August 31, 2015 at 3:41 PM #26515
Hi DR. JOHN,
Heard Ashoken Farewell in Gettysburg movie and was thinking that my great-great grandpappy had heard this piece back then and I wanted to learn it on the violin. Just tried it using your lessons and am thrilled to hear at least a few notes coming off my own instrument. Found out it was written 120 years after the War but…now one of my favorite songs anyhow. You do it spendidly, btw. Feel a lump in my throat every time I hear it done so beatuifully.
Am trying to get in a few hours a day in practice and will send a vid when it sounds considerably better than it does at this time.August 31, 2015 at 11:05 PM #26517
Thank you! A few hours a day — wow — that is a lot of practice. Don’t wear yourself out! I can’t wait to hear it in the Lion’s Den. You’ll make your great-great-grandpappy proud!October 13, 2015 at 2:01 PM #27594
Hello Dr. John,
Been on the road past few weeks so practice has suffered but did have the opportunity to hear what nicer fiddles should sound like while in Branson and now here in north Dallas and the sounds they’re making oughtn’t sound so much like a tin can with strings. (As mine does). I’ll keep scratching away on it but sure have something nicer in mind and will try an older one that is available.October 13, 2015 at 8:27 PM #27597
Sounds like a plan! I hope you’ve enjoyed the freedom of the road. Now — back to your confinement the hall closet for some fiddle practice! 🙂December 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM #29293
Hello Dr. John,
Have FINALLY reached a place in life where I can occasionally get most of the way through this song. Still sounds pretty ragged and have a list of things to watch for. Double stop sounds raspy, slurs appear occasionally, no vibrato or ornaments yet, timing slips around, keeping the bow perpendicular and several things that you’d catch so will polish this all up and hope to get something for the Lion’s Den soon.
Still love practice though and try for at least a half hour every day or so.December 8, 2015 at 5:36 PM #29298
That’s awesome, Ralph! Persistent practice ALWAYS pays off. I can’t wait to hear it in the Lion’s Den!December 9, 2015 at 10:40 AM #29314
Good morning Sir,
Most of my current practice is by following you with your metronome and attempting to have similar sounds. Even do…but only on occasion! Found that tipping my bow a bit sideways was making strange sounds that worried me. When I flattened the hair to the strings, the sound vastly improved. Duh!
Also realize that I may have jumped into Ashoken a bit too early and hadn’t gotten all the fundamentals down so am learning the various scales and will warm up doing them.
Thought that I pretty much knew where to place my fingers but got some auto striping tape and pasted that on the right places and was quite amazed to see how much it actually helps so now have both violins so decorated. I spend A LOT of time just staring up the neck too, I found. Will be working on that too.December 9, 2015 at 11:45 AM #29315The future streetfiddler!Participant
Ruckydoo, I’m sure you will sound great. Scales are fun and important. I often reset fingers when do scales.. normally I play to low after some time exercise.December 9, 2015 at 5:55 PM #29318
Tipping the bow can sound good, but you have to apply enough pressure to push all the hairs against the string. If you are bowing lightly, having the hairs flat against the string sounds best.December 10, 2015 at 12:18 PM #29359kevinjParticipant
John, your comments on tilted bows were interesting. My thinking is that the hairs will naturally lay “flat” against the strings (in the middle of the bow stroke) almost regardless of bow tilt. At the tip/frog ends, tilting makes more of a difference because the strings can’t naturally bunch up against the string.
Having the hair flat against the string sounds best, you say. Why? (Because the string vibrates best under those conditions? Why? Because flat hair bites the strings better? Why? Because there’s more rosin in contact?)
It seems the bow usually tilts back and forth during each stroke anyway, because of the way the wrist folds (at least in the usual violin/fiddle bow bow holds). At least it happened to my wrist…
I wonder if you could explain your reasoning in an educational manner (physics?) concerning bow tilts… Thanks 🙂December 10, 2015 at 1:06 PM #29360
Thank you.December 11, 2015 at 3:40 AM #29390
I guess if I were looking at it from a physics standpoint, I’d say there is probably an optimal number of hairs for playing the violin. One single hair would not provide enough grip/strength to sufficiently control the string, and 1000 hairs would be too cumbersome to manage. So, through trial and error, modern bow makers settled on a ribbon that consists of 150-200 hairs
When I play with a bow that is missing half the hair, I can’t get the big tone I am used to with a full hank. The sound is thin and airy. It is kind of like playing with a baroque bow.
Tipping or tilting the bow is very natural, because a proper wrist curvature will almost always result in the bow being tilted. However, if your pressure is too light, this can reduce the number of hairs that contact the string, creating the same effect as having too few hairs. That’s why, when my bow is tilted, I make sure to apply enough presser so that the string contacts the entire ribbon. This gives me a nice fat tone and a good wrist curvature at the same time.
When I want to ease up on the pressure, it still sounds better to use the entire ribbon. So, I find myself flattening the bow in order to play with the full ribbon while applying less pressure.December 14, 2015 at 12:56 PM #29574
Hello Dr. John,
The tipping that I commented on was when the wood of my bow was nearly touching the strings. Sloppy wrist control on my part and am making corrections as I recognize them. I appreciate your remarks on the subject. Thank youDecember 16, 2015 at 1:58 AM #29681
Nice work, Ralph! Self-awareness is key. 🙂February 5, 2016 at 12:19 PM #32653
G’mornin’ Dr. J,
Been making some nasty sounds with the only double stop in AF but see that you do that with the down bow but I’d been locked into the up bow. Vastly improved sound now.
Also found that I have a second bow that doesn’t have the proper sounds as I have to tighten it to a much greater distance from hair to wood as my other. A music store amigo may sell me a better bow and provide a lecture on bow care too. Always loosen bow when I finish lessons but this came came with the violin (2 came with) but doesn’t sound right.February 6, 2016 at 10:10 PM #32760
Ralph, I hope you get the bow issues worked out. 🙁
That double-stop in AF is not required! Ungar plays it, and I thought it made a nice practice item to throw into the song. But, don’t feel bad about just playing the higher string there.February 7, 2016 at 6:13 PM #32792
Kinda like that d-stop but it doesn’t always make the desired sound. Will continue working on it. Thanks for the tip.July 19, 2016 at 5:20 PM #38386fiddle campParticipant
This is a beautiful one. I’m going to keep practicing this for awhileDecember 9, 2016 at 4:22 PM #43997dredgerParticipant
Hi John….Can you help me figure out where I am messing up? I am attempting to play along on the Ashokan Farewell lesson. I have the violin tuned o 440 HZ according to 2 different electronic tuneers. I am having to finger one full step up to be in pitch with you. I have installed a no fret sticker( for 4/4 violin) according to your instructions and cannot figure out why the difference now. In other words…When you play the open A for the first note in Ashokan, I have to finger the note at A-1 to get he same pitch. It almost seems like I need to cut off the sticker so that the yellow line is against he nut. Thanks for your help. FrankDecember 9, 2016 at 5:44 PM #44002
I’m not sure what could be causing you to be tuned low! It isn’t the sticker, since the open notes aren’t matching up. It sounds as if your A note is actually tuned to G instead. Still, I don’t know how that is happening if you are using two different tuners!
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