I have been working on tone a lot lately. My tone is always massively better at the end of my lesson than at the start. I always need to warm up and pick things apart really slowly and then put them together again before my tone is best. Trying to get more depth to the bow whilst keeping my bow hand completely relaxed. I am making week on week improvements (according to my violin teacher) and my sound is now quite a lot different to six months ago. Getting a pure sound over fast semi quavers is hard.
I am also trying to commit the tunes I am working on to memory. We had a brief discussions about memorising in class. Many classical players don't commit to memory, whereas in playing traditional music, you would never see a musician with music (and many don't read). I don't find it difficult to memorise the broad shape of the tunes. However there are phrases that are very similar and its easy to play the wrong one. I suppose the listener would not know the difference but I do! I find that if I am concentrating on one thing eg sound/clarity, something else can go - for example whether its an up or a down bow. The only answer is more practice to try to completely internalise it.
I am meeting someone this week who has played the Muckle reel of Finnigart recently (which I m planing to perform in January) to get their slant on it. Should be interesting. She plays it in a GDGD tuning with a fair amount of improvisation. I am playing the tune with another and it would be a major job for me to do this. I don't think its advisable. But I have been experimenting playing the tune with a raised G string (scodatura) in an AEAE tuning. I think this might be achievable provided I don't double stop with the G string in the first tune of the set. It also means some changes in fingering. I think i may play a C sharp instead of flat. I am also thinking of playing this on my hardanger.
I played this last year, in the white (which means unvarnished), for my recital and for my Grade 6 exam. My partner has been making it for years. It still isn't quite finished in that it goes through coats of varnish and should have very decorative rosing on it. We have done the first bit (helped by the wonderful luthier Colin Adamson). It has been baked in his baking cabinet to give it a bit of colour and has one coat of varnish on it now. But I don't think it will be possible to do the amount of work and get it ready to play for January. So I've asked my partner to string it up now so I can try these tunes on it. It will look a bit rough. But the remaining coats and rosing can wait until February. Unfortunately the sound post has come down so I hope that when we get it back up it sounds as good as it did.
Ensemble playing has been interesting. I find all the classical stuff a challenge but I really enjoy it far more than I thought I would. I am highly impressed at the soloists paying Locatelli's Challenge in strings group.
I have blogged elsewhere about writing a reel recently. Our folk band were looking for things to play and maybe an original, so I sent in the music and we played it last week. It is quite an odd feeling to hear it coming back at you. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.
Finally, we went to see the RSNO on Friday - Vaughn Williams, Fantasia on Thomas Tallis - lovely. Strings!