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My Journey with My Violin Since May 1716.
A probably unusual way to learn improvising via baroque play-alongs.
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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Mark
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I personally have no other choice but to play left handed, I had a accident at age 10 with a table saw that amputated my index finger and severally mangled my middle and ring finger it is  impossible to note with my left hand. After the accident I switched my acoustic guitar to be strung up left handed at my teachers request, the issue is unless I take my left handed guitar I can't play anyone else's guitar, i never been to a jam and meet another left handed guitar player and the selection is slim even to day if you look for one. At 15 I began learning the electric bass and I decided to just play a normal right handed bass left handed no issues encountered in doing this. At 23 I bought nice old right handed fiddle  for the same reason I learned the bass with a standard right handed bass I can play anyone's fiddle or bass, then i took violin lessons for 3 months then my second child was born between 2 small kids, school, work, playing and singing in a group along with a couple of other hobbies I slid the fiddle under the bed for 30 years. I just passed the 3 year mark of being back at playing the fiddle so far I have found nothing that I can not do on the fiddle that a right handed player can do, at my level anyway. Will I ever be a Pearlman or Perrie Holestine, no I won't, I know that and accept that, but to play with good tone, reasonably in tune and with good rhythm I believe is doable and is what I'm working towards daily taking each step one day at a time.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Demoiselle
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Mark said
I personally have no other choice but to play left handed, I had a accident at age 10 with a table saw that amputated my index finger and severally mangled my middle and ring finger it is  impossible to note with my left hand. After the accident I switched my acoustic guitar to be strung up left handed at my teachers request, the issue is unless I take my left handed guitar I can't play anyone else's guitar, i never been to a jam and meet another left handed guitar player and the selection is slim even to day if you look for one. At 15 I began learning the electric bass and I decided to just play a normal right handed bass left handed no issues encountered in doing this. At 23 I bought nice old right handed fiddle  for the same reason I learned the bass with a standard right handed bass I can play anyone's fiddle or bass, then i took violin lessons for 3 months then my second child was born between 2 small kids, school, work, playing and singing in a group along with a couple of other hobbies I slid the fiddle under the bed for 30 years. I just passed the 3 year mark of being back at playing the fiddle so far I have found nothing that I can not do on the fiddle that a right handed player can do, at my level anyway. Will I ever be a Pearlman or Perrie Holestine, no I won't, I know that and accept that, but to play with good tone, reasonably in tune and with good rhythm I believe is doable and is what I'm working towards daily taking each step one day at a time.

Mark  

Respect, considering all your experiences! Are you still also playing guitar? I mean, you potentially have the option to make a recording of guitar chords and use that as play-along. And if you have a good ear for chords you have lot's of options to be creative on the violin as well. I don't expect to become a virtuoso either—1600s music isn't outspokenly virtuosic anyway. I don't consider virtuosity healthy anyway, like any kind of extreme sport.

What I'm working on are Bb scales within improvisations. It is easy to play pieces in E minor or A minor. D minor gets already harder because you often start with Bb on the first finger and then continue with C and D. In G minor Eb adds on which makes the scale harder still. Plus you now mostly start with Eb on the first finger of the D string. Which isn't a great problem but all this together tires me out soon. If you proceed to C minor you have even three ♭ which means: all those difficulties appear more frequently plus you often have Ab on the G string. That's why I don't play C minor at all—that will have to wait..... 

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Mark
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 Are you still also playing guitar? I mean, you potentially have the option to make a recording of guitar chords and use that as play-along. 

for the last 40+ years I mostly played bass and sang harmony in a 3 piece group, but the piano player/rhythm guitar/Banjo player passed away from cancer a little over year ago, so I have been playing the guitar more getting comfortable with it again. For a side note I picked up a new Rogue mandolin to mess around with, while it may not be the best sounding mandolin out there it is an instrument that you can work on your technique with and for less than $60.00 delivered to your front porch it cant be beat in my opinion. Yes i have considered doing play-along tracks but time constraints have put a damper on that.

I am very fortunate to know several very good piano players and one agreed to play duets with me (poor thing she had no idea what she was getting her self into but she has been a trooper putting up with me and being very supportive of my playing)

Geoffery Fitzhugh Perry- at fiddle jam institute, has put together some good information on improvising for the beginner I know you can down load the EZ blues scales for violin for free off his web sight there all in first position. I bought his book and it comes with the EZ blues fingering for not only violin but viola and cello also, along with a play along recording in different keys to jam with to work on improvising.

 

Mark

  

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Demoiselle
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I played trombone in the 80s and didn't know anything about Aebersold play-alongs. I was performing a lot at that time, with a swing combo—at times even 3 times a weekend. Of course this routine made me better, but now I must say, nothing got me so much ahead than Aebersold play-alongs. Every day you have your personal professional rhythm section at home and play like on a jam session. And if you split the stereo channels, you have the piano in one speaker and the bass in the other. I closed my eyes and thought, "Wow, this feels really like the guys are here in the kitchen and we're having a session."

But of course  the most basic thing is listening a lot to the music you wanna play, to gather ideas what to play. Improvisation is playing out of a huge pool of hearing experience. Your brain cuts the phrases you've heard into pieces and then you can creatively play with that.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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BillyG
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December 22, 2017 - 9:29 am
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Mark said
........
Geoffery Fitzhugh Perry- at fiddle jam institute, has put together some good information on improvising for the beginner I know you can down load the EZ blues scales for violin for free off his web sight there all in first position. I bought his book and it comes with the EZ blues fingering for not only violin but viola and cello also, along with a play along recording in different keys to jam with to work on improvising.

Mark

    

Never knew of that one @Mark - just signed up for the free membership.  Thanks for pointing it out ! thumbs-up

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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Demoiselle
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I have a weird problem. There's a basic rule in jazz: "The beat is always written in quarter notes." I learned that from books about jazz since I was 15 years old. The walking bass of a swing tune will principally be written in quarter notes. The old masters certainly don't care about that and so I have to transcript this here too.

BWV1068.pngImage Enlarger

Source: Screenshot from IMSLP357195-PMLP100008-Bach.pdf (this is no link, just blue script, underlined)

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Fiddlerman
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December 27, 2017 - 3:31 pm
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I'm sorry, but I don't understand your problem. Please explain.

"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
I'm sorry, but I don't understand your problem. Please explain.  

I will have to make 2 bars out of each bar and and all the eighth notes in the bass line must become quarter notes. Because I instinctively conceive the beat as quarter notes since age 15 when I read the first books about jazz. So if I have eighths in above walking bass it will confuse me and make it extremely difficult to read and play the notes. Bach really wrote a very swinging, pulsing walking bass here and what he did was not wrong at all. But in jazz I've never ever seen a walking bass written in eighths. The rule has always been: the beat is in four quarter notes. I don't see how I can retrain myself after over 40 years, it won't work. But whatever, I will transpose to C major anyhow. And it will be a big headache since writing and figuring notes always gives me pain, lots of erasing correcting and sighing.....

blurry_drunk-2127dazedblurry_drunk-2127

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Ferenc Simon
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Unsure, but this might help:

https://musescore.com/user/181236/scores/174163

It's missing the other 2 parts though, but maybe you can combine them or something

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AndrewH
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Demoiselle said

Fiddlerman said
I'm sorry, but I don't understand your problem. Please explain.  

I will have to make 2 bars out of each bar and and all the eighth notes in the bass line must become quarter notes. Because I instinctively conceive the beat as quarter notes since age 15 when I read the first books about jazz. So if I have eighths in above walking bass it will confuse me and make it extremely difficult to read and play the notes. Bach really wrote a very swinging, pulsing walking bass here and what he did was not wrong at all. But in jazz I've never ever seen a walking bass written in eighths. The rule has always been: the beat is in four quarter notes. I don't see how I can retrain myself after over 40 years, it won't work. But whatever, I will transpose to C major anyhow. And it will be a big headache since writing and figuring notes always gives me pain, lots of erasing correcting and sighing.....

blurry_drunk-2127dazedblurry_drunk-2127  

Is it really all that different from a walking bass in quarters? I notice that the 8th notes within each beat are always an octave apart, so you can still think in terms of the note changing on the beat.

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Demoiselle
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 Actually I'm coming from what I hear by ear and then I look for the notes. And this is what I hear (lower case means minor!):

Air-on-the-G-string.gifImage Enlarger

Jumping octave notes are not new to me. It happens a lot in swing jazz walking basses as well. I clearly hear a swinging bass in quarter notes and I automatically see quarter notes before my inner eyes. Actually you don't have to change anything here if you want to make a big band arrangement. Bach created perfect swing music.

It is possible that I made a stupid mistake in these notes. I have my chords in C major I worked out at the spinet (while listening to Air on the G String in C), plus I have the notes from Bach's original suite in D major.

In the 4th bar the guitar player will probably not get G7 but just G because the seventh is already in the bass line. Over-seventhing is a common disease in jazz, it doesn't sound well in baroque music. In my pencil original there's "G(7)".

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My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Fiddlerman
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December 28, 2017 - 12:12 pm
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Gotcha. I know with Finale you can change the value and rebar.....

"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
Gotcha. I know with Finale you can change the value and rebar.....  

Yesterday I read this and was absolutely clueless. I consulted several dictionaries to find out whether there's a meaning of Finale I didn't know. There was nothing. Now I realize it's a computer program. What I did here was writing each note via mouse in MS.Paint. Those 4 bars I made out of Bach's first 2 bars were really exhausting. I knew it would be painful like that, so the papers got dusty on my spinet. But now that I have started I will soon continue with it.

DSC00530.JPGImage EnlargerI have an old binder from the 80s and some of the papers in there are even from my teenager years in the 70s. I think this one is the oldest, which I copied from the "Hottest Men in Town" directly out of the musician's binders. The "Hottest Men in Town" were a New Orleans jazz band of mostly school teachers. They played regularly in a nearby club and must have realized I was burning for traditional jazz at age 17 and they took time to explain their system to me. I learned very basic things in those days. To me it's still essential to have d instead of Dm because it makes the whole page clearer and less messy. But I have always asked musicians I later worked with and they mostly asked me to write Dm for them.

40 years later I've found a way to write down baroque music with this same system. And I still recognize the swinging beat by experience. Chaconne type pieces like LA FOLIA have triple meter but are grooving nonetheless. This is probably the gravest change, that baroque music doesn't tend to quadruple meters so much. And it sparingly uses the seventh, so I will rarely write like "A7".

La Folia
| d | A | d | C |
| F | C | d | A |
| d | A | d | C |
    | F | C |d/d/A| d |

That beat has always been written in quarter notes for decades. And this whole system will help because it makes it possible to involve any guitar player who play from chords, especially those who have experience with folk music. I can't use a baroque guitar player who is used to play La Folia from notes. But I know there are many who are able to deal with this. And some of  them are amazed to hear it's possible to write down baroque music that way. I'm able to make jam session matter out of 1600s advent hymns without leaving the baroque style. And I'm sure there are guitar players in church communities who would gladly join me and my new repertoire. I just have to find them.

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My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Fiddlerman
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December 29, 2017 - 11:50 am
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I misunderstood. I thought you wanted to change the value to 200% making eighth notes quarter notes, sixteenth notes to eighth notes.... etc.

"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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This is how it will look. No idea what I will do with ornaments—I'll have to decide that at the violin. But this was great fun to design. Would be a future score of my future band....

Air-deß-Herrn-Bachen.gifImage Enlarger

My favorite clefs are these by the way, I should rather use them, they're cute because they are different from what we use today:

Schlüßel.jpgImage Enlarger

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Fiddlerman
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December 29, 2017 - 2:40 pm
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Yes, this is what Finale would be able to do by converting the value. However, you can find the same thing here:
https://musescore.com/user/14009581/scores/4092691

"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
Yes, this is what Finale would be able to do by converting the value. However, you can find the same thing here:
https://musescore.com/user/14009581/scores/4092691  

Gosh, thanks a lot! I will check the piano chords whether they partly contain solutions I like better than mine. At least I'm not the only quarter idiot in the world as it seems. LOL

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
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In the left-handed playing issue I came to the result this shifts me on the clock of keys.

Quinten-Circul.gifImage EnlargerB♭ major has always been a key of question, it always was very common in jazz but it's exhausting and violins tend  to ♯-keys anyhow (because the fingering is easier) and here's the result I came to:

The consequence of playing a right-handed violin left-handed means shifting one key further towards the ♯-keys in the preference of comfortable fingering. I now cancel B♭ major but keep its relative g minor. The problem in ♭-keys mainly starts on the A string. The first finger hits B♭ and then goes on with 2 whole tones. That's already exhausting but if you finally end with a 4th finger it's very hard. My right fingerboard hand  tires soon, especially as B♭ is very frequent as keynote, plus E♭ on top. E♭ on the D string is not too hard but as it adds on I tire out sooner. Right-handed players are closer to the A string, so they don't suffer so much. G minor is not that tough because it is connected to many ♯-chords where the fingerboard hand can recover.

Right-handers have the same problem in E♭ major on the D string, but this is not so striking because the classical violin mostly uses the A string and touches the lower notes of the D string not so frequently. But generally the E♭ major difficulties right-handers have on the low E strings starts for left-handers in B♭ major on the A string.

My conclusion now is: Mostly avoiding the A string in ♭-keys, especially in g minor. Secondly I should get more interested in ♯-keys since they are easier for me than for right-handed players:

D major + its relative b minor, A major and E major are new to me on the violin, but I tried them today and it works fine. I always assumed A major would be difficult but that's not the case. I'm not used to play on keyboard instruments in these keys and I won't (because it will only sound ridiculously) but guitar players prefer these keys too and I'm planning to work with a guitar player. So that's good. In jazz piano I always tended to ♭-keys because they are common in jazz—mostly because wind instruments like them. On the trumpet (yellow circel) C major, F major, B♭ major, E♭ major and A♭ major are very common in jazz, but G and D♭ major happen at times and I was used to jam with professionals and be ready for all of them (on sessions you will rarely be confronted with G major though). So that's why my trumpet routine has this wide range. Recorders are centered around C major—G♯ major, C major and F major are very comfortable in fingering, G♯ more than F. But playing in A and E major on recorder is very difficult.

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My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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AndrewH
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I started out finding G, D, and A major easiest, but once I reached a certain level, my preferences changed dramatically and I started finding keys with flats in their key signatures easier to play than keys with sharps. That's because sharp keys call for a big 4th finger stretch in 3rd position. I rarely use 4th finger for the natural note in 1st position, because I have small hands and find it easier to shift and use the 2nd finger. (In fact, shifting to 3rd position has become so automatic that I now have to write in open strings where they are preferable, to remind myself not to shift.) So now I find that E-flat major / C minor is the easiest key signature, and A major is relatively difficult. My range of preferred major keys now goes from A-flat to D.

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Demoiselle
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AndrewH said
I started out finding G, D, and A major easiest, but once I reached a certain level, my preferences changed dramatically and I started finding keys with flats in their key signatures easier to play than keys with sharps. That's because sharp keys call for a big 4th finger stretch in 3rd position. I rarely use 4th finger for the natural note in 1st position, because I have small hands and find it easier to shift and use the 2nd finger. (In fact, shifting to 3rd position has become so automatic that I now have to write in open strings where they are preferable, to remind myself not to shift.) So now I find that E-flat major / C minor is the easiest key signature, and A major is relatively difficult. My range of preferred major keys now goes from A-flat to D.  

Interesting to hear that you also avoid the 4th finger on natural notes. You do it by changing position whereas I do it by always choosing the open string. I had a heated debate with my ex-teacher and then exercised my authority as the paying part. I did play higher positions rather unaimed in summer to make my hands stronger (which helped a lot to feel more comfortable and easier in my regular 1. position technique). It was actually the same training methods like runners training with weights to feel like a feather without in competitions. But I have no idea what happens in the 3rd postion in A major.

In A major I have just one whole tone step (B and C♯) on the A string, then the half tone step to D is quite a comfort to my 3rd finger—after that follows the open E. Whereas in B♭ major I have 2 whole tone steps (which are already quite a stretch) and then E♭ on the 4th finger on top. That reminds me a bit of a medieval torture rack. After that I have to try to get the note F on the E string as quick as possible out of this terrible position (it mostly goes wrong). I can't play anything nice on the E string after that intense tension!

Well, on the D string I start with E and then have two whole ton steps in A major, but after that no 4th finger since my A is the open string. The only difficulty is D♯ on the 1st finger, which is a shift down: It is difficult to hit a clean C♯ from there but time will heal that.

In a way my A major scale is half a shift of position: The 3rd finger hits the D string G♯. Previously, I prohibited my 3rd finger from leaving his G place on the D string. Which was a good thing to teach him precision on natural notes. Now it's  time for more flexibility.

So ♯-keys are comfortable to me because they have many options to involve open string notes. F major has still lots of options to involve them, but if you go on with B♭, E♭, A♭ they get rarer and rarer. These keys are comfortable for brass instruments because there you have lots of natural notes where you don't push down a valve. They also sound more open, similar to open strings.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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