Simply put No rosin= No sound. Rosin creates friction between the horsehair of the bow and the metal strings of the instrument, giving stringed instruments their tone and sound output.
Luthiers (violin makers) call rosin, colophon or colophoy, which is a name that was derived from the ancient city of Colophon in Lydia. This city produced a high-grade of resin for medical procedures.
Have you ever eaten a waffle or a stack of pancakes? What do you usually put on top? Maple Syrup? Yeah! Well….rosin is a bit like maple syrup. Or at least it is collected in much the same process.
Rosin is a resin collected from one of 110 different pine trees throughout Europe, Asia, North America, and New Zealand. It is drawn from living trees in a tapping process, kind of like maple syrup.
A tree’s outer bark is removed, a V-shaped groove about 1 cm wide is cut above a drip channel, a drip channel is inserted into the tree, and then a continuous flow of the rosin drips into a container. There are many different types and brands of rosin. Tree saps are mixed together in specialized formulas and most rosin recipes are very secret.
The final step is to purify by straining and heating it in large vats. It is then poured into molds and sets for about 30 minutes. The final step is to smooth down and polish the product and then pack it away with a cloth or into a container.
If the tree resin is collected in late winter or early spring it will be gold/amber. If collected in summer or fall, the color will be darker.
1. Student-grade: often cheaper, grittier sound, and more powder produced.
2. Professional-grade: created from a purer resin and generally smoother more controlled tone is produced.
1. Light: Violinists usually use lighter colored rosin that has been collected in late winter/early spring. The rosin is harder and if you live in a more humid/ warm climate Light rosin is preferred especially for higher strings.
2. Dark: Lower stringed instruments (like cellists) usually use Dark rosin. It produces a grittier and deeper sound. It is softer and can become sticky in hot and humid weather. If you live in a dry and cool climate Dark rosin is softer and is better suited to you.
Those are just the basic types. Some brands have different metals mixed into their makeup to produce different types of sounds.
Woodblock rosins are good for beginners because they are easier to get a hang of. Try some different ones out and see what you prefer. It may change over time and change with the instruments and bows you use. Just be sure to not overdo it on the rosin. You shouldn’t be seeing puffs of white dust rising every time you swipe your bow across the string. : ) To prevent rosin build-up keep a cotton cloth in your case and after each practice session or performance wipe down the strings and wood underneath.
I am currently using a Pirastro Olive Rosin. I like it so far but will probably switch it up in the future just to experiment. It should last you a long time though. So don't worry about spending loads of money trying a plethora of different brands.
Aren't trees just amazing?
Enjoy your Maple Syrup & Experiment with that Rosin!
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