View Full Version : Déformation professionelle

Jun-10-2004, 8:24am
The French have, as always, a most eloquent expression for this malady: déformation professionelle, i.e. the deformation of one's body —or even behavior!— by one's everyday, professional occupation.

On the strictly physical level, this applies e.g. to the tennis player, whose racquet-wielding arm is far more developed in musculature than the other one; on the behavioral level, it applies e.g. to the schoolteacher who repeats everything at least three times, in progressively slower, clearer enunciation, in order to be understood— even by adults.

Well, my bassist déformation professionelle —or, in American fashion, should I just abbreviate it to D.P. from now on? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif — are my E.T. fingertips. As a result, some chords on the mandolin (evidently very common ones, as I keep finding them in various texts and scores), simply do not work under my paws. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Think, especially, of those chord-formations that require the index or middle finger to press the note on the "middle" string, e.g. where the other fingers may be on the D- and E-courses, while the larger finger is on the A-course. Hélas, la déformation! Simply impossible: The index or middle finger(tip) INEVITABLY mutes either of the outer courses by its width. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

So, then, what to do? (short of filing my fingers down with some sort of pencil-sharpener... *ouch!*) The problem would, of course, simply go away if I played a modern German bowlback, with its spacious, almost lute-ish fingerboard; then again, that would be like buying an 18-wheeler just because one likes a wider driver's seat...


P.S. I know, of course, that any chord-formation can be found in alternate locations, i.e. 3-4 positions higher/lower, but, for the purpose of this thread, that is not what I mean; what I do mean is in loco.

Jun-10-2004, 9:25am
This is a common problem but it can be solved with patience and systematic study. I have quite large hands and manage even on Embergher mandolins but it requires the hand to be much more precise in positioning the fingers. I would recommend daily study of thirds alternating with sixths and octaves to relax the fingers. By studies in thirds, I mostly mean scales and in all the tonalities. Fourths are also good hand positioners. Look for the most relaxed (soft) feel to a successful fingering of these double stop exercises. Do this for 20 minutes per day and we'll talk in 10 days or so http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jun-10-2004, 9:34am
Thank you, doctor. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

I will practice as per your prescription and report.

Jun-24-2004, 10:36am
Well, whad'ya know? The doctor was right, after all— again. Thank you, Richard.

I have practiced in 3rds and 6ths since I started this thread two weeks ago and, I must admit, I do feel the difference. The key, I suppose, is paying closer attention to the fingertip-to-string relationship. If business analysts speak of "Last Mile" issues, I guess this ought to be called the "Last Millimeter" one. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Yet, curious (and lazy) as I am, I still dream of landing my paws on some reeeeeeally spacious fingerboard some day, just to "feel the difference"... MC-friends margora, (you who own a modern German bowl), plami, (you who have played such)... any comments on how these darling beasts feel under the fingers?

Jim Garber
Jun-24-2004, 11:15am
At Carlo's master class, there was a player, Sam from Montreal, who was also at the workshop last fall. He has a Knorr mandolin (http://www.knorr-mandolinen.de/eng_solisten.htm). What I especially noticed when trying it out what how wide the fingerboard was. I used to prefer the wider boards but have adapted to the Italianate Pandini board. Besides, my fingers are not very large.

BTW it was anjce sounding mandolin but definitely in the German aesthetic, dry and precise. Sam played my Pandini and fell in love with that sound. Of course, I told him he must have one of each for a more perfect sound palette.


Jun-24-2004, 11:25am
Yes, I did meet Sam last Fall. He also did hand me his Knorr, which, however, I was reluctant to try. It felt so HUGE in my hands! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif Au contraire, he plucked a few notes on my Ceccherini and exclaimed something like "feather-weight"— a compliment, of course.

Jun-24-2004, 11:37am
Neil's Seiffert is another chunky mando to be reckoned with. When you're ready to jump on the trendy early-music bandwagon, check out the really old school Neapolitan mandolins (a la Larson after Vinaccia (http://www.daniellarson.com/mandolins/baroque_mandolin/neo.htm)) built for stringing with gut, brass, and silver-wound silk. They have very delicate soundboxes with slightly broader fingerboards.