I’ve given myself one year to master the violin.

As an adult beginner, I should be playing Twinkle Twinkle; instead, I'm playing Paganini's 24th caprice.

Let’s give it a go with chromatic scales

I actually wrote this post several days ago, but Danielle read it and didn’t like the way it sounded, and she’s right in a way…it does sound a bit sad.  Nonetheless, it does point out an inherent difficulty in this project and is an important topic.  Don’t worry, our marriage will survive the violin!  (If anything it makes it stronger if you can believe it).

Original post:

Apparently, chromatic scales are just like regular scales except every note played is a half step.  Paganini toys around with chromatic scales in the fourth variation, and unfortunately they’re really high.  Also unfortunately, it’s not the highest variation (the highest variation has to be written with a little dotted line because they can’t fit notes that high on a regular treble clef.  I can’t wait).

Danielle introduced me to variation four a couple of months ago and I’ve been toying around with them for a bit, but she hasn’t officially worked with me on them.  If you remember, Elbert worked with me a little bit with the chromatics (I’m not even sure that’s correct lingo) during our lesson at Luzerne, but that’s it.  So the other night, the same night when she worked with me on the octave variation, she finally helped me with them–and it wasn’t pretty.

And I’m not talking about the playing, although that wasn’t pretty either.  You see, many people are astounded we’re doing this little project of ours.  Oh, and it’s not because Paganini is so difficult or because I’m a beginner.  It’s because they can’t believe a wife could give her husband lessons on something as frustrating as violin without one of the parties ending up dead or being served divorce papers.  This was one of those nights.  I actually cut a video of a few clips of us arguing, but watching a couple of minutes of us fighting isn’t as funny as I thought it would have been, so I’ll spare you.  Didn’t I write a post about not pushing back?  Remember when I mentioned it was hard to push someone so close because they just push back?  I know, I know.  I’m getting better, but late night lessons when we’re both tired already are just bad news.  The other unfortunate part is with our schedules, late night lessons might be the only times we can work them in.

Well, this is a relatively G rated video anyway.  You might notice some parts cut off at weird times; it’s because the fireworks started right afterwards:

See what I’m talking about?  The two clips in the middle of me running through it that just sort of cut off abruptly?  I’ll let your imagination take it from there.

As far as my playing, this variation is probably the best example yet of the importance of proper bow division.  The first part requires playing 16 notes in one bow.  It’s really easy to play the first four notes with half the bow and then have to squeeze in the following 12 with the other half.  As you can imagine, sound suffers considerably.  Remember the lesson with Anna when we worked on the finale?  Bow division is important there too and she stressed saving bow at the beginning and then using more as it went on.  Same is true here, but it’s more essential as the notes are higher and pickier.

Update:  I usually don’t write a post and then wait a few days before posting, but I have the luxury of a little update here.  I’m progressing quite nicely with this variation and I actually have the entire thing memorized!  Well, except for this one measure that Danielle couldn’t remember the fingering, but it’s just about another one in the books.  I’ll post it soon and hopefully keep learning more of the piece, as I really have to get moving.

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One Comment on “Let’s give it a go with chromatic scales”

  1. rrvaughn says:

    I recognize the room — I was next door and didn’t hear any fireworks at all — !!


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