Monday, September 12, 2016

Writing Excuses

I've been mainlining history for most of a year now. To break it up a little, I added a few sessions from the Writing Excuses podcast to my rotation. I'm not sold by them yet. The best I can say is that they are amusing enough, and they help me think about the tools I am already using.

Very little has been unfamiliar. But given the fifteen minute format of the show, whether it is a technique I know already or not, all they can really do is name it; there's no time for explanation or example.

Basically, it's an advertisement for Which, as it is a heavily DRM-based, Apple-Product biased service fails to meet my needs. If I was purchasing hundreds of dollars of music from iTunes, synching it to my iDevice and/or streaming it off an always-there internet connection then, maybe, but I'm not. I am downloading mp3's and stuffing them into a bare-bones player that I carry to work and use when I am away in the wood shop or other remote parts of the plant.

Enough on that. I also want to rant on vibrato. I still can't vibrate properly. All the books are saying it takes time, but I don't even understand what it is I'm supposed to be practicing. Multiple tutorials explain how to do a certain specific, complicated, and uncomfortable motion, keep practicing over two months and just keep speeding it up.......which strikes me as a Milo of Croton fable, not an actual lesson plan.

Vibrato appears visually to be an oscillatory ballistic movement, dependent on elastic rebound; like a laugh or giggle or vocal tremolo. Perhaps this, and the various auxiliary motions (waving of the fingers, motion throughout the limb) is added on instinctively by the student as they reach the higher repetition rates of their exercises. The only thing I am certain of is that control is the key. But I remain unconvinced that the best route is to start slow and controlled and gradually shift to using only a fraction of those motions one has been practicing, and then only to shape and control an entirely different motion.

In any case, no instruction I've looked at so far is clear about which muscles are active. They all have their own particular third rails, the thing that is wrong and that you must never do...except this thing is different for every instructor, and every single instructor does it anyhow.

Move the wrist? They do. Move the arm? They do. Move sideways as well as back? Twist? They do.

The most informative (though useless) instructor yet was one that illustrated perfectly the blindness of those who first learned violin at an early age. "Many of my students make the mistake of letting the side of their hand touch the violin," he says. "Silly people! Just don't touch it. Vibrato will be much easier." Ah, yes. Of course. And for extra range tuck your elbow into your ear. What. you can't do that? Why not?

The most frustrating thing is that each of these methods sorta seems to work for a little. But only on one string. Or something else equally limited. I think the truth of the matter is that the methods of vibrato can not be nailed down to a specific formula, a specific exercise of just moving one joint in one way with everything else as solid as if your arm is in a cast. I think that on a real violin in a real song you are shifting from one angle to the next, blending one motion into another, whatever works best for that string at that vibrato depth and speed.

But that doesn't really help me finding the beginning of any one of what I suspect strongly are multiple paths to that eventual goal. I just need an exercise that actually feels like it is working and that I can make visible progress at. Then I will happy to patiently work however many weeks or months it takes.

Oh, yeah. And one more rant. Feel sick again. Lousy last week, odd weekend, tired this week. Seem to be tired way too much of the time. Cuts on my fingers that aren't healing right. I'm not ruling out something medically wrong...but since I'm working full time at minimum wage without benefits, getting help for anything less obvious and acute than a broken arm appears is a task so huge I do not even know how to start it.

No comments:

Post a Comment