Tone of the Violin

Ideas and innovations in Indian classical music
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#1 Tone of the Violin

Post by Sivaramakrishnan » 02 Dec 2018, 15:29

Is it necessary that violin, which provides for playing with good audibility (unlike say Veena) be provided with contact mike? Seems to be a must in solo recitals. It yields a muffled output.

TNK, Lalgudi, MC, MSG play/ed solo 'exemplarily' without contact mike. We could distinct the baani too.Gone are the days!
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#2 Re: Tone of the Violin

Post by SrinathK » 03 Dec 2018, 22:29

I tried that contact mike just once on a normal violin. Never again. Just imagine singing with your nose pinched.

Some violins that have such mikes are semi electric or fully electric with acoustic bodies.

One reason why it was easy to dissect the bAni of the violin trinity was because they played at different pitches. LGJ at D and then D#, MSG at E and TNK at F#, as did Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu. A large component of their tone is actually the sound of D# or E or F# itself. Now-a-days almost all solo violins play in E and they all sound similar.

Another reason for this was that all old school violinists grew up on gut strings. These are not so straightforward to play as steel and each one found their own bowing style and technique to get them to speak. This results in a very individual sound. This didn't vanish even after MSG and LGJ changed to steel. TNK still plays on the exact same setup and the sound of gut is in a totally different category in a live concert.

I also feel that the mic culture has affected the bowing of modern violinists to some extent as well (not that the violin was ever a loud instrument). One thing that's needed for the violin to speak an individual tone is more and more bow. Only when the base volume is pretty loud can there be room for modulation. Today though, the bowing is soft, sometimes very soft and in the fingerboard area, to avoid sounding scratchy with ultra close microphones.

Even among old great Western violinists, all of them had their own sound like Elman, Kriesler, Heifetz, Menuhin and Milstein. These violinists also played on very high end instruments, and those violins in turn can do things that are not possible on lesser instruments. Even today, solo western violinists push their bows to the limits.
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