ESSENTIAL PARTS OF THE VIOLIN

The violin is an amazing instrument, isn’t it?  All the modern technology in the world can’t produce a sound as beautiful as a wooden box with four strings can.  It’s not as simple as it seems, though.  There are essential features required for the violin to create the beauty of its music.

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(Thank you Oxana Ossiptchuk and   https://cluelessviolinmom.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/13-essential-parts-of-the-violin/   )

Concert hall simulator helps musicians prepare to perform

(Originally posted in TheGuardian :    http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/mar/22/musicians-virtual-reality-technology-prepare-live-performances?CMP=share_btn_fb     )

Last week a student violinist, Miriam Bergset, tried out the simulator under the guidance of Royal College professor Madeleine Mitchell, in a small room at the top of the college’s South Kensington HQ which has been transformed into a virtual concert-hall.

A large screen is attached to a nearby computer. Images and sounds were being manipulated by Mats Küssner, the Royal College’s’s research associate in performance science, who demonstrated how he could press buttons to produce coughs and sneezes, as well as different levels of reaction, from polite applause to cheers.

Bergset said: “It felt completely different from playing in a rehearsal room. With the concert audience – even though it’s virtual – it feels as if you’re giving more back There is this exchange with an audience … It adds inspiration to get into the performance mode.”

Performances are recorded. Only when watching the footage did one student realise that she had forgotten to take a bow. “It’s the sort of thing you can’t cover in a one-to-one lesson,” said Mitchell, who uses the simulator to offer coaching tips on public performance

Psychological and physiological responses, such as breathing and heart rates, are also being studied scientifically. The data reveals “very definite comparable levels” of stress and anxiety between live and virtual performances.

The simulator’s range extends to a virtual reality “audition”, complete with panel of three stern-looking judges behind a table, all staring out and making notes. Expressions range from appreciative smiles and nods to frowns, folded arms and shakes of the head; judges may even talk to one another.

“Please start whenever you are ready”, an “auditioning” musician is told on entering the room. Afterwards, they may face a non-committal “thank you” or a disappointed sigh, followed by “thank you for coming”. For a really poor performance there is also the nuclear option of “Thank you, I think we’ve heard enough”.

Alchemistry in music

There was one story which I heard recently and I wanted to impress you too.

There was one guy in 17th century who was obsessed with alchemistry and this whole idea of finding a Philosopher Stone and turning any metal in gold. He was looking for this magic formula for many many years, but he didn’t find any  actual converting formula. What he found was special combination of metals which was perfect for producing cymbals with such a enormous variety of sounds so they became super popular and he was a founder of manufacture which producd (and still produces) these world famous cymbals and whole range or percussion supplies – you know very well whom am I talking about, its “Zildjian”

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The company was found in Istanbul (Constantinople) in 1623 and apparently this is the oldest company and trademark in the planet which exists in the same way and form from the first day.  Right now it is ruled by women, as last owner had two daughters, and an annual trade gross counts in thousands millions of dollars.

Who said that alchemistry is a fake? Turns out one can easily find not only gold itself, but glory, appreciation and your name will be stamped by golden letters in the history.

 

What do conductors actually do?

(Originally posted in BBC :     http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zpn72hv      )

Conductors stand alone on the podium in front of the orchestra. What they do is a form of non-verbal communication which produces music. What are the processes involved in getting the notes off the page and into our ears?

Mattew Dowe: “Well in a sense, what we see on the podium is the conductor being the leader of the orchestra, guiding them through a piece. But the preparation for that goes very deep and a very long way because of course you can’t stand up in front of a large group of people and lead them if you don’t know what it is you’re leading; so the process begins with very, very intensive study of the music. You have to know the score, you have to know the music, what the composer wrote. You have all the information; of course the musicians and the orchestra only have the bit that they play, they have one line of music, whereas we have all the information in front of us. So you build it up and you build it up horizontally, the melodies and the harmonies, the vertical part of the music; you build that up by looking at everything that the composer wrote, and conducting began with composers conducting ‒ they knew what they’d written. But the conductors today are their representatives, and it’s the conductor’s job to know what the composer wrote, and also not only to know what they wrote, but also to try and work out what it is they wanted.”

“if you know it well enough it just happens because you’re just in the music, you’re not thinking about anything else. You don’t really think, ‘I need to beat four here, or I need to show a crescendo’ ‒ you just feel the music so much inside you that you then show what your priorities are at that particular moment; you feel that the music has to have an accelerando ‒ it needs to get faster ‒ and you then are listening to how it’s speeding up and where you’ve got to get to at the next climax point: you therefore have to judge it. But you’re not kind of going, oh we have to, it’s not mechanical like that ‒ you’re just in the moment with the musicians.”

Where did conductors come from?

‘This is what conductors do: they concentrate the efforts and skills of an orchestra in one powerful individual, so that the paying public experiences the music, its emotional highs and soothing lows, through the personality of the maestro.’ This quote from Financial Times critic Andrew Clark neatly sums up the role of the modern conductor. But conductors of the kind he describes are a relatively recent phenomenon.

Leading from the front

‘Conducting’ probably began in the Middle Ages as the development of multi-voice writing for singing in church created the need for a steady pulse or beat, and the means to indicate it ‒ bare hands, and latterly a stick or staff. The French Baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Lully famously met his end when his conducting staff pierced his foot; the wound turned septic, but Lully refused amputation and died soon after. In Baroque orchestras, the ensemble might be led by a violinist waving his bow, or by a harpsichordist. As orchestral writing became more complex in the 1800s, a new breed of composer-conductor emerged, including Weber, Mendelssohn and Berlioz ‒ the first ‘virtuoso’ conductor.

Emergence of the modern maestro

Radio 3 commentator Ivan Hewett says, ‘The rot set in with Wagner, and successors such as Mahler. Their grand manner engendered the idea of the conductor as an inspired being, whose sacred role is to divine the “message” of the creator and transmit it to a grateful audience.’ But Wagner, and pioneer conductors Arthur Nikisch and Hans von Bülow drove up standards. The advent of recorded music, film, radio and TV enabled conductors to grow in reach and reputation as never before. As a result, conductors like Toscanini, Furtwängler, Stokowski, Karajan, Klemperer, and Bernstein became household names. Conductors today are among the most respected ‒ and highest paid ‒ musicians.

8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently

(Originally posted in TheCreativityPost.com:   http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/8_things_top_practicers_do_differently    )

We’ve all heard the phrase “practice smarter, not harder,” but what does that really mean? What does “smarter” practice actually look like? A study of collegiate piano majors suggests that the key lies in how we handle mistakes.

As my kids were (begrudgingly) practicing their Tae Kwon Do patterns not long ago, I caught myself telling my oldest that he had to do his pattern five times before returning to his video game.

My goal, of course, was not for him to simply plod through the motions of his pattern five times like a pouty zombie, but to do it once with good form and commitment. But the parent in me finds it very reassuring to know that a certain number of repetitions has gone into something. Beyond the (erroneous) assumption that this will somehow automagically solidify his skills, it feels like a path to greater discipline, and a way to instill within my kids some sort of work ethic that will serve them well in the future.

It’s true that some degree of time and repetition is necessary to develop and hone our skills, of course. But we also know on some intuitive level that to maximize gains, we ought to practice “smarter, not harder.”

But what does that really mean anyway? What exactly do top practicers do differently?

(more…)

Stalker the musical

I am so proud to announce that brand new musical “Stalker” begun its life in Sydney REC studio last weekend. It was written by two incredibly talented people (and also two friends of mine) Andy Peterson and David Russell and I really hope it will live long and prosper life with many many fans and favorite numbers!

When I entered in a studio where we made the first recording my jaw has fallen on the floor: it was that exact studio where “Savage Garden” (I’m pretty sure they don’t need any introductions!) recorded all their Gold/Platinum singles and albums!!!!!! It was such an incredible feeling, being within the veil:

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! That is my number one!!!!!!

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And the video, behold:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezxRB8F8zyI

Bach's signature

While Bach never actually used this clever signature, musicians devised the B A C H score in the 19th century and sketched it out in Bach’s hand. In German musical notation, B flat, A, C, B natural are written as B A C H, cleverly spelling out the composer’s name. By using a treble clef, tenor clef, alto clef, and another treble clef, this beautiful cross drawing spells out the word with a single note intersecting the four staves.

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(As always, when it comes to geniuses, all I can say is “wwwwooooooooowwwww!…….”)