Finding your own sound: Standing out from the crowd

20150212_kopatchinsaja_ credit Eric Melzer

In a world that seems to value homogeneous perfection, how do you develop an individual voice on your instrument?

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Heifetz. Menuhin. Kreisler. Ferras. Huberman. Casals. Rostropovich. If you know your golden age string players, then you’ll know that the musical personality of each of the aforementioned was so very audibly distinctive that were you to hear unlabelled recordings, the chances are that you’d manage to identify correctly who was who. Yet this in turn raises questions about today’s string playing landscape. Firstly, whether nowadays players really are less identifiable on a blind hearing, as is often mourned; and if so, then why? And does it matter? If it does matter, how does a 21st- century string player develop a sound that’s all their own, without sounding mannered or forced?…

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