St Lawrence String Quartet on “that” iPad video

When journalist Shirley Apthorp interviewed the St Lawrence String Quartet last year, not all of the material could make it into the final article. Here’s an extract that didn’t make it to print, where the Quartet discusses their foray into digital media.

Shirley Apthorp: In the 20 years that your quartet has existed, changes in the use of digital new media have enormously affected our lives. Is that something you’ve felt?

Geoff Nuttall: Well, we live in the centre of the universe in that respect – it’s hard to escape here in Silicon Valley.

Scott St John: I think it’s been actually very positive in many ways. I think we’ve found that we can get a fair amount of community or neighbourhood feeling from a very disparate environment like Facebook. A lot of people, I think, are more aware of different music options, whether it be quartet, chamber music, or alternative music in general. So there’s a lot of good stuff kind of bubbling around. I’m not sure if we’re on the apex of that frontier, but we did a hilarious video for the iPad when that came out.

Lesley Robertson: We thought it was hilarious.

Scott: A lot of those who commented on the site thought it was less than hilarious.

Chris Costanza: There was an app created by some friends of ours who live just down the road from us called Magic Fiddle. And it’s basically three strings.

Scott: You can hold it on your shoulder like a violin, and there are three strings that are touch-sensitive on it – you can actually finger the strings very accurately, and vibrate – that works really well – and then you hit this little Tron-like thing here that makes the sound come out.

Lesley: You can do pizzicato on it too.

Chris: But of course there’s no feeling.

Scott: It’s very hard to play. The biggest problem was that we sounded absolutely horrible on it.

Chris: It’s designed for people who can’t play the instrument, so if you’re used to the feel of a real one, it’s maybe even harder. If someone is learning from scratch, and they do tutorials – they have tutorials where you learn where to put your fingers – maybe then it’s good.

Lesley: We had all kinds of cheesy tunes – Pachelbel’s Canon, the Wedding March – which we thought were very funny.

Chris: We thought late Beethoven might be a bit of a stretch.

Lesley: It comes across as being very serious. But we thought it was funny.

Geoff: (sighs) Oh yeah. You can find us on You Tube. We could add that to the tour program…

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