New Issue: Angry Violist 6 now available

In this installment of my zine about music, music-making and punk rock/alternative/experimental string playing.

This issue:

  • Getting over notions of ‘being good enough’
  • What happened when Joshua Bell, world class violinist, went busking in the Tube
  • Viola FAQ: everything you’ve always wanted to know about violas
  • Interview with Warren Ellis, musician in Dirty Three, Grinderman and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  • The politics of calling yourself a musician: who has the right? what does it mean?
  • Heroes and all-stars from the world of far-out, left-field string playing

Written July 2012. 32 pages (inc covers), b&w, text heavy, A5 (half sized), bound with staples.

Get it from my Etsy shop! SAY NO TO BORING CLASSICAL MUSIC!

Those Krautrock string players in full – a directory

So for issue 4 of Angry Violist I wrote a piece about the prominence of string players in Krautrock music. As something as a follow-up, I thought it might be useful to catalogue those kosmische violinists, violists and cellists properly and put it ont web for all to see. I’m sure there are many more Krautrock string players than are listed below. So here you go:

By instrument
By band

Alphabetical list of Krautrock string players

Brune, Hans- Joachim – cellist, Tangerine Dream
Conrad, Tony – violinist, Faust collaborator {an honourable mention}
Czukay, Holger – double bassist, Can
Eötuös, Ann-Yi – violinist , Hölderlin
Hoffman, Edgar – violinist, Embryo
Karoli, Michael – violinist, Can
Karrer, Chris – violinist, Amon Düül I/Amon Düül II
Liebezert, Jahi – double bassist, Can
Lucke, Johannes – cellist, Tangerine Dream
Noppeney, Christoph– violinist and violist, Hölderlin
Schneider-Esleben, Florian – violinist, Kraftwerk
Schnitzler, Conrad – violinist, Cluster/Tangerine Dream/Eruption/Harmonia
Schulze, Klaus – cellist, Tangerine Dream/Cosmic Jokers/Eruption/Ash Ra Temple
Trepte, Uli – double bassist, Guru Guru
Vallbract, Christian – cellist, Tangerine Dream
von Grumbhow, Joachum – cellist, Tangerine Dream/Hölderlin

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By instrument

Conrad, Tony – Faust collaborator
Eötuös, Ann-Yi – Hölderlin
Hoffman, Edgar – Embryo
Karoli, Michael – Can
Karrer, Chris – Amon Düül I, Amon Düül II
Lucke, Johannes – Tangerine Dream
Noppeney, Christoph – Hölderlin
Schneider-Esleben, Florian – Kraftwerk
Schnitzler, Conrad – Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Eruption, Harmonia

Noppeney, Christoph – Hölderlin

Brune, Hans Joachim – Tangerine Dream
Schulze, Klaus –Tangerine Dream, Cosmic Jokers, Eruption, Ash Ra Temple
Vallbract, Christian –Tangerine Dream
von Grumbhow, Joachum –Tangerine Dream, Hölderlin

Double Bassists:
Czukay, Holger – Can
Liebezert, Jahi – Can
Trepte, Uli – Guru Guru

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Embryo, string playing in the nip (which seemed to happen a lot in the early 70s)

By band

Amon Düül I
Karrer, Chris – violinist [also Amon Düül II]

Amon Düül II
Karrer, Chris – violinist [also Amon Düül I]

Ash Ra Temple
Schulze, Klaus – cellist [also Tangerine Dream, Cosmic Jokers, Eruption]

Czukay, Holger – double bassist
Karoli, Michael – violinist
Liebezert, Jahi – double bassist

Schnitzler, Conrad – violinist [also Tangerine Dream, Eruption, Harmonia]

Cosmic Jokers
Schulze, Klaus – cellist [also Tangerine Dream, Eruption, Ash Ra Temple]

Hoffman, Edgar – violinist

Schnitzler, Conrad – violinist [also Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Harmonia]
Schulze, Klaus – cellist [also Tangerine Dream, Cosmic Jokers, Ash Ra Temple]

Conrad, Tony – violinist

Guru Guru
Trepte, Uli – double bassist

Schnitzler, Conrad – violinist [also in Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Eruption)

Eötuös, Ann-Yi – violinist
Noppeney, Christoph – violinist and violist
von Grumbhow, Joachum – cellist [also in Tangerine Dream]

Schneider-Esleben, Florian – violinist

Tangerine Dream
Brune, Hans Joachim – cellist
Lucke, Johannes – cellist
Schnitzler, Conrad – violinist [also in Cluster, Eruption, Harmonia]
Schulze, Klaus – cellist [also in Cosmic Jokers, Eruption, Ash Ra Temple]
Vallbract, Christian – cellist
von Grumbhow, Joachim – cellist [also in Hölderlin]

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Okay now, enough Krautrock and onwards to Issue 5…

On the practise of practice

Do you practise? How often? For how long? Be honest, now. Is discussing practising a musicians’ taboo? It’s certainly a taboo not to practise in some circles. The way you hear many musicians talking about making music, you would assume that some of them were plopped down onto this planet perfectly musically formed, and able to play Rachmaninov’s Third with their eyes closed, using their feet after six pints of strong Belgian beer.

Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist, writer and general art dogsbody (I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded me calling him that), NEVER practised. Or rather, his version of practising involved sitting on his sofa and reading the music as you or I might sit and read a paperback, visualising the sounds and nuances in his mind. Not even near a piano. Not a sound made.

How much practice is too much? Is there such a thing as too much practice? I’ve had pieces of music where the more I practised them, the worse I got at playing them. Or there have been other times, where I practised and got better until I’ve learnt the piece off by heart. Not that that ever did me much good either: after I had spent a fortnight of hard grafting at the music stand I’d proudly play it for my teacher only to find I’d misread something and learnt my mistake off by heart.

‘Perfect practice makes perfect’, my violin/viola teacher used to sagely say.

My music lessons frequently centred around practising: the amount of practice done; the practise of practice; various incentives to practise; tests and elaborate forms to complete to record my practice. It was so regimented – but why? That constant noodling/jamming that guitarists do, does that count as practice? Why are some musicians seemingly trapped in a gilded cage of disciplined rehearsing?

Every one beautiful

Grade 1 scale practice sheet: "and every one BEAUTIFUL"

It all comes down to being a string player. Unlike guitarists, us string players can’t just idly grab a guitar en route from fridge to the sofa with a beer in our hand. We have to open and unpack the case; tighten the bow; apply rosin; put on a shoulder rest; find some space (enough to play without poking someone’s eye or hitting a wall with the bow); maybe put a mute on the bridge if we’re feeling charitable towards our neighbours and housemates. Oh, yeah, and then tune up. And then warm up. Then do some scales. Then some etudes. Then, if we’ve not run out of time, maybe we can get along with what we wanted to practise playing in the first place.

Definitely not spontaneous and somewhat ritualistic, the practice of practising a stringed instrument has to be entered into with a large amount of conviction. Intent. Purpose. Resolve. Which can be very intimidating.

Perhaps this taboo around practising is linked to that other taboo of ‘what if I sound bad’ – as if that is some crime against humanity. Often, not wanting to play – or even starting to learn an instrument in the first place – is linked to some fear about ‘sounding bad’.

So let’s agree: we’ll all practise, or not practise, whatever. String players, jump out of your ivory towers of practice. And whilst we’re at it, let’s all agree to sound terrible, shall we? At least for a little while. Good. That’s settled then.

My Grade One violin practice log sheet, 1987. Note lack of entries/evidence of lack of practice (I'm sorry, Mrs Whitfield)