I am asked a lot of the same questions, so hopefully this page will answer many of them, especially for the shy folks out there!
|Q: What kind of violin do you play?
A: I have an 1899 Ernst Kreusler “Copy of Antonius Stradivarius” violin from Germany (not a Kreisler violin). I do not know much about Kriesler violins, so if anyone has some additional information on them, it would be greatly appreciated. I love the sound of my violin — it’s quite “bright” sounding, but not shrill. I played A LOT of different violins before I picked this particular one. I think it has a very sweet, but crisp sound.
|Q: How long have you played the violin?
A: I started playing when I was 9. I have played off-and-on as a casual hobby.
|Q: What got you into fiddle music?
A: Fiddle music was the first kind of music that I started to play. As a teenager, I even joined a group called the “Blackberry Jammers,” and we would always sit in a circle and play fun fiddle tunes. As I entered high school, I started to have lessons that focused a lot more on classical violin pieces. Learning classical music really helped me develop a better tone, and I started to learn complex music. After high school, I was accepted into the violin performance music department at the university that I was studying at to pursue a music minor. This rigorously focused on classical music, and was very challenging, but I learned a lot about the violin. Classical music is beautiful, but my heart forever lies with fiddle music (especially Celtic music!).
|Q: Where do you get your backing tracks?
A: So far, I have made all of my backing tracks. I have been curious about music production, and creating these backing tracks are my “practice” at producing music. They are quite difficult to make, but I think I am getting better and more efficient at producing them. I still have a ton to learn about music production, and I’m learning new things every day. I explain more about the different Sample Libraries that I use in a below question.
|Q: What camera do you use for your YouTube videos?
A: Most of my videos are filmed with the Canon 70D with the 18-135 mm kit lens.
|Q: What microphone do you use?
A: I actually really like the microphone that comes with the Canon 70D. I think it picks up a lot of the resonance and echo that occurs inside the violin body, which is really nice. I’ve also used the H4 Zoom, which is a pretty good microphone for the violin. It records sounding a little “distant and quiet,” which can be both good and bad. The Blue Woodpecker is my main microphone now. It’s a very nice microphone, although I do think the high notes tend to sound a bit too piercing with it. I usually dampen the higher frequencies in post production. It picks up every little sound..literally everything! It even picks up when the refrigerator turns on in the next room. It’s a very “revealing” microphone, which also has its own pros and cons — I can’t “hide” my mistakes and bow squeaks as easily as I could with the H4 Zoom, but it stays fairly true to the sound of the violin. I’ve learned that it is best to record from a slight distance. I usually stand about 4 to 6 feet away from the microphone, with the microphone elevated about a foot higher than the instrument. This seems to reduce bow noises and also picks up some of the room’s ambiance. I have learned, however, that it is best to “record dry.” This means to avoid recording extensive room ambiance, such as recording an a very echo-prone room. This is because room ambiance can always be digitally added afterwards in post production, but it can never be “reduced.” Sometimes rooms with a lot of ambiance sound great to the human ear with “live playing,” but muddy in a microphone recording.
|Q: What notation software do you use for your sheet music PDF’s?
A: I use Myriad’s “Harmony Assistant.” It has a steep learning curve, but it’s a great notation software!
|Q: What audio programs do you use?
A: For now, I have been using Garage Band 6.3. I plan to eventually upgrade to Cubase. These programs get expensive… Free stuff is good enough for now!
|Q: What video editing software do you use?
A: I primarily use Final Cut Pro X for Macintosh.
|Q: What sample libraries and plugins do you use?
A: For those who may be wondering what “sample libraries” are, they are a collection of sound recordings used by composers and music producers to create music digitally. Each sound recording is tied to a particular note and can be triggered to play using MIDI files (or an electronic keyboard). This is how one can get “realistic instrument sounds” when composing music, without needing to hire musicians to play the parts.
I bought a few Play Sample Libraries while they had a massive sale. These libraries can get quite expensive… They have big sales fairly often, especially for students, so if you are interested in their sample libraries, it’s worth it to watch for a big sale! The library that I use the most is their Goliath Library. I occasionally use Stormdrum II and Piano’s Gold, but Goliath is by far my go-to sample library right now. I also use Spaces, which is a very nice digital reverb plug-in.
I sometimes use the Forest Kingdom II sample library. It uses Best Service ENGINE instead of Play, which means the sounds from the two different software libraries cannot be mixed using the same track. Forest Kingdom II has some great Celtic-like sounds included. I love all of the interesting “Soundscapes” in the library, and I think it will be phenomenal to use as I start to release original music.
In addition to these libraries and plug-ins, I have found that adding the effect “Voice Enhancer, Female Narrator Noisy” (available in Garage Band), seems to accentuate the violin range nicely.