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It is not the heat, it's the humidity..(Or Neither)

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Oct 17, 2019 - 12:54:24 PM
7715 posts since 3/19/2009

Today I was busking. Cool weather, maybe 55 degrees F...and LOW humidity.. I found that playing my fiddle was especially exuberating!!!! It made me think of how my horses (years ago when I Had horses) would prance and play in crisp, cold weather.. Anyhowz , I've noticed this in the past, that fiddling in such weather seemed Easier..... Humidity and heat make fiddling more taxing...Agree? Disagree? Observations?

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 10/17/2019 12:55:15

Oct 17, 2019 - 1:01:50 PM
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Tyler94

USA

35 posts since 7/21/2019

Sometimes I've noticed a lack of humidity makes my fiddle sound...dry and lifeless. Hard to explain but the sound almost sounds "less dense" if that makes sense. Kind of thin and metallic....maybe it's just me making excuses though.

Oct 17, 2019 - 1:16:09 PM
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83 posts since 11/28/2018

There's nothing like watching a Wild Horse at Stoney Point while listening to the Chilly Winds on a Dry and Dusty Cold Frosty Morning!

Oct 17, 2019 - 1:18:08 PM

7715 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Tyler94

Sometimes I've noticed a lack of humidity makes my fiddle sound...dry and lifeless. Hard to explain but the sound almost sounds "less dense" if that makes sense. Kind of thin and metallic....maybe it's just me making excuses though.


I AGREE that humidity makes a fiddle sound more 'mellow', but conversely, it also makes one's fingers 'stick' and not move on the fingerboard as easily as with low humidity. Just my observation..

Oct 17, 2019 - 1:19:04 PM

7715 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Woodcutter

There's nothing like watching a Wild Horse at Stoney Point while listening to the Chilly Winds on a Dry and Dusty Cold Frosty Morning!


HEY! that is Exactly what I was just going to say!!!cheeky

Oct 17, 2019 - 1:50:09 PM

83 posts since 11/28/2018

On a less frivolous note --- I also like playing in low humidity conditions (which often coincide with cooler weather). For me, the bow just seems to glide easier. As you point out, the fingers don't 'stick' --- and in fact, I get the sensation that my fingers are incrementally thinner (if this makes any sense) which makes it easier (for me) to hit a note with precision. And I really like the feel of the fiddle in low humidity conditions. I haven't noticed the 'thin and metallic' effect that Tyler speaks of.

Living in a pretty cool part of the world I have low humidity conditions for several months a year. I keep the fiddle in the same room with the woodburner because I like the dryness so much.

Oct 17, 2019 - 2:28:30 PM

1177 posts since 10/13/2010

Might be something to it. A humid bow will sag a little more and perhaps not pull a sound quite as well.

Also, cool dry air will carry sound better so you may be getting better sound making you feel better about your playing.

Oct 17, 2019 - 3:20:14 PM

83 posts since 11/28/2018

quote:
Originally posted by martynspeck

Also, cool dry air will carry sound better so you may be getting better sound making you feel better about your playing.


I always thought sound carried better on a foggy day, which is cool but not dry.

Oct 17, 2019 - 4:31:04 PM

4313 posts since 9/26/2008

One of my fiddles prefers the winter when the air is drier indoors, sounds way better and is easier to pull sound from.

Oct 17, 2019 - 6:10:57 PM

387 posts since 8/10/2017

I was playing outside this weekend in So Cal and the weather was very dry, with cold mornings and warm days. I could barely play. The bow and the strings were so sticky! I wiped and wiped and wiped and it slowly got better. Then I returned to the coast to jam at the Goleta Old Time Fiddler's Convention and thankfully the cooler, moister seaside air made my fiddle happy again.

Oct 17, 2019 - 6:36:26 PM

209 posts since 6/25/2007

quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

I was playing outside this weekend in So Cal and the weather was very dry, with cold mornings and warm days. I could barely play. The bow and the strings were so sticky! I wiped and wiped and wiped and it slowly got better. Then I returned to the coast to jam at the Goleta Old Time Fiddler's Convention and thankfully the cooler, moister seaside air made my fiddle happy again.


Diane, I was camped up there at Lake Cachuma too, and I thought I might cross paths with and recognize you from your picture, but I guess that didn't happen! If you happened to catch Hog-Eyed Man's set on Sunday morning, I was the banjo player who sat in with Jason and Rob for "Juno Rye Straw" from Bascom Lamar Lunsford. And yes, it was incredibly dry up there, hot in the day and very cold at night at the campground! We did build a roaring fire on Saturday night, and that really helped us be able to play fairly late.

Edited by - Brendan Doyle on 10/17/2019 18:38:18

Oct 17, 2019 - 8:37 PM

387 posts since 8/10/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Brendan Doyle
quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

I was playing outside this weekend in So Cal and the weather was very dry, with cold mornings and warm days. I could barely play. The bow and the strings were so sticky! I wiped and wiped and wiped and it slowly got better. Then I returned to the coast to jam at the Goleta Old Time Fiddler's Convention and thankfully the cooler, moister seaside air made my fiddle happy again.


Diane, I was camped up there at Lake Cachuma too, and I thought I might cross paths with and recognize you from your picture, but I guess that didn't happen! If you happened to catch Hog-Eyed Man's set on Sunday morning, I was the banjo player who sat in with Jason and Rob for "Juno Rye Straw" from Bascom Lamar Lunsford. And yes, it was incredibly dry up there, hot in the day and very cold at night at the campground! We did build a roaring fire on Saturday night, and that really helped us be able to play fairly late.


I didn't watch any of the performances.

I camped in #301. I attended the potluck at Steve's site on Friday night where they were playing all that great Cajun music and I was there until the rangers came and busted us. I jammed in Chris's site near the bathroom on Saturday morning, over by Andy's RV and at Connie's site until late at night. At the festival I attended Andy's 10AM jam and then I jammed over by the restrooms most of the day. I always miss everything at the festival. I'm always bummed that none of David Bragger's group jams with us riff-raff.

Oct 18, 2019 - 12:04:08 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

183 posts since 9/1/2019

Well, I find that my mandolin sounds much better in cooler weather, but I haven't noticed that with my fiddle. I have noticed that it's very predictable which way it'll be out of tune in the morning as opposed to the evening

Oct 18, 2019 - 7:01:18 AM

2169 posts since 10/1/2008

Well .... fiddles seem to me to be the canarys of the string instrument world because they are the first to show a change in their physical / tonal condition in relation to the woods moisture content. I use the non term "shrieky" to describe my fiddle when it gets a bit dry.
Insofar as air temp is concerned and it's effect on sound waves I expect it envolves physics and the density of air in different conditions. It may even effect to some degree how our eardrums function. Perhaps there is some thesis out there on these effects. IDK. But it is indeed a curiosity.
I do have a CF bow in my case for those KY days that the humidity gets out of hand. Yes, I understand that the hair is effected first but I insist my pernambuco bow feels floppy when the relative humidity gets up in the 60%'s. Weather < ha it is in my mind or fingers I can't really say ... it just is.
I am so used to playing in humid conditions that I don't really notice any stickiness.... but that may be my normal....
Onward and upward .. I put a fresh set of Prim Mediums with a Lisa E on a couple of days ago. My fiddle is happy with me. R/

Oct 18, 2019 - 8:16:36 AM

1177 posts since 10/13/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Woodcutter
quote:
Originally posted by martynspeck

Also, cool dry air will carry sound better so you may be getting better sound making you feel better about your playing.


I always thought sound carried better on a foggy day, which is cool but not dry.


Around here, sound carries best on a clear day with temperatures around -10.

https://curiosity.com/topics/heres-why-sound-carries-farther-on-cold-days-curiosity/

"On a cold day, there tends to be a layer of warmer air above the cold pockets closest to the ground. When you shout to a friend down the street or hear your bus (finally!) arriving, the sound wave that would ordinarily go out in all directions gets refracted by that warm air. Because sound moves faster in warm air than colder air, the wave bends away from the warm air and back toward the ground. That's why sound is able to travel farther in chilly weather."

Didn't know the physics of it before.

Oct 18, 2019 - 10:08:13 AM

83 posts since 11/28/2018

martynspeck
Marty, I realized as soon as I posted that the physics may not be on my side. I'm not even sure if physicists would ever use the word 'carry' with respect to sound. More likely it would be that sound 'propogates faster or at higher volume' based on the air density.

But all of that aside, the change in speed or volume would be quite low in environments we could actually play in. And the distance between our fiddles and ears is so small that I can't imagine noticing those changes.

All of this doesn't really address Tuneweavers point though. Bottom line for me is that I agree it's easier to play in cooler dryer conditions.

Oct 18, 2019 - 10:51:51 AM
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DougD

USA

9301 posts since 12/2/2007

I know fiddlers who feel they know exactly what temperature and humidity their instrument prefers.
Not sure if it applies to the original question, but since you mentioned air density - I've had the experience of playing old time music outside on the altiplano in Bolivia, at probably 11 or 12 thousand feet. The air was so thin it was a little difficult to hear people just a few feet away.

Oct 18, 2019 - 2:29:17 PM
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207 posts since 11/5/2014

Not a fan of low humidity - fiddle becomes "thin" sounding and rosin seems to be powdery rather than "grippy". But too high humidity also no good - fiddle feels lethargic and fingerboard get sticky. Seem to be a few days between seasons where things sound and feel just right, and then downhill from there :)

Universally hate my fingers being cold though - speed and precision straight out of the window.

Oct 19, 2019 - 6:20:29 PM
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387 posts since 8/10/2017

A little talcum powder on your fingers really helps.

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