Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hit the Mute

I picked up a metal practice mute for the Pfretzschner. It does cut the sound. In fact, since I have a modicum of bow control by this point, I can play almost as softly as with the electric.

Unfortunately, it also changes the tone and cuts out most of the resonances and interaction that made me turn to an acoustic. I do want to continue working with the tone, so I'm better off at the moment continuing to bring the acoustic to work where I can play loud during my break time (when I get a break, which isn't always). And continue using the electric for late night/home practice sessions. And for those exercises or experiments that no-one really wants to listen to.

(There's definitely something different about an acoustic. It may be a masking effect of the louder sound but it feels more forgiving. Even feels like it "wants" to fall into pitch or find a regular vibrato. Even the bowing is somehow easier -- although I might want to credit the Pfretzschner bow, which to my mind is worth almost as much as the violin itself.)

Lately I've been practicing Korobeiniki (the "Tetris Theme"). It is the perfect challenge at this point in my development as it has that low second finger. And I'm avoiding the open E as much as I can, thus the same string with the low second also has a fourth finger. Basically you are stretching in what looks like the Vulcan hand salute. Tough to keep it all in tune, especially with fat fingers.

After reading up at some violin forums I tried pulling my elbow further forward, with a little more rotation on my hand, and that is making it a little easier to get at the notes. It is also a better position in general; I'm getting closer to the aligned knuckles position (which not so coincidentally also moves the meat of the hand further from the neck allowing easier vibrato.)

I've also assayed Transylvanian Lullaby (the main theme/violin music from Young Frankenstein) which fortunately had sheet music at MuseScore. It is also a good challenge though perhaps not the right direction for me just yet; it is chromatic, with lots of accidentals...well, basically every time I put a finger down, it is in a different position; low second, high third, now high second, now low fourth....

That and of course it is a good piece to be expressive on; slurs, glissandos, lots of vibrato, etc.

So at this point I'm just barely capable of doing a section part. In another three to six months I will be just up to non-exposed accompaniment.  By two years, I might be able to do an exposed part, but I'll still be far from an expressive solo.

Still, means I can think again about working up something to record.

That is, once I get the other stuff off my table and have some me time again! I totaled it up; between the show I'm working and trying to get through the outstanding Holocron orders (I've shipped maybe a quarter of them so far) I'm working a 60+ hour week.

Which actually isn't that bad, but I'm still feeling some kind of long-range health issue which is really knocking my endurance for a loop. More blood tests are scheduled.

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