A new musical toy! (and a touch of panic...) (Ulog #10)

in music •  8 months ago

What a mix of a day! The weather has turned good again (at least in the short term), but after a bit of an overcast and unsettled spell, it has just made the air incredibly humid instead of pleasant...

The (before) morning

Let's just say the morning started incredibly early today... the oldest girl had a nightmare, which meant I was on the job at the crack of dawn. Unfortunately for me, my wife is the heavy sleeper and I'm the light sleeper, and so it is often the case that I'm the one that gets woken up by the crying.

Anyway, after completing my father duties and getting her out of her scared state, she decided not to go back to sleep and continued doing some of her craftwork and a bit of reading (she's pretty happy that she can read now, and is really taking advantage of it!). Meanwhile, I fell back asleep on the floor, and then wandered back to my bed when I got sore...

Thankfully, my wife let me sleep in!

The new toy!

I took possession of a Piccolo Violin today (only on loan, not bought), which is a really unusual Violin from the Baroque time. It is basically the size of a current day child's Violin (in the photo above, it is the little violin on top), but in the Baroque time, there were a few serious pieces written for it. Back in those days, the violin family was not as standardised as today (violin, viola, 'cello), and coming from the consort tradition, there were many sizes of violin/viola/cello.

This Piccolo Violin is one that I'll need in about a month, as I have a concert (Brandenburg #1) that specifically calls for this instrument. Normally, it is like playing a high pitched foghorn straight into you head, with the resulting disorientation and pain associated with it. Thankfully, this is a nice Violin, and it isn't quite so loud and piercing!

However, it did arrive with one broken string which needed to be replaced immediately. So, I thought, no problem, I will use one of my thinner strings that I use for higher pitched violins. The reason for the thinner strings is that the Violin is tuned much higher (a major 3rd) than a regular violin, and so the thinner the string, the higher the pitch at the same string tension.

For some reason, I had thought that I had plenty of strings. It is the sort of thing that you buy a batch of, and then stash away for the times that you need it. However, when I pulled out my strings, I found that I had much less than I thought. Well, more precisely, I had many strings for the violas and very few for the violins. Luckily, I was able to adapt a thin string from the Viola d'amore, otherwise I would have been throwing a tantrum along with our little toddler....

...it was incredibly easy to change this string, as opposed to the complete bastard of my main violin, and so I was able to start playing around with the instrument! It is quite a joy to play, and it was easier than I thought to adapt to the smaller size. On the other hand, unlike many other violinists, I tend to change instruments between the violin, viola and d'amore quite often, so that the idea of changing sizes (instead of playing only ever a single instrument) is not such an alien idea for me.

This is my current line-up of concert friends!

From Left to Right: Piccolo Violin - Baroque Violin - Classical Violin - Baroque Viola - Viola d'amore

I have to eat?

So, I had spent so much time playing around with this new toy, that I really forgot to leave time for a few chores that I needed to do. Some really mundane stuff accompanies the life of being a musician. Ordering new strings, booking train tickets, sorting out pension exemptions for out of NL work... All these things always take a touch longer than expected. The A1 (social welfare exemption) is particularly annoying. It is the EU form for when you work outside your "home" country, it basically states that you don't have to pay social welfare contributions in the country that you are working in because you pay it back in your country of residence. In previous years, I was able to get a form for the whole year for the whole of the EU, which meant I only needed to fill out the form once per year. Now that they've switched to an online form, I can't ask for that, and so I have to fill out and submit the form for every project, which means I also need to find the concert venues (addresses and contact) for every place that I play in. This sucks beyond all words... also, if I am part of a group that has to do this, then NO-ONE gets paid until everyone fills out this form...

...but at least the screaming tantrum from downstairs had subsided and the oldest girl was introducing the younger sister to the joys of "Play School"!

Except I forgot to have lunch.... unlike yesterday!

The Taxi Driver

I guess this is the lot of every parent. Driving (or biking) kids to places and doing chores... So, I had deliver the oldest to a birthday party, which was pretty easy... in the Netherlands it is a dump and run affair, even from a young age!

However, the next chore completely chewed up my planned lunch eating time, (as opposed to yesterday!. I was sent out to buy another one of these jars:

...which my wife had bought earlier in the year. She had given me the address of the shop and so I went straight there from the birthday party, thinking that it would be a simple in-and-out chore, after which I could get lunch before going off to a rehearsal. I showed the photo to the shop owner, and she said "Nope, they don't stock those". I call my wife and she tells me that it was definitely there that she had bought the jar. Fine, I went looking, whilst the shop owner is probably thinking that I'm a complete retard for not listening to her. Nothing, I spent half an hour looking for it or alternatives. I'm not trusted with making decisions like that, so there were lots of Hangout photos going back and forth to be rejected! In the end, I came away empty handed and with no lunch in my belly...

...to run off to a rehearsal. It was just a quick reading, to check to see if a piece on a programme later in the year with @musicapoetica would need re-thinking or re-writing. It was a piece that was chosen by a festival, and unfortunately it is a pretty bad piece of composition. Apparently, the violinist that had written it about 400 years was a great and famous violinist at the time, but I'm afraid that his skills did not extend to composition! The play through confirmed that idea, but at least it wasn't as terrible as we had thought... just very mediocre, and non-offensive. With some tweaks, it could stay on the programme as a smaller part of the whole.

The race home

I did manage to pick up the oldest from the birthday party on time, but by now, I was a little light-headed from not eating all day. Sadly, we made the run home right at peak hour... which is always a display of how stupid humans can be... people doing stupid things to try and get ahead, probably not realising (or not caring) that by getting one car ahead, they screwed all the drivers behind them... or that they've completely blocked off another direction of traffic. I always have a little chuckle when after all the theatrics of changing line, cutting in and everything else, that in the end, they would have been quicker if they had just hodl-ed....

...but we did make it back home before dinner. To a very friendly welcome!

Also, my wife told me that she accidentally sent me to the wrong shop....

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Posted from my blog with SteemPress : http://www.gamerjokerbreadder.com/2018/07/11/a-new-musical-toy-and-a-touch-of-panic-ulog-10/

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I'm the top slow student you have.
I take all attention as I can, but can be it no be sufficient.
In the lesson today i had learned what there are several sizes of "things" with strings.
I see your toys and I think
What beautyfulls they are
I would like to touch them....


PS: In galician, touch and play are the same word. "Tocar" :-)


Thanks! In the modern violin world there are not so many violin sizes. It is only because I'm an early music specialist that I get to play with these strange toys

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Reading your post made me think of Pythagoras:

Pythagoras believed that everything in the universe was related to numbers and mathematics. He believed that all numbers had an important spiritual and holy significance and that each one carried its own vibration. He saw music the same way that he viewed geometry and mathematics, as a holy, spiritual scientific endeavor, of which a perfect society could be created.

Source: http://www.historyofmusictheory.com/?page_id=20

And being a chronic light sleeper and insomniac all my life, when I was on active duty, I was always the "semi-sleeping watchdog" of my unit during ops.

Thanks for the excellent info.

Namaste, Jaichai


Yes, the Pythagorean (or just) system of tuning was one of the first solutions to how we divide up the musical octave. In the end, aiming for perfection in the tuning key leads to disaster in other keys. Many other solutions were tried through history (which early music still uses), but modern classical (and contemporary) music has settled in equal temperament. Thus, all the keys and things are completely the same. If you ask me, it is a pale solution.

Strings heal me. There is a certain tranquil and soothing nature to them that alleviates stress and pressure from my brain! I absolutely love your string obsession. I'm not sure why you're borrowing an instrument as you seem to have many! But I get it, I love music only im a consumer of music not a creator like you! I can only imagine the feels involved with making music! Your a great father, Im really strict and would have made my boys go back to bed!


I ave a particular piece of music that I need to play in a month or so, and it requires a specific type of violin (this piccolo). It is possible to ignore the instructions of the composer and just use a normal violin, but in the early music movement, we try respect the wishes of the composer. Plus, it makes it sound completely different!

Those are really cool toys you have there!!! I wish I can play...


It's never too late to try!


I guess so, maybe in near future before I get old!

i always enjoy reading your ulog.
Being a light sleeper is something we have in common.

what a beautiful instrument

Ah, the curse of being a light sleeper... Not a good combination with being a parent...

Wow, what a busy day!
Your children are adorable! ♥


When I catch them at a good moment...


Hahaha! As a mother of three, I know EXACTLY what you mean. ;)

Wow, that is a lot of violins. It's something I always wish I had time to learn but never got around to it. Not the violin specifically but any musical instrument. The drums were always my fav but that may be because I dated a drummer for a few years before I decided that my groupie days were over lol.

Your kids are so cute, especially the youngest one, love the cute party hat! haha, now I look at it again, its just a white hat with a jacket behind it that made it look like a wizard party hat, hahaha, I think I am tired, lol!


Ha ha, the little one keeping you up? Or just the hectic running around of the daytime?

It's funny, this morning when I scrolled down the post, I thought exactly the same thing. It's a party hat? I had to take a second look at the photo as well, despite the fact that I knew it couldn't be!


A little bit of both, I am working part-time and he seems to know when I need to go to work and want to play/cry from 11 pm to 3 am... So those days are exhausting lol.. I am glad that I was not the only one to think it,

you have a wonderful family. Its great being a dad from sleeping on the floor to being sent to the wrong store. Well done


Ha, Yes all these funny things that normally the public doesn't see! But they are the things that bring interest to the day!

5 violins! Amazing. kiddos are cute. I’m glad you got everything under control . 😊You survived a busy day with lots of humour.


These are the guys that are on active rotation! Kiddos fluctuate wildly between cute and profoundly frustrating!

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An amazing write up keep up the good work😀


Thanks for dropping by!

Beautiful instrument !!!


Thank you! It is a pleasure to play them!

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