jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
[personal profile] jazzfish
I realised this morning that it's not that Bowie changed my life, although I'm sure he did. It's that he's been a part of my life for twenty years: not just the music, but the anticipation of music to come. Which is why I filed Steven Brust in the same kind of category: I think Brust is the only author I've been reading constantly from before high school who's still writing. (Le Guin, I guess, but the only Le Guin I read before the university class I took was Earthsea. And she's no longer writing novels anyhow.)

To probably misquote someone or other on Twitter: "It's like if someone told me Mount Everest had died. I keep wanting to say 'No, silly, that's not how mountains work.'"

Recommended viewing/listening: Under Pressure from 1997, with Gail Ann Dorsey; The Hearts Filthy Lesson (a rather disconcerting video).

(I haven't yet picked up Blackstar, on the grounds that I don't have a spare hour to spend in tears. We watched the video for Lazarus last night and that was about enough.)



In other musical news, playing the viola is hard. It's hard in what I assume is the way that new things are always hard, and what I assume is the way that complicated and finicky things are always hard. I haven't really tried either in a long time.

It is *depressingly* hard. I picked up the cello tonight for the first time in a year, and after five minutes of reacclimatization I was sawing away at the opening of the Squire tarantella and a couple of the easier bits of the Bach cello suites. My fingers *know what they're doing* on the cello, and I understand how to shift, and how to hold the instrument and the bow, and how to sound halfway decent. I nearly cried when I went back to fat-fingering and screeching on the viola.

The other problem is that, as I'd more or less expected, my ear is not actually all that good. We're spending part of each lesson drilling on intervals, and while I can semi-reliably distinguish between a major and minor third, and somewhat more reliably between a major and minor second, for some reason I hear fourths as fifths and am running only slightly better than fifty percent there. At least I can tell a tritone when I hear one.

I'm not giving up. As I've said, after a year I suck on a whole new plane. I figure I'll keep at it for at least another couple of years, and if I still can't stand my sound at that point then it's probably time to throw in the towel.

Currently working on a bit from the Bach cello suites. I *think* they're mostly a little easier on the viola but I'm not certain.

On the bright side, I can stumble through alto clef well enough to pick out the "Baby Elephant Walk" from my book of Henry Mancini viola arrangements. Indeed, I can stumble well enough that I can tell I don't much care for this particular arrangement, and may soon be looking for either a better one, or the original score so I can bloody well do it myself.

I still harbour fantasies of arranging Peter Gunn for two violas ("With apologies to H. Mancini and A.O. Noise") and playing a duet with myself. We shall see.

Date: 2016-01-13 01:30 pm (UTC)
novel_machinist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] novel_machinist
that's me on the piano vrs me on the violin. Give me an hour or two on the piano and I think I could throw down One Winged Angel.

...the violin is what my fingers cannot remember. KEEP GOING! YOU CAN DO IT

Date: 2016-01-13 02:27 pm (UTC)
okrablossom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] okrablossom
> I still harbour fantasies of arranging Peter Gunn for two violas

I support this idea. Vigorously!

Also, I need an icon with my harp in it.

Date: 2016-01-13 07:40 pm (UTC)
thanate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thanate
I got a small (handmade, used) guitar for christmas, and have been tinkering. Violin is definitely my native instrument, but after most of a decade of that, a couple earlier flirtations with guitar, and a couple years of treble gamba in college, plus a bunch of singing alone and in groups, and experimenting with multiple forms of music... it took me a few days to find notes, and I'm slowly learning to pick out tunes on it. Apparently what I do with guitar is mostly single notes, though, and not only are the strings tuned in 4ths, but there's a 3rd in the middle just to be irritating. And then I pulled out some music, and realized I can't read it for guitar. It's disorienting.

May viola work for you soon.

Date: 2016-01-16 02:16 am (UTC)
thanate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thanate
Indeed. Gamba is in 4ths, so at least once you get over "what is this interval?" it's all the same one.

Tablatures are cheat diagrams, and are pretty easy to pick up once you get the hang of it; my brain has just mapped treble clef to violin strings and gets all confused with other stuff.

So, I was thinking about this further-- if your intents for viola are non-classical... have you tried holding it like a gamba? Sit down, cross your ankles under your chair, & rest the body of the instrument between your knees. See if having it in cello-ish position makes it easier to play. (On real gambas you hold the bow in a weird upside-down thing that puts your fingers on the bow hair, but you could probably make a cello hold work, too.)

Precursors of violin/viola were mostly held against the shoulder rather than on it, with the instrument farther forward & the elbow tucked down, which is a much more natural posture-- the chin & shoulder hold makes shifting a lot easier/faster by removing the hand from supporting the instrument, but depending on what you want to do musically, that may not be your priority. (Your viola teacher is unlikely to approve, tho)

This may be of no use to you, but it might be worth spending a practice session mucking about with different positioning in case there's something that feels more natural.

Date: 2016-01-13 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] queenoftheskies.livejournal.com
David Bowie became popular when I was very young. It seems that he's always been around. It seems strange without him.

I've always imagined that playing stringed instruments would be difficult. I admire you for your dedication to learning.

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"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

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