Friday, October 19, 2007

double-header part 1

As I have a long night ahead of me, a bunch of bumpy thoughts will come rocketing out, most likely in two parts.

First and foremost, there has been significant strides in the voice. Generally speaking, it feels like it's more solid, particularly in the upper reaches, which is a nice change of place. Cracks now are more clearly linked with their causes as opposed to generally unexplained fractures. It'll take time before actual confidence comes, and of course there is a lot of smoothing to be done, but generally what really came together was the sensation of resistance in the breath and sound.

It's weird, and the best analogy I can come up with a string one. When I started playing violin as a wee beteen, I was always drawn to utmost intensity. I developed a whole heck of tension in odd places trying to wring as much sound (and as dramatic a sound) as possible. Apparently, this intense sound is not how most wee violinists begin making violin noises, so by the time I got to me last (and most important/influential) teacher - of anything, really - most of our work was in scaling this tenseness and intensity back so I could play with a fuller range of colors and radiance.

Compare the sounds that Nathan Milstein (whose tone my teacher compared mine too - I have no idea if she was serious) makes in two different Bach solo compositions.

E major Gigue:


If you watched them in this order, it might strike you how different the opening sounds are. The Gigue is played with flowing strokes, lots of bow. The Chaconne opens with much more intense sound, and you can almost imagine the feeling of Milstein's bow pulling the sound out from his violin (and the sound somewhat resisting), giving it that plangency and solidity.

But then if you go back to the Gigue, you can hear that pull there still!

So the best description I can give to what it is that I am on the track to figuring out is that I think I know how to get that pulled sound. I can feel a sensation in my singing of my pulling out the sound from my body (it doesn't feel like the cords, per se), which seems to have 1) focused the sound and 2) given me a lot more air capacity, in that I need less air to make the noises I was making (particularly up high). Perhaps as a reaction to how my progress in violin-learning, I think I was absolutely hesitant to introduce any kind of similar tensions (or juxtaposition of forces, shall we say, as "tension" is generally short for "bad tension" in vocal pedagogy). Before trying to sing this way, it felt like I was just pouring out air like buckets of water. Which of course would use up the air really quickly and not send it very far either.

I sang this way for my teacher yesterday, and immediately he brightened up and encouraged me to sing out even more (apparently, and my mother picked up on this when I was home this past weekend (which might have to be taken up in part 2, later)). It seems that I am psychologically worried about singing too loudly, or openly, or what - but I'm definitely not just letting the sound out enough. (I might have to bond more with my devil-may-care id which has had to channel its energy into other activities since I have been barring it from music-making, it seems).

Anyhow, some more lovely violin playing!

Edit: As a sidenote, there's this one kind of cookie that catering does in the kitchen at work that always taste/smells ever-so-faintly like cooked chicken liver (which is a flavor I happen to like...just not in a cookie).

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