don't think there's any sympathetic vibration thing going on. However, my hand wobbling the violin a little while doing the vibrato does make the sound wobble a little, whether it be the D string or the A string, but that does seem dorky to use Scott's phrase, and I don't think it sounds as good as just letting the strings ring.
Edited: May 26, 2017, 4:13 PM · Jason, I'm not even arguing how it sounds musically and if we should do it, I'm trying to simply figure out why it happens, and I want you guys to notice that open G is not doing vibrato because you're vibrating another G, but simply because you're vibrating, that is it. I've checked it myself some hours ago, and it works as I say, but I also want your confirmation to be sure I'm right.
Edited: May 26, 2017, 3:47 PM · Scott only said it was dorky if you do it *compulsively.*

I don't think the G-upon-G vibrato trick is just shaking your violin around. If you move the finger on the D string in and out of tune with respect to the G, then you will hear a different sound. If your violin is shaking around terribly when you're doing vibrato then you might want to try using a shoulder rest! LOL!!

May 26, 2017, 4:24 PM · I used to smash nails with my vibrato. Then I discovered this weird tool called hammer. xD

If it's not because of the violin movement and the slightly shaky bow due to your right hand moving happily, then explain me what it is. I've been thinking about it and it's the only reason I can find, slightly shaky bow plus the whole violin moving a little bit, that's enough to make that steady open G a little agitated.

Guys, I'm telling you, hahaha, I've been doing some hours ago vibrato in the D string and A string in several spots, and I managed to make that open G vibrate differently, so I still defend my posture and I still think that the "vibrato" kind of effect you hear in the open G has nothing to do with the note you're pressing down in the D/A/E string, and it is just all about the shake of the bow and violin because of your hand movement when doing vibrato.

Can anybody here assure me that he/she has tried to vibrate the open G by vibrating any note in the D/A/E string and has failed to accomplish that?

May 26, 2017, 4:34 PM · This subject got me thinking:

How many violinists feel you have to vibrate the first notes heard in A. Sibelius Concerto B. Mozart A Major concerto?

May 26, 2017, 5:48 PM · I vibrate both notes, Scott. But I think you could get away more easily with not vibrating the first note of Sibelius, because you have the orchestra playing behind you. Not so for the first note of Mozart 5.
Edited: May 26, 2017, 6:07 PM · Scott, isn't this a personal feeling that is not wrong or right?

The amount of vibrato on the open G in this concerto is not comparable to, for example, the huge wide vibrato you do in the first note of the Caprice nº5 of Paganini. Besides, I'm discussing in a parallel universe of this thread about how this vibrato works, and it may be a TREMOLO.

Technically, although it is not 100% globally accepted, vibrato means you periodically variate the pitch of a note. Tremolo means you periodically variate the amplitude (volume) of a note, but the pitch is constant.
As you may guess by now, a vibrato is made with the left hand, changing the length of the string so you variate its frequency. A tremolo is like a "vibrato" but with the bow, and I really think this is what's going on when you do vibrato in any note when you are playing an open string. The open G, which is 196Hz, can't variate its frequency, its pitch, as I've explained it earlier.

Answering again your question, at the end I think it's a matter of musical taste, it's just like tempo, a great violinist will choose the tempo she/he thinks fits the best. This is the same, and I think it is a great tool you can use to vary a little bit the monotony of the note, instead of a steady simple crescendo. I like it when the vibrato starts hitting when there's only a 25% of that G note left, before going to B.

If you ask me, I really think that there are WAY more important things going on in that first introduction of the concerto, in those very first violin lines, that will affect a lot more your overall satisfaction and your personal taste. In other words, I feel like that "vibrato"/tremolo is about 1% of the magic of those first bars, so it's not something I feel like it must be there or it must not be there. How much you sustain that G is way more important for me, as well as how you manage to go to the A# and then down and then up again. That's what I really care of in that part.

Edited: May 26, 2017, 6:11 PM · Tim, I tried it. I could maybe hear something faint, but I couldn't seem to make the same vibrato as fingering the G on the D string.

Reading Paul's post and thinking about it some more, I have worked it out for myself to the point where I am satisfied as to why I don't think your idea would work ( I still may be completely wrong). When you stop the string, you have essentially created a new G string an octave up, and this string should now want to sympathetically resonate with the open G string, so if this "new string" is now being driven and resonating, you should be able to slap a vibrato on it. I think that makes more sense than what I posited before about the undertone resonance.

Please, acousticians of the forum, put me onto some truth!

And Scott, I agree about the Sibelius. Anne-Sophie Mutter's recording still blows me away how she plays the opening.

May 26, 2017, 6:52 PM · So as a challenge to those that typically vibrate the first A of Mozart's A-Major concerto: try not vibrating it. Try only starting the vibrato midway through the C#, so that the two opening notes act as pickups to the E, where you can then turn on the vibrato.

To me, it's musically different from the Sibelius or the Bruch. But it can be very effective to just start from a pure tone. It makes the vibrated notes that much more meaningful. I guess that's why I might not vibrate the G in Bruch reflexively: nothing has happened yet; we don't yet know where the line is going.
Why give it away?

Edited: May 26, 2017, 11:36 PM · To All Violinists here on the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in g minor 1st Mov't Open G Question ~

Upon viewing the many Replies, I think it marvellous that so many have such interest, such varying views, such interesting ideas and enthusiasm for the subject of the opening G string note composed by Max Bruch and I'll go so far as to mention an experience regarding 'one note' so read on ~

A string friend of mine (a wonderful 'Cellist) went for artist 'cellist lessons with the great Rostropovich and in excitedly sharing much of her impressions of a truly renowned and deeply acknowledged as such Master of the Violoncello, kept emphasizing Rostropovich's utter insistence to study, dissect and discuss in intricate detail, the opening note of Bloch's Schlomo ... She relayed Rostropovich's passion in spending 4 hours on that opening note!! She also said she had never learned more about the vital significance of 'details' making vast musical differences as her first very lengthy & involved discussion with numerous demonstrations by Rostropovich of How the entire mood and emotional content - messages of Bloch could be so influenced by the beginning of one note ~

It is a huge compliment to everyone here for pursuing this subject which has far reaching musical ramifications and is connected to numerous other composed string configurations by so many great composer's we all admire and continue speaking of with high involvement, coming away with new ideas and much (to borrow a phrase) 'food for thought' to uncover and/or discover & rediscover not often spoken about mysteries of musical interpretation and beginning's of such which set the 'tone' and ambiance of revered or lesser known pieces of music ...

As is often said by Sages throughout civilization, "the devil is in the details ~" All of you, in my view, have added much to each individual's growth, and our collective growth here on a never imagined potpourri of answers to a Question which brought many clues from the shadows of wondering minds into the light of a room of now bonded musicians through Bruch's 1st Violin Concerto in g minor 1st movement Open G composed first note!

I shall never forget this experience and the interesting people I've met on!!

Thank you to all new violinists for an unexpected thought provoking and musically intriguing week ~ The mere mention of the Mozart 'Turkish' Violin Concerto in A Major opening 'Prayer' is proof of where we were and where we are headed Now ...

Wishing everyone a peaceful and reflective Memorial Day week end & 'In Memoriam' Day of so many who gave so much for the greater good, accept warm musical greetings to all in England, Canada and in the USA ~

Reinvigorated in America!

Elisabeth Matesky *

*@A.O. ~ Thank you for your mention of my film with Heifetz, recently
available on YouTube! (Mr. 'H.' assigned each of we 7 the concerto
we play in our individual half hour films ~ mine, a beloved friend, Aram
Khachaturian's 1st mov't., JH-7, which barely has editing, allowing all to
see the great Jascha Heifetz with smile's and quizzical humour when our
USC Violin Master Class pianist, Brooks Smith, and I encounter a most
unexpected 'accident'! With best wishes to you in Canada ~ EM

May 27, 2017, 5:15 AM · @Scott, I can't imagine putting vibrato on the first note of M5 either. The Sibelius is way too hard for me so I can't comment on that.
May 27, 2017, 8:01 AM · Ms Matesky: Your very welcome! :)

Also, I loved the mention of Mozart's Turkish March, since I am Turkish. :D

May 27, 2017, 9:17 AM · Christian, hahaha, this is getting really confusing. In your last message you said that you can make the high G do vibrato. That was never discussed, that's right, I never said you couldn't. Indeed, in my explanation I say that you do vibrato in the high G, it's part of the scenario.

The problem starts when you say that doing vibrato in the high G makes the open G, which is constantly being played by the bow, do vibrato as well. That's what I say is not correct at all.

I still believe that the kind of vibrato or tremolo effect you hear on the open G has nothing to do with the note you're pressing down. In other words, it has nothing to do with resonance.

May 27, 2017, 9:51 AM · @Tim: It HAS everything to do with it! :D

Hold the D an octave above opem D exactly in tune and bow it.

You will observe that the open D noticeably vibrates in unison (it appears fuzzy).

Now add vibrato to amplify the effect... :)

Edited: May 27, 2017, 10:30 AM · Did Nathan Milstein record the Sibelius? It would surely have been in his concert repertoire, but so far there doesn't seem to be any sight of a recording in my usual sources.
Btw, vibrating the octave of an open string on the next string up is an old trick. I learnt it in my early teens on the cello.
May 27, 2017, 11:31 AM · Oh my God, A.O., I'm not talking about that, hahaha. Could you please re-read my previous posts?

I think I made it quite clear.

Edited: May 27, 2017, 1:59 PM · For Trevor Jennings in the Brave UK ~

Dear Trevor ...

Mr. Milstein Never recorded nor publicly performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto for reasons he told me about which are, as his close friend and first private artist pupil, 'classified', as he would most probably wish ~ After being repeatedly asked/invited to write a book on my remarkable blessings of intense private study with Mr. Milstein and Mr. Heifetz, I have thus far chosen to defer until I can do justice to both sans any 'babble' (which might sell out due to Tell All curiosity) but neither are here on Earth to respond and as an honoured friend, I wish to stay so until figuring out How to write about ideas/secrets shared by both but with honour ~

Just know your instincts are 1000% right re Milstein's great gifts to portray All in Sibelius' score! He had his reasons which were truly honourable ~

In time, if preparing something in print I'll share a bit with you but presently remain just a friend ...

With warmest good wishes and fondest hopes you nor any dear one's were harmed in Tuesday last's May 22nd, 2017, Manchester Atrocities, I remain

Your grateful Violinist friend for providing such wonderful information on great recordings of Giant's we all love and forever revere ~

Elisabeth (Matesky) *

*Accept my prayers for Safety throughout the 'Kingdom' or better said, 'Her
Majesty's United Kingdom' ~

Edited: May 27, 2017, 2:15 PM · Elisabeth I just watched the Heifetz Masterclass video with you playing the Khachaturian. It it is probably unbelievable for you that that was already 55 years ago! Anyway I enjoyed the video a lot, you play extremely well and graceful and adapt quickly to what Heifetz was asking you to do, also I think you were quite brave against the formidable Heifetz, wielding your charming smile as a kind of counterforce! And, would it be very inappropriate if I said that you look very cute in that video ;-)
May 27, 2017, 5:11 PM · Elizabeth, many thanks for that information and insight. At the least, it will save me, and others, from a fruitless search! I don't doubt now that there must have been an overriding reason, presumably not musical, for Milstein to leave the Sibelius out of his repertoire. I'm not going speculate further.

And thank you so much for your kind thoughts and wishes regarding the murderous atrocity in Manchester, which are appreciated more than I can say. I do not know anyone personally who was present at the Manchester concert, but the tragedy has affected everyone I've met, in some way or other, and will for a long time to come.


May 27, 2017, 6:24 PM · @Trevor: Old post by Buri was that Milstein left out Sibelius because it didn't make musical sense to him.
May 27, 2017, 7:33 PM · Sibelius didn't make musical sense to him? That just sounds ridiculous.

I love his playing. There is a recording of him playing Saint Saens 3 and Glazunov on YouTube that I absolutely adore. @Elisabeth, you are sooooooooo lucky to have studied with him. It must have been awesome.

May 28, 2017, 4:02 AM · "Sibelius didn't make musical sense to him? That just sounds ridiculous."

It certainly is not ridiculous. Heifetz refused to play the Schoenberg concerto dedicated to him because he could not make sense of it.

Certain works may well not make sense or seem appropriate to some people. Perhaps in time they may change their minds, but in some cases not at all. You need to know more about the history of relationships between players and composers before making such generalised statements.

May 28, 2017, 5:45 AM · I'm glad I'm in such fine company. The De Beriot No. 9 doesn't make sense to me either. I think I'll skip it.
May 28, 2017, 7:07 AM · Schoenberg is different. He was a serialist composer and composed atonal music, which is hard for most people to understand anyways. Sibelius was a late romantic composer, which should have been understandable by someone such as Milstein. Milstein played the concerto of his contemporary, Glazunov, and I believe he played it under his baton as well. Sibelius is not way out there or stretching tonality very much, which should make it understandable for him.
May 28, 2017, 7:48 AM · Maybe Milstein listened to Julian Sitkovetsky play Sibelius and realized there would never be better. :)
May 29, 2017, 4:40 AM · After reading so much about Milstein here, I decided to watch some of his performances (listen actually). Of course I knew him, but I have never listened him properly. Wow, he has impressed me.
Edited: May 29, 2017, 8:20 AM · So I finally watched the video of Perlman posted above.
Perlman vibrates near the beginning of the note, then stops. If his shaping of the first note is deliberate (which I assume), then we can see that he is in fact using non-vibrato as one of the tools in his musical toolbox. The vibrato after the note starts creates a swell on the note, which then subsides before he moves to the B-flat. I'm not sure I agree with the shaping of the note, but I think we have to admit that he's not simply vibrating or not vibrating, but shaping the note using vibrato.
Edited: May 30, 2017, 11:24 AM · Hi Tim,

Maybe my post was unclear. There IS resonance. When you finger the note G on the D string, you are creating a stopped string that will vibrate at one octave above open G. So finger that note while playing only the open G and you will not only hear the resonance, but you will see the stopped D string resonating. If your string is moving then you should be able to hear it, and consequently, you can impart a vibrato.

Edit - I think we are talking past each other. Good luck!

May 30, 2017, 9:42 AM · Hahahaha, Christian, seriously, what your last message says is all part of my original scenario, what you're saying, I know it's happening and indeed I explain and say that it's happening before I introduce the problem, which is why I think the open G is not resonating.

May be I should explain it with pictures.

May 30, 2017, 11:38 AM · The open g string resonates. It's simple physics
Edited: June 2, 2017, 12:39 PM · To All ~ Thank you for your kind compliments amid "Yesterday" reminders, Jean Dubuisson! For most, thank you in realising my Reply to Trevor Jennings re Milstein Never performing /recording Sibelius' Violin Concerto for truly honourable reasons is as far as I will go, and for an awakening by Tim Repond vis a vie the awesomeness of the Violin Art of Nathan Milstein, and for mention of Arnold Schoenberg's Violin Concerto by Peter Charles and Jacob Sumner which, as the daughter of Betty, Arnold Schoenberg's alternate pianist w/ Leonard Stein, for his most advanced classes at UCLA in 'Theory', 'Form and Analysis', & 'Orchestral Structure & Composition', plus her additional duties as the Assistant to Schoenberg re Exams, etc., who was always 'on call', performing/demonstrating huge portions of Arnold Schoenberg's orchestral/chamber orchestral scores (some of which had No piano reduction parts at the time - circa, 1938-1940), and totally impromptu, nearly flawlessly when Schoenberg was teaching gifted pupils - (i.e. Leon Kirchner & Earl Kim, both of whom were Compositional Prize Laureats with L..K. winning the Pulitzer) -his uniquely varying compositional techniques employed in his atonal musical style developed to convey the gamut of human emotion, I am truly taken by surprise to read Schoenberg dedicated his only Violin Concerto to Jascha Heifetz! In fact, having the violin w/piano score at hand, I'm going to look right now! Be back in a jiffy!! (My very shy & modest Mother never mentioned this in conversations about her over 2 years mentoring by Arnold Schoenberg, so off I go!)

Well, guys, looking straight at Schoenberg's Violin Concerto, Op. 36, with Piano reduction score, it reads, and quite probably to all our surprise ~

"To Anton von Webern"

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

Arnold Schoenberg, Op. 36


Poco Allegro

Copyright, 1939, by G. Schirmer, Inc.

International Copyright Secured

Printed in the U.S.A.

It's Friday, June 2, 2017, and I'm betting some scholarly soul will have a Walk Through over this (let's term it) "Arnold Schoenberg Week end"!!!

With very warm greetings to all from the U.S.A. ~

Elisabeth Matesky

June 2, 2017, 12:48 PM · I think Schoenberg may have changed the dedication after Heifetz refused to perform it. It was written for H but after his second look at it the rumour was that he had thrown the concerto in the bin.
June 2, 2017, 3:05 PM · I would have at least kept it for posterity... :D
Edited: June 2, 2017, 3:56 PM · To Peter Charles ~

You know, Peter, the thought you have just expressed, actually went through my mind!! Yet, there is hardly a way to know this for sure ... The only person I knew intimately who knew Schoenberg quite well both as his Assistant, alternate pianist and quite frequently invited pupil/guest to the home of Prof and Mrs. Arnold Schoenberg, was my beloved, recently late, Mother ~ Being almost un-naturally shy and modest, she was always very careful to not draw attention to herself and in this vein, her extremely rare musically 'savant' gifts for harmony and transposition ... Yet in the Sunset of her life, she did speak a bit about Schoenberg as a person with me ...

She was't prone to nor interested in rumour's or 'gossip' yet it is possible she may have heard words to the effect you mention? To my deepest and most painful regret, I can no longer ask my best friend and eloquently kind yet formal Mother if or what she may have known regarding JH being the intended dedicatee of Schoenberg's Violin Concerto ...

During her vitally active life she was far too busy accompanying finest singers and soloists throughout Los Angeles & parts further as well as being the loving musician collaborative wife of my father plus the best Mother and pianist a daughter could ever wish for ~ At this moment in time, it remains a mystery but if it's a buried reality, it is sure to surface through highly authentic sources, i.e., in perhaps Vienna or in possibly not in print Schoenberg Diaries, if any exist other than many Books already published?

One now wonders how this arduously complex and complicated Violin with Orchestra score might have sounded in the hands and heart of non other than The Great Heifetz ~

With warm musical greetings!

Elisabeth Matesky

June 2, 2017, 3:59 PM · To A.O ~

You are darned right about that one!!!

Greetings as always ...

Elisabeth Matesky

June 2, 2017, 5:26 PM · @Ms. Matesky: Just imagine the Schoenberg, but substitute Mr. Heifetz' sound and ifiosyncracoes in.

After listening to quite a lot of his playing, I find it very easy (I even thought that a certain passage in the swan would have been nicer in octaves- Lo and behold, I come across Heifetz playing his transcription of the Swan, with octaves added exactly where I thought they should be!) :D

Anyone else end up predicting such things after copious amounts of hearing a particular artist's work? :)

June 2, 2017, 7:05 PM · I hope not. I think the last label Heifetz would have wanted is "predictable."
June 2, 2017, 8:04 PM · To the OP,

It is to add some color I believe to the open note, and perhaps avoid the monotony of such an open note. Seeing as Bruch couldn't go any lower in string, he was forced to write an open note low G. Without such local vibrato, I would suspect that the note's color would suffer. Seeing as Perlman vibrates the other note for a moment then stops, I would agree that it is due to phrasing. Creating a swell in the open G is easy but it is that slight vibrato that adds another depth to the sound, and maintains its heavy beginning without a flat sound.

June 2, 2017, 10:36 PM · @Paul: To be fair, every player becomes rather predictable in general terms if you listen to much of their repertoire (save Gitlis, I think the bow controls his movements, not his intended interpretation). :D
Edited: June 3, 2017, 8:30 AM · A relevant point that has not been mentioned in this discussion is that the fundamental (196Hz) of the violin's G string is next to inaudible or even non-existent on the vast majority of instruments, and is weak on the rare ones that do have it. This is because the size of the violin prevents the excitation of the 196Hz fundamental. Violas and cellos do not have this problem because of their larger internal volumes.

On the violin the strongest frequency of the open G is the octave harmonic 392Hz, which can be vibrated silently on the D string, thereby starting a sympathetic vibration of the same frequency on the open G.

We are usually not consciously aware of the absence of the 196Hz fundamental because our brains synthesize it from its harmonics. The same thing happens with notes up to middle C on the G string - their fundamentals are next to inaudible until you reach C# or D. It is not difficult to check this out by observing the frequencies on a spectrogram.

I suspect that violins in which the 196Hz can be detected may be those that are slightly oversize. As it happens, my old violin seems to be in that category - a 196Hz signal is visible on the screen at a much smaller amplitude than the harmonics, but it is inaudible because the brain's harmonic synthesis mechanism must still be overriding it.

Edited: June 3, 2017, 10:13 AM · I hear the difference, Trevor! :D

Very obvious in that the notes below D have a hollow, woody quality that lacks the ringing sustain of all the other notes.

Hence why I plan for a large Maggini model of 36.7 cm body as my dream instrument (I think it supports fully down to the note B)-although, having a 15.5' violin that supports ALL the frequencies would be ideal (custom order?) :)

Edited: June 4, 2017, 2:29 AM · Yes, that hollow, woody quality could be due to the missing fundamental. I certainly notice it on my Jay Haide, which is my practice/folk/reserve fiddle, but not quite so much on my old violin (18th c) which does have a residual 196Hz.

Other factors conceivably having some sort of effect on the 196Hz response could possibly be the bridge/soundpost setup, string type and tension, the bow, and, of course, the nut at the end of the bow ;)
June 3, 2017, 3:56 PM · Of course, little things combined can outweigh missing body cavity! ;)

What if the violin simply had the ribs increased in height 1.5 times?

That would theoretically drop the inner resonance down a fifth from D to G (or ribs a little less high and increase body length and arching). :)

June 3, 2017, 11:12 PM · If you designed a large violin, to get that fundamental of the low G, what you would have is;.... a small viola...
I listened to the Schoenberg violin concerto, for the very first time, on youtube. I lasted about 5 min. Possible simple explanation of why JH did not play it; maybe he didn't like it. It's impressive that Schoenberg could write so many wrong notes without accidently hitting a right note. Doubly impressive that anyone (Hillary Hahn, et al) can play that thing from memory.~ un-apologetic curmugeon late night opinion. ~jq
Edited: June 4, 2017, 2:25 AM · With the greatest respect to those who play the Schoenberg from memory, how can a listener without a score be sure that all the notes are being played in the right order? And would it really matter ;)
June 4, 2017, 2:42 AM · My theory is that vibrating the octave G shakes the violin just enough to produce a slight bow vibrato!.....
June 4, 2017, 6:20 AM · Adrian, that's basically what I think it's going on, but we disagree on the octave higher G. If the "vibrato" effect we hear in the open G is due to the bow movement, then you don't need at all to play an octave higher G. You can press down any note to produce that bow "vibrato" in the open G.
June 5, 2017, 9:26 AM · The discussion about the physics of this reminds me of an invention by Leon Theremin, aka Lev Termen, of a passive radio microphone (called "the Thing"). This link explains how it works. Theremin was a cellist; vibrating the octave above an open string, or the same note as an open string, may have given him the idea.
Edited: June 8, 2017, 2:48 PM · To All including the "unapologetic curmudgeon late Night opinion, jq!"!!

Regarding: Wrong notes accidentally hitting right notes, etc. and etc.!!

Actually, I think Hilary Hahn does a magnificent job of injecting emotional content into Arnold Schoenberg's Violin Concerto, Op. 36 ~ She is a very serious and sincere artist with vast technique amid reserves of such in the 'tank', so to speak ... It seems the Schoenberg is well suited to Ms. Hahn's temperament ~ cool, calm, assured, and with very little 'bling', as is said in the UK, it's "bloody" solid and thoughtful. Not trying to pen a critique, as a fellow violinist and daughter of a Mother who could adeptly perform any or all of Schoenberg's 'wrong notes' nearly flawlessly on the piano because as she always said to many asking, How do you play his orchestral & chamber orchestral scores impromptu?, "I just hear the music in my head ..." That in itself turned the head of Sir Simon Rattle who was here on tour with the Berlin Philharmonic, who performed Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony score, Op. 1, 9b, to an ovation in Orchestra Hall, who in conversation re a portion of correspondence from Schoenberg to my Mother, asked to meet her!! Of course, the B.P. can perform any score extraordinarily!! I think jq deserves an Award for "lasting 5 minutes" listening time! No doubt, the Schoenberg is one tough 'cookie' but it belongs in the concert repertoire for violin ~ "Leave It to Beaver", guys!!

Seriously, it's most probably as 'contemporary' as was Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' in its Paris Opera premiere when many hyperventilating Parisians began throwing eggs, tomato's and who knows what else upon first hearing this very strange piece! If fast forwarding to 2029, the Schoenberg might well become a 'classic' to the world's 'digital generation'?? Not absolutely sure it might come into its own, whether Mr. 'H.' 'liked' it or not, only few most probably know ... And as with so many fellow American's,"they" aren't saying JH liked or knew it or whatever else as the "Did you vote for D.T." Question continues floating about in the air ~

Signing off for now ~

Elisabeth Matesky*

*Trevor Jennings, Tim Repond, Peter Charles, Herman West, A.O. ~ You're
invited to visit our ongoing 'Top 10 Violinists of All Time (III)' discussion on

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