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Author Topic: Mutes  (Read 8472 times)

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Offline Mina the fiddler

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #25 on: Nov 01, 2009, 11:33:09 AM »
O dear, Mina, what are we going to do with you ;) if you say things like this? (I'll spare you my usual rant about folk tradition preserving intonation in its finest forms while art music has been barking up the spurious tree of equal temperament, and carrying most people along with it, since they might not know any better. ;D)

Things like what?  ;) go ahead with the rant at the danger that i might actually know it already. ;D
The whole discussion just reminded me of summer fiddle school in Sweden. There we were, a little bunch of people from germany and switzerland, most with some (or a lot of) classical training in our backgrounds (AND a lot of folk fiddling experience) in the midst of 80 Swedes learning about their own tradition.  What is extremly nice about the folk music scene there is that every player is really welcome to join in no matter what his ability. So there were people who knew hundreds of tunes and played them according to tradition and  rhythmically good for dancing. point is, many of them just made my ears hurt when i heard them play on their own. while we managed to really impress people with our good sound but of course constantly struggling with learning the tunes by ear and struggling with those rhythms!
and there is this mother/daughter couple  - who were there already two years ago when i was there last time - who wil play CONSTANTLY with their mutes on. in the two years neither their intonation nor bowing has improved the least bit while my friend from germany who has only played four years improves by the month.
on the other hand, this young guy who was in one of the beginner groups gets up at the last-night-party of the summer school and plays his half hour for the dancers ON HIS OWN and everybody is happy with it, even though his intonation could really do with some improvement. I on the other hand have been fretting all night about having a go and in the end didn't dare play for the dancers on my own  :-[.
So when during one of the lessions the fiddle teacher was talking about playing double strings and double stops, he makes it clear that you CAN'T do this in equal temperament. you actually have to use quarter tones / adjust your fingering ever so slightly because you will have chords there that wouldn't be "acceptable" in classical music so you have to adjust your fingering to produce an interesting sounding harmony instead of a horribly sounding harmony (like: leave your 3d finger on the a string and play an open e string drone).
I took the chance of asking him does the player still have to know what they're doing! and the answer is of course yes. it's no leave to just play with a lacking intonation.
so what i take from this experience is: the approach to intonation in folk music is a mixture of giving it a different priority (playing for dancing, you need rhythm in the first place) and a different concept of intonation/harmony (compared to the "classical" or equal temperament ideas). but still something which is important and a folk piece played with good intonation sounds NICER than without.

Offline babbage

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #26 on: Nov 01, 2009, 04:37:05 PM »
Not that it have anything to do with mutes: The advantage of the silent agreement of "classical/equal" temperament is that it makes it easier/possible to play with others instantly.

Intonation is a learning process wheter it is equal temperament or something else. Both to play and listen to. I think that small deviations from any temperament could be used to enhance different moods of the music. I guess my view of intonation is to play consistent and with control. Something I still have to achieve.
« Last Edit: Nov 01, 2009, 05:46:23 PM by babbage »

Offline jtafaro

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #27 on: Nov 01, 2009, 10:13:12 PM »
I am not sure how I got involved in this!  I just wanted to reply to a thread about mutes.  I don't use them anywhere but in my small bedroom/studio because its too loud without them in that room.  As far as intonation and technique WELL.  Not all of us have perfect pitch or fantastic technique.  We play for the fun and challenge of playing and sometimes to get away from annoying wives and children.

I play in a public park in New Orleans and when its too cold I go to a shopping mall.  Both places have walkers who for some reason unknown to me seem to like to hear me practice.  That's what I do--practice.   They say that's how you get to Carneige Hall but I won't be going there any time soon unless I buy a ticket.

I had a strange experience practicing this past summer.  I played Over the Rainbow for a walker that I didn't know and asked her if it was too fast.  She told me it wasn't but I was flat in one place.  We couldn't figure out where I was flat until after she left and I realized I was playing an F# too low on the fingerboard.  I waited two months to tell her she was right but I never saw her again.  In September her sister-in-law came out and found me to tell me this lady had died of brain cancer.  But before she died she had her family bring her out in a wheelchair to see the park and listen to me one last time.  I saw her then but didn't recognize her.  Her family asked me to play at her house at a reception after the memorial service and I did and felt honored to be asked.

Needless to say this was a humbeling experience.  I know I am not Isaac Stern .  Far from it but I try to do the best I can and always appreciate constructive criticism.

Joe T

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #28 on: Nov 01, 2009, 11:11:00 PM »
Thats a nice account Joe....and there is nothing wrong with using mutes!  ;)

Offline frodopogo

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2010, 07:57:13 PM »
On another forum, someone suggested a trick of using a rolled up crisp dollar bill stuck under the D and A strings but over the G and E strings.  It works really well!
It's very adjustable- you can put it up flush with the bridge, or back towards the tailpiece to mute the afterlength.  Actually you can put it at different places in between for a different subtle muting effect.
One of the things it does is that it can make a harsh fiddle less so.
And you can angle it more towards the treble or bass side of the bridge to mute the high or low strings more.
And it does all this with virtually no wear on the string windings.

It probably doesn't mute as much as some of the heavy clamp-type musts, but it sounds and feels very much more natural.
There is a lady locally who leads bluegrass jams with her voice and guitar,
neither of which are very loud.
and the mute makes her a LOT happier!!!

And it's cheap- only costs a dollar!
And if your broke and absolutely need to, you can spend it!!

Since one dollar bills look kind of ordinary,
I recently upgraded to the scarcer 2 dollar bill.
They don't get circulated much, so most of them are
fresh and crisp enough for the task.

It's very appropriate for the bluegrass verse:
"Lost all my money but a two dollar bill"

And if I take it out for full volume, the 2 designation helps me recognize it
as one of my "mutes".

It also might be a useful thing to do with obsolete or excessively inflated currency,
or leftover checks (cheques) from a closed bank account,
although I haven't tested the sonic properties of check paper yet!!!

Monopoly money might work too!!!

Offline Skillet

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2010, 09:00:38 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion of using a rolled-up $2 bill as a mute. I'm going to try it.

Offline chrisandcello

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Re: Mutes
« Reply #31 on: Mar 14, 2011, 06:24:05 PM »
I just bought 2 x clip on plummets (fishing) for 1.80....great! Convienient and about good as the lead I used to go on about.
Easy to clip on the G side...the tone is preferable to other practice mutes imho.
Just google or search ebay for 'clip on plummets'


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