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My Journey with My Violin Since May 1716.
A probably unusual way to learn improvising via baroque play-alongs.
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Demoiselle
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October 24, 2016 - 3:50 pm
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So, these are the syncopations I worked out, I mainly want to use in gavottes to have more variety in my phrasing:

DSC00387.JPG

Nr. 2.) is my favorite! Because its three bars the whole phrase in itself is shifting rhythmically which I find very interesting. I especially think of one Handel gavotte which in the middle has a part which is exhausting me, because I always feel like stuffing it with lots of eights. Nr. 2 sounds nice there and it fills that part completely. ūüėÄ The rest works nicely then without, but I sometimes involve Nr. 1 once and mix it into my usual phrases. That sounds also nice. Nr. 6 maybe in other pieces, but that one is too calm for my gavottes. I cannot concentrate on 3.) through 5.b) right now--maybe after my little act in this week's upcoming open stage. The Handel gavotte is definitely then the first piece of my 4 pieces program.

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Demoiselle
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My improvisation on Handel's Concerto Grosso No. 2 in B flat major, HWV 313, partly using syncopated rhythm phrases I had worked out on the sheet seen in this video.

But first my recording from last summer.

Demoiselle said
This is really funny. I was assuming, my new pushing me into speed would perhaps show an effect in a week or two. But today I rehearsed a couple things I'm possibly going to perform in our August open stage. And suddenly it comes out easier and I'm not struggling with the tempo anymore! There. Here are the speedy eights, I'm training since yesterday, emerging in my Handel Gavotte.

Above version was a very good exercise to train abilities in things speed, but it sounds strained. Frankly, it was difficult to get out of that speedy mode and that's why I created the sheet with syncopated rhythm phrases. Which I used in the now following video today and I think this is really becoming for my gavotte choruses:

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Demoiselle
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My gavotte solo didn't work out so well, because the stage light showed me all the shining skin oil spots on the fingerboard where my fingers usually hit. Which funnily means I'm able to finger blindly, without knowing it until Saturday open stage. After my complain, the stage light would be too much and irritate me, they faded it down a bit and everything was fine: J.C. Bach's Wedding Cantata and Now Rest All Forests. Those skin oil spots had helped me over months. I should now learn soon to ignore them at full stage light as well.

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Demoiselle
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I now see, at that point where I'm able to hit the right places on the fingerboard without watching them, many troubles end. Because now I can watch my bow hand bowing and suddenly the little rascal doesn't have the guts anymore to fool around.

When I closely had to follow my fingers on the fingerboard a year ago, bow discipline wasn't possible of course. I've heard it a lot for months, but now I really see: most mistakes are being caused by the bow hand, although I usually suspected the fingerboard hand first.

I find fascinating how many 'buttons' I've found over the past 18 months.

  • recording very simple and slow play-alongs at my spinet
  • 4 months later starting with slow Aebersold jazz ballads
  • early 2016¬†going over to Handel/Bach etc. play-alongs by¬†MusicPartner
  • starting uptempo training via MusicPartner in early August
  • now fingering blindly and going back to Aebersold playalongs which are much faster

Aebersold will now make me faster probably for the coming 2 weeks. Last year I was struggling with dotted eights (played like 6/8 in jazz), now I even add triplets and even managed to play a couple 16th phrases. So Aebersold is definitely the right medium to push me ahead at this time. After that I will have to go back to MusicPartner, slow down to concentrated accuracy and then focus on my concert program with my spinet recordings. I'm sure it's gonna be quite a bit easier then.

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Demoiselle
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I'd like to share my new method: playing while constantly dimming the light and finally play in the dark.

I had started dimming weeks ago. While playing in full light I'm able to see the little skin oil spots on the fingerboard. They helped me to find the right places since taking off my First Frets in February. By dimming I was able to find out, whether I was able to play without seeing those spots. But still the pegs of the patch box gave me a little orientation and I still needed to see that.

Today I dimmed more and more and finally played completely in the dark, which worked like a dream. When the light is on I can focus on the bow but after some time will look at the fingerboard again because I'm used to it. But tonight I just played a complete Aebersold play-along jazz track without any light on. So now I'm absolutely sure I can do without looking.

Dimming down works well to wean off the habit of watching my fingering.

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Demoiselle
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Knowing that my bad sense of space is not effecting my playing the violin, I can now decide, that the violin is going to be my first instrument.

I now overlook what to expect and that there aren't any more traps and downsides to come.

The downside of the trumpet is the very common high note hysteria. I don't like it, I find it unhealthy (high pressure effects blood pressure and intraocular pressure, etc.) and it has a terrible macho attitude to it which I cannot appreciate. But as people expect extremely high notes from professional jazz trumpeters, I will never get to the top. That's why I have been practicing trumpet 10 minutes every other day from May 2015 on to keep my technical level.

In 4 years I will be better on violin than on any of my other instruments and people (not good players of course) will call me a 'professional'. That's what they've been assuming when hearing me on trumpet and I'm absolutely sure I will reach that goal. From there I will go on, because I'm very motivated and that will push me for the years to come. Every couple months I invent another method to push myself over the next hurdle‚ÄĒthis will constantly go on. There will be constant progress over the years and I will never cease.

Now focusing on work instead of talking so much....

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MrYikes
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It is inspiring to read your posts, but I'm exhausted, I need a nap and its 7 AM.  Just kidding.  Your plans are logical and it takes an exceptional person to be so dedicated.  It gives me hope that just maybe I can get my fingers to do as they are told.

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Demoiselle
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MrYikes said
It is inspiring to read your posts, but I'm exhausted, I need a nap and its 7 AM.  Just kidding.  Your plans are logical and it takes an exceptional person to be so dedicated.  It gives me hope that just maybe I can get my fingers to do as they are told.  

Whenever I see a 90 years old fiddler playing the violin with an insanely virtuosic fingering this helps me a lot. Age must not be a barrier. Just turn away from old people who tell you it's hopeless. Their philosophy is poisonous! Most aging people buy it and that's the reason why they have no hope. It's mostly laziness. Older people who think and act like young people don't have it homey. Striving for homeyness is laziness and that makes people passive and feel nothing but meaninglessness.

My ideas surely are exceptional. It's basically "occupy the old masters!"--don't be their slave, be your own master--make Bach your workmate. It's not to overthrow the world order, it is because anyone of us has the same right to be creative like Bach.

Basically it takes 5 or 6 years to learn an instrument if you practice a lot daily. Last Saturday there was a violin player in the audience who was like, "No, she sounds good, it's really okay." In 4 or 5 years people like that will say, "Wow, that's really amazing!" Because I will work daily and harder than I worked with any other instrument. Because violin is the ONLY instrument which matches my ideas: in baroque AND jazz. It is the leading instrument in baroque and also very good for jazz. And unlike recorder which dynamically is very limited.

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Demoiselle
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MrYikes said
It is inspiring to read your posts, but I'm exhausted, I need a nap and its 7 AM.  Just kidding.  Your plans are logical and it takes an exceptional person to be so dedicated.  It gives me hope that just maybe I can get my fingers to do as they are told.  

I see it this way and I have just been pondering it after waking up this morning.

Our body has two downsides which are hindering the goals of our mind:

  1. laziness
  2. fear

That's why the mind must constantly find out ways to trick the body.

Let's say, I'm able to rave over a couple very slow ballads out of the Aebersold repertoire. It doesn't sound great, it just works so-so. Which is a good start! Then I try "I can give you anything but love", which is medium tempo, I find very hard and it seems I will never manage to play that. It tires me and it's 'only' medium, but I find it pretty fast and this is encouraging me a lot.

The advice I will always give myself is:

  • Play hundreds of ballads from the Aebersold repertoire which are C, F, and D minor to make it as easy as possible. Ignore passages where the chords confuse you and ignore your false notes like they were correct (in this moment we want to technically step ahead--we can improve our hearing later anyhow, which is mostly a matter¬†of listening to professional jazz recordings and experimenting with chords at a keyboard). Important is to forget all chords beyond C, F, and D minor, so the bar you have to jump won't be unnecessarily high. And really-really the slowest tracks you can find in the Aebersold pool. And you do that for about 3 months.
  • The next step won't be "I Can't Give You Anything But Love", we're already afraid of. No, we choose "Indiana" http://jazzbooks.com/jazz/prod.....B2PMS0rKM8 which is insanely fast. I'm struggling to play even sustained quarter note phrases (if we consider the walking bass quarters). Never mind, just play slow phrases, try a couple quarters which already will be terribly stressful. Now we go back to "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and suddenly we find that¬†not so difficult anymore, after escaping the hell of Indiana on Aebersold's BURNING CD.
  • So now you can try more medium titles out of the Aebersold pool and from time to time you go ¬†to burning and other fast tracks. You also go to other fast tracks which aren't as crazy fast as Indiana, which will help you to completely take the medium goal. Nice side benefit: Very slow will now be very easy and you can now fully live your creativity there.
  • Longterm goal now is to also conquer fast tracks and use extremely fast tracks to make it not so hard anymore. Maybe 6 or 12 months later..... So maybe after a year or two you will be able to play sustained quarter notes in Indiana and after 6 years possibly even eights (which kinda is virtuosic, so if we won't ever reach that goal it'll be no drama).

If we manage to motivate ourselves every day for years to come and we stay healthy it should come over time.

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MrYikes
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A fun tune you might enjoy is "In the mood".

Demoiselle said

  • suddenly we find that¬†not so difficult anymore, after escaping the hell of Indiana

In this election year and because I live in Indiana,  This just felt so real.

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Demoiselle
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In the Mood would be somewhere in the middle between the hell of Indiana and the song Unforgettable on Aebersold's #58. That job in the middle is doing Take the 'A' Train and "Savoy". Unforgettable is a ballad here in a medium tempo.

http://www.jazzbooks.com/mm5/m.....B4qQy0rKM8

At the end of the practice day (it's now after 7 p.m. here) I went back to the slow ballads I have gathered on my MP3-player a year ago. And here it suddenly showed another result in a title from the same #58 "In The Wee Small Hours": I was not just able to play dotted eights (played like 6/8 in jazz) and triplets, suddenly I improvise even sixteenths up and down and up and down--without interruption. I do remember I tried small groups of sixteenth notes yesterday, but not sustained for a long time and so clear. So, there is an effect already showing.

Looking forward to the results of Sunday evening .....

You mean redhot election hell of Indiana? Is there anything red so redhot in the midwest? As far as I've heard Indiana has always been sort of cautionary tale in midwestern blue campaigning: "Don't play with the fire and go where the voters in Indiana went!" LOL

This is really funny, to see the Aebersold edition BURNING that way! Which will certainly not end in a discussion about what people should vote next Wednesday. I will never go there like I do on twitter because that's not what a violin forum is meant for. But I love this redhot Indiana pun!!

MrYikes said
A fun tune you might enjoy is "In the mood".

Demoiselle said

  • suddenly we find that¬†not so difficult anymore, after escaping the hell of Indiana

In this election year and because I live in Indiana,  This just felt so real.

  

P.S.: Once I was a regular listener of the Stephanie Miller Show via WCPT, which¬†explains why I know more about American politics than 'normal' Germans. ūüėČ

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After speeding my phrasing up yesterday quite a bit, I tried a couple more Aebersold tracks which I have on my MP3 player, until I came to a samba and then finally to Begin the Beguine. This Latin stuff seemed so beneficial, that I went for really hot Caliente play-alongs (not by Aebersold but very awesome!). In this style I made the experience, that it was possible to do extremely fast phrasing without aiming much--just haphazardly. Sloppy doesn't sound so bad there, so this was really healthy to make me relax. And the longer I did it, the cleaner and preciser my fast phrasing turned out. And as it was great fun and I laughed while playing, I relaxed even more. I'll have to go on with caliente tomorrow, it pushes me ahead like crazy. My concert in December will benefit from that: I am taking another higher technical step which will make things more effortless.

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Demoiselle
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Okay, now I know what calypso power fiddling does‚ÄĒmuscles aching everywhere: arms, shoulder, d√©colletage, back....
I was able to speed up my phases quite a bit more. The Latin rhythms have been whipping me over the meanest cliffs. Otherwise I wouldn't have managed that.

On Sunday the German public radio aired "Gypsy Baroque", an interesting live concert which still can be listened to until November 13 here: http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/....._id=369161
(On the big photo is the grey botton "AUDIO" which starts the music--first a lady explains the music).

On YouTube I found something similar (which is not really authentic baroque like above radio program) and I found interesting to compare the gypsies to the rest of the musicians. To me the gypsies look like natural humans, whereas the rest kinda comes across like programed robots.

There I can clearly see where I see myself: not among those who have been adapted to the classical music assembly line. I see a lot of resemblence, comparing that gypsy phrasing to my above Latin stuff. It sounds similar and it's both the natural way to make music.

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Demoiselle
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Demoiselle said

After that I had to go on with a violin improvisation, but unfortunately was scared. I did not know what to play after the recorder solo. It was like another person had just blown me off the stage with a professional chorus to embarrass me. So, the way I finished La Folia on the violin was very-very depressing. It was all lame and dull. That was an all-black February open stage, I couldn't forget its disgrace and pain for weeks. Looking back, quite funny.

That was how the La Folia self-battle (me at the recorder vs. me at the violin) ended in February open stage. Maybe it's time for a little revenge match now? Whatever, I'm not afraid of my recorder routine at the violin anymore, although far from being perfect. But at least it is to hear, that I did the calypso power fiddling, which now makes it easy to play faster.

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Demoiselle
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I am very happy. A month ago I still was a little afraid my concert in December might be a bad idea because too early in my development. I was still struggling with several pieces and at times too tired to play anything¬†flawlessly. This has totally changed--today my violin technique was¬†unwavering--more reliable even than my recorder fingering. All insecurities have gone and I'm no longer afraid of that concert. The speed training of the past couple weeks was a success, what I do in my concert feels like¬†pure recreation¬†now, which makes me feel relaxed and firm. Very optimistic. ūüôā

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Fiddlerman
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Very good news Demoiselle ūüôā

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

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Demoiselle
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Fiddlerman said
Very good news Demoiselle ūüôā¬†¬†

Thanks, but I just realized I was lacking something.

Yesterday I listened to a CD and heard a long note with crescendo and decrescendo. I had heard that several times before, but this time I asked myself, "Why aren't you never doing THAT?" So I decided it should be part of my concert and generally part of my style. Today I realize, it is not all that simple. Little cracklings and even major cracks happen sooner than I had imagined. My first trials really discouraged me, but now after an hour of training it, it works. I think, these are really thinks which can distinguish me from folk style. The crescendo brings in a little Italian drama. I've heard long notes like that in Italian airs from the 1600s and guess violinists imitated exactly that vocal expression. Especially I must do it in House of the Rising Sun, because it's supposed to be my very special baroque version! It must sound different from what people are used to in that song. That song is a little drama anyhow.

This new exercise will probably enhance my whole technique a bit and make it cleaner. Especially in Pachelbel's Canon, where I'm afraid of cracks, although they don't happen so often anymore. Long notes are not easy--in this point I was very wrong when I started last year.

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In my older version I started with sort of bass line on the G string which was effort-saving. I needed that to make it through the violin part after the spinet intro. Weeks ago I put in Handel's original melodic subject, struggling with it quite some time. Now it works, but rushing after the two subject choruses is very dangerous, because I must make it through 4 choruses of improvisation. If I trill more than once in each chorus I will really suffer in the last chorus, running out of energy and that doesn't sound good. Two trills in the last chorus is okay and the long note in the third one is helping me a lot to save energy.

Before I didn't sing Handel's original theme; instead I sang "Hallelujah, the cupbearer comes!" It was sort of compliment for the barman in our club, but now I sing "Herr Handel is coming!" He's the subject anyway, I talk a lot about him and even will have his picture in gold frame in front of the red curtain.

Actually, I was not supposed to make more recordings before the concert, but made  this one to lay down this new standard and remember the new rules. Especially the long note in the third chorus.

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Demoiselle
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Frankly, I felt absolutely rotten this morning,and so had been my sleep. Which probably was the reason why I postponed my practice hours until about 7 pm. I started with a couple MusicPartner Handel and Telemann play-alongs, but I felt sleepy and those improvisations were all lame, intonation poor and I was repeatedly fingering this string and bowing that string at the same time.

So then I struggled through my performance program. First it was so-so, but it slowly got better. After ending Greensleeves, I began with  the closing remarks of House of the Rising Sun, but when I came to Sunking and his presumed house in New Orleans, I laughed. Finally I was very happy that the show was over. I dropped my courtesies to the spooky claqueurs and then decided to end with a bit Caribbean speed training. Which was amazingly terrific! So after that I went back to Handel and Telemann and there played fast phrases I had never played before!

The Caribbean training is really a great tool. ūüėÄ

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Demoiselle
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Sunday evening was my concert and here's the La Folia version I did as encore.

From my live concert, December 4.
Violon --- Demoiselle
Spinet --- Demoiselle (playback)
After the first chorus this is all improvisation.

_____________________

 

My November version of La Folia is now there (I edited to graphic pictures, so there's a difference. Which version is better? I don't know.....):

Demoiselle said

Demoiselle said

After that I had to go on with a violin improvisation, but unfortunately was scared. I did not know what to play after the recorder solo. It was like another person had just blown me off the stage with a professional chorus to embarrass me. So, the way I finished La Folia on the violin was very-very depressing. It was all lame and dull. That was an all-black February open stage, I couldn't forget its disgrace and pain for weeks. Looking back, quite funny.

That was how the La Folia self-battle (me at the recorder vs. me at the violin) ended in February open stage. Maybe it's time for a little revenge match now? Whatever, I'm not afraid of my recorder routine at the violin anymore, although far from being perfect. But at least it is to hear, that I did the calypso power fiddling, which now makes it easy to play faster.

  

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