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Old 04-09-2009, 04:34 PM   #211
Footprint
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Glad to jump back on here and find some updates!!!

Good to see you are still on the big orange!!
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Old 04-09-2009, 04:55 PM   #212
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Way to prove me wrong! Thanks for keeping the report alive...I had a feeling you wouldn't ditch it completely! Awesome update.

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Old 04-10-2009, 10:22 PM   #213
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We have a couple days to get ready for the first-ever-cross-country-collegiate-guest-artist-motorcycle-carbon-fiber-viola recital. Say that five times fast! This is gonna be cool. Wandering around the mountains and inflicting viola music on unsuspecting victims is all fine and good, but putting together a “real” program at a legitimate university is kicking this whole experiment up a notch. Let’s get to it!

Brent and I rehearse our Mozart duet and I furiously shred away trying to get my fingers back after the cold days of travel to get here. Brent is the professor of violin and Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia (but he lives in Tallahassee), so we pack up and head for Valdosta in the evening. I’m following his car while he takes some interesting “short-cuts” during this night ride. It’s a strange sensation not knowing where I’m going while riding the big KTM, unusual. I didn’t consult a map, I just followed the tail lights in front of me!

We arrive at the university a little late, and I realize how intricate and complicated my packing system is: It takes me over ten minutes to access my sheet music locked deep inside my new top-case and then re-secure it to protect my other valuables. Brent ushers me into the Fine Arts building and onto the concert stage before I have my helmet and earplugs off...

The stage:



And THIS is how I meet my pianist for the next few days. The cosmonaut has returned to earth. She’s already warmed up, so we get right to business.

The first rehearsal. Nice boots, eh?





She’s quite a fine pianist! It’s obvious that she’s practiced the music a lot (which I mailed to her ahead of time), and it’s a pleasure to work with someone who’s so excited to “get after it” at a high level. It’s contagious! She’s working hard, so I work harder, so she kicks it up another notch. THIS is one of the most rewarding things about being a musician, being totally involved in the process and feeling the music grow and improve minute by minute. Good stuff, it’s been too long since I’ve done solo literature.

Brent has put up ads for my performance all over campus! Cool...



The next day and a half is filled with rehearsals, practicing, socializing with other music faculty (several of whom I know from school! Crazy small world!), and the masterclass.

As far as I can remember I think this is the first true masterclass that I’ve ever given. I occasionally give a group lesson or lead a viola sectional (helping a all the violists of an orchestra together on their music for the ensemble), but a masterclass typically has a different protocol. I’ve been on the other side having performed for masterclasses as a student many times, so I know the routine, but this time I get to do all the talking! The masterclass is kind of a private lesson for an individual student in front of an audience, the point being that the audience can glean tips on how to practice, play, AND teach from one poor sacrificial victim. It’s good practice for the lucky students who perform since they get a chance to play for a live audience in a big room (which changes EVERYTHING!) in addition to the pointers they receive from the clinician.

Valdosta State has a relatively small music program and there aren’t a whole lot of string players, so instead of a class full of only violists I get the entire string section! A typical masterclass features three to four student performances which, along with the pointers, usually lasts twenty to thirty minutes each. I listen to a violist, a violinist, and a bassist. I grew up playing violin, and happened to study the piece being performed in my youth, so I have plenty to say there, and I’ve spent a little time playing double bass (and I played electric bass guitar in a band for a while ), so I feel like I have some moments of inspiration to share with this student too. One of the many great things about music is that it transcends the instrument. The fundamental buildings blocks of music are the same on tuba, xylophone, violin, clarinet, and the human voice, which means that an experienced music teacher can critique a student from any of the disciplines, to a point.

When Brent I were planning this visit I made sure to mention that I was planning to perform on the Black Death and I thought that might be a cool way to market the recital. It turns out that the cello professor has a Luis and Clark carbon fiber cello that he plays fairly regularly in the area, so Brent replied that probably no one would bat an eye at my “unusual” instrument! Go figure... Just when I thought I was pioneer! (I bet he didn’t ride a KTM...)

I get newspaper spot too! I save the whole section because it runs the day after Obama’s inauguration. Every page has big color pictures of the ceremony and then there I am! It’s pretty cool to have a momento from such a historic day.



We grab some dinner and hustle back to warm up for the performance. Circumstance led us to be booted from our preferred time slot (7:00 pm) to 5:30, which isn’t ideal because it’s right in the middle of dinner. It also conflicts with an after-school orchestra clinic which many of the Valdosta State string players are involved in, so it looks like we may have a light audience... Well, we learn early on that the music is the same if you play for six people or six-hundred, and you never know who might be in the seats.

Here we go! The third wheel in the back is the page-turner, whose job is make sure the pianist doesn’t have to worry about missing notes on the next page.



First some Telemann. This is a great one to start with because it’s not very difficult technically and offers plenty of time to acclimate to the stage and performance environment with out taxing the brain.

Brent and I didn’t get much rehearsal time on the Mozart G Maj. duet, but we’re both professionals so we decide to go out have a good time and see what the results are like. Ha! It works! We’re actually smiling on the verge of laughter at times, especially when we nearly “out-do” each other musically. Good times.

Next up is my solo Bach from memory. I’ve played this piece many times, so I went out and enjoyed myself.



I saved the best for last, the Mendelssohn Viola Sonata. Viola players often complain about the distinct lack of romantic era literature (19th century) for us to play, so I find it surprising that so few even know of this piece. Granted, it’s one of Mendellsohn’s early works (from his early ‘teens), but it’s a gem of a piece and plenty challenging for both instruments, especially the piano which is featured heavily in the last movement. Their loss! I think I’m going to make this a “signature” piece for myself, I really enjoy playing it.

The storm!



Take a bow...



The audience WAS small (due to the strange hour), but it doesn’t really matter, since this was about making music with old friends and forging new connections at the collegiate level. Mission accomplished. Perhaps I can come perform again next year. Now that we’ve done it once we can plan it better next time.

This is what it’s all about, my friends! Travel, music, friendship... It’s good medicine. Somehow we need more people to understand and enjoy this art.

Now it’s time for this:



And more importantly, THIS:



After sleeping in the next morning I launch in search of my Valdosta trophy. I’ve gotta get this shot, it’s the one on all the university’s brochures. I risk a ticket from the campus police for riding on the sidewalk and possible damage to my equipment from the zooming traffic only inches away, but I’m successful. Valdosta, you just got VIOLATED!!!



Onward to Sarasota, opera season is about to begin...


viola-tor screwed with this post 04-11-2009 at 09:38 AM
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Old 04-11-2009, 12:19 AM   #214
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Great Pic!!

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Old 04-11-2009, 04:03 AM   #215
Buffalo Bill
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Thumb Enjoying the Ride.........

I used to spend some time flying Green Helicopters along that coast..The white sand and the guy with the teeth reminded me of those dayzzzz..

thanks again..

Bill
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:20 AM   #216
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Great thread! This is interesting to me since I was just trying to figure out how to take a stringed instrument with me when I go moto-camping. I used to take a guitar when traveling on 4 wheels but I've been looking at my old mandolin sitting next to the 6-stringers. Being a guitar player I keep thinking 'tuned in 5th? What's up with that?' Anyway I still like to play it and you've given me a little more inspiration to pack it on my bike next time I ride.

Reminds me a little of how the small instruments like the mandolin made it to the USA. Small and very portable, just like your viola. BTW does the carbon fiber body keep it in tune better than wood with temperature swings when you play outside?
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:30 AM   #217
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donnymoto
Great thread! This is interesting to me since I was just trying to figure out how to take a stringed instrument with me when I go moto-camping. I used to take a guitar when traveling on 4 wheels but I've been looking at my old mandolin sitting next to the 6-stringers. Being a guitar player I keep thinking 'tuned in 5th? What's up with that?' Anyway I still like to play it and you've given me a little more inspiration to pack it on my bike next time I ride.

Reminds me a little of how the small instruments like the mandolin made it to the USA. Small and very portable, just like your viola. BTW does the carbon fiber body keep it in tune better than wood with temperature swings when you play outside?

http://www.palmguitar.com/

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product?sku=513812X

http://www.wwbw.com/Traveler-Pro-Ser...-i1150116.wwbw

Just do a search for travel guitars and if you want there are really small plug in amps for electric.
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Old 04-11-2009, 07:27 AM   #218
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I haven't looked at the electric ones, but have played a few of the acoustic which I didn't like. Intonation was really off on the ones I tried however might be fixed with getting the right gauge strings. Would probably have to match each string individually as well. Had an old Gibson 12-string I did that with, very touchy. Still, the mandolin is SO small compared to even the travel gtrs.
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:36 AM   #219
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donnymoto
BTW does the carbon fiber body keep it in tune better than wood with temperature swings when you play outside?
My CF viola doesn't seem to stay in tune any better than a wood inst., I suppose because the strings themselves are still affected by temps. Also the bridge, soundpost, and tailpiece are wood, so they will "flex."

That's the problem with frets, if the instrument isn't made well it will NEVER sound in tune, and frets have to be an approximation of the pitch by design anyway. A 12 string guitar would drive me nuts! It'd take forever to tune, and would never stay there... Harp players spend a big portion of their lives tuning the strings, they carry a special wrench with them at all times to adjust the 47 strings , uhg.

I don't play mandolin, but the few that I've messed around on seemed fairly robust. For the reasonable cost of those inst. I'd be tempted to take a regular wood one along. That'd be a great travel inst! Consider a ukulele too!
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:48 AM   #220
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I found this company that is offering a classical-type flute made of carbon fiber composite and metal, no word on how it plays, but I though it was interesting.



http://www.matitflutes.com/05products.html
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:37 AM   #221
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12 String guitars are the only kind I have ever owned. While it is an adventure keeping them in tune, it helps that I detune and capo mine to lessen the overall stress. For me it is worth it as I dearly love the sound of a 12 string.

I am sure that I am not nearly as critical of it being perfectly in tune as you would be, but on the other hand an off-tune string sure stands out. O well, I just play for myself and can spend as much time tuning as I wish to.

Enjoying the ride, carry on!

Boomer Sooner!
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:45 AM   #222
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viola-tor
VIOLA-TING AMERICA - Chasing the dream of music and motos

Hello inmates! Iíd like to formally introduce myself to the Asylum: Iíll be ďviola-torď to YFFs. Iíve been lurking for a while, moderately active for a time, and this is my first ride report. Itís gonna be a doozy, one of those long journals I hope, though I canít claim that mine will be as entertaining or as good of a read as some of the round-the-world ridersí reports, we just have to see how the adventure pans out, eh? Iíd be really pleased if as many chicks are featured in my reports as there are in the Vikingís, but statistically Iím not sure thatís even possible! Iím taking some turns (literally and figuratively) in my life that could bring everything together in a sublime way, or it could turn out the other way, the dark way, but I donít think so. Itís just crazy enough to work! I keep thinking there will be defining moment to start the report, but it doesnít seem like thatís going to happen, since the wheels are already in motion (pun intended). Thereís no sense in putting it off any longer, that would just mean more reflecting and catching up on whatís happening at an already fast pace.

Hereís the pitch: A talented but struggling musical artist defies tradition and combines his passion for motorcycle travel with the art of classical music to chase his dreams across the country (and beyond?). I know, I know, it probably doesnít sound so grand to the ADVRIDER community here, but in the realm of classical music this is pretty crazy talk! I have a very real chance of combining my quest for a major symphony orchestra position with adventure motorcycling into a whole lifestyle, and THAT to me is very exciting indeed!

ďOutside?!? What if thereís a spider? OMG!Ē

ďRide a motorcycle? What if it rains? OMG!Ē

Over the course this ride report I also hope to bring a little culture to YFFs. I know a lot of the motorcycle community isnít into classical music, and anything I can do to bring more fans to this great genre one inmate at a time can only help the cause. Iím exploring the idea of a parallel report geared more towards non-riders and musicians which will expose them to the trials and tribulations of the motorcyclist, for many of THOSE lofty artists are ignorant of the dark arts of adventure motorcycling. Iím working on some blog webspace for the non-FFís civilians.

In case you hadnít guessed from my name, I play the viola (get it? Viola, Violator, VIOLA-TOR!!!). For you ignorant FFís itís like a violin in appearance and is played up on the shoulder, but itís considerably bigger and sounds a fifth lower than a violin. Itís pronounced VEE-OH-LA, which doesnít really make sense when you think about it, but thatís the way it is. Violas typically have a more mellow sound, darker tone, and have a rich resonance that fills the role between the more well known cellos and the violins in the orchestra and in string quartets (which have two violins, a viola, and cello). Violas and violists are also the butt of many musical jokes, more so than probably any other instrument, kinda like blond jokes! Itís part of the tradition and all in good fun.

Q: Whatís the difference between a viola and a chain-saw?
A: You can tune a chain-saw.

Q: How do you know when thereís a violist at your door?
A: You know because they canít find the key and donít know when to come in.

Q: Whatís the difference between a violin and a viola?
A: The viola is bigger, so it holds more beer! (Alternative answer: It burns longer.)

There are hundreds if not thousands of these jokes...

All the rest of the details and back-story should become clear in the first few posts. Some of the motorcycle related subjects will seem redundant or self explanatory, but I hope that there will be non-riders reading my reports too. Likewise some of the musical content will be elementary for a musician, but Iíll try to make this educational and entertaining for everyone. Iíd say I play music very well (pro for 10 yrs), Iím an experienced rider (fast approaching 100,000 mi), a decent writer, a decent photographer, and my video skills are growing too, so put it all together and it should be a good ride!

Whatcha think?
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Old 04-16-2009, 11:53 PM   #223
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My plan was to hug the coast as much as possible, but after sitting in traffic and seeing the same high-rise condos and strip malls for mile after mile I decide to head inland for some farm land riding where all the road numbers have four digits. It feels a little bit more like touring ought to, even though itís pretty flat...



Itís still chilly, even after hanging in Valdosta for a few days hoping the cold will blow out to sea. At least the sun is out.

I start to see orange trees and other crops in huge fields. This could be mistaken for anywhere-heartland-America, it definitely has that ďOklahomaĒ feel, but with a few more trees.



Hum-de-dum-de-dum. I wish I knew the opera music Iíll be playing in Sarasota better, the soundtrack in my head has about run itís course at this point. Sometimes ďhelmet practiceĒ can be good use of time!





Planning on one more night of camping I consult the map as the sun gets low. Not much around... looks like only RV parks in towns along the coast unless I back-track or ride for hours in the dark to hit a state park. Neither option sounds great.

I roll down to a beach/marina area on the off chance thereís a campground (Nope). I DO get to ride my bike to the edge as the sun touches down. Itís gonna be dark soon anyway, so I might as well enjoy it.

And there goes the last bit of warmth for the day!



After cruising through a couple more towns to the south (which are all starting to meld together into one homogeneous strip mall) I stop for coffee and a snack to re-evaluate my position. Hell, Iím only sixty miles or so from Sarasota, I might as well go for it! I call my room-mate to see if heíll be there to let me in. He is, but Iíll have to kill at least an hour somewhere. Fine.

Crossing the big Tampa Bay Bridge at night for the first time was pretty cool, itís up there! There are two big fishing peers jutting out into the water on both the north and south sides. Iíd better check one out! (I find out later the two piers used to connect which was the highway bridge. A big boat ran into it and took it out, diverting traffic for years until the current bridge was finished. DOH!)

Thereís a fee to access the pier, but I tell this guy I want to take pictures of the bridge, and after looking over my bike and gear from Texas out in the cold for a long while he lets me in for free, saying Iíve earned it. Cool dude!



I have to kill some time anyway, which means time for photos for YFFs!



This poor guy was dead on the road way, obviously tangled in fishing line. Weird animal. Nature is amazing. Examining all the different textures and materials that make up this unique bird makes me pause and think about evolution, life, death... I do have the time to spend, why not?





Yeah, yeah, nature is great, but what about what Man has achieved? Take KTM motorcycles for instance!





This wouldíve been a great place for Darth Peach sitting-style pic, but I forgot! Sorry Peachy! Next time.

Sarasota, let me in!

My new roomie:



The ďsecureĒ bike parking, complete with complimentary camouflage. No motorcycle here. Nope. Move along.



I think roomie and I are gonna get along great. He has this waiting for me:



I like this town already!
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Old 04-17-2009, 01:14 AM   #224
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another geat installment. you try and post a video of you performance.
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:08 AM   #225
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A beautiful and insightful report, I love all the stuff I can learn about your music. Congratulations for finding a way to life to the fullest!
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