acoustics

Tour of Duty, Tour of Pleasure — by Aron Zelkowicz

A postcard from Vienna: By the time the Danube winds into concrete beds through Stadtpark, the water is just a trickle. Children in their parkas swing on the playground, the U-bahn train pulls into its station, and people stroll or bike over the canal’s bridges, all within a stone’s throw of the surface.  This view from our hotel is lovely and quaint, for those of us on tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony that have north-facing rooms (those with opposite views can peer down on the bustling skating rink next door). Pittsburghers, no strangers to rivers and bridges, hardly needed reminders of the horrible flooding that occurred this week.  The tame canal is at odds with what we’ve seen on the front page of local papers and all over TV.  I [...]

Tak-Sîm (Pt. 1) — by Jeffrey Zeigler

In my next few blog posts I am going to take a temporary detour from our discussion regarding the K-Bow in order to talk about a new work that my quartet recently premiered in Paris at the Cité de la Musique. The piece is by Alireza Farhang, an Iranian composer currently residing in Paris. The work, entitled Tak-Sîm, was commissioned by IRCAM (the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music).   In past blogs I have spent a fair amount of time talking about the integration of technology and extended cello techniques into performance. My desire to discuss this piece comes from the fact that in my opinion this particular composition successfully integrates both concepts. In his own words, the composer's objective was to transmit the intonation of [...]

Do You Need a New Angle on Your Playing? — by Wayne Burak

One of the most tricky cello setup issues to self diagnose is the presentation of neck angle fatigue. Symptoms: You have to adjust your bow stroke to avoid hitting c bout edges.. The cello sound core is lost because your neck angle has dropped over time and is creating marginally successful practice days and challenging performances.. Nasal sounds are finding a home inside your cello...real clarity and power are only a misty concept... A single note repeatedly refuses to cooperate... A major attack simply evaporates without an actual sound... Your friends start to avoid you... You have thoughts of switching to viola...   Help: Seeing things from a different perspective can help your playing turn a corner.  If your instrument was made recently, say in the last decade or two, (or maybe even [...]

Sound Designer — by Jeffrey Zeigler

As we continue our discussion about the various ways to integrate a sophisticated approach to sound design, there is one point that I would like to make before we get to far into the equipment nitty-gritty. That is of the need for your own sound designer. I think that the person in this role has both the most important as well as the most unsung job in a given concert. Important because they have complete responsibility for how you actually will sound in the hall. You may play wonderfully, but it could all be for nothing if, for example, the sound person has set you up to sound brash and tinny. But I also say unsung because the audience will only see them as the person standing at the mixing [...]

To Mic, or Not to Mic — by Jeffrey Zeigler

I must admit that I myself am relatively new to the use of sound design. Previous to joining Kronos I had only dabbled here and there, and even then only in small amounts. Like so many cellists that graduate from conservatory, it really wasn’t something that I encountered very much except in specific 20th century works that required its use. In fact, I would say that, like so many, I viewed the use of amplification as a form of cheating.   To some degree, I do not completely disagree with this notion. Like all tools, it isn’t the tool itself that is the problem, but what one chooses to use it for.  If one uses amplification simply in order to play louder, then you are in fact cheating. However, like any [...]