Page name: TD - Violin [Logged in view] [RSS]
2006-06-19 09:36:47
Last author: Anninja
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This is going to be a wiki dedicated to some technical details of violin play. I'm going to write things I know not things I've researched, so, if you think I'm incorrect, change the page. If you think something should be added- tell me. ([Anninja]) But trust me- I'm a violinist and in love with it.

Okay, first: Bow. Most violinists learn first how to hold the bow, then violin and only then- how to play. The thing everyone has to know is that bow is held in the right arm. Many people think it's the left one. Most know you hold the heavier end of the bow. Bow's heavier end's contents starting from the end: screw, then frog (holds horse hair), then a rubber pad around the stick. Then a metal string neatly wrapped around the stick. That metal string usually turns red from playing (it's white before) and makes the index finger blue (if playing for more than an hour), and that blue tastes like metal- or the white parts of grapefruit. Yuck. The tip is called "tip" :Þ
Now how to hold the fingers : The three main fingers are thumb, index (though some prefer middle to do its work) and little finger. All fingers have to be bent in a nice circular, relaxed form (that's hard not to let them go stiff). You put your thumb tip under the stick, close to the frog. Then place your index finger on the metal string, little finger's tip where you can find good balance and two remaining fingers rested somewhere in the middle. Middle finger, however, should be right over thumb.
How to play : Never grab the bow too hard, don't let your elbow drop, your upper arm should be at the angle your bow has. Don't lift your shoulder. The bow has to go straight forward, until you think you're going to catch your ear with the tip, never let your elbow swing behind you, most is done with the lower arm. And finally: use the weight of your arm, not force and do everything naturally. Do you think I can do this? Nope, even with ten years of playing I still haven't learned it. However, my genious classmate has, but she is a genius.

Now, Violin. Okay, most important violin details , starting from the smaller end: Head with pegs, also called the "scroll" and "peg box", neck under the fingerboard, with strings (from lowest: G, D, A, E), belly or table- in front, with F-holes, ribs- side, back- you know. Bridge is under the strings. Sound post is the most important detail- a tiny stick that holds the violin together- or, in this case, apart. It's between the belly and back, almost under the bridge. Tailpiece holds the strings, and is held by the end button. Chin rest is to placed under your chin :) For more details see
How to hold it : Place on the shoulder rest right (curve on the left side), it's funny when you try to play with the shoulder rest wrong. (If it's Baroque, you should play with no shoulder rest, advisably no chin rest as well. But everyone can play as they wish, if they don't specialise in baroque violin.) Then put the violin between your left shoulder and chin so that it holds good when you don't use your arms for support (again- if not playing baroque violin. If yes, hold the violin with left hand). The best position for the left hand is when you rest the violin against your knee, then place it on the shoulder without changing hand position. Then free your fingers. They should be curved and relaxed even when playing 10ths (a big stretch), virtuoso pieces and close to the bridge. In truth, they never are. Except for some really genious cases.

Now, those cases: Famous violinists: Violin composers : Niccolo Paganini (virtoso concertos and pieces), Pablo de Sarasate (Spanish- sounding quite virtuoso pieces), Eugene Ysaye (death to fingers sonatas and other melodic works), Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (Fingerbreaking concert etudes), Jacob Dont (most famous etudes), Fritz Kreisler (best beginner etudes)
Violinists, dead : Albert Einstein (yeah, he studied 8 years, but it's not what he's famous for), David Oistrakh, Isaac Stern, Yascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, Yehudi Menuhin
Violinists, alive : Vanessa Mae, Anne Sophie Mutter, Sarah Chang, Vadim Repin, Vadim Gluzman, Ilya Grubert, Ilya Gringolts

The "top five" violin concertos (sorted from easiest to hardest, in my opinion): Mendelssohn's, Tchaikowsky's, Sibelius's, Brahms's (virtuous), Beethoven's (hard to keep focus)

Most common mistakes in playing: Intonation (frequently cursed, it's playing in tune- hitting the right finger in the right place, with milimeter precisity), extraenous noises (scratches, cracks, etc.), wrong bow or violin hold (may result in severe injuries). Looks little, but is enough for a whole life's work.

Preparing a solo piece : First one has to eliminate most of the common mistakes listed above. Usually it takes all the learning time for younger students. But once the piece sounds quite okay, there's still a huge work to do. At this point violinists will say "yeah, good, bravo, that was nice", but common listeners will go home bored. Now it's time to look at the score (notes, sheet music) again. What's written on top left? It's the character of music. Most common terms: too many, better see (read description before using the term). Then look closer. Between the lines. Tempo, dynamic alterations. In most cases it's learned already, but now ask- why? What did the composer intend to make us think when he put this crescendo (getting louder) here? And how will I play this a piacere ("as you wish" rhytm alteration)? Where do I start diminuendo (getting quieter)? Perhaps a little break before this note? And where is the peak of the phrase (also: culmination, climax), anyway?! Violinists usually listen to a freaky number of records to find the answers. When that's quite done, time to sink in the character of the piece. Then go on the stage and play a breathtaker. If everything's done properly, the one's a genius. Or the piece is "twinkle, twinkle, little star..." in a kindergarden, with no variations and after two years of practising.

Group playing: orchestra : Not much to say. You read the notes at home (preferably, though some don't), then go to orchestra rehearses, practice more and listen to conductor (preferably, though most don't). Everything should go well, how much you feel the piece is not a big deal, though you should play every single word written in the score and not get your rhytm different from that of the rest of orchestra. That playing's fun because it's relatively easy and changes quite alot (in average or better orchestras).

Chamber music (any other group): One of the hardest to play- usually there's no conductor. So it has to be rehearsed mostly together with other players, until you feel like one person (or as close as you can). Everything must be done like described in "preparing a solo piece", just not by yourself. Everything apart of technical questions must be discussed and, preferably, written in the score. Playing it is fun as well, since you don't do that alone and don't have to learn by heart. Go to some chamber music concerts to see how it usually looks like in the end.

For more information , contact me- [Anninja]. Or see - a realy good site :)

Bach to Technical Details ^·^

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2006-06-18 [Mister Saint]: I will make use of this. ^^ I've always adored the violin, and I have huge respect for Paganini and Vanessa Mae in particular, but it was never an instrument about which I knew a great deal. ^ ^ Shanksha!

2006-06-19 [Anninja]: What's written here is no great deal either... :Þ

2006-06-19 [Anninja]: That Bach is NOT a grammar error, don't fix it!

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