Opening this as a sort of blog, I'm not sure whether I'll use it much or not.
I may vent here on the bad viola days, or celebrate the good ones ; ask random questions about my issues, share audio excerpts of what I'm 'working' on… or just talk to myself about anything viola-related. Feel free to read or not to read :--) Feel free to answer too!
On the "strings" topic:
A few weeks ago I switched from my usual Vision solo strings, to standard Vision. I must say I prefer the solo version, but it was worth giving it a try, no regrets here.
What I don't understand is online strings charts, that try to compare different brands in terms of warmth, power, etc. Or how reliable they are. Just out of curiosity, I looked at a viola string chart (that will be kept unnamed) : it classifies the Vision solo as more brilliant, and the Vision as warmer. However, on Fiddlershop, it's the opposite (see 3rd picture - I have no idea where this chart comes from, maybe from Thomastik?) ; I would agree more with them.
That, or I don't know what warm, brilliant, rich, … actually means. (I'm not too sure, in fact.)
It would be interesting to find several charts and compare them.
Well, my take is that it depends on the actual instrument, bow, rosin and how the person actually bows, I think ot depends on how warm it needs to sound before it crosses from bright to warm and then dark. Again, that is dependent on a lot of things, and the opinion of the person who is actually comparing, I know the green label Evahs that I used in the Goronok cello, and loved in it, were a lot mellower than any chart showed it to be.
It is the same thing with instruments, I have heard people say a forum member has a warm or bright sounding instrument, but to me, many times, it is the opposite.
I think it is all relative. Maybe a guide sometimes, but with the green label Evahs, they were all off for my uses.
People say that Violino(?) is a less expensive substitute for Obligato. I tried them in a violin and did not find that to be the case. I didn't even like them on my violin.
The Bumble Bee Flies
Quick update there. I didn't play much my viola recently. But I'm trying to practice those double stop exercises
(some additional info here, about the differences between violin and viola) : https://www.violinist.com/blog.....187/27365/ )
I'm bad at them so the free preview sample is enough for me : I'll be satisfied if I even manage the first two lines (1st position, p. 5). I'm struggling with bar 2 (B) : I already find it hard to play an octave in double stops, but doing so while holding one or two other fingers down is almost impossible. Maybe I should work on them in 2nd or 3rd position first, the finger spacings would be a little smaller.
More importantly, I feel that double stops exercises (and especially those, which ask to keep fingers down) can help me in a general way with my left hand, which is very bad. I think I'm starting to see a difference - at least, I hope so!
Took up my viola again today, after a few days' break (I think I almost didn't play since my last post). My sound was crappy but else it went well enough. I worked a bit on double stops again, and it does help with my left hand speed : I seem to lift my fingers less, so that's less wasted effort. Did some mindless playing of Telemann and Bach.
Yup, it was much less crappy today!
I opened again the book by Paul Rolland ("the teaching of action in string playing"), at the chapter about vibrato, and did some of the exercises. I still have a hard time keeping my hand relaxed enough, and it gets much more difficult if I'm actually trying to play music.
It's a nice book though. Plenty of pictures and detailed explanations.
It's going rather well, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
Yesterday, I did mostly mindless playing - went back to some klezmer and tango tunes, with accompaniments.
And today I got little violin out of the cupboard. I looked at Casey Willis' tutorial about double stops, and tried it some (the beginning, at least). It's hard, but at least he's not pretending that it's easy (… does that make sense?), and you get a good view of the left hand. Anyway, on the violin it's much easier to bow and hold strings down compared to the viola, and the finger spacings are easier, so that removes a few difficulties. That, and not having to transpose anything down. I think I'll go back to it. I finished with some viola, I'm not leaving it aside ;--)
Back! Work has been hectic these days (still is), and I haven't given much time to playing or for the forum.
Lastly I've been looking at the technique of the scottish "cut" as presented here by Hanneke Cassel, and trying to do it. I'm not having much luck, but still I'm not despairing to manage it at some point. I'm attaching an audio that will count as a 'first version', it's nowhere near what it should be yet, hoping to improve. It's still somewhat better than it was the first time.
I'm using a violin for this right now – I don't know if it can be done on the viola. I guess it probably can, but I suspect it must be more difficult, because the strings don't respond so quickly and need more 'force' to be put into motion.
I've been away from here for quite some time. But now on leave from work until nearly the end of the month, so I have more time (and energy!) to play (and come here). Which doesn't actually guarantee that I'll play more.
Anyway, since my last post I don't think I've made any progress, but I haven't completely stopped playing either. Among other things, I've been trying the Butterfly waltz, which I like a lot. Not too many double stops in that one, so it's a good way to practice them, too. I'm not getting the result I want yet. Here goes today's try :
I began playing around with chopping since yesterday. It's not easy, but fun - and it's a change from the serious stuff where I get all frustrated about my tone. Added benefit, it makes me practice "playing" near the frog. Not sure how long I'll keep trying, but I think I need to do that - try out new things just for fun.
Well, I had some fun today.
After watching a video where Ray Chen asks ChatGPT for advice about how to learn Dance of the Goblins (!), I tried asking advice to an AI for how to learn double stops. The results weren't very convincing though. So I fell back to the Roland Vamos exercise that I'd tried back in May, and, surprise, it felt much easier than last time… I'm beginning to think I might manage it at some point.
I'm counting it as a victory even if it might just have been a good day today.
Going to BingChat (which is ChatGPT-based) for the same question yielded much better results. It advised me to use Sevcik op.9 and - surprise- the Roland Vamos book (and Heather Figi's Etudes for double stops, pretty unknown I think ?). So, I'm suspending my judgment on AI, and I'll probably give it a try from time to time.
Anyway, I'm not doing much these days, and starting to be dissatisfied with my sound and the way my bow grips the strings (or rather, doesn't grip well). I don't know if I should get a rehair - iti's been one year and a half - or change my strings (only 6 months). I'll probably start with the bow, and then the strings if needed.
Interesting a out your AI testing.
I think I would go with a rehair, too. I have been doing more cello than viola of late. I need to snap to it and do more viola, but I want to get the project down better,
The Bumble Bee Flies