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Is this possible?
violin evolution?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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pky
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September 16, 2012 - 2:58 pm
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For those who are interested, I am just wondering:

Is it possible for a violin not to have a fret/finger board like many other string instruments from other cultures (e.g., Erhu, ma tou qin, shamisen)?

Some modifications may be needed, like the height of the bridge, the position and angle of the neck, etc.

To me a fret/finger board sets the limits of how much one should press down on the strings, but when you don't have a board, the strings are further from the neck/stem, then one would have more room, and thus there might be other possibilities for violin? 

For example: When one plays a Chinese zither, he/she could really "chop" down on the strings with left fingers and make sounds that sound like one flicking fingers half way in the water surface. 

My guess is without a fingerboard it would make it more difficult to play a violin as well. lumpy-2134Violin family may not need any more evolution, this is just my wonder.

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cdennyb
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September 16, 2012 - 3:07 pm
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yep it's possible I've seenthem an there's been some pictures of them posted on the site before I'm sure somebody will post them again for you

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Picklefish
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September 16, 2012 - 4:44 pm
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frets are useless on a violin because the neck is so short compared to other fretted instruments, would be more useful on a cello or bass. But why mess with a perfected instrument. It would be like useing golfballs that are self flight directing, smartballs. The challenge isnt in the instrument but in the instrumentalist. Thats why the word mental is in there. Im mental.afro

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Oliver
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September 16, 2012 - 5:09 pm
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The fingerboard-less instrument would certainly enjoy a wider range of tone/pitch  variation than a string(s) that simply is vibration/tension bound by a fingerboard.

I saw an Ehru being played at a fair this Summer and I'm sure one could not get the same music out of a violin.

Perhaps the important difference is what sort of music is to be played ?

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Fiddlerman
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September 16, 2012 - 7:41 pm
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The sound would be so little without a fingerboard Pky. The solid stop of the finger pressed against the fingerboard gives a more solid pure tone. The harder we press against the fingerboard the closer the sound comes to an open string.
The instrument as we know it for the purposes that it is used for is not possible without a fingerboard but another similar instrument can be made without one but would have a very different sound and use.
I think I understood your question but maybe not. LOL

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

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myguitarnow
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September 16, 2012 - 8:48 pm
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I think FM answered that one the best. I got a little confused on what you meant about frets though PKY. I can play the guitar without touching the fingerboard. They're called harmonics. It's hard for me to imagine doing it with a bow very well but if you use your fingers on both your right and left hand you can pluck and make a ringing sound that sounds pretty cool. The violin is a pretty perfected instrument.

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myguitarnow
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September 16, 2012 - 9:08 pm
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I need to add that I love slide guitar where I don't even touch the fingerboard. Is that what you are talking about?

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pky
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September 16, 2012 - 11:48 pm
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Hopefully the clips below will help explain and express my thought more.

feature=related

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_X.....5Mg==.html

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_X.....zNDQ=.html

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_X.....5MzY=.html (about 88 minutes long but has a lot of techniques that other clips don't show)

p.s. Sorry, those clips from youku.com may have commercials at the beginning.

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DanielB
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It would certainly be possible to play a violin that had no fingerboard at least somewhat in that fashion, pky.

But.. you don't actually have to take the fingerboard off a violin or have one made without it to do that.  If you know how to play harmonics, those are notes that do not use the fingerboard.  I know, harmonics are only at certain positions and they are precise notes.  They are not what you mean.  But if you already know how to play harmonics on your violin, then you already know how to bow and how much pressure to get the harmonics to sound.  If you increase the pressure just a bit, but not enough to bring the string all the way to the fingerboard, you can get any notes that you like.  They are usable sounds, though different than the usual violin traditional sound.

It might take fingertips that are tough/hardened enough to make a good sound, but probably anyone can do it by using their fingernail. 

I made a quick recording of what I am talking about.  First there is a string bowed open, then a few notes fingered in the usual way.. then a harmonic.. and then the rest is just goofing off with sliding around.  For that I am not actually using the fingerboard at all, just the right amount of pressure with my fingertip against the string while bowing.  I'm not using my fingernail in the example, though that works too.

I don't make any claims for the musicality of this sample.  I haven't practised songs using it as a technique and etc, I am just showing the sound using the technique I am talking about.  I end it with a bowed open note, again, to compare the sounds.  This was on an electric, but I've played with the technique on the acoustic as well, and it works.  You need to use a bit more pressure on the heavier wound strings than on a plain E string, but it can be done on all the strings.  Is that the sort of thing you are basically talking about?

Now, an erhu has a lot more distance to work with between the strings and neck than a violin, so not all the techniques used on an erhu may be possible on a violin.  That is only to be expected, since they are different instruments.  I haven't studied erhu, so I don't know what techniques may be involved or how much some of them may rely on the larger distance the erhu has between strings and neck than violin string and fingerboard.  But you can definitely do some of the same gliding sounds, and use trills and etc to get at least some sounds in the same way as a basic note appears to be made on the erhu.

If that is what you were talking about, or at least part of it?

"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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Fiddlestix
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September 17, 2012 - 7:04 am
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If you remove the fingerboard from your violin, you no longer have a "violin",,

The harmonic's played on a violin are played different than the Erhu, on the violin harmonic's finger pressure and bow pressure are applied down on the string. With the Ehru, finger pressure is applied down or toward the neck but never touches the neck and the bow is between the two string's. The bow never leave's the instrument.

I would think that buy running your bow hair between two of your violin string's and pulling and pushing, you could possibly achieve close to the same effect/sound.

 

Incidentally, I use Youku frequently as I am helping a Chinese lady learn to speak English. We us a program which is on the same order as Skype but called "QQ International". I like it much better than Skype.

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Kevin M.
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September 17, 2012 - 9:46 am
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Sorry Daniel but I couldn't listen to it for very long. It was like nails on a chaulk board to me.

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Oliver
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September 17, 2012 - 12:47 pm
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Daniel that was a marvelous demonstration of the sounds that whales make for navigating and communication.  Pure violin magic (again!)

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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DanielB
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I would have to agree with Fiddlestix that removing the fingerboard from a violin would fall under creating a new musical instrument. 
A violin is not an erhu and vice versa.  Both are worthy instruments, with their own construction and playing techniques.  Nothing wrong with inventing new instruments, either, if one is inclined to try.

My point was strictly that an unaltered violin *can* be played without actually bringing the string to the fingerboard, which appears to be (from what I could tell from vids) at least one of the ways notes are usually sounded on the erhu.  But it is rather like guitars and sitars.  You can tune a guitar to have at least some of the same notes and sort of play it in imitation of sitar, but one is not the other and you can't do all the same things on one that you can do on the other.  They aren't built the same, the inherent sound is different and playing techniques are different. 

But it would not be actually necessary to take the fingerboard off a violin to get at least some idea what the sound could be like, since it is possible to get notes other than harmonics by using only the finger as a stop rather than the nut or fingerboard. 

 

@kevin: Yeah, although the sounds I am playing are not actual harmonics, they contain a lot more harmonic content than a regular fingered or open note.  And I had the tone control on the violin all the way open, which I don't usually.  The overall sound just raw like that is a bit harsh.  It would take some tinkering with effects and eq and a good bit of practice to have any chance of turning the sound into something I personally would think of as both usable and distinctive enough to actually be worth the bother.  I'm busy enough right now with just working on playing violin in standard fashion and trying to get it to sound sorta right, but maybe some bored day in the future or something it might be worth investigating.

@Oliver: Yeah, well.. I don't just play on the violin, I play with it a good bit.  Finding interesting sounds and trying different pieces of gear or techniques used with other instruments to see what actually works.  One never knows when one may find something seriously neat that can be developed out into technique.  I tend to the philosophy that any sound *can* be used effectively in music, so long as one can find an appropriate context to place it in and has sufficient technique with it to be able to control it.

 

I ran across the particular trick I have been talking about in a less glorious and experimental fashion though.  I found out you can play a harmonic on a violin wrong by applying too much pressure with the finger on the string.  It was in the first couple days I had my violin, when I was figuring out how to tune it by harmonics.  I accidentally pressed down a bit harder while trying to get the bowing right, and heard the note change.  I tinkered with that for a few minutes and then filed it away in my head for later experimentation.  It's a neat sound, I'd be kind of surprised if it wasn't intentionally used by someone somewhere in the history of the violin, and probably actually has a name.

"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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Oliver
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September 18, 2012 - 7:24 am
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I doubt that all notes are "bottomed out", particularly in very fast passages and there is no serious penalty for that.  (See Simon Fischer "Basics")

I myself sometimes play a string "light" and, with some loss of volume, I think the sound quality is perhaps better (?)

(I too have a long and scarey history of messing with musical instruments starting with putting thumb tacks on the strikers in a piano.  Great sound!)

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Fiddlerman
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September 18, 2012 - 8:21 am
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The instruments that you posted Pky actually use the neck as a fingerboard. Their fingers touch the neck when playing. I think that those instruments could be perfected with a protective ebony fingerboard but they wouldn't have the same traditional charm if they were.

I also believe that they could be easier to play if they did have a fingerboard. Also, my guess is that they would last longer.(Speaking as though I know anything about how long they last or last before needing work must be done on them.....)

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

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DanielB
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Oliver said

(I too have a long and scarey history of messing with musical instruments starting with putting thumb tacks on the strikers in a piano.  Great sound!)

 

Ah, the old "make a piano sound sort of like a harpsichord" trick?  Not good for the felts, but if the felts aren't brand new, and you like the sound better... Why not?

"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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Fiddlestix
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Pierre,,, if you look at the vid @1:08 you can see from the side that his finger's do not press the string's to the fingerboard.  It is harmonic's being played. I actually like it.

 

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Kevin M.
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Just a word of caution. Don't try to take the fingerboard off a violin and string it up without the fingerboard.  The neck by itself cannot take the strain of the strings and needs the fingerboard for strength.  As you all may know, I am the only one crazy enough to try that but I didn't.

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Mad_Wed
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September 18, 2012 - 1:51 pm
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Hey, PKY! Welcome back! Missed You! =)

Can't say something smart about the topik, but glad, You're here!

 

Oliver said
Daniel that was a marvelous demonstration of the sounds that whales make for navigating and communication.  Pure violin magic (again!)

gold_stargold_stargold_star

LOL! That's cosmic, Daniel! Downloaded to my mp3 player. Whenever i play with violin - never got something so....comprehended..

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