There is a small post just beneath the bridge, towards the left “F” hole, of a violin. It’s necessity is structural and at the heart of the sound that is created by each unique instrument. In English it is called a Sound Post. A rather mundane term. But it is at the core of the violin.
I have heard many incredible violin
performances demonstrating seemingly superhuman feats of technical perfection. The performer displays all possible capacities of fingerboard and bowing acrobatics, but the music itself falls to second stage–an alternate to the show. While these performances move me to take notes on what to adjust in my own practicing, they hardly move me at my core. The heart of it is empty. Void. Missing.
Music has the ability to elevate and relief, to stir the very make up of our beings, yet it is the soul of the music that I often find missing in performances. The awards and recognition go to perfection of skill more than the ability to move an audience to tears, or joy, or deeper meaning in life. Our culture is obsessed with “perceived” perfection. From photoshopped magazine covers, to studio recorded album releases. I find much of it is lacking. Lacking in spirit, purpose, soul. It does not feel real.
In my research of the art of playing the violin, I discovered that other languages have a term for the Sound Post that is inspiring to me. The very core of the violin, this Sound Post, is termed L’ame in French, L’anima in Italian. It means The Soul. A gentile reminder to me of what should be coming out of my violin each time I play for others–even for myself. Violin is a means of deep expression. It should feel personal, intimate, emotional.
This depth of playing isn’t reserved for the most advanced. I have witnessed this real playing in beginning and intermediate students. When the preparation is made, the music can say what words cannot. Even with mistakes in technique, an emotion can be conveyed to touch the listener and performer.
I am just getting started with blogging on my life-long devotion to violin. I hope to share what I have learned and am learning in such a way to encourage those in the wrestle of the art of playing. My path has been atypical, but meaningful and with purpose none the less.