Bach Double Concert- Early Music and Modern violin

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My friend Sandra Rivera and I both master’s students and violinists had the difficult task to perform the Bach double concert for two violins and orchestra last semester. In the beginning of the rehearsals a question comes up, which style should we follow? The early music style or the late one? Baroque? Or modern? She insisted to follow the baroque style and for me that was strange without the baroque violins. Besides that, I never had the opportunity to play in a baroque violin so it was difficult for me to imagine which kind of sounds it was expected for me to have with a modern violin while playing early music style.   During all my years performing Bach, I always utilized the regular violin for it and not necessarily had to think about the early period style. Since nowadays if you are playing in tune and with the right rhythm, it is enough already. After thinking about it, we decided to follow the baroque style and that for me was a big challenge. It was difficult for me to try a new sound and explore my violin in ways I never did before and I realized that being able to use a regular violin and play with the same kind of sound the baroque ones have is one of the most difficult techniques for a violinist to develop and control, even my violin wasn’t responding as I thought it should. The baroque violin is totally different from the modern one with gut strings, lowered neck and bridge, reduced bass-bar, out curved bow, as for the bow – grip, the steading of the violin with the cheek or the chin. Besides that, we are still not sure about the real baroque sound because we don’t have enough evidence about it. The violinists born in this time period are influenced by the modern music style and do not know exactly how the baroque music style worked.

Watching some recordings on YouTube about this piece, I could realize that most of the violinists famous or not barely tried to follow the baroque style and only the recordings with real baroque instruments were successful to approach it, but they were not that popular.

To conclude if you are using modern instruments, then this is a very good opportunity to improve your skills as a violinist and try to better control your instrument , but if you have a baroque violin you can easily play the style. Unfortunately, violinists will never be sure if they are playing in the same way violinists played during that early period.

 

Johanny Veiga Barbosa

Donington, Robert. “Baroque Strings.” The Musical Times 119, no. 1620 (1978): 101-25. doi:10.2307/960600.

Falkus, Judith. “Baroque Violin Technique.” The Musical Times 118, no. 1617 (1977): 911-12. doi:10.2307/959970.

Monosoff, Sonya. Notes 44, no. 2 (1987): 261-63. doi:10.2307/941574.

Roche, Elizabeth. “Baroque Voices and Violins.” Early Music 33, no. 3 (2005): 533-35. http://0-www.jstor.org.lib.utep.edu/stable/3519564.

 

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