woman of medium height and skin the color of tanned cherry wood, Shinnai would
likely be slender if her job allowed her more respite from her desk. Her
features, while not really pretty, are distinct - high cheekbones, a straight
nose between deepset almond-shaped eyes of an aqua so deep as to appear nearly
black. Her hair is a silky, indeterminate length of dark brown which is
consistently tied up out of her way.
first glance, Seamus seems to be a living inconsistancy. The Harper's lean,
willowy build accentuated by cords of thin muscle, Holdless years etched into
his physical being. He stands six feet in height, not so tall but assured in
bearing. Fine, coppery-brown hair, a forelock streaked with white, hangs down
slightly past his shoulders, as hazel-amber eyes shine with mischief and
secrets. Sharp features, long limbs, and slightly pointed ears add an
other-worldly aspect to Seamus, a remembrance of the long forgotten Fey. His
ever present smile and expressive eyes show a warm, caring person, always eager
to lend a hand or give advice. Imperceptibly, his barely handsome appearance is
marred by a faint scar upon his brow.
slim, reed-thin... however you choose to describe a dancer's body, Aleta
certainly posesses one. Her hair, rich golden blonde, falls to just below her
shoulder in its soft waves, her blue
eyes sparkle in the narrow, pale face. She seems almost elongated, with long
legs, arms, and fingers. Each step is taken with graceful precision forewards,
and a smile seems permanently stuck to her lips.
Cimorene meets your gaze squarely and raises her chin defiantly. Her eyes are very dark brown, almost black, with flashes of fire in their depths. She is rather tall, and more skinny than slender, though the effect is not unattractive. Cimorene usually has her waist-length jet black hair plaited into two braids down her back. She is very strong-willed, though a less complementary way of putting it (and the term that most people use) is that she is exceedingly stubborn. She does her own thing, the way she wants to do it, and woe to the person who thinks they can stand in her way. She has a flair for the ironic, and a very dry wit. She hates busy-work, and will do nearly anything to avoid it. She is, altogether, a very intense person. Cimorene is 17 Turns, 11 months, and 9 days old.
see a young man with long dark hair in a ponny tail. He is tall and a bit thin,
but well trained. His eyes are a mix of green and brown, which seams to change
after the weather: when it's sunny outside they tend to be green, but when rain
falls they become deep brown. His hands are thin but quick, exellent for playing
gitar or similar instruments. He is a bit quiet and often waits untill everybody
else has spoken before talking. Because of this people often don't notice or
forget about his presence. He often smiles and in the presence of friends and
people he trusts he likes to joke. When he breaks out of his
largest room in the Istan Harper Hall, save the Ballroom, this room has
wonderful acoustics that make sound bounce off the walls just so. From lessons
to rehearsal to just listening to the marvelous sounds always filling the room,
there's always a surplus of people about, harpers of every rank, and even a few
holders. Tiers fill almost every wall in the room, the choir levels on the
right, the orchestra one directly in and other smaller areas for more specific
group rehearsal on the left. The room is spotlessly clean and only
wanders around the hall, whistling to herself and listening to the echoes.
carries a number of instrument cases in from the office, carefully keeping them
from falling to the floor.
walks in from the ballroom.
reaches Shinnai in her circling and halts. "Hey, I'll carry a couple of
those for you..."
smiles to both harpers as he enters.
unloads a couple of cases onto Cimorene. "Thanks, Cim. Just set them down
over here," she nods in the appropriate direction.
sweeps with an air of elegance and grace in from the ballroom.
disgorges the instrument cases from her arms, placing them side by side on the
cheerfully wrestles the cases to the area indicated, then bends over in odd
directions trying to set them down carefully.
raises an eyebrow "What's going on?"
Aleta's shoulder, Persephone peers out at the world. Where're we going? Aleta
smiles at everyone and waves and tries to console the pretty little thing who
just got picked up and hauled down here without getting told what was going on.
turns to face the arriving apprentices. "We're going to learn to play a
bowed instrument today. Specifically, the viola."
looks up and smiles brightly. "Really? Oh...fantastic!"
smiles "The viola? Nice!"
scans the room. "Who else is missing, still?" she wonders. "I
guess we'll just wait another few moments before starting." She smiles.
"Have any of you ever played a bowed instrument before?"
pales slightly. She hasn't even mastered basic chords on the gitar yet, and now
she's going to be learning viola? Eek. But Percy and Shadow do their best to
console her, also managing to get royally in the way. She shakes her head.
shakes her head, gazing at the instruments lined up on the table, fingers
shakes his head "No never"
smiles encouragingly. "Great, then you're all at the same level. Makes it
easier for the class as a whole."
walks in from the ballroom.
man who seems to glow with life.....
smiles to Shakar. "Can I help you? We're just about to start here."
says, "um...sorry, got lost somewhere" Shakar looks very confused
walks over to greet Shakar. "Can I help you?" she asks again, as the
various apprentices assemble for the upcoming lesson.
Seamus glides, like a shadow, in from the ballroom.
says, "hmm....I'm sorry" Shakar says, "disturbing you and
puts his gitar away since they're doing viola lesson.
Aleta pries golden tail away from her neck. "You're a beautiful little darling, but I can't play with you strangling me." Persephone chirrs unhappily and complies. "That's better, sweet." Then, she looks at Shinnai.
walks into the harper office.
smiles to Seamus as he enters, briefly, then was about to reply to Shakar.
smiles, tearing her gaze from those tempting new instruments for a moment.
Keven looks up as he hears someone enter "Hi there Seamus!"
Shinnai goes back to the laid-out instrument cases again. "Alright, is everyone present? Then we'll get started. We're going to learn a new instrument today, to give you all a wider concept of music and a musician's skills."
smiles as he looks over at the strange instruments.
settles onto a perch where she can watch her pet. Shadowdancer settles next to
her, a protective eye on his little shouldermate. Aleta, below, looks a little
dubious. "I'm not sure about this..."
picks up the first viola. "Now, I'm sure you've all seen this played at one
time or other. In construction, it's the same as a violin, only slightly larger.
Does anyone know what the difference in tuning is between a violin and a
reaches out with one hand to touch the wood of the instrument reverently. She
plucks each string at a time, starting with the lowest, each a fifth apart.
says, "Does anyone know what the tuning of a violin is, for that
looks uncertain "Ehh... nope"
says, "Can I guess?"
smiles. "Sure, Keven. Go ahead."
just looks a little blank. She can read music, but just barely... playing
anything is really beyond her.
says, "Starting from above, E, A, D, G?"
grins. "That's correct! Now, do you know what the tuning of the viola is,
or would you like to guess?"
looks over at the the thing to check that it really got 4 strings.
grins as he finds out that yes, it has 4 strings. :)
smiles "I'll try another guess... D,G,H(B),E?
smiles. "No, you're taking that from the guitar, aren't you? Actually, a
viola's tuning is only a fifth lower than the violin. That means the strings,
from the top, are A," she plucks each again as she speaks, "D, G, and
nods "Yeah! I only play the gitar so I guessed it was some sort of 4
grins. "Good thinking."
says, "So, given the range of pitch - a middle range, approximately
equivalent to a low alto or high tenor voice - what would you expect the viola's
main purpose in ensemble to be?"
directs the question to anyone.
hmms. "Melody sometimes and alto harmonies?"
smiles to Cimorene. "Sometimes that, and sometimes tenor harmonies. For
instance, do you know what instruments are in a typical string quartet?"
blinks and is just completely clueless. *sigh*
glances around, then answers the question herself. "Two violins, one
viola," she holds up the instrument, "and one cello. The violins split
the melody and alto harmonies, generally, while the viola and cello play tenor
and bass, respectively. Of course, it's up to the composer, but that's the way
it usually works."
says, "Any questions so far?"
says, "The cello? Do we have one here?"
nods. "Yes, we have one here."
smiles "I'd love to learn to play that, but this was a viola lesson
nods emphatically. "I didn't understand much of what you just said... I
know music in relation to /dance/. Not in relation to instruments. This hasn't
made a bit of sense to me so far..."
Shinnai grins at Keven. "Yes, today is viola. Cello is another lesson."
Seamus watches the lesson from a seat upon the lowest tier, glancing suspiciously toward the instruments.
nods to Aleta, then leans against a handy desk to speak to her. "In that
case, let me see..." she thinks, then starts an explanation. Or so she
Shinnai says, "Aleta, have you ever heard this instrument played? Usually, you'll hear it in ensembles - and very often, at dances."
nods at Shinnai. "Of course."
Shinnai says, "Then we're starting from a common ground." She smiles, holding the instrument out. "You'll see that it has four strings. You remember what we said it was tuned to?"
says, "Alright. So, you hear the mellow, low tone of the instrument.
says, "Ok. I'm just attempting to give you a little background on the
blinks, it completely passing her by, but smiles. "Okay..."
looks around. "Has everyone got a viola and bow?" she wonders.
"Now, we can leave the construction of these things for shop class, I
think, and get started on the mechanics."
Aleta nods, although she has absolutely no clue how to hold the thing.
grins, still watching the violas suspiciously. "Uh oh," he says,
mostly to himself, while eyeing the others critically. Why does this sound like
says, "Good. We'll start with the bow." She holds her own up, the
block at one end held lightly in her right hand, fingers splayed slightly to
support the length. "This end," she points to the end she grasps,
"is called the 'frog'."
looks over at the end "Frog?"
spares an amused glance for Seamus, then continues. "Don't ask me why it's
called that," she grins, "it just is. The end you grasp is the frog,
and the other end, the pointy one" she touches the point at the other end
of the bow, "is called the 'tip'."
Aleta makes hasty mental notes. Frog. Tip. Okay. She's got it.
says, "Indeed, the rest of it is the 'stick', Keven."
looks genuinely surprised "Whoaa! my guesses really turn out well
Shinnai grins. "So they do. Now, everyone hold your bows in your right hands, just like I am. Your hand should be relaxed, not stiff -- your thumb must be bent, to keep you from stiffening up."
says, "It takes some practice to keep the bow steady. Hold it vertically,
and move it toward you, and away from you - careful, keep it straight up and
down. Don't let it wobble."
looks at Shinnai before trying.
is now glad he's chosen not to take up the viola. He'd poke someone's eye out.
He knows it...
says, "And then, side to side, and up and down. Don't be discouraged if you
can't keep it perfectly still."
moves the bow quite slowly steadying it with his thumb as he takes long strokes.
reads Seamus' mind and chuckles.:)
tries it, just like indicated... she isn't afraid she'll poke someone's eye out,
but this is still new to her.
says, "You'll use your first finger, your thumb, and your little finger to
balance the bow in your hand. If it starts to wobble, use your little finger for
Shinnai watches the wobbling bows around the room slowly get a little straighter. "Good!"
feels some strain to the right hand, as a gitarist he isn't used to do fine work
with his right hand.
smiles. "Alright, put the bow down and shake out your hand for moment. Now,
we'll go to the viola."
Shinnai puts down the bow, and takes the instrument. She holds it from the fingerboard, the scroll up and the body of the viola down, in her left hand.
Keven sighs a little of relief as he lowers the right hand, he shakes it in various directions to remove the stiffness.
says, "First, stand up. Set your feet a little apart - about shoulder
distance - and then turn your left foot about sixty degrees out, and slightly
grins at Keven. "Of course there aren't. That's one of the benefits."
raises an eyebrow "Benefits?"
stands up as he's talking.
Aleta stands, and positions herself easily. That's the easy part. She still looks dubious. "What's a fret?"
nods "Yes I see, but it would help to see where to put your fingers."
says, "A fret," she explains to Aleta, "is one of these small
bars you see on most guitars' fingerboards. They allow a guitarist to get a
consistent pitch when fingering complex chords.""
ohs, and still looks confused, just not as much as before.
grins. "You'll learn where your fingers go soon enough. It doesn't take all
that much with a good ear."
says, "Why don't they just paint frets on the viola, then you would see
where to put your finger without destroying the sliding effect."
Keven says, "It would help in the beginning."
To Keven, she replies, "That's often done, in the beginning. But since these are the Hall's instruments, and not only for beginners, we can't do that."
Shinnai says, "Now, turn your wrist so that the viola is standing straight up in the air. You can steady it with your other hand if you need to."
Shinnai does just that, then pulls the upright viola down in an arc to land gently on her shoulder. "Then, bring it in to your shoulder, and put your chin down on the chinrest," she demonstrates, her chin landing on a small black piece of wood clamped to the viola's body to give her better purchase.
grins. "Now, the trick is to hold it entirely with your chin and shoulder,
leaving your hand to do other things independently." she removes her hand
from the viola's neck and waves it about unconcernedly. "Careful the first
time, though, it can be heavy if you're not used to it."
looks from his position on the viola out over the fingerboard, "Hmm now
this looks strange, you see the finger board like a road going from you. This
will make it hard to judge distances."
Keven strikes a tone on his viola but all tat comes out of the thing is a half muted, half strangled.. something, certainly not a tone. "Hmm..."
smiles "Ahh just listen to that.. beautiful"
Shinnai winces. "Now you know what I meant by torturing felines," she mumbles. "Hold off a moment, Keven, before you kill it," she teases.
hides his cringe, and grimace, behind a slight smile.
says, "Now, before we add the bow in, rest the thumb of your left hand near
the end of the fingerboard, where the scroll begins. Not *on* the scroll, just
in front of it." Shinnai places her thumb in the appropriate spot, turning
her body to show all and sundry.
looks at Shinnai's demo and copies her stance to the best of her ability.
moves out his hand on the fingerboard once again "Hmm like a gitar but
Shinnai says, "Then, you curl the rest of your hand gently around, without grabbing the neck, but leaving a nice space between your hand and the wood. Place your first finger down on the string, pressing it down to the fingerboard."
Shinnai encourages Cimorene. "Good! Keep it relaxed. Don't strangle it, it hasn't done anything to you," she grins. "How are you doing, Keven?"
Shinnai pushes the scroll of Keven's viola up slightly, causing him to stand up straighter. "It gets heavy, but don't get in the habit of slouching," she warns. "Good, just use the leverage between your thumb and forefinger to press the string down. It doesn't require that much force."
nods and sighs a little of relief as Shinnai straightens his back "Ahh...
that was nice"
picks up Keven's bow, tightens the hair slightly, and takes his right hand.
"Now, let's add the bow." she allows Keven to place his fingers on the
bow, holding it gently but steadily.
Shinnai says, "When you put the bow on the string, it should be halfway between the bridge," she points to the thing that holds the strings up, "and the end of the fingerboard. That's where you'll get the most even tone."
Shinnai guides Keven's bow to the string, putting it down relatively close on the bow to the frog, and halfway between the bridge and fingerboard.
wasn't slouching! Honest! She doesn't slouch. She just isn't very good at the
/rest/ of it.
Shinnai says, "Now, feel where that is, then, to pull the bow across the string, simply straighten your arm away from you."
puts her own viola in position again, and takes her bow, places it on the
string, and draws a note.
takes a deep breath "ok here goes" He lets the bow move across the
strings between the board and where the strings begin, and to his supprice out
comes a clean quite nice tone.
moves the bow carefully across the strings... *SQUAWK* Cimorene winces.
Shinnai grins. "Good, Keven! Now, take an 'up-bow' - pull your wrist back toward your nose, keeping the bow moving straight across."
glances quickly around for the wherry...
grins at Cimorene. "It's only to be expected, don't worry. Here, try that
again." She guides Cim's bow onto the string, then touches her arm to tell
it where it ought to be as she pulls.
pulls back dubiously in the right direction. Oh, poor kitty! No wait, that's
just Cim playing again.
carefully strokes the bow back again, the tone that comes out is clean at first
but then strangles into one of those wherry squawks.
grins. "That's right, now the other direction." she guides Cimorene's
wrist back directly toward her nose.
pushes as indicated and smiles as something akin to a tone emerges.
says, "There! Now, Keven," she turns, "Don't tense up.
walks in from the ballroom.
Seamus waves to Eli from his perch atop the low tier, knees pulled up to his chest. No, they're not there to cover his ears. Really. "Morning, Eli."
smiles to Eli, then turns back to the class. "Ok, now, we try for the next
finger. Put your second finger on the string, and pull the bow across.
shakes her head. She still isn't very good, but... "Er... no."
says, "Alright, then. You're welcome to come down and practice, or ask for
help, at any time now that you've had an introduction to the viola. That goes
for the violin, too."
smiles "Thanks for the lesson Master Shinnai"'
smiles. "Good work. Make sure that you loosen the bow before you put it
away," she cautions, putting her own viola back in its case."
nods "Ohh.. ok"
Shinnai smiles and waves. "Have a good time. Don't forget to put them away in the office."
© Design Copyright S. Minkus & L. Ledger, 2003
© Content Copyright the Members of the Harper's Tale Harpercraft, 1999-present
© Pern and the concept of the Harpercraft is the property of Ms. Anne McCaffrey, who kindly allows us to play in her world. Thank you!