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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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I'm so glad, for I just found Rittler's Ciaccona I played yesterday!

Demoiselle said
Here's what I practiced today, combining all my techniques with the new legatissimo.

I'm a bit tired today and not in the best condition, but it seems to work nonetheless. Being able to play, whether I'm under the weather or not, is one of my goals. So I seem to get closer to it.....  

If you hum the original musical subject to my plain improvisation, you hear I'm using those basic chords in the same C major key. To most classically trained musicians this is mysterious, Jazz musicians do that all the time: Listening to CDs while figuring out the chords at the piano. And then improvising over those chords, not giving a darn for the sheet music. It was exercise and training yesterday, while my handy recorder recorded it. Mainly to control my progress.

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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I do push ups several times daily now. Since early 2017 I practiced too much on the violin and often forgot to dance. There were no upcoming performances, so I didn't have to work on dancing.

The consequence showed weeks ago: my back was too weak to keep upright during certain baroque dance steps. My gynecologist said I had lost weight and that my arms also got thinner. They scaled me and found I've lost 4 kilograms! That's too much since it had been 60 kilograms before.

I decided to not do lady push ups (on knees) any longer. I do full push ups now. I'm able to dance again, but I will not stop training. Maybe push ups will also help my violin technique, so I won't tire out so soon?

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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July 5, 2018 - 2:53 pm
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I do planks nowadays for my back. 🙂

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

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bocaholly
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Grüß dich, demoiselle!

Your musical voyage on this forum is nothing short of amazing. It will surely inspire me to progress from my rather mechanical baby steps to truly seeking music within my new instrument. 

Thank you! I'll keep coming back to hear what you're up to next.

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Demoiselle
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Fiddlerman said
I do planks nowadays for my back. 🙂  

Side planks are great. Good for keeping the balance during dancing. Right now I want stronger arms and I hate to see those ribs with just skin on. It has already improved quite a bit. 🙂

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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bocaholly said
Grüß dich, demoiselle!

Your musical voyage on this forum is nothing short of amazing. It will surely inspire me to progress from my rather mechanical baby steps to truly seeking music within my new instrument. 

Thank you! I'll keep coming back to hear what you're up to next.  

Up to next? Not much. I'm just practicing and days seem too short.

But there's one amazing thing: A church organist asked me to visit him after service and bring notes. He also like to improvise. Might be a start.....

You're welcome. 🙂

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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bocaholly
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I'm trying to envision how your self-made, baroque bow will hold up against the relatively ginormous church organ pipes! Good luck and hope your Sunday improvisation sprouts wings (blüht und gedeiht 🙂

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Fiddlerman
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July 23, 2018 - 1:51 pm
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Side planks are great too. I do the 7 minute workout from time to time, with more than 7 minutes now a days but those side planks are great for sure.

"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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I've seen the effect of body workout this summer. I had practiced too much on my violin and neglected baroque dance since early 2017. Summer 2018 came and I still tumbled through my choreographies (normally in summer it gets better, when spring lethargy goes away!). Was I getting old? No, a skeleton with just skin on can't keep the balance! Then my doctor's receptionist warned me: "You've lost weight!" They checked it: 4 kilo, from 60 kg to 56! Not working out means total ruin on long term. I had lumbago a couple times. My theory now is: lumbago meant weak muscles couldn't handle my skeleton any longer. I had no problems with lumbago for weeks now. Yes, I'm planning side planks, just want to develop basic musculature first, because that's very hard.

What keeps me busy this summer is autobiographic work. I typed down my childhood and youth and a couple traumas with it. I think this will give me more energy for music in the future. Not yet overcome traumas slow you down.

Trying to make myself stronger in two ways.

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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bocaholly said
I'm trying to envision how your self-made, baroque bow will hold up against the relatively ginormous church organ pipes! Good luck and hope your Sunday improvisation sprouts wings (blüht und gedeiht 🙂  

It depends on organ registration. Baroque registration is not as full and loud as 19th century registration. I cooperated a lot with church organ players during the 90s and know my violin will hold up fairly well. My alto recorder did then and my violin matches that recorder easily. She was the loudest of all violins I checked out in the shop where I bought her. 🙂

My kind of improvisation means adapting my lesson to the form of the day. When I'm sort of under the weather I will not be overcharged. When my constitution is really great, I will surpass myself. I need that kind of flexibility since my constitution is pretty changeable.

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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The groovy part of Handel's B flat organ concerto (HWV 306) has been one of my favorite pieces suited for improvisation. I played it with harpsichord sounds since 1699 (1999), today (1718) I did it with organ sound.

It is an old malady, that the first note, when I start to play, often tends to be out of tune if it's on the 3rd finger. If I start with 2nd finger and then progress to the third, it will be alright, but if I have to hit the 3rd finger G (D string) right away, I'm usually scared because I easily miss.

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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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bocaholly
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Gorgeous, @Demoiselle ! Thanks for sharing your new improv creation. An inspiration, as always!

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Demoiselle
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bocaholly said
Gorgeous, @Demoiselle ! Thanks for sharing your new improv creation. An inspiration, as always!  

Thanks, it is hard but nonetheless I love it. I'm learning extremely slowly but on the long run it pays.

Oh, by the way....

bocaholly said
I'm trying to envision how your self-made, baroque bow will hold up against the relatively ginormous church organ pipes! ............................  

My self-made bow did hold up against the organ pipes. blink

Sadly I forgot my handy recorder, so I have no audio of that organ/violin jam session.embarassed

They're going to re-tune that church organ which is about 446 Hz right now. The organ player said there was a violin player before who refused to tune his organ on 446 Hz. I felt like that was quite a bit overblown and adjusted my pitch to that organ. Later I emailed to Pirastro and asked them whether it would harm my Obligato strings if I adjusted the pitch to 446 Hz. Of course they answered that it's okay to do that. Well I shared that answer with the organ player so now he knows too.

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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bocaholly
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@Demoiselle, happy to hear that the David vs: Goliath story pertains to your violin vs: organ experience. I know, not exactly the best metaphor since you and the organist were, in fact, collaborating and not fighting 🙂 

As for the 446 Hz organ tuning, that really surprised me. I would have supposed that church organs play a lot of church music (no kidding) and that makes me think baroque sound (more like 415 Hz.) 

But a quick visit to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_organ_tuning clued me in to the fact that many older pipe organs between France and Germany were tuned to so-called Cornet-ton pitch (445 Hz.) I've got to admit that it seems counterintuitive to me. Go figure... but maybe there is a reason? 

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Demoiselle
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bocaholly said
@Demoiselle, happy to hear that the David vs: Goliath story pertains to your violin vs: organ experience. I know, not exactly the best metaphor since you and the organist were, in fact, collaborating and not fighting 🙂 
   

Well, frankly my violin also had a battle against my trombone. We played a Lutheran hymn, my trombone did the subject/theme of it and added some improvisation. It would be very tricky to change from trombone directly to the violin, but the organ player also improvised and during his solo I was able to change instruments comfortably. The organist did not change the registration when I did the violin solo and it didn't feel like, "C'mon little fiddle, don't try to do what that horn just did, go home!" Of course the trombone was more powerful, but the violin still was loud enough to muscle in. Though, I have to admit : with a really good modern bow she would be awfully loud....  She is loud indeed, it is her nature. I guess my neigbors would love my bow a lot if they knew about that. LOL

bocaholly said
As for the 446 Hz organ tuning, that really surprised me. I would have supposed that church organs play a lot of church music (no kidding) and that makes me think baroque sound (more like 415 Hz.) 
 

Well, church organs are pretty old instruments mostly. In the 50s and 60s classical musicians mostly laughed at ancient music friends -- they were considered just bizarre freaks. As far as I have seen, historically informed performances on period instruments began to be recognized in public in the 90s. I never heard of that during the 70s and refused to learn violin on school since I hated classical violin vibrato. I discovered CDs with period instruments 1999 and suddenly loved those baroque violins. I was far over 50 when I started on my first violin.

I wonder whether they make 415 Hz church organs these days. For 415 Hz music they use actually harpsichord or an old Italian box organ -- or just baroque lute. But usually in churches they also play modern classical music a lot. And just to think of the little children with their recorders : they cannot tune to 415 Hz on Christmas Eve. Trombone choirs also play 440 Hz, so I doubt that it would make sense to have a 415 Hz church organ.

bocaholly said
But a quick visit to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_organ_tuning clued me in to the fact that many older pipe organs between France and Germany were tuned to so-called Cornet-ton pitch (445 Hz.) I've got to admit that it seems counterintuitive to me. Go figure... but maybe there is a reason?   

Well I learned it when I began to improvise to Edition Peters MusicParter CDs. There's the harpsichord+cello continuo on them, to use it with Edition Peters sheet books. I improvised to that a lot for years and sometimes I wondered about the pitch. Until I saw that some CDs have a 442 Hz pitch. On Wikipedia I learned even 443 Hz is also common in classical orchestra music. Karajan partly preferred even higher pitches whenever he wanted a very bright sound.

I have to admit I was dumb in things church organ pitch until you told me about Cornet-ton pitch. I was looking forward to that certain organ to be re-tuned. They had modernized the whole church completely. But maybe that pitch is her official pitch.

Counterintuitive? Well, there is no official pitch in nature. 440 Hz is just fashionable in our time, before it changed a lot and in the future there will probably be a generation who decides to try something completely else. Also 415 Hz pitch is nonsense actually, because there was no general pitch during the 1600s and 1700s. If you visited another city with your violin 300 years ago you anticipated the worst cases of crazy pitches. In Rome they tuned very much lower than 415 Hz, so Corelli should actually be played about a whole tone lower than 440 Hz, whereas 415 Hz is about half a tone lower. Venice tuned relatively high. What a colorful world. Every town had their personal color.

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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These days I've learned that I'm downright violinistically depressed whenever I play a subject. It is different on all my wind instruments, where I'm happy to play a subject now and then too. On the violin I'm happy if I play just what I feel in the very moment. I play very much better then, with way more expression. And my violin sounds better. That's kind of whimsical attitude I have as a violin player. I think it is wise to give in to that inclination, because my tone develops better if I improvise.

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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bocaholly said
....baroque sound (more like 415 Hz.).... 
   

I just looked up historical pitches:

A=392 Hz at Versaille court

A=466 in Venice

Wow, I didn't know that the pitch at the French court was that low! I'm sure many have imitated that in Roman-German Empire, because Jean Baptiste de Lully was extremely popular throughout Europe. His French court music was simply the hit -- even decades after his death. Well, 415 Hz is a modern compromise, but as I see now : my 440 Hz pitch is as well.

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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bocaholly
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Great historical background info, @Demoiselle, thanks for taking the time on that.

As for your penchant for improvisation, I've said before that, that's on my bucket list for down the road. I'm guessing one has to have a decent command of scales and intervals (music theory in general) or have a fabulous ear to even begin improvising. How much theory knowledge would you say informs your ability to go with the flow and improvise?

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Demoiselle
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I started on the piano when I was 10 years old. My father was the headmaster of a small village school, my class teacher too, and he also taught me at the piano. Although he was neither a good piano player, nor a good piano teacher. I doubt music would be important in my life today if jazz hadn't infected me at age 15. My father protested in the beginning, but he couldn't stop me from improvising and arranging, from leaving all sheet music aside. My new teachers where the men of a local New Orleans Jazz Band of the town where we lived then. They explained to me how to analyse and write down chords:

|   d   |  A7  |  d  |  A7  |

|   d   |  g7  |d, g7|  A7  |

[d = Dm = D minor]

These are the first 8 bars of EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY and I know that filer paper is from exactly that time in the 70s. I copied those chords from the filers of those New Orleans musicians. They all wrote minor chords in small letters, like I still do, which makes it easy to read an concentrate. I think I was lucky to meet those friendly men.

In the 80s my main instrument was trombone, I also sang and tap danced and performed with a pretty successful amateur swing combo. I made quite a bit money and that of course finally convinced my father. He desperately tried to play jazz on the piano, but was too proud to take advice from me. Well, he didn't listen to jazz hours and hours daily, like I did, which certainly developed my ear. Besides he mainly loved western songs like Tom Dooley:

|    F   |   F   |   F  |  C7 |

|  C7  |  C7 |  C7  |   F   |

There's not much variety in that kind of western songs, so you can't learn much from that kind of music to grow. The problem my father alleged was his father playing and singing German drinking songs like "Bier her, Bier her, oder ich fall um" (Get me beer, get me beer, or I fall down). Those songs were just as simple as Tom Dooley. Jazz is very different, it is like science where you can grow over decades and there's always a lot to learn still.

So after all I had to go jazz, because my father was such a bad piano teacher. But I certainly went into jazz after I heard something on the radio which fascinated me. I became a jazz fanatic and that gave me the right drive and motivation to become a jazz musician. I was not born with a good ear. I developed it over years and decades. I played tunes from my radio cassette recorder at the piano and figured out the chords. So there's the answer to your question:

bocaholly said
.........How much theory knowledge would you say informs your ability to go with the flow and improvise?  

I don't want to state a general rule. But in my case it is having studied chords, learning how melodies and chords work together. Everybody can whistle a melody, but they can't figure out the chords to write an arrangement for piano or orchestra. And because I learned to hear, which chords match what melodic phrases, I am also able to decide which improvised melodic phrases match the chords of a piece by Handel or Bach. But of course improvisation has to be practiced over years. I started with historical New Orleans Jazz, went on to jazz around 1930 and then ended up in swing that partly tended Bobop too. So it slowly got more and more complicated over the years 1977 through 1990.

There's also the scale theory in modern jazz. Which is not my world, since I stayed in traditional harmonics. Scales dominated in the middle ages, but the baroque period changed to chord based music. Classical music then developed chords on and on, until harmonics became very complicated in the late romantic period. Since the 1940s those medieval scales suddenly became fashion in modern jazz. Well, I sometimes cite typical Bebop phrases, but don't believe in improvisation following scales. In my view the scale theory made musicians play pretty much all the same. They play very fast and most people don't hear how much they repeat themselves and others. To me it seems like total overdo. I improvised to Aebersold jazz play-alongs a lot and still do it, but I don't follow their scale ideology. I just use my experienced ear. At the keyboard I can track now and then what scale I improvised over what chord. But I never think about scales when I improvise. I do not put together scales like formulas. I hear chords and if I like them they inspire me to improvise something. And that works best whenever I stop thinking completely. Which is probably what people call "flow".

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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bocaholly
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@Demoiselle 
WOW! 

I've been reading and re-reading your post for a few minutes now in awe, trying to figure out what I can reasonably take away. Probably more than "learning to play", I'm getting that your approach is much about "learning to hear." 

Thanks again for the time you took sharing your journey. Now off to some early morning "getting with the flow" 🙂

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