Friday, November 15, 2013

We don't see it, but it's still there

The thing I love about this video of a violin string in motion, as seen from behind the bridge, is the way the vibrations of the note (started at the tip, where instability is always a possibility) gradually achieve properties that remind me of a jump rope at full swing.

With normal vision (in real time) we don't see the parts of a bowstroke that are less stable, but we can hear them. The image of the jump rope and the idea of getting and maintaining full swing as quickly as possible and for as long as possible during any given note helps me focus my attention in a new and exciting way.

I love the fact that the swing of the string, once set into motion, continues after the bow leaves it. We all need to pay attention to the microscopic corners and ends of the notes we play. Since a sound wave is a sound wave, I imagine that this image would be useful for all musicians, not just those of us who play bowed strings (there is no way to slow down the visual image of the physical way sound comes out of a wind instrument or a set of vocal chords). What a rare and useful piece of video!

I wrote a piece about jump rope for two violins a few years ago. Who knew?

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