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Violin traditions
What traditions and superstitions are there in playing a violin.
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sam10868
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July 2, 2015 - 2:25 pm
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     Coming from a bass background and a road cycling there are certain things you never do or you draw bad luck.  Never travel with an untuned guitar or the devil will try to cut a deal with you.  In cycling There is the after ride coffee and chat.  What are the "things" to violin???  

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
July 2, 2015 - 9:15 pm
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There's a tradition of putting rattlesnake rattle inside a fiddle. Some people say it's good luck and some say it makes it sound better.

snake1

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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DanielB
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July 3, 2015 - 12:18 pm
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The violin has such an old reputation for being "the Devil's instrument" already, that if you run into the devil, he'd probably say something like, "Boy let me tell you wha.. Oh.. Sorry, didn't see the violin/fiddle case.  Well, keep up the good work." and disappear.

There are so many points of violin care and use that are often debated strongly that already sound like so much superstition that it can be hard to figure out what the actual superstitions are.

I think that it is pretty safe to say that the one about if you dig up a dead fiddler and use their fingerbone as the soundpost in the instrument, you somehow inherit their abilities is probably about the wildest I can think of offhand.

Here's a reference page for that, before anyone thinks I just made it up..

http://www.oleviolin.com/violi.....arning.htm

And for even more fun, here's a lnk to a Gypsy story about the creation of the violin and the Devil's involvement.  Maybe not exactly what you are looking for, but it may make for some good storytelling when you're doing that coffee and chat after cycling and before you break out your violin.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ne.....gft097.htm

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
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July 3, 2015 - 1:06 pm
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DanielB said
......   I think that it is pretty safe to say that the one about if you dig up a dead fiddler and use their fingerbone as the soundpost in the instrument, you somehow inherit their abilities is probably about the wildest I can think of offhand.

  I was about to try that, but decided to give the FM cap a try first to see if it imbued me with some supernatural playing ability.... but nope - it didn't work - OK - so - back to the somewhat unsavory and somewhat off-putting exhumations of passed fiddlers... best done on a moonless night with a piercingly chilling north wind, so I'm told...  you also have to run round the fiddler's grave, three times, anti-clockwise, without ever once thinking the word "unicorn"...   That's probably why it hasn't worked for me up till now...

  Nice tales, @DanielB  - real good !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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DanielB
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July 3, 2015 - 2:02 pm
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Well BillyG, before you got to all that bother, maybe you should check with Pierre?  I don't know *everything" Fiddlershop carries, but you never know.  He might have fiddler fingerbone soundposts in stock.  Oh, they'd probably be from some Chinese fiddler, but you get that these days, and some of them are pretty good!

I do recall one bit that I've heard somewhere over the years that comes from your part of the world.  But it is for when a fiddler or piper dies, so I don't reckon it was the sort of thing sam was really looking for.

But I've heard tell that when a fiddler or piper dies, you should have their instrument(s?) out on display at the wake, and before the player actually gets taken away to be buried, you are supposed to pour a little whisky on the instrument.  Otherwise proper respects weren't paid and it may be haunted in some unpleasant way.  Oh, and folks should never talk about who will get the instruments until after the body is buried, for the same reason.  And their instruments should not be played by anyone until after they are buried.

Hopefully nobody in the FM community will be needing that sort of info any time soon, though.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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BillyG
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July 3, 2015 - 2:38 pm
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sam10868 said
     Coming from a bass background and a road cycling there are certain things you never do or you draw bad luck.  Never travel with an untuned guitar or the devil will try to cut a deal with you.  In cycling There is the after ride coffee and chat.  What are the "things" to violin???  

  - my apologies @sam10868 - I did mean to say WELCOME to you as a relatively new poster, but I got carried away with Daniel's intriguing post ! LOL 

  I should just add - I've played guitar for many more years than I care to remember, and had occasional interactions with piano and low-whistle amongst other things.

  BUT, when it came to the fiddle when I picked it up a year or so back, I named it "Hermano del diablo".  Even as self-taught amateur musician, I truly could not tell which one of us "was in control" - the fiddle, my fingering or the bow....  it was indeed the devil incarnate...

  THEN I discovered fiddlerman.com !!!!    

  Welcome to the insanity and enjoy the journey !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
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July 3, 2015 - 2:40 pm
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LOL @DanielB - just cross-posted there...  hahah indeed !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
July 5, 2015 - 4:23 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11702

All very interesting but now I can't get pouring a little whiskey on the instrument out of my mind. LOL

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Jacques
San Diego
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July 6, 2015 - 1:59 am
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Before I tune up the instrument to play I will strum the strings a bunch of times to loosen and warm them up in the grooves of the nut and bridge.

And post performance/practice polish job is very intricate. I do the back plate in an infinity pattern with both hands and directions. I polish the ribs in vertical swipes twice in every direction, and then polish the top in a semi-random yet discerning pattern that changes on a moments notice. I then scrub down the fingerboard with my left pinky to even the wear, and put my own players touch to the instrument.

Call me superstitious! I feel polishing is as important in shaping the instruments sound. The warmth of the rag in circular motions change the molecule structure of the wood. It's like the science experiment you may have heard of with the holy water versus the cursed water - where the holy waters molecular structure was beautiful under a microscope while the defiled water was messy and ugly. The same applies for all natural objects such as the wood of a fiddle.

My fiddle "The Despot", Despótēs, Le Despote returns the favour. As i coax melodies and double stopped harmony, bouncing off open strings and emphasizing the natural harmonics - I make it sing with my vibrato and make it sing!!!

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dionysia
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July 6, 2015 - 11:17 am
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KindaScratchy said
There's a tradition of putting rattlesnake rattle inside a fiddle. Some people say it's good luck and some say it makes it sound better.

snake1

If the rattle makes it sound better, I shudder to think how I would sound without it! When I had Madame in for repairs, I made sure the luthier knew to leave grandpa's rattle alone.

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