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Old vs new sound, your thoughts?
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NoirVelours
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May 17, 2012 - 8:41 am
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Is my imagination playing tricks on me or does it sound like the old violin playing is more "human" then the perfect thing we here today? I keep watching video and every old violinist have a very personal way to play, while recent stuff played is a bit all from the same mold, perfect but bland? Is it the bowing technique, the sound arrangement with our advance technology? What is it that makes old violin players so awesome in their sound?

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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DanielB
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May 17, 2012 - 8:53 am
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I think that part of it may be how music is recorded and produced these days.  There is a tendency to give it a certain sound.  

But often, when FM or other people put up videos of how to play something, it has more personality and "life" to it.  I was watching a video on youtube of Itzhak Parlman doing the Devil's Trill, and I felt it had a lot of life and personality to it.  But still very different in some ways from recordings of Shumsky doing the same piece. 

Other than style being a little different, the Shumsky recordings felt a bit darker and warmer, which would be probably the acoustics of the place he was playing in and the recording techniques and equipment of the time.  Modern techniques and gear are "cleaner" and usually a bit "brighter".  Part of that is recording styles having changed, but part is that the older material was recorded on tape or cut directly to the master disk rather than digital.  Also, the older recordings were made with equipment that used vacuum tubes/valves instead of transistors, and there is a sound difference there too.

Maybe also players have changed, and perhaps focus a little more on technical accuracy than on expression.

"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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May 17, 2012 - 9:34 am
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In all fairness, the Suzuki Method deserves special recognition for adding to the robotic influence in modern violin pedagogy. 

violin-studentviolin-studentviolin-studentviolin-studentviolin-studentviolin-student

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

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Kevin M.
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May 17, 2012 - 9:50 am
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I think DanielB is right. A lot has to do with how something is recorded.  If you go to a live concert it sounds much different than the recording of the live concert.

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DanielB
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May 17, 2012 - 10:46 am
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The equipment and recording tactics that have changed over the decades do make a noticeable difference, especially with something with a complex waveform and envelope like the violin.

I have recorded two clips of the same sounds being played, one just going directly into the computer and the other through a clean tube preamp.  The preamp is not a guitar effect, which are made to distort, but one made for use with microphones (which you usually try to keep clean on the sound).  Also, since my violin is electric, the sound is actually much less complex than the instruments most of you use, which have acoustic properties from the wood.  My own is basically just the sound where the bridge mets the body.

I apologize for the playing, since I hadn't even warmed up by running scales yet.  It also makes me twitch a bit to let people hear a recording where I have not done noise reduction or touched up the EQ or added any room acoustics/reverb.  LOL  But I kept these bits free of such processing.  All that was done was to normalize both tracks so that the loudest sounds on them would be the same volume so you can hear more easily how much going through a piece of tube equipment affects the sound.

It is one part of why Shumsky and Perlman sound different when you hear recordings of them.  Not only are there differences in volume, the "envelope" and harmonic characteristics are a bit different.

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"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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NoirVelours
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May 17, 2012 - 10:50 am
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The difference is crazy!

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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DanielB
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May 17, 2012 - 11:07 am
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Yes, and it is why many electric guitar players spend a lot of money to have tube equipment, even though it is much heavier to move around and etc.  They like the sound better.

On violin, the difference it makes is even greater than on a guitar, since a violin's basic sound is a more complex "sawtooth" wave than the simpler guitar sound, which is closer to a sine wave.  The violin's sound has a more complex harmonic content even when it is just at the strings, and before it gets to the carefully designed wooden body of the acoustic violin.

But we'll avoid going too much in to the technical bits and say that it is enough that an ear can hear that it IS different.

"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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May 17, 2012 - 11:10 am
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I do believe it is "one part" but the future of violin playing has a growing influence of girls in gossamer pajamas running all over the stage playing something with a magic wand that I do not know or care about.  How much emotion (or bandpass) is needed for gymnastic routines?

I can only guess that it is very difficult to make a living as a legitimate violinist particularly with so many venues going out of business.

Is anybody more predictable than Hillary Hahn ?

coffee2

( I'll take "The Lady") (with any frequency responsewink

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

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NoirVelours
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May 17, 2012 - 11:24 am
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break time: violinist expression at it's finest! (with laugther)

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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DanielB
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May 17, 2012 - 11:30 am
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Well, the girls in gossamer pajamas jumping about are fun to watch.  I'll bet Mozart would have been delighted and composed pieces just for that, if he could have seen this far into the future for a few minutes.

I do have to agree, though, that I take such stage shows less seriously as regards the music.  They can be good musical entertainment, but with all the jumping about, I do not expect them to show the same degree of prowess as Perlman, for example.  On the other hand, I would NOT like to every see Perlman in gossamer pajamas. LOL

I personally do not have any aspirations towards making a living as a legitimate violinist at my age.  While there have been older violinists who are of note, they did not *start* on the instrument at 51. 

Besides, I am not very acrobatic and would look dreadful in gossamer pajamas, so that direction for a musical career is just not an option. 

 

rofl

"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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May 17, 2012 - 12:24 pm
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Besides, the condition of my back would not allow as many bows as our above child star.

I wonder, what is on the mind of an independent working musician such as FM ?

I guess, in a small group, or solo, expression might be very important.  If a paying customer requests a certain song, he probably has a "sound" in mind.

I remember a time when all weddings had "Because" and all the women in the congregation would cry and the soloist would pour on max schtick.

Then too, the finesse of the day might be to make sure to catch the car pool going back home ?

coffee2

I must apologize for poking fun at "Because"........ hear the modern day version.

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

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DanielB
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May 17, 2012 - 1:13 pm
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Having thought on the matter a bit, I think part of the difference comes from the focus there seems to be these days on making "child stars" and expecting musicians who are sometimes very young to perform as if they have decades of life experience.  There is too much of a focus on not messing up, rather than people playing who are just in love with the song and the sound of their instrument.

On the life experience point, could Mr Bocelli in the clip you posted do the song with the same feeling if he had never wooed a lady with a song before?  He could hit all the notes and do the same expression with voice, perhaps, but could he mean it?  Or would he be imitating someone from long ago who meant it?

Some very young "prodigy" may be able to play all the notes, but they haven't had the emotions or experiences the composer was writing from and nothing comparable in their lives yet.  It is cute for a little kid to sing a love song, for example, and may show they have considerable talent, but it won't be their emotion that is in it so much as an imitation of the emotion of some adult whose notes and expression are being copied. 

At the risk of being thought of as silly or overly poetical, playing music is sort of like kissing.  You will usually do better at it and enjoy it more if you sort of fall into the experience and let the world go away for a few moments rather than thinking about it too much and trying to not do any of it wrong.

"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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TerryT
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May 17, 2012 - 1:21 pm
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Someone nicked his violin?

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

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Oliver
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I like to think that many will rise above the mechanics of playing.  Some will, some won't.  And prevailing popular taste will take a toll as well.

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

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NoirVelours
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May 17, 2012 - 2:26 pm
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DanielB said
There is too much of a focus on not messing up, rather than people playing who are just in love with the song and the sound of their instrument.

  You will usually do better at it and enjoy it more if you sort of fall into the experience and let the world go away for a few moments rather than thinking about it too much and trying to not do any of it wrong.

That is what I think also. Very well said! Thinking this on a pure listener appreciation side though. I know I will always play for myself, I won't make a career starting violin at 39 lol. Anyway who has the 12 hours practice per day to put into that like today's young prodigy? Waking up at 5:30am to practice before school?

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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ftufc
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May 17, 2012 - 3:19 pm
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NV, that clip is so adorable; I'd forgotten how wonderful it is to see toddlers experiencing everything new in life!

This topic is exactly why, after having been a classical violin lover for 50 yrs of my life, that I now primarily listen to bluegrass fiddle; there's so much soul [albeit predominantly "white" soul] to it; it's slightly primitive while being technically refined,,, you just kind of don't recognize the refinement.

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Fiddlerman
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May 17, 2012 - 9:54 pm
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I love that little girls bows. LOL
Her face is almost on the ground. Imagine how flexible those little kids are.
I'll have to work on that.

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

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