Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hunting New Subharmonics in a Cave :)

So I have taken the longest hiatus on my blog in a long time, only posting once in February.   Those of you who have been reading this blog maybe wondering what has been happening :)   Well, it's multiple of things, but mainly it is my vanity that I wanted to come out with a BANG!    While ago, I hinted that I have a new Subharmonics interval; I so far have Subharmonic Octave (I play a note and I can get an octave below without changing the tuning or moving my left hand finger).   I also have Subharmonic 3rd (I play a note and I get minor third below the note I play, again without moving a finger on the fingerboard).  I have minor 2nd, which is just F#, a half semitone below open G, by slightly modifying the way I play.

For the longest time, I wished I had this new interval I'm working on, since musically it is significant.   I really don't mean to be secretive, and I WILL introduce it in my concert in May.   It has been a looooong time coming, several years in fact, that I tried, stopped, tried and come back to it yet again.  Last summer, while at IRCAM, I allocated a bit of my time trying to work on it again, quite seriously.  I have in fact, documented my progress (or non-progress... I couldn't quite do it), by video taping myself.

Just about a month+ ago, I took it up again.   This time, I have been absolutely determined to get it.  And, I DID.   I am not quite yelling out on the top of the mountain yet, since I still don't have it quite under control.  I have been practicing very hard, just doing the exercise.  It reminds me very much when I first came up with the Subharmonic Octave in 1992 (I didn't publicly introduce it in a concert until 1994, when I was absolutely solid and was good enough for performance).   In 1992, I was a student at Juilliard, and that winter, I remember it was cold like what we had this year in NYC, and I had no social life.  I didn't have a boyfriend (or maybe he was far away :)  and I had my time all to myself.   I sat in my small studio on West 70th at Broadway, practicing Subharmonics over and over again like a maniac.   I was in a CAVE :)

Now so many years later, I am finding myself in a cave again, in the same obsessive mode, with a bit more experience and knowledge about how to produce Subharmonics.  I wake up in the morning, I try for half an hour--my arm gets tired and I stop before it gets tired.   Usually my concentration is shot after 30-40 minutes anyway, so I take a break.  My children demand my attention, which is not exactly an unwelcome distraction.   ("Mommy can you peel me more apples, pleeeese, NOW?!")  Sometimes my exercise gets so boring I listen to CNN while I do it, or have Google Earth and roll the mouse so I fly over the world, like Sahara desert slowly (I know it sounds sick... :)  I repeat this in the afternoon a few times, then in the evening.  Repeat the next day.

There are seven semitones I need to get for this particular Subharmonics (if you are so inclined and so savvy and have nothing else to do, you know by now what this interval is :)   But anyway, I have SEVEN notes I need.  As of today, I have SIX.  One more to go.   And I started to use my husband as a guinea pig; I catch him when he comes from work and say, "So watch, see?" and try to play my six notes.  Of course I play a lot less better than in my privacy. Although it is *just* my husband, I do get nervous when I try to do this in front of people.   There is some attention or projection element in my violin playing that changes the way I play, so I need to practice this Subharmonics, really, in front of people.  My poor husband happens to be the most immediate "other people" I have.

Anyway, I thought I start up the blog again, since I can no longer pretend I am going to come out with a BANG!  and this blog entitled "Extended violin DIARY" should really be a diary that documents my progress, to help those who want to attempt something new, and to show the creative process (or struggle) or what I'm doing  :)

Just so that I put an extra pressure on myself, I am already writing a new piece using this new Subharmonic interval, which I am planning to premiere in May.  So it MUST be done :)  And at the same time I get to explore the way this new interval can be musically incorporated into the violin playing and phrasing, which is essentially, the ultimate purpose of my developing Subharmonics in the first place.

I am very, very close.  This is by far, the most difficult one for me to control, compared to Subharmonic Octave, 3rd or 2nd.   And I'm not quite good enough yet to officially announce it.  It is hard to imagine anyone else gets so excited about it, but in fact, from my point of view, in the history of violin playing this is pretty historic :)  Or so I tell myself :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved this post, it's so novelistic, as Frankenstein chasing the monster he created through the artic pole.
Greetings from México.
Attn: Héctor Olivas, a fan struggling with basic subharmonics yet.