Monday, April 11, 2011

Violin Tone

 Written by Andy Fein, owner and luthier, Fein Violins:

"No one hears with your ears but yourself."
I say that to students, teachers, and players at least once a day. It's my way of emphasizing that whatever sound you hear and whatever sound you like is right for you.

Violins (violas & cellos, too) can range in tone color from very bright and tinny (like a piccolo) to very mellow and dark (like a string bass). As long as you stay away from the extremes, any sound that you like is a good sound.




I have never had someone come into the shop and say, "I want a really bright, tinny and piercing violin. You know, the sound that sets your teeth on edge." However, there does seem to be a fashion trend towards a brighter and brighter sound. A bright instrument will make you think you're putting out a lot of sound that will carry to the far reaches of the hall. Unfortunately, a very bright instrument produces a lot of high overtones - loud under your ear but tinny and thin a few feet away.

For most people, an instrument with a deep and rich sound, trending towards mellowness, will help you become a better player. It's easier to sound good on the instrument, the sound will cary further, and most people find it more enjoyable.

Whether you like a bright sound or a mellow sound, clarity is important to listen for in selecting your instrument. That is, you want to clearly hear the note you are playing without a lot of sound fuzz or overtones. A poor quality instrument will have a large window of opportunity to be 'sort of' on the note. Better instruments have a more precise clarity- when you're on the note, you're on, and when you're off the note, you're obviously off.

Most importantly, play an instrument that you love the sound of. If you love your sound, you'll enjoy playing (and practicing!) and your audience will feel that love as well. If you don't love your sound, no matter how great the instrument, your audience will feel that, too.

1 comment:

  1. Informative article. I would like to invite you to join our MUSICAL INSTRUMENT TECHNICIAN group on Yahoo. It consists of nearly 250 professional technicians and persons interested in musical instrument repair and restoration. Very interesting and informative discussions. If you are interested, go to:
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    Thanks for the informative FB page you have.

    Best wishes, Lars Kirmser

    ReplyDelete