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Raúl Rivas
This is my last piece. Let my know how it sounds after two months and a half working on it. It is not very common, so, most of you will not have the music in your mind to compare.
The piece is kaddish by Ravel.

Raúl Rivas
12 Responses
Posted: June 15, 2016
Last Comment: June 19, 2016
Replies

Beth Blackerby
Posted: June 19, 2016
Raúl, I do think one can play expressively without any academic training. Expressive gestures in music are similar to nuance and regional accents in speech. Just as you can learn to speak another language fluently through emulation, without knowing any of the grammatical rules, you can learn the stylistic nuances of expression without reading music well. It takes lots of listening and practicing with the deliberate intention of recreating these stylistic elements. This I believe you are doing which is one of the reasons you make incredible break throughs. 

Don't limit yourself by saying you can't understand the score because you don't read well. If you listen and watch a score 100 times, you will notice things and have insights that you would have never seen in the beginnings of learning a piece. I remember having assignments in college where I had to analyze scores. I would listen over and over again, not noticing anything at all about a piece. But I kept going, and finally I would start to be able to make generalizations about the particular piece. 

Like, I would notice how a pattern of notes would be repeated later but with a different rhythm, or how long notes signaled something important structurally. You can notice these things without having a foundation in music theory. You can see or hear structural elements that exist in rhythm and contour of notes apart from their cords or harmonic contexts.  Don't be intimidated by the notes on the page. The longer you look at them, the more intelligible they become. I hope you do a lot of rhythmic counting without the violin. Keeping a pulse and saying the notes while watching the music is EXTREMELY helpful.

 Beyond that, that is what teachers are for. I would have never been able to make intelligent comments about music had I not had teachers to point them out.

Hélène Mathers
Posted: June 19, 2016
Raul, first my congratulations!  This is a gorgeous piece of music, not an easy one and you are doing a great job with it.

As for the piece being in C minor or Eb major - instead of relying only on the number of flats in the key signature, also look at the first note (not the pick-up note if there's one) and very last note played.  If they are Cs, you are in C minor.  If they are Es, you are in Eb major.

Same thing happened with the piece I'm practicing these days.  It has 1 sharp (F) in the key signature so I assumed I was in G major.  My teacher corrected me saying I was to play it in E minor.  My first and last notes are Es and it does make a huge difference - a difference I really like by the way.  It's my first time playing in a minor key and I love it.


Raúl Rivas
Posted: June 19, 2016
Thanks for the link Mary. She is a prodigy, I'm not and I don't know if it is comparable.
I forgot one question in my last comment. This piece has 3 flats in the key signature. How can I know that it is C minor and not Eb major?

Mary Freeman
Posted: June 18, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content

Raul in this interview Ida admits she cant read music 
I was so inspired by this That I tried learning music by ear.
It is at the 1220 is time stamp in the video.

Raúl Rivas
Posted: June 18, 2016
Thank you very much Beth.
Yes I see all the micro details behind each piece. It is really difficult to polish a piece of music. I'm spending much time on this than in other technical aspects with poor results. I would like to know the answer to some questions:

It seems to me that playing in tune, having a good sound and shifting skills are just the basic elements and they must be mastered to be able to make all the nuances that music requires. In fact, as you say, master classes are all about this (nuances). What I see is that the students who receive masterclasses are very advanced and they are able to copy the teacher's suggestions and nuances very fast. I can't, and the question is if it is possible to be expressive without mastering the instrument.

Another thing that worries me is the sheet music. You say in the response that I have to study the score, but unfortunately  for me, a sheet music is a paper with strange symbols. I hardly know the note duration and rhythm. I know the theory, but It needs a lot of hours to be good in sight reading and understanding the scores, and my time is limited. I know that there are a lot of musicians who can't read music and they are very expressive, so, my question is, if it is possible simply to sing or imagine the song and reproduce it as beautifully as I imagine it. This is what I try to do, but the result is that I make some rhythm mistakes  (which I think is ok for me because I play alone) and my musicality is not very well achieved. How much is related this phenomenom with the technique?

Beth, and the rest of the community, I would like to know your opinion  about this. Do you know some musician that, like many of us, without academic training, is able to make lovely music?  

Beth Blackerby
Posted: June 17, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content



Raúl Rivas
Posted: June 16, 2016
Thanks to all.
The ice axe has its own story. I was a professional alpinist, but I had to give up 5 years ago because of my family and I changed mountains for the violin. The ice axe is a gift from my companions. But I will bring it with me when I play in front of an audience... Thanks for the idea.

I heard the piece from the CD of  a Jewish violinist called Alexander Shonert, who has become my friend, I spoke about him in a previous post and I received from him some staccato and tone production lessons.  This is his version of the piece(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6eQSULe5vU) but for me is so good that I don't dare to imitate. He has one of the best violin sound that I have ever heard. So, I chose and study the Aly Moraly version and my teacher gave me the fingerings. It was a good piece to work on shifts, intonation and tone, but it's very difficult to manage all these things at the same time. I try to copy the musicality of Moraly, but maybe my technique is not enough for doing it, or I don't know how to express and use the bow to give the piece the intensity that it needs. I still think that my music is boring and not very expressive, but it gives me the motivation forpracticing and trying to get it.

Elke, my friend's version is much lighter with the bow but it is too hard for me to keep the bow so light, for that reason I tried to imitate Moraly's version. I think he plays not so light.

Mary Freeman
Posted: June 16, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content

It is hard for me to comment because you are so much more advanced than I am 
This video really illustrates how coming from a point of really bold expression to that of extremely slight sustain really carries the emotion of a piece. You might want to try really exaggerating your crescendo and decrescendo just to get used to having more expression. If I remember correctly from a previous post you were trying to have more of an emotional range in your playing. This is just a thought. If nothing else I found this video very inspiring. Enjoy. You play this beautifully and thank you so much for the introduction to this music.


Elke Meier
Posted: June 16, 2016
Raul, what an intense and beautiful piece! I checked some other recordings of it because I wondered whether there was an accompaniment with it. There are both - with and without accompaniment. What I noticed was that in two recordings they used a rather light bow stroke, not quite floating, but lighter than what we usually learn and use. This gave the whole piece an even deeper mourning character.

Treble
Posted: June 15, 2016
Good work Raul! You've certainly come a long way in a short span of time. Congratulations! I also noticed the ice axe...an incongruent backdrop to a beautiful piece. 

Clifford Green
Posted: June 15, 2016
Raul
Thank you, that was very nice. I don't know the piece but your rendition stands on its own musically as the prayer it represents.  If I had been walking by while you played, I would have stopped and listened reverently and that's the best compliment I can give any musician.
Having that ice axe near to hand will certainly keep local criticism to a minimum.


Nick
Posted: June 15, 2016

Hi Raul,

I will give a more detailed response later but my FIRST impressions on listening to your playing is that you play this piece superbly well. 

I know you’d like some constructive feedback so I’ll listen to this again later with a more critical and analytical eye ;) But for now I can offer only positives and superlatives for your performance. I want to say bravo for achieving such a level in your playing - you played this really well. It really was very beautiful.