Tuesday, February 28, 2017


VIOLIN MATTERS                            


“If the edges of the sound hole are uneven and there is no clear ringing tone of the adjacent strings- it should raise an alarm bell”


'Sound post' is a cylindrical rod of usually wood which is placed inside the body of the violin . 

It is positioned inside the violin at a level adjacent to the bridge near the E string .

The Soul 

Sound post is placed between the front plate and the back plate of violin supporting the arch of the violin. 

It alters the tone of the violin and is often referred to as ‘the soul’ (ame) of the violin.

Ideal position of the sound post inside the belly of the violin is 1-3 mm behind the bridge position and 1-3 mms inner to the right foot of the bridge.

Fig 1. Position of the sound
(From Andrew Filmer with thanks)

Moving the sound post towards (1) the bridge gives a louder and harsher sound.
Moving the sound post away from the bridge (2) gives a mellow and lesser volume sound.
Moving the sound post to the left (3) or to the right (4) will increase focus on the adjacent strings.

Not only the position but also the make of sound post is important – the grains meaning the lines along the tree growth should  be at 90 degree angle to the grain of the instrument. 

The touching ends of the sound post should also be carved to the shape of the breast of the violin so that the contact is full and complete.

Sound post is generally erect, but can be slightly at an angle

Adjusting the sound post is just not physical, but the tone of the violin should be heard, felt and appreciated to a better one. 

Each violin is different in its temperament and only general principles of the sound can be laid.

Its position can be altered inside the violin via the sound holes with a setting tool by the luthier.

 Fig 2. Sound post setter tool


  • My violin makes a clear ringing tone on the open strings of G and D. 
  • But the clear ringing tone was absent on strings A and E.  
  • To find out the exact nature, I took a picture of the sound holes of the violin from the front which looked apparently normal.

Fig. 3. Apparently Normal Looking Sound holes

I also palpated the body of the violin and found the edges of the right sound hole were at uneven depth. The inner edge of the right sound hole was raised compared to the left sound hole as though the sound post was keeping the front and the back plates of the violin apart.

Pic. 4.  Left Sound Hole - Edges Even.

Pic. 5. Right Sound Hole- Edges Uneven and Apart


So I took this up with the luthier to readjust the sound post.

He confirmed my findings and readjusted the post to an inner position

The front and the back plates of the violin body were no longer under tension.

The edges of the right sound hole became more even.

The price of the pudding was that the sound returned to the A and E string – louder, clearer and what is more , the ringing tone of the open strings A and E had returned!

"There is more to it than meets the eye!"

By the way my age-old bridge had a minute crack on its back surface and we replaced this as well and the sound was far superior. 

So it is important to know that the sound depends on factors far more than just the sound post!!

So keep looking for causes to improve your tone - not only in your playing, but also in the violin!


       “If the edges of the sound hole are uneven and there is no clear ringing tone of the adjacent    strings- it should raise an alarm bell”

Sunday, February 19, 2017



The last mile refers to a gas chamber situated not a mile, but about 30 feet away in Texas State Penitentiary where Melvin Mars the foot ball star is being readied for the death penalty.

At the eleventh hour, he is saved from death as someone else confessed to his crime which was killing his parents and burning them!

Amos Decker is the police detective with  ‘hyperthymesia’ condition with a perfect memory and total memory recall. Decker leads the story with the FBI team weaving through a plot of hidden agendas, federal and police accomplices.

David Baldacci is a renowned Italian born, American lawyer turned writer  aged 56, with at least 33 thrillers , not to mention many others works for children.

He always brings in description of sports or physical fitness in almost all his novels. 

His heros are generally middle aged men who are larger than normal but have been physically fit in the past. The female officers of law are fit, agile women who outsmart the men – and the present story is no exception to this rule!

There is always a take home message from almost all his books about how to remain fit. 

For instance in this book, Mars the prisoner keeps himself physically fit by doing daily for 20 years, in his prison cell –

  • ·         200 pushups first with fist, then on finger tips and finally in backward dog position with his head touching the floor on each pass,
  • ·         300 deep deep squats,
  • ·         Yoga and Pilates for strength, balance, movements and flexibility &
  • ·         1000 stomach and core reps.

I have found Baldacci’s recipe for fitness always fascinating! If only we could do a fraction of these every day, we will all be a lot healthier!

His earlier books ‘Absolute Power’, ‘Total Control’  (disappearing executive in technology conglomerate- wanting the best for his family) and  even ‘The Winner’ ( the corrupt and prefixed lottery system)  have involved a lot of research and intriguing details.

Though ‘The Last Mile’ was released as late as 2016, I found the book not so very well researched on the finer details. 

I would have liked to see more of finer descriptions of people, places and events.

But the story keeps you interested in the book enough to finish it at one go.

Monday, February 6, 2017



'FALL OF THE GIANTS'  by the Welch author Ken Follet is a historical novel which depicts role of the aristocrats and the working class of the early 20th century (1911 to be exact) both vertically and horizontally.

Vertically because the story involves the coal mining community in Aberowen a Welch town , the coal mine and and the aristocrats of the last century. Horizontally it moves along generations and world war 1.

My own trip to the largest coal mine in the world http://lapsurgeon.blogspot.in/2013/08/a-visit-to-largest-coal-mine-in-world.html showed that the Indian mine is 1000 metres deep where the actual miners work. I knew what ‘pitch black darkness’ meant and the importance of lights in the pits.

Follet starts his novel with graphic account of how the make-shift lift takes a young miner, a boy at that, down to the depths, ragged by his seniors who give him a lamp which goes out and leaves him in pitch black darkness!

Simultaneous narration of the owners of the mining town - the exotic Fitzherbert and his Russian wife Bee. Story weaves around the love and hate between lower and upper classes.

Explosion and fire in the mine – with death of many. The puny response of the mining owner to the fire!

True love blossoms not only between the aristocrats and the poor ; adultery,betrayal and denial also co exist among them.

The story goes on to world war 1, the trenches, treachery of the army officials, the stupidity of  the top government bureaucracy in going to war.  The officials despite the death of thousands of young men of the lower social order still proclaimed the (needless) war as a success!

This reminded me of how even after a 100 years, governments still manage to pull wool over our eyes saying how a change is done for our good , when only us, the commoners are made to suffer, leaving the rich to benefit immensely from the exercise !!

The social rights and woman empowerment with voting rights for women are focused in great detail.

The need for the common folks to stand up for what is right and fair - reminded me of 'jallikattu' movement in Tamilnadu!

In the end, the children of the miners who grow up to be bold, decisive young men and women lead a better life and become popular compared to the rich folks who are exposed for their greedy, selfish attitude. 

So there is a morality in the book after all and a source for joy in life.

When my son had bought the large book, I wondering how I’d be able to read it – but this novel depicts life in general and in war, giving hope for us all. 

Thank  you, Pravin for lending it to me!