may 5

Enumerable tradeoffs

I am at a point with my fiddle technique where tweaks here and there only improve things at a commensurate cost. This isn’t too fun of a place to arrive at, I must say, because it seems there aren’t any more technique ‘eureka’ moments coming my way.

For instance, I noticed that holding the violin a certain way where my chin is centered with the tail gut is great for feeling secure with the fiddle. But it means that I must rotate my shoulder like a tourniquet to use my pinky.

In contrast, if I hold the fiddle more like a guitar à la Kreisler where my chin rests more on the bass side on the fiddle, then I’m more mobile due to a more relaxed shoulder. But now, the fiddle is not secure at all.

There are oodles of these tradeoffs. But tradeoffs are just dead-ends; Zero-sum copes. You see, I am only in the ninetieth per centile as far as technique, but the constraints (my brain speed, body morphology, etc.) are never going to change in such a drastic way whereby that last nine per cent or so is ever unlocked. Sadly, only tons of practice, and a throw of the dice at performance time is the only thing I can do to have tough passages be executed with possible success.

I suppose, I am in the tenth percentile artistically, so there’s that domain to focus on at this point. Why not! This aspect was never as interesting as technique, and I always felt the best way to treat an artistic presentation was to start the needle at zero when hitting the stage. Something Robert Duvall once said that tends to resonate with me.

In a way, I have been defeated by the fiddle. And while the above has never dawned on me until this year, it’s not the end of road for all things violin.

I am reminded of an Easter Koan: Fill what is empty. Empty what is full. With this in mind, I may never take technique seriously again. For me, a long and confusing journey is more or less over.