There is a playable violin make of black stone, called the Blackbird

There is a playable violin make of black stone, called the Blackbird

The Blackbird is a full-size playable violin made of black diabase, based on designs by Antonio Stradivari (Stradivarius), but with technical modifications to allow it to be played. The violin was conceived and produced by the Swedish artist Lars Widenfalk.

The idea of constructing a musical instrument from stone came when Lars Widenfalk was working on big diabase blocks destined to form part of the artistic embellishment of the Norwegian TV building in Oslo. These blocks gave off a strikingly beautiful and strong sound during the work with hammer and chisel – it sang like an iron bell. It is also well-known among sculptors and geologists that different rock types have different sounds when being worked. Continue reading

A world of pure imagination

A world of pure imagination

After hearing of Gene Wilder’s passing, like most of my peers my imagination was instantly swept along on a whirlwind ride of memories from the countless roles the monumental actor had who shaped my childhood.  Perhaps one of the most iconic was his portrayal of the great Willy Wonka in the 1971 film adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  In the film, Wilder performs an enchanting song, “Pure Imagination” specially written for the movie by songwriting legends  Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley..  Out of force of habit, I have notated a violin arrangement of the tune for students who may wish to honor the late actor with a bit of musical adoration.Willy_Wonka_Pure_Imagination

Practicing a breach of the peace

Practicing a breach of the peace

One of my violin students, who lives in an apartment complex, has been confiding with me about her difficulties practicing due to an overbearing downstairs neighbor named Earle. She’s a beginning adult player, an engineer who lives with her husband, 3 year old child, and a small dog, and like most of us she struggles to find time to devote to her hobbies and pastimes.  She usually takes out the fiddle on her lunch breaks, and spends most of her lunchtime working on her lessons during the week. Continue reading

Technology and the violin

Technology and the violin

Modern violins, violas, cellos and bass instruments owe much of their design heritage to their early forebear, the viol.  The viol was, in itself, a tremendous technological leap forward in bowed stringed instrument design over it’s 13th century contemporaries like rebecs, Byzantine lira (or lūrā) and Arabic rebabs which were the popular bowed instruments of the day.  By utilizing a carved top, back, and planed side ribs, as well as the introduction of the soundpost, the construction of the viol in the 15th century allowed for a sweeter, brighter sound than was previously possible with earlier instruments, and by that time Europe had grown tired of the harsh tone produced by the rebec. Chaucer’s Friar in The Canterbury Tales comments that a woman’s voice was “shrill lyke a rebekke,” Continue reading

Common Misconceptions About Bow Arm Weight & Bow Hand Balance

Common Misconceptions About Bow Arm Weight & Bow Hand Balance

by Rozanna Weinberger

One of the biggest challenges for players is the concept of bow arm weight in relation to sound production.  And with that comes the challenge of feeling a sense of balance in the hand as that weight is transferred from the back/arm to the hand/bow/instrument.  So many players begin to play by bringing the bow just up to the string then hoping to produce a nice round sound. But approaching the string essentially from ‘coming from under’ this way actually makes about as much sense as asking someone to jump in the air without first bending the knees for ‘spring’. Continue reading