Even on their worst days, my beloved Larsen's Il Cannone strings are truly spectacular. On the 24th, I'm ordering a new set, a full set of medium tension strings. But I simply could not continue to abide the Vision G, D, and A with Obligato E that came with my new instrument. The D string majorly lacked character, and the A string was quite sharp, a combination that gave a nasty timbre shift between strings.
The Visions and gold-plated, Obligato E were selected to provide brightness to what was thought to be a dark-sounding instrument. But all it did was bottleneck the overtones from fully coming through. This instrument jumped out at me for having a much fuller set of overtones than the others in the shop, which is likely why it was perceived as dark. But now that it's mine, not being compared to other violins, I'm starting to hear the needs of the instrument itself.
Switching them out for my old set of Il Cannone from my old violin with soloist G and E strings with medium D and A was a huge improvement. The D and A in particularly are so much more full of life. I do think brighter or higher tension strings bottleneck my instrument's sound. The higher-tension G and E work, but I do think medium will be way better on those as well. I can't wait to hear what a fresh, new set of medium-tension Il Cannone strings will sound like (especially after the 3ish-week break-in period)! This line of strings has become a huge obsession of mine, and I love the concept behind the sound. I feel like @larsenstrings's vision for them truly achieves something special.
THE PRACTICE INSIDER
OVERCOMING PREJUDICES — Classical music is regularly an elitist following with deep-embedded prejudices, mantras, maxims, and value systems. Many of these become so ingrained that to merely question them can completely shred your credibility in the eyes of the musical occult.
Intonation is practically the quest for the Holy Grail with string players. Those who've got it don't really know how they got there only to preach practicing your scales. Those without it practice their scales and remain both frustrated and determined to dig in their heels. As someone with a deep musical background prior to coming into learning the violin, I've done so on individual views of my own many would feel fly in the face of skilled classical training.
The ear is actually extremely adaptable. The well-tempered, 12-tone chromatic scale of Western music is human invention. We as musicians train our ears to hear it. But just as we work to train ourselves to accurately hear it, we can train ourselves to inaccurately hear it. The more a player plays a scale degree inaccurately, the more their inner ear trains itself to hear the incorrect note as correct. With a fretless stringed instrument, it is also easy for left hand weaknesses to embed themselves in the ear as learned tuning and deficient intervalic relationships.
My solution is to comb through my intervals and scale degrees (do, re, mi, etc.) with an electric keyboard. You can feed deep-rooted prejudices by scoffing all you like at how feeble it sounds to use assistance, but with focused study, I have found that, in doing so, you can isolate the exact deficiencies in your intonation built into your inner hearing along with left hand inaccuracies. As frustrating as this correctional process can be at times, I am extremely pleased with the results all the way from the beginning of my study to now. The decision's yours.
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