Print Story Just shut up and play already.
By nightflameblue (Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 05:23:52 AM EST) (all tags)
Well, if I insist.

Funny how it all comes back. The news.

I discussed my ravings with Mrs. NFB last night. The stuff about me playing violin again. After a brief moment where she gave me that look, you know the one, that look that says, "what the fuck are you on about this time?" she said OK and discussed it rationally with me.

It's amazing how supportive she can be of my little stupidities.

So, after our discussion I felt the pull even harder and decided to dig out my one playable violin from the storage shed. I've got four back there. Two are completely unplayable. One was my main instrument as I was learning how to play, handed down from dad, given to him by his grandfather. That one had been cracked after a performance when some upper-classman threw me into a water fountain. To be fair, he thought he was just checking me into the wall. So, in late 1986/early 1987 I bought my last violin. It was considered an "advanced student" instrument at the time. I always found it annoyingly scratchy after having the well-aged family violin as a player for so long. But, it was easy to play.

I went out to the shed and dug it out of hiding. Leaving it in the case for a few hours to acclimate as we had our usual evening, I became twitchy with anticipation. I only played that violin for about a year, maybe less, back when I bought it. By then, my teacher/tutor's overt sexual advances toward me became too much to take in and I dropped it and took up piano instead.

Little did I know that bitch was nuts too. When I finally gave up lessons altogether due to the craziness, she gave me a special tape about how I was going down the wrong path with playing the guitar and that satan was taking me and that by giving up piano I was giving up my soul and blah, blah, de fucking blah.

Hmm. It occurs to me there may be a reason I decided to never take guitar lessons from anyone.

But I digress.

After a few hours when I figured temperatures were as balanced as they were going to get inside the case, I opened up the old beast and took her out. Tuned her up with a tone generator on the computer, rosined up the bow, and attempted to play.

Now, I've infrequently gotten it out over the years and played a few notes just to see what I could see, but haven't had any serious intentions with a violin since 1987 or so. Twenty years is a long time.

I was shocked with what happened. Favorite passages of favorite songs came flooding back quickly. I wasn't quite as fast as I used to be, and the motions weren't as fluid, but it was there. My vibrato was non-existent. I remember the switch to guitar being a struggle because of the vibrato issue. Fretted vibrato is a very different animal to non-fretted vibrato. But outside of that, the basics were sound. Very little side-bow action, which is a horrible sound when it happens. That was my biggest fear, the line-up of the bow.

It all just seemed to fall back into place.

Granted, I couldn't tell you the name of any of those songs. I could tell you the reason my violin only has a high-E fine tuner. The teachers always had single fine tuners. My new violin had come with all four strings having fine tuners. Somehow I convinced myself that the fine tuners were to blame for my horrible scratchy tone. I was wrong, but too lazy to put them back after taking them off.

I could tell you about my stand partner through about 80% of my orchestral career and how, when we first started together, we used to sit towards the back (before they seated by skill) and do the Thundercats thing with our bows. Or how we would sway back and forth during a tuning session until the director would scream at us for sending waves at him. Or how much fun we had every time we had to shuffle sheet music.

Or about the kid who was always in the cello section screwing around more than playing, yet could still play circles around any other cello player.

Or about the switch from Mr. Simon to Miss Mollie, and how much we missed the old kooky bastard.

I could tell you a lot, but I couldn't tell you the name of those songs to save my life.

But I could play them.

Would that I had a microphone around last night so I could record how good, and how bad, I really am right in these moments, picking it back up after so long. The instrument needs replaced. That scratchy tone that annoyed me as a kid makes me want to shove ice-picks in my ears now. I swear the instrument sounds worse now than it did twenty years ago. Even the teachers thought it was a pretty big step down from the instrument I had previously.

But me? I'm due some practice time to get my speed back into shape, but I can play. Way better than I have any right to.

May the scary sky dude have mercy on all your souls when I get the ability to record it.


Economy blah, blah, blah. Fuckers still don't get it. And I'm sorry, but the chimp saying that the economy is fine is not reassuring anybody. Even the folks with complete blind faith in him are raising their eyebrows at that pronouncement.

Obama blah, blah, blah blah blaaah blah blah. If AFKS spouted off some stupid shit, which happens about every day, I wouldn't expect to be held responsible for his words. Why the fuck does everybody assume a political candidate has complete control over every thought, word, and deed of every person he's ever met? I mean, seriously, he's a politician, there must be some REAL dirt on him somewhere. This is the controversy you're gonna push?

Governors blah blah sexcapades blah. So somebody and his wife used to invite somebody in for threesomes. OK, they were both involved, nobody seems to have been hurt, who the fuck cares? NEXT!


Brit-watch showed a picture of her upcoming appearance on How I Met Your Mother. It's amazing how good she can still look when she's all done up with glasses and makeup. The glasses were a very nice touch. Though I hear tell Alicia Silverstone dropped out on her part because she heard Brit was gonna be playing her seXX0rz-tarry. Instead we get the gal who played Elliot on Scrubs in that part. Oh well, bummer.


I stayed up way too late and saw things no man should ever see on TV.


< A Day in the Life | Relaxing >
Just shut up and play already. | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)
I'll take Bob to block by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 06:52:34 AM EST
I do not know who this "Brit" person is, but based purely on the context, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter, sight unseen.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
Girls with glasses. by nightflameblue (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 07:49:45 AM EST
Always good. Always.

[ Parent ]
I SAID I'm sold by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 09:56:04 AM EST
Where's my newsletter?

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
[ Parent ]
There are already entire websites. by nightflameblue (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 11:13:27 AM EST
Do you need me to point them out to you?

[ Parent ]
relearning is a bitch by R343L (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 07:48:28 AM EST
Glad it's easier for you ... actually seriously playing my trombone (every day) results in the realization that my lip is shit and will be for some time. There's so much music I would want to play, but can't possibly play, mostly due to lack of tone and breath control.

But I'll improve rapidly. This time around at least I'm not learning to read bass clef, learning slide positions and learning the playing techniques all at once. And it didn't really take that long to get "credible" in high school.

As a side note, an electric violin amuses me to no end -- violin was actually the first instrument I learned (well other than percussion and recorder and other such elementary school fodder). My teacher (and parents) were actually disappointed when I gave it up in preference for the flute the next year ... for some reason they let you start strings in 4th grade, then woodwinds in 5th. And I for some foolish reason thought a flute was "cooler". And then I moved and stopped doing any instruments till eleventh grade (other than lots of choir and such). Quite sad, but it takes less than a year to aspire to mere suckitude. For now I'll just have to blow.


"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

Instrument re-learning. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 07:57:30 AM EST
I've done it all my life. Crazy how many times I've set aside an instrument, mostly guitar, only to pick it up three to five years later. I lose a lot in speed and slowly build that back up, but it seems like every time I gain something in feel from the break.

The electric violin thing is kind of amusing to me too because of the fact that I've done so many different instruments. On the one side you've got the electric guitar, which is basically unchanged from the Les Paul/Strat origins. Guitarists are such a finicky, superstitious bunch, talking about tone-woods and the importance of the body size, depth, and structure. On the electric violin side, you've got HUGE evolution is a very short period of time, and nobody complaining about it at all. Everything from the Mark Wood Viper, a flying V with a chest-brace for self-support, to a Ted Bewer/Jordan/NS type, which looks like a stick with strings on it. Violinists, who have every right to be superstitious about tone woods and body size after several hundred years of playing almost exactly the same instruments, gave up tradition when they jumped to electric and realized what matters is where the strings reside and the area directly around it. Pretty much nothing else.

I'd kill for an electric guitar with the style of something like this. Though I could do without the LEDs.

Wow, I guess I feel a bit chatty today.

[ Parent ]
well .. you can turn them off by R343L (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 08:09:31 AM EST
Wow that is a flashy electric violin. I want it and that would just be silly.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
True. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 08:27:22 AM EST
Though I think my favorite will always be the Viper. Just something awesome about playing a violin you don't even have to use your chin on. Tell me that's not appealing? Granted, it's not three grand appealing to me, yet, but it's still dead sexy.

[ Parent ]
i think part of the difference... by gzt (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 09:37:19 AM EST that a violin is bowed and a guitar isn't. so, sustain and such are much more crucial with a guitar, while an electric violin wouldn't care as much. not to deny that some of the guitar worries are just silliness.

[ Parent ]
Pretty much pure silliness. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 09:53:53 AM EST
A guitar body has a tremendous amount to do with sustain right around the bridge and the strings. The further you get away from those areas, the less it means. The Ibanez S series demonstrates that pretty well, with a big, thick, meaty center and wings that are paper thin. Tone 4 dayz. It sounds just as thick as any other mahogany guitar of the same build, but is a lot lighter.

But that's about as radical as electric guitarists want to get with truly modern design. Somebody comes along with something really unique? Say a Steinberger? People scoff and call them worthless without even trying one.

Interestingly enough, Steinberger still makes that same style in a violin/viola type instrument. Nobody's ever had much bad to say about them short of bad pickups in the first generations.

Guitarists are driven by superstition a lot more than they are by facts. Visit any guitar forum and ask about tonewoods. Some of the responses, the serious ones, will be ridiculously detailed. But in the end, all it ever means is, "we really don't know." Beyond the basics around the bridge and neck, we don't. Body wings mean little, other than being someplace to stow the electronics.

Makes for a lot of fun conversations if you don't take it seriously, and a lot of frustration if you get tired of seeing the same guitars for sale twenty years later, while the violin has changed dramatically in those same twenty years.

[ Parent ]
And just *what*, pray tell, is wrong with Elliot? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 10:55:11 AM EST
I'm waiting.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Nothing at all. by nightflameblue (4.00 / 2) #12 Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 11:15:18 AM EST
In fact, if you re-read that sentence you'll detect the hint of sarcasm in it. I'd much rather watch her than the other. At least she doesn't believe herself above all others.

[ Parent ]
Just shut up and play already. | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)