The Dead Zone

By the way, I have been known to occasionally blog about my cello. Be warned: this is a pretty technical rant today. Sorry. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

I hate B and B flat. Also F sharp.

I mean this with a passion that is probably unhealthy, but especially weird when you consider that these are just musical notes. But these two notes really cramp my musical style. And right now our orchestra is playing a bunch of pieces that are heavy on these notes. So I’m going to disparage the virtue of three innocent notes (ok, not so innocent maybe) just so I can get some blog fodder.

I think it is where they are on my instrument. In the case of the F sharp (the white circle), I get a really nasty wolf tone there. It might actually be in tune, but it is so wolf-y that I get paranoid about it. I had some work done with my bridge and fingerboard recently, and that actually seems to have helped it a bit. But that spot on my instrument is just yucky. The C sharp on the next string over can be off as well, but only when the string is going false. In that case, I like it because it is like a little warning flag. “Hello! Time for a new G string!”* But yeah, that F sharp really irks me. And right now we are playing Ralph Vaughn Williams “English Folk Suite” and the movie suite of Superman that has tons on the C string. Sigh….

For some serious vexation, we need to go over to the A string and visit B flat and it’s neighbor, B natural. I hate these notes. HATE HATE HATE. These notes are responsible for more performance foul ups in my life than I care to recount. Second movement of the Haydn C major concerto? Check. Beautiful Barber arrangement of “I Wonder as I Wander”? CHECK! (shudder at that memory) Faure’s Elegy? Check. And right now? Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance #6.

Again, it is where they are on the instrument (red circle). I call it The Dead Zone. Most pieces I play in orchestra would only have this as maybe the top of a run, so actually going all the way into thumb position for it is (for me anyway) awkward. And no matter how many placement exercises I do, when it comes to a performance, I always overshoot the darn thing. Maddening. Especially when you consider that we are playing Strauss’ Perpetual Motion right now, and there is a E flat to D natural jump that I can hit EVERY TIME. You’d think with that kind of interval there’d be an issue. But I guess there’s not since I have to go all the way into thumb position to hit the D and it’s nice and comfy and just RIGHT THERE!

Not that there’s anything I can do about this except keep practicing. Maybe I need to sacrifice a goat, perhaps a squirrel. There’s lots of them in my backyard so they won’t be missed.

And really? Part of this rant was just an excuse to play with my new Gimp graphics package. Which I obviously figured out how to open and use. Fear that!

*Someone who got this through Googling will be a little disappointed in this result. 🙂

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4 responses to “The Dead Zone

  1. Actually I don’t hear mwah mwah mwah mwah here today. I’m with you on the music, and actually, the notes. My kids whine in B flat, hence my deep and abiding dislike of it.

  2. But how do you feel about A sharp??

  3. Ah, but on the piano, B flat is so soothing, along with D flat, which i actually quite different from C# (and I don’t mean the programming language although it is beckoning me right now). There is an interesting technique on the piano, where if you find a jump hard, instead of using your pinky to hit it (if you are going up), use your thumb. Because you make the jump even further, you are more mindful of it and will more likely hit the right note. Now, there probably isn’t a similar technique for cello but maybe that helps.

  4. Poor B, B flat and F sharp. So much easier to play on the piano than strings I would imagine. When my brother took violin lessons, he would always practice in the key of “dying cow”.
    Hope that little vent made you feel better LOL!

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