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Gordon Shumway
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September 19, 2019 - 4:06 am
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I've been having problems some days getting a clean C# both on the D string and on the A string (maybe the pinky on the D string is adding to the problem). It's the cavity resonant frequency of the violin (or rather an octave above it). It doesn't boom, but there's something not quite right about it. I don't think it's a "wolf" note either. Is this note often a tricky one? What about cavity resonance on a viola, @AndrewH? Where does that lie, and what are the effects? (I'll ask my teacher too, but hers is only 15")

On the oboe the C above middle C is the most open note and it takes a few years of breath control and awareness to get it to sound like an oboe note, rather than a dying duck. Once I got it, other junior oboists were amazed - they didn't think it was possible, it was in the nature of the plastic oboe. But, no, it was just breath control. I'm wondering if C# on the violin is a similar thing. I was getting good ones loud in third position yesterday, but pianissimo after pivoting from the A string in Ole Bull is a pain. I'm working on Whistler - he has two pages on the key of D in third position, which is useful.

 

Whereas I don't have a problem with Db. (lol. That was just a joke for the enharmonic freaks out there. Maybe I should have saved it for v.com and not told them it was a joke. I wonder how long they'd have debated it!)

Andrew

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BillyG
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September 19, 2019 - 8:27 am
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ROFL @Gordon Shumway  - 

Whereas I don't have a problem with Db. (lol. That was just a joke for the enharmonic freaks out there. Maybe I should have saved it for v.com and not told them it was a joke. I wonder how long they'd have debated it!)

Love it....

Anyways - back to your C# question - I too have noticed this, around the c-c# area.  In fact I must have mentioned it somewhere on the forum or chat at some point in time.  What I had originally observed was that it was "louder" (more resonant in reality) under the ear with the strings I had fitted at the time.  Subsequently, with a string change (different make), it actually became "difficult" to make that note sound properly at all.  I rather think I've just got used to it now and will automatically approach that area on the string with a fore-knowledge of how it may behave under the bow, and I manage to adjust accordingly, without really or consciously thinking about it any more.  I can't really *explain* what I do differently - in much the same way I can't really describe how I now manage to prevent e strings that are prone to whistle, from not whistling !!!    I know, not a lot of help, other than, at least, you're not alone, and you're not imagining it !!!

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Gordon Shumway
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September 19, 2019 - 9:30 am
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BillyG said
I rather think I've just got used to it now and will automatically approach that area on the string with a fore-knowledge of how it may behave under the bow, and I manage to adjust accordingly, without really or consciously thinking about it any more.

Yes, that's what I was hoping for and expecting unless I had misdiagnosed.

Although in the oboe analogy I used the word "awareness", I didn't really mean "consciousness", if you know what I mean. We practise with awareness until it becomes unconscious. Woo, Zen before breakfast!

I've noticed that the better violin has a much narrower resonance bandwidth than the cheapest violin (which is obviously made on a CNC machine which has taken the wood down very thin. Sounds like a cathedral, lol!)

Andrew

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Pete_Violin
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September 19, 2019 - 10:21 am
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@Gordon Shumway @BillyG 

??????????  Seriously, I don't know what you guys are talking about.  A problem playing C#. 

What does it sound like?  What are you hearing?  

I had to actually get out my violin and play it to see if there is anything going on that I was not hearing...  nothing...  

Actually, my dilemma is more F, F#, G, and G# on the D string.  Not that they sound odd, but I have been working on getting the intonation right on those forever.

So what are you guys doing on the A string that is hosing that up??  LOL!!!

Side note... C#/D♭ on v.com.  That's the funniest thing I've heard so far... but the day is young!  LOL!!!!!!!!

- Pete -

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BillyG
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September 19, 2019 - 11:37 am
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Hi Pete @Pete_Violin - the only way I can sort of explain what I *believe* is happening is this - and I may not be describing this in the best technical manner (the actual detail is WAY outside of my knowledge base) - but I offer what is only my current best-understanding below...

The violin strings, when played, in themselves generate little sound.  The sound comes from the resonances both of the cavity and the plate structure of the violin (and other parts).   The violin has far from what could be described as a "linear frequency response" across the range of frequencies it could possibly play.  You could perhaps picture the violin's own acoustic spectral response as something like a hypothetical audio graphic-equalizer with thousands of narrow-band frequency settings adjusted by thousands of little sliders (!) across the audio spectrum of interest.   Rather than looking like a "band-pass filter" - or even a graphic equalizer say set to give bass, or treble lift, it will have lots and lots of peaks and troughs.  The peaks are providing "lift" at their specific frequencies, the troughs are (relative to the peaks) somewhat attenuating - or - at least - not lifting-as-much would be better to say.  It is not surprising then, that different notes/spot frequencies can just "sound different" to some extent, even from an adjacent note a semi-tone away.

My first observation of this was on my FiddlerMan Concert, in fact I wrote about it somewhere because it initially surprised me.  With the original strings that came with the instrument, my observation was quite clearly that around the C-C# the instrument's voice was louder and more resonant than adjacent notes, and had a "different quality" that's all.  However I did find two things - (1) this "effect" if you want to call it that, was to some extent string dependent - and when I tried a different string set some time later, it behaved quite differently, with a really difficult to describe sort of "dead" feel to the sound, where (and I appreciate a stopped string doesn't tend to ring-on much once the bow is lifted - certainly in comparison to an open string, but it does to some extent) and on that string, the sound just dampened really quickly (compared to adjacent notes).    (2) Sound post adjustment (pretty rough and ready I have to admit), and although small in movement modified the response.   My cheap old SkyLark (built like a barn door) did not exhibit this behaviour, but then again, it was largely dead from anything above the E on the A (which is why I transformed it into a pretend viola!).  My FM MJZ905 does appear to have this resonance effect, but to a much lesser extent than the Concert

You'll find some reference to what I'm rambling on about here - including a typical "acoustic efficiency" spectrum - which is what I meant by concept of the violin acoustics behaving like the "hypothetical graphic-equalizer" above.  Indeed, on that graph (on the link below) there is a dip in the curve somewhere around the c-c# area - the link is not https secure - but perfectly safe to visit - http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/j.....intro.html

Beats me, as they say - dunno

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Gordon Shumway
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September 19, 2019 - 11:52 am
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Pete_Violin said

What does it sound like?  What are you hearing?    

I've been delaying answering this because It's sort of indescribable. It's almost the opposite of Billy's experience - my C# isn't louder (it doesn't "boom") - rather I have to drive it more to make it sing, and that can make it very scratchy-sounding, so then I have to tone it down. The natural inclination is to bow closer to the fingerboard, but in 3rd and 4th position that's problematic.

Andrew

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GregW
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September 19, 2019 - 12:11 pm
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So I'm trying to grasp the problem youre describing as well.  Maybe to relate and tell me if I'm wrong..when I play a G in 1st position on the D string the whole violin will come alive and feel like it's opened up for lack of a better description.  When you play the C# is it doing the opposite and almost sounding muted?

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Gordon Shumway
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September 19, 2019 - 12:50 pm
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GregW said
when I play a G in 1st position on the D string the whole violin will come alive and feel like it's opened up for lack of a better description.  When you play the C# is it doing the opposite and almost sounding muted?

That's not a bad description. But I'd say "wiry" or "glassy" rather than muted. Like when you don't apply enough pressure for your bow speed. So I have to apply more pressure, which sounds bad because the sounding point isn't close enough to the bridge for that amount of pressure. So then, rather than move towards the bridge getting louder, I move away from it trying for more bow speed with the same pressure.

Andrew

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Pete_Violin
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September 19, 2019 - 2:01 pm
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It could be that my ear is not trained well enough to hear those nuances.  

I do love the way a violin will resonate.  That's the 500 years of artistry, form, function, and beauty of the instrument we hear.  Also my argument for acoustic over electric instruments.

One thought... my teacher is always telling me apply more pressure on the string, use longer and fuller bow, and more pressure near the tip.  I don't know if this is due to the way the violin produces better, more, and stronger tone or if she is even aware of the frequency drop you are referring to.  But one of the distinctions between a beginner player and a more advanced player is when they realize how much control they do have on the sound. 

Like all beginners I started playing without making hardly any adjustments to my bowing,  finger pressure, and bow weight.  This is what produces that "beginning violin sound".  Flat, poor tone, and usually no projection.  In the last 6 months or so I have just started to understand and hear how I am controlling my tone.

- Pete -

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BillyG
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September 20, 2019 - 2:06 am
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I think that's a great reply @Pete_Violin and it should give encouragement to new players who sometimes feel they can never get past the strangled-cat sound !!!

I'm convinced that (other aspects left unchanged such as sound-post, choice of strings, or other setups) the answer to great tone is all in the bowing.... its pressure, speed, placement (bowing "lane" etc), variation in pressure and indeed speed during an individual bow-stroke and so on. 

From my own starter days - sure - my bowing was all down to research, reading, watching YT videos by different people demonstrating this - and a LOT of patience and experimentation on my part !  Given my own (like most folks) initial poor and limited ability, I too was unaware of many of the little subtleties involved in good tone production.  Over time, it improved (and still a way to go), but - along with the other things that, as a beginner would stop me in my tracks (like intonation or simply playing the wrong note LOL) - lessened, I started to become more and more aware of the overall instrument response to my "input".   Looking back - I would probably say that that awareness came maybe after a year or so - by which time I could carry a number of tunes in my head and play them on "auto-pilot" without having to consciously think about reading sheet, thinking about the notes to play and so on - and it all came down to being able to fully concentrate on nothing other than the sound, and the instrument's response to my bowing.  That's when I really started to understand and feel  the almost symbiotic relationship that can exist between the player and this awesome instrument on the occasions when it just-all-works!  (Wish it would happen more regularly, though !!)

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

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

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Gordon Shumway
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September 20, 2019 - 3:59 am
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Bowing is frightening, isn't it.

The important lesson for beginners is

1) bow straight/parallel on the middle sounding point experimenting with different bow speeds and pressures listening for something you like the sound of

2) to crescendo, bow faster and and the same time apply more pressure (with the first finger RH). To diminuendo, bow slower and at the same time apply less pressure, always experimenting and listening for something you like the sound of

3) worry about the other sounding points later.

Andrew

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