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This 35 message thread spans 3 pages: [1]  2   3  > >  
  Violin family instruments  Dmitry Badiarov at 05:12 on 20 April 2008


  Re: Violin family instruments  T_G_Hernandez at 15:41 on 20 April 2008

I personally think the violin is just fine the way it is. Because of it's nature, it has lasted this long and I'm sure it will continue to last. It's sound is ideal even today. However, if you find the sound to be too old-fashioned, you should try to change it somehow! Do something like Igor Stravinsky in "Symphony of Psalms" or György Ligeti in "Clocks and Clouds." There are no violins and these orchestral pieces are quite amazing! Check them out and you should try something like that! Maybe it'll make you think some more about this...

  Re: Violin family instruments  Dmitry Badiarov at 03:33 on 21 April 2008


  Re: Violin family instruments  Misuc at 13:21 on 21 April 2008

Of course you're allowed to contribute to this list, but try to say something useful please, or at least accurate.

The modern violin is a wonderful instrument but no more influenced by Classical aesthetics than the baroque or 18th century ones - and no more than the organ (which owes its origin to ancient Rome, or the psaltery (ancient Egypt) or recorder/ flute or harp or lyre or Gusle or bagpipe or hurdy gurdy or horn or all those other amazing magic and very skillfully and artistically designed instruments which you so arrogantly dismiss as 'baroque' 'folkloric' or even 'primitive'.

From your name I would guess that you come from one of those cultures which have a rich and deep heritage of 'folkloric' music, one which you should learn about, respect and be proud of. Composers and inventive instrument designers can - and should - take things beyond the old limits, but they do not have to become snobs about the achievements of generation-upon-generation of their forebears.

  Re: Violin family instruments  Dmitry Badiarov at 13:48 on 21 April 2008


  Re: Violin family instruments  Misuc at 15:51 on 21 April 2008


  Re: Violin family instruments  Misuc at 15:51 on 21 April 2008

Ancient Greek instruments included lyres, harps, 'auloi'(oboe/shawms) etc. as can be seen on thousands of vases etc. Never will you see violin-shaped instruments in that context. It is for you to prove the alleged relationship where there is no visible evidence. Their musical ideas and acoustic discoveries were highly sophisticated Their music - from what we understand of it - was indeed very 'primitive' in some respects (no 'harmony' in the modern sense - no counterpoint) but too subtle for equal-temperament ears to appreciate without long training/habituation. athis is true for most 'folkloric' music.

As a hornplayer, who plays (or tries to play) hand horn, I can say that mechanically it is, of course, a lot simpler than a modern 'double horn', but the craftsmanship, the understanding of metallurgy etc. make my 19th century 'Raoux' horn much more expressive, responsive etc. than any modern horn I have tried. The same goes for harpsichords and organs etc.. I have a baroque violin (modern copy) (though I am very, very bad at playing it) and a number of wonderful 'ethnic' instruments. As you get to know the possibilities and limitations of these instruments you become more aware of the thousands of years' experience and culture that went into their design. There were not intended to be used like electronic keyboards: the art was in coaxing them to play with the required gesture.

Of course 'folkloric' music is like other kinds of music. There is poor and unimaginative music and there is deep and wonderful things too. If you can appreciate the beauty of different cultures, then you are more of a complete man, and no snob. I withdraw my accusation gladly.

  Re: Violin family instruments  Dmitry Badiarov at 17:31 on 21 April 2008


  Re: Violin family instruments  scott_good at 17:33 on 21 April 2008

Interesting discussion.

It seems to me that the origins of the violin are complex come from a number of places - egypt, greece, india, arabia...And of all the orchestral instruments, the violin has become the most codified and standardized. To make a violin, one needs to be within less than a millimeter in it's dimensions to make it accurately. This is unlike the viola, which sizes can vary greatly. Perhaps this is why it seems the viola carries a special place in composers imaginations, as it's unevenness speaks to new musical languages.

As a trombonist, I love the instruments made in the past 60 years. In particular, the many of the KING trombones made in the 70's were exquisite in their ability to produce a vast range of colors and dynamics. In fact, they are far, far superior to baroque trombones to produce dynamics, and variety of colour. That being said, the old instruments weaknesses are their strengths (as with baroque strings) - their dynamic restraints make for a lovely blending quality, and their deadness in projection and colour facilitate technique that works for great flexibility. But, I would much rather play modern instruments. Once the modern instrument was designed, and in particular, the flair of the bell and the proportions of the flair and straight were understood more scientifically for greater resonance and projection, and the spin or weave of the metal in the bell, the trombone blossomed as a solo instrument.

At any rate, as a maker of string instruments (bravo! a field i have great respect for as my father is a cabinet maker), I think exploring the viola would be quite fascinating. I love discussing instruments with violists, and comparing them back to back shows how individual these instruments can be. So interesting. Sometimes when I hear a particular instrument, I am struck to compose for it.

Now there is an idea - designing and building a new viola and having composers write specifically for it's strengths. Maker, performer, and composer could discuss the creative process.

But for the violin, I think it is what it is, and will always be. It is perfect in it's ability to resonate and project sound. If the violin is to be altered, I think experimentation with the bow hair and strings is the place to look.


  Re: Violin family instruments  Misuc at 18:19 on 21 April 2008

Dmitry, less irony please. I take back my comments.

You know a lot more about violin design than I do. I can't quite accept all your points, but never mind about that for now.

Something positive is coming from this discussion, and I will not hinder this process.

In general, I like instruments with limits - instruments which depend on what you put in as much as what you get ready-made. [The same goes for compositional techniques]

There was once a clever person who made a series of string instruments "completing" - as it were - "the set" to include a baritone instrument a fourth below a viola and a 'violinetto' a fifth higher than a violin and I think an octave 'violinetto' and others. I understand there were problems with getting the right string tensions, proportions, sizes etc. but the idea of bright, raw,resonant open and first position strings suggests all sorts of musical images to me. (i.e. to use the natural limitations] Do you think such string sets are technically feasible or desirable?

  Re: Violin family instruments  scott_good at 18:54 on 21 April 2008

"In general, I like instruments with limits - instruments which depend on what you put in as much as what you get ready-made. [The same goes for compositional techniques]"

Yet, one key difference between the composers needs and the instrumentalists needs are that it is required of the performer to play with many different timbres from composer to composer - even if similar era - like the difference in tone one should play in a Beethoven symphony forte to a Schubert quartet piano. Let alone the difference between playing Mahler, Shostakovitch, Bartok and Messiaen and..., which are all required of the classical performer today.

BTW, have you ever played an Alexander horn? German. A tough beast to play in tune, but what a sound.

I hope to learn baroque trombone in my old age - it's less physically demanding than the modern, but requires lot's of imagination...

oh ya, for interest in instrument makers, check out adolphe sax - one of the greatest builders and inventors of all time.

  Re: Violin family instruments  Dmitry Badiarov at 06:08 on 22 April 2008


  Re: Violin family instruments  Dmitry Badiarov at 06:27 on 22 April 2008


  Re: Violin family instruments  scott_good at 15:22 on 22 April 2008


as long as you don't mind taking time to write, i certainly enjoy learning from your stores of knowledge!



  Re: Violin family instruments  Dmitry Badiarov at 05:01 on 23 April 2008


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