Monday, 20 March 2017

While My Violin Gently Weeps

The first instrument I (attempted) to learn was the violin. I loved the sound and it stirred up some pretty intense emotions in my ten year old self. Mistakenly I thought I could produce those strong emotive sounds. What would become my first failure of many, I quit after a few months of putting my family through those screeching cat impersonations.

So that brings us now to today. Quite spur of the moment I've decided to give it another go. While in Japan, a lot of people use Craigslist to find bargains (especially Indian people, go figure), in Australia it is Gumtree that a lot of people use. I guess it's that Eucalyptus-evoking name that draws us to it (even though it's origin in British).

From listening to a few YouTube videos I thought the Yamaha SV130 sounded the best, and it just so happened someone in Tasmania had one for sale. I trusted the seller and thankfully it arrived without any problems. I chose an electric violin so I could practise silently, but I'm surprised the unplugged volume is louder than a guitar. Another plus is if I can record it much easier, and it has a built-in reverb. Both acoustically and through headphones the tone is real nice. It comes in quite a few colours but I think this sparkly red is the best.

Tuning it was so different to a guitar! I turned the pegs and they would NOT stop slipping. I followed this. Gotta love YouTube. I wish it existed when I was learning guitar too. From the library I also borrowed out "Violin for Dummies" so I'm on my way!

Now I think knowing the guitar has helped me with music theory, intervals and so on. My thinking to produce those lovely sounds I desire is that I need to work on bowing correctly, getting my intonation down, and chasing that elusive vibrato. I prefer to pitch by ear so I'm not using dots or tape to mark first position. With my iPhone I've downloaded Cleartune and Tonal Energy Tuner. The latter is particularly useful in that it can record the playing and analyse that the intonation is correct. This looks really useful in quickly finding notes in guitar solos, so double yeah! Another similar app I have tried is Syaku8. It's a very small PC program, but I've managed to use it on a Mac if you are running Wine.

So why am I posting this on my blog? My excuse is the violin is Japanese and Syaku8 was originally scripted by 日本人. In reality I'm posting this the day I got it, and a blog is pretty handy to document when I started this fool's errand. I've been practising every day, so I may even surprise myself!