Posted in Learning to Play Fiddle

Violin Bow and Rosin

Violins are complex instruments. Not only do you need to be concerned about the instrument itself, but you have the second component to take into consideration: the bow.

I learned a number of things about the bow very quickly:

  • Bow quality effects sound quality
  • Tighten the bow to play
  • Loosen the bow when not playing
  • Don’t touch the hair with your fingers
  • You must apply rosin to the bow for it to make sound on the strings
  • Bow hold to a newcomer is a freak of nature

Like many topics in the past, I had my introduction to these facts through the video series I was watching:

I’d honestly never heard of rosin before — it’s a solid cake of resin that comes from pines and other plants. You have to balance putting on just enough and not too much and reapply from time to time.

As a Christmas gift, Syn got me a Fiddlerman bow from my Amazon wish list (which cost more than double the violin itself did). I’m quite glad she did. Even though I’m an absolute noob to the instrument, when my new bow arrived, I could instantly tell it was much of higher quality than the bow that came with my fiddle.

The rosin that came with the kit had cracked during shipment, and I took it as a sign that it probably was also not the highest quality out there. I decided to purchase some Kaplan rosin to replace it, and chose to wait until the better rosin arrived before I put anything on my new bow.

There’s lots of rosin out there, and apparently, the quality of the rosin can effect your sound. I can’t really attest to the rosin I bought because I’m still doing a lot more plinking than bowing at this point. But every day, for a bit of time, I’m resolved to practice the dreaded bow hold.

More on that next time!

Posted in Learning to Play Fiddle

Tuning a Violin

Once I had my fiddle all set up, the next thing I had to do was tune the instrument. Thankfully, my kit came with an electric tuner, which you attach to the scroll of the fiddle — apparently it needs to feel the vibration as well as hear the note? I dunno. But it works well enough, and I’m glad to have it.

While I’ve had experience tuning guitars in the past, violins are a bit different. They only have 4 strings, for one thing. And they also have these things called fine tuners on the tailpiece. Once again, I turned to the series of videos I was learning from to see how it was done. This one is a bit ponderous, because one has to “stretch the strings” at first, and requires several tunings.

It was at this point that I started to see the first minor flaw with my cheap violin. Tuning the E string is very difficult, and I often have to leave it slightly undertuned out of fear of snapping it. There’s a lot of pressure going on with the E string in particular, and though I have a second set of strings that came with the kit, I really didn’t want to start out breaking in a new instrument by losing a string immediately. Plus, I’m just scared of the whole concept of string snapping.

I also found that the main tuning peg for my E string doesn’t like to stick and hold well. I learned that I needed to try to apply some pressure inward to get it to catch. It did, but it still slips a lot. There’s something called peg drops I might need to invest in. Apparently slipping pegs are not uncommon.

Anyhow, once I got my fiddle in tune, I took the first official picture of it. You can see it here, with the tuner still attached!

It may be a VSO, but it’s not a bad looking little instrument. And at the time, I was just proud that I’d learned enough to set up the strings, place the bridge, and tune the instrument…. since this was the first time I’d really touched a violin of any sort.

You’ll notice that I also added a chart to the finger board – violins don’t have frets like a guitar, so you have to learn the positions. I’m really glad I picked this up because it’s starting to be really useful now that I’m learning individual notes in my practices.

You can find this guide on Amazon. Though there are others similar to it, this was the one I chose, and I’m happy with it. It was pretty easy to put on (granted, I did this before I put the bridge on and all). But even with a set-up violin, I doubt it would be any trouble to place.

Now, with an instrument set up and in tune, there’s still a few more things I needed to learn about before I could start: the bow and rosin.

Posted in Learning to Play Fiddle

Setting Up A Violin

The one thing I wouldn’t have know about, if I hadn’t watched the videos on it, was the fact that a brand new violin often requires setup before you can start to play it. And I’m not talking just professional, though it seems a lot of violins do require professional setup for it to sound well… even a higher-priced kit.

When my violin came, it had the strings already on the pegs, but wrapped under the fingerboard. The bridge was not on the instrument, but rather wrapped up, and required fitting. It looked something like this:

Note: strings under fingerboard and white package where the bridge is wrapped up for shipping.

Thankfully, a video in the same series as I was watching before informed me of all this, and what I had to do to put the fiddle together. It also does a nice job of introducing all the parts of the instrument.

I was a bit shaky trying to get the bridge on, especially after he warned me that you don’t want to do anything to knock over the internal sound post. Part of me is glad to have had an inexpensive VSO (Violin Shaped Object – as the violinists call them) to experiment on. If something happens to it, I’d be a little sad since it’s so new, but it wouldn’t be as devastating as messing up a more expensive instrument.

Anyhow, I managed to set it up and get it ready for tuning, which was an interesting experience I’ll discuss next time.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: A Somewhat BLU Weekend

Pictured above, an army of BLU chasing down poor Flame Sargent Dalvag for his Loom skill. Was a fun train!

While leveling my BLU wasn’t my only focus this weekend, it was a pretty good bit of my time. I continue to enjoy it, ended up cleaning up nearly all quests in the early zones (yay!), and finished leveling to 44 last night.

I’m still going much slower than the majority of folks, and have only capped 24 of all the skills. But a lucky run of Haukke and Cutter’s Cry netted both Amoon and I with Petrify and Ram’s Voice the first shot. I have no idea how I functioned without Ram’s Voice until now. I’m so spoiled now.

Anyhow, aside from just BLU, I’m still making progress on all of Amon’s crafters. I finally hit 50 on Leatherworker, which means I can pick up Moogle quests again, and start leveling Carpenter with the Ixali quests. Alchemist is almost level 69, so pretty soon, I’ll have it at 70, and can resume Armorer with the Namazu quests.

Our RP alts in the Alchemist outfits. Only leveled it for the glamour… right? Right?

As you can probably tell, my days are just a cycle of crafting beast tribes most the time. Not that I’m complaining about that… without these quests, leveling crafters is a much larger time sink.

Aside from that, still trying to get my footing in the Monastery. Some runs are better than others, and just being week 2, folks are still trying to wrap their head around mechanics. But so far, no full wipes that lead to not completing it. Sadly, no drops, either. I really want that Bard chestpiece!

I did get a nice coat drop from our run of Ghimlyt Dark yesterday which led me to reworking Amon’s main Bard glamour. He’s trying to be all dapper.

Anyhow, I hope to finally get my BLU to 48 soon, so I can join Amoon and Syn on the Aurum Vale runs I’ll need to try and cap Glower. Then we can both try out the Carnival instances and see what those are about.

Posted in Just Fiddling

A Place to Play Violin

I’m going to jump around a bit this week because I wanted to give an update rather than just talk about the process of getting started playing violin! I’m taking all of this super slow, watching a lot of videos, and soaking up as much information about the process of playing as I can.

The first day I actually broke out my violin, I saw immediately that there was an issue — my cats. My older cat, Sebastian, has gotten a bit skittish about loud sounds over the past year. He pitches a fit when someone calls me on the phone and I put them on speaker, for example. So, the moment I put the bow to the string to learn how to squeak out sound, he was a mess.

I spent more time trying to chill my cats out than I actually could focus on my instrument. And this instrument needs a ton of focus.

So I decided to make a place to play. I have a small desk in my bedroom, where the cats are not allowed, that I really haven’t been putting to much use with anything else. I cleaned it up, organized the area a bit, set up lessons on my my laptop and placed my learning books. The past few days, I’ve been carving out some time to begin the habit of practice, and I find the location both cat-free and distraction-free.

Trying to use my main computer for violin lessons would have probably been a bad idea — way too many things on there distracting me. This removes me from my normal gaming environment, somewhere more secluded where I will spend the time focusing on learning and not get pulled away by other things.

I think I’ve found a really nice beginner’s book. I’ll talk about that, and some of the resources I’ve found in another post though. Right now, my focus is on learning how to more comfortably hold the instrument, especially the bow, and the first few notes of the open strings. I remember doing this back when I played guitar, though the violin has a lot more things to get used to, so you can’t just pick it up and play like you do guitar.

I’ve got a lot to learn, but at least I’m making a tiny, tiny bit of progress.

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

MMORPG Social on Mastodon

((I hope folks don’t mind me posting the MMORPG Social banner above – artwork does not belong to me! But it’s really awesome!))

So, every now and then, I would hear about Mastodon. I didn’t know much about it, and while it sounded neat, it had one thing that kept me from jumping in with both feet to try it out — when you sign up for it, you have to join within a specific community.

I’m still not 100% clear on how all that works, but I’ve learned that there’s a reason for this. Unlike other social media that’s run by Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc, Mastodon is open source and the individual communities are actually hosted and moderated by people.

Think of it like your buddies running their own Minecraft (or insert your favorite server-based game) server or paying to host a server for just your community. That’s what Mastodon does. It’s much like Twitter in layout and function, but in a smaller, more personalized community.

I really love this idea! But I couldn’t find a community that fit me. Until Belghast posted about the MMORPG Social community last month. I saw that, decided to check it out, and felt pretty much at home as soon as I made my first Toot there. Yes, we Toot.

I’ve been active on the channel for almost a full month now, and I’ve watched it evolve and gain more members. I’d love to see this continue to grow, so I feel like I’m at a point where I can post about this now.

Want to Know More?

If you’re like me, you probably feel like you don’t need another vast and overwhelming social media platform to keep up with. However, part of the reason I was drawn to this community is that it’s more manageable in size. It feels a lot more personalized and I feel like I can get to know people easier because I’m interacting with them on a smaller scale.

If any of this caught your interest, I’ve got some links and resources where you can poke around to learn more.

If you decide to join up, look for me, Aywren! I’ll be sure to follow you!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: BLU Quick Review

There was already a level 50 BLU by the time I woke up in the morning on patch day. That being said, I’ve been taking my time and exploring the new limited job over the past couple nights. It’s pretty much what I expected it to be, and I’m having a good time with it.

I haven’t been trying to level very hard. In fact, I’ve been using the job to clear up old quests in the ARR zones that I left behind on my RP Alt. While I did clean up almost everything from Heavensward through Stormblood, I had tons of quests that I by-passed littering the old maps. I go there often, so I notice this just about every day.

I don’t really plan on leveling other jobs on Amon, so I knew when I heard BLU was starting at level 1, I would be using this job for quest cleanup. The fastest way to level BLU is by killing overworld enemies, and sometimes quests lead you to do just that.

So even though I’ve taken a slower route than optimal, I still hit level 27 last night on the job. I’ve capped about 15 skills (if you include the ones they give out) overall. Most of this was on my own, using this very nifty checklist guide. You can get a copy of it here.

Amoon and I grouped together to cap a handful more last night. And we got Syn to assist us with a Tam Tara run… which luckily net us the skill from the final boss on the first try.

In fact, the skill that took us the longest to get was Flying Sardine. Go figure.

It’s been great to see folks out in the overworld again (even if it comes with a bad apple every now and then). It’s been neat to see all BLU runs of dungeons and primals, too. Though I haven’t taken part of any of those.

In fact, the one complaint I do have about the job is that for one touted to be focused on solo play, a bunch of skills are locked in instances and things that you’d need to farm repeatedly with a group in hopes of getting.

Thankfully, I do have Amoon, who is interested in capping skills, to help. And Syn will usually unsyc stuff with us if we ask… but I don’t want to bother her for every little skill. And then there’s the matter of Extreme Primals, which I actually have never unlocked or run even under normal circumstances. I know that they can be soloed unsynced now, but it’s still a bit of a pain.

On the flip side, the job is a lot of fun, even without all those fancy skills. And it’s very powerful… as can be seen with this one mage who took down The Eyes Have It FATE boss with one cast of Doom.

This is not me. But it’s pretty insane.

Also, this has been a great way of leveling my chocobo companion (which was very much needed on my alt), though a nerf is coming to that next week sadly. And I heard that the Masked Carnival gives a pretty heavy sum of Allied Seals each week, which I will not turn down.

I’m looking forward to continuing to level my BLU this week and clearing up the quests as I go. It’s been a nice change of pace overall. Some folks might still be grouchy about how BLU works, but I feel like it has a lot of room to grow as long as the devs continue to support it on down the line.

Posted in Blogging

Happy 5th Blogiversary!

Five years ago today, I launched the blog that would eventually evolve into this blog.

I always point out in these blogiversary posts that I’ve been blogging a lot longer than 5 years… this just happens to be the longest I’ve kept a particular blog going like this. And I tend to mention that this blog started out under another name, evolved and was rebranded.

So as to not break the ritual… there, I’ve said those things. I wonder if there will be a year when I don’t feel the need to point that out anymore. 🙂

So, last year. Last year, I didn’t blog nearly as consistently as I would have liked. Early in the year, I got caught up in the inspiration of making my own horse coats for Second Life avatars. I blogged a bit about that, but kept most of the content on another blog.

Then, later in the summer, my inspiration turned towards a new RP story/character for FFXIV, which took time away from this blog since I was writing fiction again. I wasn’t sure how much people here wanted to listen to me re-tread ground on an alt character, but when folks said it was all good and well, I picked up blogging here a bit more consistently again.

I foresee 2019 being a good year for this blog. Not only do we have a lot of big releases for FFXIV on down the line, but an expansion coming later this year. Expansion years for FFXIV tend to be ones that bring a good deal of traffic to this site, and they give me lots to talk about. So I’m looking forward to that.

This is also a year in which I’m working on consolidating projects and blogs. I tend to go through phases where I branch out in my interests, putting all of my projects on different sites. Then, suddenly, they feel too disconnected, and I want to reel them all back in again.

I’ve been in the second phase lately, where I feel like I want to pull my old fiction writing up under the umbrella of my main domain at Sygnus.org. So I’ve been transferring one of my oldest pieces, Darkstar, to that blog, which requires a good bit of fixing up and internal linking to make work properly. That doesn’t really effect anything on this blog, but it’s just a mindset I’ve found myself in lately. We’ll see where it leads.

Anyhow, 5 years! What a ride! Thanks for joining me on this journey! 🙂

Posted in FFXIV, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Level 70 Samurai and Turning BLU

Today, FFXIV released its first (and hopefully not last) Limited Job – the Blue Mage. But! Before I get into all that, I wanted to note that along with the raiding progress I made this past weekend, I also finally finished leveling my main’s SAM to 70.

Ding 70!

This leaves me with exactly one more melee DPS job to get to 70 — my Ninja. Aside from that, I have Astro, Warrior and Dark Knight all sitting at level 50. It’s a 2019 goal to get them all to at least 60 before the year is out. But with a new expansion coming, the closer I can get them to 70, the better.

This is all rather slow going seeing most of this leveling is daily beast tribes. For one thing, I’m not confident with any of these jobs to take them into Alliance raids. I’m not a tank or healer at heart. I suppose I could spam PotD or squad runs to get to 60 pretty quickly… but I also have a lot of other things wanting my attention.

Such as the release of Blue Mage today!

I can’t tell you a whole lot about it since I spent all of 5 mins as a BLU this morning before I left for work. Mostly, I got through the first set of intro quests, which were as amusing as I hoped they be.

They do kit you out in level 1 gear, hand you a Blue Mage spell book (just UI for where you collect your skills) and give you your first spell. But that seems to be about it.

I was already hearing folks shouting “LFG – Final Sting party!” and things like that. This should be interesting!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Orbonne Monastery Clears

I started last week out in FFXIV just a few points shy of the 365 ilvl required to enter the new 24-man raid, the Orbonne Monastery. Somehow, I ended up not just earning the ilvl to run the raid, but clearing it on both my main and my RP alt (who is now higher ilvl than my main… go figure).

After hearing all the first week horror stories, I came into the raid both times with no expectation of clearing, but merely learning. The first group we got was very solid, and while there were new folks, there were enough people setting out the strats to get us through with only two wipes.

The second time was a lot more rough. I really didn’t expect a clear. It was crazy that Syn and I, who had only run it once, were the ones more or less leading our group of the alliance and teaching folks how to run it. I’ll say that teaching is the best teacher, because I now have a pretty strong grasp of the mechanics of these fights, especially the third boss. And much to my surprise, that alliance pulled it together, even after several wipes and some folks dropping out, and got it done with time to spare.

What’s my opinion on this raid? Well…

Warning: There will be spoilers from here on out!

Continue reading “FFXIV: Orbonne Monastery Clears”