Composed, Recorded and Premiered in August of 2018 by BC Grimm (b 1986) for the 2018 Madison New Music Festival. All instruments performed by BC Grimm. Available for Download on September 20th, 2019 to mark one year since Grandma Joyce’s passing. This release is also in remembrance my Grandma Nerren who passed away this summer, her 97th birthday would have been on September 17th. Much love to both my Grimm and Nerren families.
[About the Work] Those who have passed away continue to pop up in the everyday moments of our lives. This work explores the modern dichotomy of navigating grief and mourning whilst carrying on with your work day and life obligations. You’ll hear field recordings of my day-to-day experience fused with instrumental composition and sound design. These “scenes” reference and even recreate real life moments I had in 2018 while in the wake of a series of close friend and family deaths. Many scenes are embedded with inside jokes or nods to the loved ones who passed. In addition, some scenes imagine what may be taking place for the dying at the transition between this world and the next. I felt that I didn’t give myself permission to truly process my grief publicly when this was all happening – how many of us are quietly carrying around these feelings at the same time?
A month after the premier of this work, I felt like I’d had a chance to process and contextualize my feelings and was scheduled to perform the piece a second time on 9/20/2018. Ironically, that was the day my Grandma Joyce passed away and the themes of this piece played out in front of me once again, in real time. I received “the call” right before leaving for work in the morning and had 3 jobs to work that day… run to the next run to the next run to the next. But on that day, I told everyone of the news I’d just heard and what I was going through internally. It helped me to get through that day without breaking down. I just couldn’t believe it had happened again, like clockwork. I’d like to thank Taralie Peterson, who performed a set of free improvisation as a duet with me that night. It was the first time that whole day I was able to let out and explore my feelings about my Grandmother’s passing.
[Dedications] The 2018 composition, recording and performance of “They’re Still Here” is dedicated in loving memory to Patrick Kelly, Ross Sutherin & Brian White-Stout and to the Grimm, Sutherin, Kelly, Morrow, White-stout & Brethauer families. I’d like to dedicate the 2019 public releasing of this music to my Grandma Joyce & Grandma Nerren, and to my Nerren and Grimm families. Both grandmas passed away in the last year since the making of this piece. I miss you both very much and think of you often when I play cello now.
[Album Art] A special heartfelt thank you to one of my Art heroines growing up, Aunt Jean (daughter of Grandma Joyce) who made the Album Art for this release. I’m so glad we were able to collaborate on this special project.
[On Listening] “They’re Still Here” is meant to be listened to and contemplated in one continuous sitting. Therefore the movements haven’t been separated, to facilitate the best listening experience (as it was performed live).
[00:00] SCENE I “Passing of a Friend, The Work Day Begins”
Tenor Viola da Gamba with field recording
[02:31] SCENE II “News Cycle On Fire: Rbt. Mueller’s Lonely Russia Probe”
Gaohu Cantonese fiddle with foley, field recording, 1940’s radio broadcast, singing bowls, violoncello, dizi flute, bawu flute, xiao flute, sheng mouth organ
[04:25] SCENE III “Do I Tell The Children? No, Teach On.”
Violoncello with field recording, pipa lute, tenor viola da gamba, contracello
[06:27] SCENE IV “Fluorescence Hums The Harmonic Order of Nature”
APC40 (electric hum in Just Intonation)
[10:31] SCENE V “Morning Routine, Scrambled Brains”
Field Recording with foley
[13:00] SCENE VI “A Call With My Brother, Wise Counsel”
*Sarangi-Cello in pipa tuning with claps, cajon, Tyler’s motorcycle
[14:55] SCENE VII “Ask The Corn Spirits”
Bawu flute with gaohu fiddle
[17:28] SCENE VIII “Hermie’s Chimes, They’re Still Here”
Guqin Zither (tuned to Hermie’s chimes) with pipa lute, gaohu fiddle, dizi flute
[21:07] SCENE IX “Funeral Grave”
[22:22] SCENE X “Temple of Ancestors”
Sarangi-Cello in pipa tuning with pipa lute, synthesis
[24:29] SCENE XI “Transfigurations”
Guqin zither with pipa lute, Russian folk harp, singing bowls
[27:27] SCENE XII “Schoolyard in Snow; Children Play On”
Tenor Viola da Gamba, APC40 (electric hum in equal temperament), field recordings,
“sarangi-cello” (d, g, a, d’) is tenor-violin (normally G, d, a, e’ or G, d, a, d’) tuned in pipa lute tuning with alternating wound and plain gut strings. I use a Nakatani-Kobo bow to help create a ‘sarangi-style’ on cello. The bowed Sarangi of North India and Pakistan is normally tuned to Sa=E (e, b, e’). I have my cello modeled after this tuning but a wholestep lower where Sa=D, where my guruji pt. Sugato Nag tunes his sitar. The sarangi has 3 melodic strings and the cello has 4, so I have tried a number of different tuning schemes and have settled on the Pipa Chinese lute tuning – as it is the most settled and advantageous one I have tried: d wound gut, g plain gut, a wound gut, d’ plain gut or silk. Alternate tunings I have used: (1) d, a, g, d’ (2) d, g, g, d’ (3) d, a, a, d’
Tues, 6/11, 9p-12a no cover @ The Mason Lounge 416 S Park St, Madison, WI 53715, USA Isthmus Jazz Festival presents the Five Points Jazz Collective CD Release show with Live Art!
“Don’t Worry About It” CDs $10
Entering Madison’s Mason Lounge for the first time, one immediately notices the quirks. The stuffed chicken in a henhouse in the wall, complete with straw. The action figures dangling from string, rigged up to move when someone opens the door to the restroom. The collection of neckties and paint can lids on the walls. Every element is so out of place, it somehow fits.
Like the décor, the Five Points Jazz Collectiveis quirky and disparate. Serving as the house band since the Mason opened in 2010, the Collective is an extended family of local musicians from varied backgrounds. Playing a mixture of jazz old and new, the group has evolved over the years from an open jam into a stable sextet with an increasingly large repertoire.
In its current incarnation, the group consists of Rin Ribble (violin), Eric Shackelford (drums), band leader Charlie Painter (guitar), Trey Grimm (keyboard), Kyle Rightley (trombone and euphonium), and Brian Grimm (bass and contracello). As Tuesday night regulars will attest, no two shows are ever alike. Listeners can expect to hear many subgenres of Jazz including swing standards, modal jazz, latin jazz, pop arrangements, blues, and funk.
About the CD Release
In collaboration with the Isthmus Jazz Festival, the Five Points Jazz Collective will be celebrating its first official album release! For 5 years the sextet version of this collective has played nearly 50 shows a year and decided it was time to lay down favorite selections of our vast catalogue. When listening to this debut album, you’ll feel the energy and spontaneity of the Five Points live sound with the buzzing atmosphere created by our regular fans. CDs and download cards will be available for sale at the show. Come grab your very own copy of this special recording captured live at the Mason Lounge!
Our CD Release will be made extra special with live visual artist contributions. Watch along as one of our most regular supporters John Ribble, plus special guest Jim McKiernan, create portraits of band members in real time to our music!
Sun, 4/28 | 4-5pm Free @ Fort Atkinson Club 211 S. Water Street East, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 Chamber Series Concert featuring Sound Out Loud
From Fort Atkinson Club: “Join us on Sunday, April 28 2019 from 4-5pm for the second 2019 Chamber Series Concert. Stay after the concert for a complimentary wine and appetizer reception. This is a great opportunity to meet the performers! This event is FREE and open to the public.
The Sound Out Loud Collective is a contemporary music ensemble based in Madison. While the specific instrumentation of the group fluctuates with each program, the core ensemble is comprised of flute (Iva Ugrcic), violin (Aaron Yarmel), cello (Brian Grimm), and two pianists (Satoko Hayami and Kyle Johnson). Sound Out Loud specializes in engaging works from the early 20th century–present and commissions new pieces from composers around the world. April’s concert will feature a diverse program of National Styles. Bryce Dessner’s “Murder Ballades” features intense, rhythmical arrangements of American ballads, while Arnold Schoenberg’s “Chamber Symphony” offers a mix of high modernism with popular European styles.
While these concerts are open and free to the public, many dedicated patrons and sponsors are to be thanked for their generosity and support of the Chamber Series Concerts. “
Features on the Program, notes by Brian Grimm
I am thrilled to be joined by Todd Hammes (tabla) for a performance of compositions and variations in Drut Ektaal (fast 12 beat cycle) on Raga Bageshree. These theme and variations were given to me by my guruji pandit Sugato Nag, a sitar master based out of Kolkata, India. Sugato’s style of playing is highly melodic and vocal, which has been one of the great advantages as he has helped me to adapt this music on my ‘sarangicello’. Todd studied under Pandit Sharda Sahai and for a period of time, was my brother AJ’s tabla teacher. I’ve had a lot of fun rehearsing with Todd and can’t wait to perform more Indian Classical with him in the future! Here is a performance of my guruji Sugato Da and his son Snehesh Nag performing the same main compositions, with different variations:
Ravi Shankar, one of the greatest musicians of all time has remained a favorite inspiration of mine throughout my life. Only in the last year did I stumble upon one of his masterpieces for dance and theater, Ghanashyam: A Broken Branch (1989). Back in college, I found a CD of Indian ensemble music featuring a concerto for two sitars and ensemble music highlighting bansuri flute that Ravi had composed – I’ve always kept my eye out for more of that sound. Most people in the Western World have come to know of Ravi Shankar via his influence on the Beatles, being that he was George Harrison’s guru. Ravi became one of the first Global Musicians to help spread and educate on the deep joyful experience of Indian Classical and Folk music. I first heard the Overture of Ghanashyam on a compilation disc I found years ago at a Half Priced Books, and was blown away! This was exactly what I was looking for and what an exciting piece to kick off any album or production! I couldn’t find any more info on this piece and for a couple of years, I simply enjoyed it and stopped looking further. Then, curious again last year I happened upon the good news that the entire project was remastered and re-released in 2017! I immediately ordered a copy and it has become one of my favorite albums of all time.
Ravi of course was know also as one of the greatest sitar soloists of his time, but few Westerners know of his ensemble compositions that he did for film, radio, and dance. Shankar grew up performing traditional Indian dance and music, so he was the perfect person to create this dance and theater piece about the ultimate death of a dancer due to drug abuse, and the effect on those around him. If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that the Brothers Grimm have composed many scores for dance and theater, so this is kind of an ultimate geek out album for me.
I have arranged the overture for Sound Out Loud to play at this Fort Atkinson performance. One brilliant idea executed in this overture is that no matter how that each musical theme presents it self later on in the production (4, 6, 7, 12, 16, etc beat cycles), they are all stitched together and made one by fitting each theme to an 11 beat cycle within the overture.
The remaster sounds amazing, they really did a great job cleaning up the mix and opening up space and definition around each instrument, bringing out the color in each instrument voice. You can pick up your physical copy here: East Meets West Shop
From East Meets West, Ravi’s legacy record label: ” Nine Decades Vol. 5 is a special re-mastered recording of the music-theater piece entitled, Ghanashyam: A Broken Branch, originally commissioned by he Birmingham Touring Opera Company and premiering in 1989. Created out of his deep concern over the youth culture’s preoccupation with drugs as an “easy escape from the sadhana found in disciplined hard work,” Ravi Shankar wrote this outstanding piece of music in the folk tale tradition. It is an examination of the forces that can dilute the world-changing potential of the artist. The music is lush, featuring Shankar’s usual proclivity to combine Eastern and Western orchestral instrumentations to great effect. Featuring dance music in the North Indian Kathak style, as well as the South Indian Bharatanatyam and Kathakali styles, Ghanashyam is a dynamic work of unearthly beauty and one that is very much influenced by Shankar’s eight years of dancing in his brother Uday Shankar’s troupe. Originally released on CD in the early 1990s at a truncated 60 minutes, East Meets West has re-mastered the original reels and restored a full twenty more minutes to the music, making this recording a more faithful to the audio that accompanied the original theater production. “
Sound Out Loud will close the program with a performance of Murder Ballads (2013) by Bryce Dessner. Dessner is famously known in popular music circles as the guitarist for the National and the Clogs. Murder Ballads (recording below by Eighth Blackbird, in Chicago) explores a wide range of folk styles converted to 21st century Classical chamber music. This piece is a ” set of seven instrumental ballads, the piece was inspired by the tunes, stories and playing styles from the great American folk music tradition. The ballads include pieces loosely based on classic tunes, plus Dessner’s original compositions which were informed by the many months he spent inhabiting the seductive music and violent stories of these murder ballads. “It has been super fun and challenging to learn this piece, there are a number of movements which require very accurate bow technique. However difficult individual technique gets, it always remains melodic and easy on the ears. No matter how dark the murderous folk lore subject matter may be, we find it to be quite an enjoyable ride and a nice way to close out the concert.
…and I am still using all gut set ups on both my concert cello and “sarangi-cello” (more on that cello in a future post). I have spent a lot of time thinking about strings, calculating gauges for tension schemes, experimenting with different combos of various brands and string makers. I have a much better idea now of what I like, don’t like, and need from a gut string. Almost a year before I had purchased any gut strings, I had reached out to a couple of viola da gamba playing friends for advice on the subject. Niccolo Seligmann, a fantastic gambist and early music super-nerd, gave me some advice, which I followed: “Start with getting a couple different gauges of each string from Gamut, which is probably the best for its price. Once you’ve figured out what weights (diameter and tension) to use, then you may want to switch over to something more expensive and longer lasting, like Aquila or La Folia… the try-out process is expensive, but you can keep all the not-quite-right strings as spares. It’s always wise to have at least one spare of the top two strings and at least two spares of the top string.”
This advice was for open gut strings, but it applied to the wound gut audition process as well. For instance, getting all three gauges of a Eudoxa a-string is expense, but now I know what works and I was able to re-purpose or keep settled-in spares of the gauges which weren’t right for my instrument or the music I was making at that time.
I have found that I spend more time caring for my cello, making sure the tailpiece, bridge, nut, and peg set up are all staying “healthy”. As a result of learning to play on gut strings, I have made huge strides in my bow technique and left hand precision. Gut set ups have helped me understand how interact with the strings on a much deeper level. There is a greater subtly required when drawing the sound, as a result a wider range of tone and expression. It has taught me how to open up my articulation palate and push through to a next level of playing. Of course, it might not be the right fit for all types of music, instruments, or aesthetics: that comes down to (1) taste & importantly (2) the conditions of performance. I have used wound and open gut string combos for classical, traditional/world, contemporary, jazz, experimental, etc and have found these set-ups chameleon their way through all of these genres very well!
Over the course of this year, I have tried wound gut strings by Correlli (don’t waste your time), Damian Dlugolecki (Ni/Ag gut) and Pirastro’s Eudoxa, Oliv, and Gold (older wondertones) line strings. I have also tried plain gut strings by Dan Larsen (Gamut), Damian Dlugolecki, Toro (venice and high twist), and Aquila & Pirastro’s Chorda (not impressed). Maybe in another post I will examine these comparisons further, however this post will remain focused on Eudoxa and Oliv strings. Again this is for the first time buyer. I have certainly had some frustrating and expensive moments this year, my hope is to let you in on those insights so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.
Bonus Tip: try out a number of different rosins to find out what works best with your various string combos. Especially important if you have a mix of plain and wound gut or a combo of different brands/makers.
EUDOXA VS OLIV
I find the Eudoxa tone to be sweet and delightful, like dessert. There is a joy and playfulness in my playing, especially when I’m using the a and d string.
Oliv has a hearty, deep, complex tone which feels more like the main course. My playing is more serious and mature, especially when playing on a full set of Oliv.
I can’t get away with playing on a full set of Eudoxa, (as nice as that would be) unless maybe with medium a, d, G + a heavy gauge C; *but I haven’t tried that yet*… In contrast, I am definitely satisfied when playing on a full set of Oliv. In the last article, I gave a few examples of Steven Isserlis playing on his Eudoxa set up with Oliv C. Here is a good example of the tone capabilities of an Oliv set from Gary Hoffman (with an Evah Pirazzi a-string, I believe). A Hoffman is a very different player than Isserlis. I think their personalities are well captured by the tonal differences of these string setups.
Now that I’ve had a bit of experience practicing and performing on both Eudoxa and Oliv strings, I may choose to string up my cello with different combos that suit the circumstance of a recording session or performance.
playing with piano or contemporary ensembles: Oliv set
playing with plucked strings (like Brothers Grimm): Eudoxa set
solo, unaccompanied: (1) Eudoxa a, d, G + Oliv C (2) Oliv d, G, C + Aquila a (3) Oliv G, C + Toro or Aquila a, d
Chamber music: (1) Eudoxa top a, d, G + Oliv bottom G, C (2) full Oliv set
For a long time, I used to use Jargar a, d and Larsen G, C (which you can hear on The Brothers Grimm 2012 album Redolent Spires:bandcamp / spotify). Often this set up was too powerful for violoncello + classical guitar. If the Brothers Grimm were going out on tour, I would most likely use a Eudoxa medium set (in this case the quieter C string would be an advantage!).
The warm blend on the Eudoxas with other bowed string instruments is insane, they are perfect for chamber music. If you need to blend inward, I’d go with Eudoxa. If you need to cut through or project outward I’d go with Oliv. For instance, during rehearsals with a pianist for a performance of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op.73 using a Eudoxa set up: I simply could not sing out above the piano without pushing the strings harder than I wished to. For the performance later that week, I had switched to an Oliv set up and no longer had to fight to project. I was able to float on top of the piano sound with out over playing the strings.
My cello projects better with Oliv, than Eudoxa. If you really like the Eudoxa sound on your instrument, but know you need to more power… you may want to try a full set of heavy gauge strings. It will have more tension, bigger tone and might just do the trick. In general, don’t be afraid of the thicker gauges, just make sure that your instrument is set up to handle the width, and that the tension scheme makes sense from top to bottom (less of a problem with a set, more of a problem with mix and match).
Here is a great example of Oliv on C, G and Eudoxa a, with plain gut d from Lynn Harrell (with Orlando Cole). Go for the string sound, stick around for the extended lesson on bow technique!
WHAT’S IN A GAUGE?
Thinner string gauges are lower in tension, with a sweet, reedy tone. Thinner gauges have more treble tone and quicker bow response.
Thicker string gauges have more tension, with a raspy, husky, deep tone. Thicker gauges have more bass tone and slower bow response.
Less tension results in more flex in the string and a quicker bow response. But the more flexible the string is, the quicker it will bottom out when you push it with heavy dynamics. If you often need to play loudly for your style of music, try the heavier gauge string – it can take more bow pressure and give you a bigger sound. The caveat being that thicker gauges with more tension are slower to respond under the bow.
Set advantages – I really like how the full set feels in the left hand and under the bow. It’s very nice to have the consistency of bow response, tension, thickness gradient/feel, tone etc across the whole instrument from top to bottom. (~ with both the Eudoxa medium set and the Oliv light set)
The Eudoxa string response is quick and easy, I liked this for playing unaccompanied solos at events and concerts. When you mix and match, the response is a bit different for the bow from each brand of string, so you have to change your technique a bit from string to string. Olivs are stiffer under the bow than Eudoxa, but when using a full set Olivs, it feels very nice and consistent, I doesn’t really feel stiff anymore.
Here are some quick notes from each string gauge I’ve tried:
light – didn’t even feel like a gut string because it is so thin / easy to play all the way up the fingerboard / you may consider this as an option if the rest of your strings are steel / less of an aluminum sound than the medium and heavy gauge
med – of the three gauges, this is my favorite thickness on my concert cello / great tone / easy to play all the way up the fingerboard / sometimes is a little sluggish to respond compared to the rest of the set
heavy – what I use on my Sarangi-cello / noticeably more tension than the medium gauge, especially up in thumb positions / more power yet it still retains the sweet tone of Eudoxa / very smooth left hand feel
light – sweetest sounding, but didn’t pack enough punch for me
medium – really great d string, one of my favorites, very expressive / I love the mix of the aluminum and silver, and almost wish that’s what they did for the a-string too!
medium – at first I was worried it wouldn’t be bass heavy enough, or feel too small in the hand going from the thicker Oliv C the to thinner Eudoxa G, but it really wasn’t a problem at all, and I enjoyed playing on this string very much / sometimes the sound didn’t project forward enough for certain styles – but created a really interesting inward-depth, kind of hard to describe, but was a really unique way to draw the listener in when playing solo
heavy – held up really well with the Oliv C / big warm bass tone, rich sound / but I felt like the thicker gauge contributed to the tension imbalances on the bridge and caused issues for the surrounding strings with settling in to pitch / projected outward well
medium – tone sounded great, very easy response, but just didn’t cut it when it came to power / very big volume and energy drop when I’d go from the medium G to the medium C string
I love this set up, the first time I strang up with all Olivs, I thought, “ahhh finally, a full set I can use!” / they are very expressive strings, which bring out a completely new mature sound from my instrument / I almost feel like a Character-Actor when I am playing things like Beethoven or Schumann / very bright for the first week, but then it mellows out, in a very warm way
heavy – I am using the heavy gauge d string on my Sarangi-cello and I’ve noticed with both the thicker Oliv (especially the heavy) d strings start to bring out the wolf tone on my cello more. This is something to keep in mind when finding the right balance in gauge/tension for your instrument. It hasn’t been enough of an issue to require a wolf-tone eliminator however.
light – when paired with Eudoxa med set, this over comes the volume/energy imbalance of the Eudoxa C / but response and tone are quite different / can get nice and growly when you push it
I can settle the string up to pitch in two days. Meaning for the first two days, there is a lot of peg tuning consistently throughout the practice/restringing session. On the third day, when I take the cello out of the case, it’s usually pretty close to pitch and I just have to give it one little turn at the peg and re-tune a couple of times after it adjusts to the room. Most of these strings have fully settled into pitch after 1 week. I play every day, which I think helps to quicken the breaking in process (maybe I am wrong).
I perform 100+ shows/gigs per year, and often I found my self planning when to change a string by what type of performance was coming up the next week. In most cases, I changed the string(s) at least 1 week in advance of a concert. This was usually enough time to break in the string and not have any issues with stability during the show. There were a couple of times that I had to change the string 1-2 days before a performance…. This wasn’t ideal, but I was able to perform successfully in all of those cases. I carefully monitored if my pitch dropped, double checking my tuning quietly with a clip on tuner in between movements & pieces. A number of times I performed with the clip on tuner, just to be sure I could lock in my tuning on the new strings; no one complained.
It seems like the Oliv set is more pitch stable than the Eudoxa set. Maybe due to the higher tension or the winding? Or because I have more experience now? I am not sure.
Having the right gauges and tension scheme actually contributed more than I initially thought to stability. Having the bridge and nut properly widened is also important. You don’t want the winding to get caught on the bridge or the nut, especially with all of that peg tuning you’ll be doing. When I had the medium gauge Eudoxa a & d with the heavy gauge G and Oliv light C, I had a little trouble getting the low end to settle and stay in pitch. The tension across the bridge was not balanced. With complete set (medium Eudoxa set & light Oliv set) I felt the strings settle into pitch faster and hold their tuning better. I have experienced some intense pitch swings on the low strings due to weather extremes. In August, when it was very humid, I pulled my cello out of the case and my low C was down to AA! Sometimes I would put it away in the case, after having played in a’=440 and when I pulled it out of the case the next day, my cello would be perfectly in tune at a’=415! Another time, during rehearsal there was a very hot and humid thunderstorm happening but with the air conditioning on full blast and during the finale my C string surprised me by drifting up to C# (luckily the section was in Db MJ…). In my experience this year, if it is humid+hot the strings will drift flat, if it is dry+cold the strings will drift sharp. If it is humid+cold… things get really weird and floppy, good luck. On my cello the thicker lower strings are affected most by the humidity/temperature changes.
For as much as I love these strings and highly recommend them, I have had an unfortunate winding separation issue on both Eudoxa AND Oliv a-strings. This has been the most expensive and frustrating part of the learning process. I already voiced not being crazy about the aluminum edge to the sound of the a-string in Part 1. There is a crunchy squeak sound on the surface if you don’t hit it just right with your bow. I’ve had a rough go at it this past year with the a-string winding separating from the gut core. From the very first string I installed, this happened, in fact some of the issues I ran into with the a-string going false (see Part 1) was actually the result of the winding separating from the gut core.
If you install the string and and the winding separates or goes false, even after taking the precautions of widening and lubricating the grooves at the nut and bridge and lifting the string occasionally at the bridge to reset the winding: contact Pirastro directly about getting a replacement string. I have been in contact with Pirastro about this issue and sent them my faulty strings to be analyzed. I have received replacements for all damaged strings, but I’d rather not have to do the international shipping dance over and over again…
Tip 1:Make sure the groove at the nut has a wide enough channel so it doesn’t pinch the winding – especially at the center point of the nut, where the string is bending the most. You can take your instrument to a luthier with your set of strings to have this done.
For those who are DIY: I’ve been doing it carefully myself with 400 & 600 grit sand paper, strips of leather, blunt sewing needles, rasps, and graphite (maybe a luthier will comment suggesting otherwise – please do, we’ll all learn!).
Tip 2: Wrap the neck of the cello with a cushy cloth where the strap goes over the string (see pic below). I believe this strap-wear contributed to some of the separation around first position, which began the swift death of 3 of my a-strings.
Tip 3: Peg Dope – use a peg lubricant like Hill Peg Compound. Available at most string shops for $10, this really helped my friction peg tuning. The pegs no longer “stick and jump”: I am able to turn the peg slowly and smoothly in a controlled motion without excess force to achieve very small and accurate pitch changes, like when using a fine tuner. Using peg compound in combination with winding the string close to (but not touching) the peg box wall helps to prevent peg slips.
My current set up uses Oliv light gauge C, G, and d strings with an Aquila plain gut a-string (1.20mm), for a’=440Hz playing. I got to frustrated with the winding issues on the a-strings and needed a break from that. So I’m going with an open gut a for now and am very happy with the sound! The Aquila a-string is fantastic, shout out to Curtis from Aquila USA for helping me find a diameter that would match the tension of my Oliv set. …I haven’t given up on the Oliv a string just yet, I do plan on using a full Oliv set for future projects, but I’d like to have a luthier look the nut before I install a new one.
I switched back temporarily to the Oliv a, after the Aquila and Toro a-strings it sounded very smooth and creamy to me. Shifting is obviously much easier on a wound string and I couldn’t help gliding pitches for expression. In the future, when doing a concert of Chinese or Indian music, I’ll make sure to pop on an Oliv or Eudoxa a. The Oliv a really sings in a powerful way, but one of the downfalls coming back to it after the plain gut was that I couldn’t help but play loud, loUD, LOUD! I found myself unknowingly belting out, like an opera singer. It’s good to know what these strings bring out in your playing, so you can use it to the greatest advantage. I have switched back to a plain gut top string for my upcoming performances (a thicker string for scordatura tuning). I found that I lost some subtly in my playing with the wound a, being that it was so fun to play loud. For unaccompanied solo playing, the flexibility of the plain gut and Eudoxas is an advantage to me. But! I love the uniform color, tone, and response on my instrument with the full set of Olivs.
Which string combos have worked well for you with Eudoxa &/or Oliv? Are there other brands that you find pair well with these strings? Wound gut, plain gut, synthetic, steel core? Best rosin pairings? Please share your experiences, I’d love to hear about it! Also comment below if you have string care suggestions or helpful installation techniques.
I hope you found this review helpful! Thanks for reading & happy practicing!
I’d like to start out with some after show thoughts on Brennan Connors & Stray Passage’s recent performance at Cafe CODA…
Brennan Connors & Stray Passage @ Cafe CODA | (c) 2018 Paul S Howell Photography
Brennan Connors & Stray Passage @ Cafe CODA | (c) 2018 Paul S Howell Photography
Brennan Connors & Stray Passage @ Cafe CODA | (c) 2018 Paul S Howell Photography
A big shout out and thank you to Hanah Jon Taylor and Cafe CODA for hosting us last Friday, 10/5 at his newly opened space on Willy Street. When I first moved to Madison from Indianapolis, I noticed the absence of a true Jazz club. I had been spoiled by my experiences at The Jazz Kitchen (and a number of other joints) where you knew you could go hear the best local and touring players. The environment at Cafe CODA brought me that feeling once again. It’s comfortable, in a prime location, has headroom, plenty of large inspiring photos of Jazz legends, and sounds great. The space invites you through it’s front lounge, to the bar in the middle, and finally pulls you towards the listening space in the back. As a patron, you have three options when deciding how close-to or far-from the musical action you want to be. Congratulations to Hanah (and anyone who helped out) on getting this new space up and running, I hope many successful nights of music come your way! If you are in Madison and love Jazz, check this place out.
Café CODA is Madison’s premier new jazz space! We are dedicated to the presentation of traditional, contemporary and creative music. Café CODA maintains an arts-centric program of musical performances, workshops and master classes available to residents and patrons of the Madison area.
Additional thanks to Paul S Howell for shooting some nice pics at the club!
Fri, 10/19 | 7:30pm All Ages, FREE
Wisconsin Union: Play Circle Theater
800 Langdon St, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
INDIGENOUS JAZZ SERIES PRESENTS
EXECUTIVE TEA SET
BRENNAN CONNORS & STRAY PASSAGE
Brought to you by Madison Music Collective, Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, Wisconsin Union Theater.
The inDIGenous Jazz Series is presented by Madison Music Collective, The Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, and the Wisconsin Union Theater. Concerts begin at 7:30 pm and are held in the Memorial Union Play Circle at the Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon St. Each concert is free, all-ages, and open to the public.
The group Executive Tea Set was formed at a time in history just before it was unfortunate to be associated with the word “tea.” After a short time off from regular performances, the group returns to full force with their inimitable style, humor, and grace. Michael, Mark, and Brad are psyched to welcome newest member Paul Dietrich on trumpet. Paul brings his unique panache, and subtle bluster, spurring the band into unknown universes. Their choice of repertoire combines self-described “difficult music” featuring polyrhythmic, multi-modal reading, metric mystery, and high-flying harmonic modulation with “gut-bucket tunes we can blow on”. Original music of a jazz variety carries the day, penned by the members of the group themselves, with occasional masterworks from one jazz luminary or another.
Paul Dietrich – Trumpet
Mark Siegenthaler – Piano
Bradley Townsend – Bass
Michael Brenneis – Drums
Brennan Connors & Stray Passage is primarily an improvising unit focusing on the outside or experimental aspects of jazz. Each performance is dependent on the mind states of the individual musicians, the physical environment of the performance space, and the intense listening and sonic communication that occurs as they play. Their 2017 release Emergence is available on Bandcamp. The breadth of a performance ranges from focused minimalism to fiery high energy music, all while maintaining a sense of narrative organization and compelling ensemble interplay. Their repertoire includes original compositions, a few old favorites, and raw improvisation.
Brennan Connors – Tenor and Soprano Saxophones
Brian Grimm – Electric Bass and Contra-Cello
Geoff Brady – Drums
The inDIGenous Jazz Series is presented by the Madison Music Collective, the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, and the Wisconsin Union Theater; supported by Dane Arts, the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, the Madison Arts Commission, Janus Galleries, and the Evjue Foundation; and receives promotional support from WORT-FM and Wisconsin Public Radio.
In the last 5 years, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating in various ways with ambient bassist & vocalist CJ Boyd (Joyful Noise Recordings; Obsolete Media Objects). We have a track “Horses” coming out on his yet-to-be-released, mammoth sized “50 states project” (more on that when the time comes!). Back in 2014, I contributed a track to his fundraiser compilation for reproductive rights: Running Up That Hill. When CJ came through town in 2013, it was the impetus for Mine All Mine Records + GrimmusiK Records ambient compilation Colias. I also made an official remix of “slowly by your passing” for his Visions & Revisions remix compilation. The point being, for someone who is on perpetual tour I’ve managed to collaborate with CJ nearly as much as some of my regular bandmates in town! Now multiply that by all of the musicians that he is keeping track of on the road, constantly in a cycle of scheduling tours, booking shows, recording albums (sometimes in our local coffee shop bathrooms!), releasing collaborative projects, etc…. this guy is busy! I am always impressed by the hard work and persistence I see from full time touring musician CJ Boyd.
CJ still finds time to have a voice in matters of social injustice, whether it’s through social media platforms or directly in his music. The timing doesn’t always work out when he is coming through town, but I’m glad it did this year! As always, I am excited to spend some time with CJ before/after the show and to enjoy his ambient music stylings at Madison’s new all ages venue, Communication.
CJ and I are both fans of Taralie Peterson’s musical output, including her solo projects as Tar Pet, Louise Bock, and in the dynamic duo Spires That In The Sunset Rise. A multi-instrumentalist and improviser extraordinaire, Taralie has the rare gift to pull sounds through the void from other dimensions for you to hold momentarily. This will be our first duo collaboration and I am honored to sit next to her on stage this Thursday.
If you need to shake off the last clings of Winter and transition into Spring; join us for a day long wellness retreat this Sunday, 4/15 at the Blue Mounds Dharma Center. From 10:30am-5:00pm we will practice yoga, contemplate dharma talks, explore movement meditation, learn healing touch and listen to ancient string vibrations.
Come enjoy live music, great coffee, and craft beer on the second Saturday of every month at Colectivo’s Monroe St. cafe in Madison!Second Saturdays @ Colectivo Monroe St.
Sat 3/10 | Brian Grimm will perform on guqin (an ancient Chinese zither) and acoustic violoncello, which he teaches next door at Monroe Street Arts Center. For more about Brian Grimm’s live set, visit Brian Grimm Classical/World EPK.