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Rabbath's Art of the Bow / Bow wrist movement

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

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    Finally got the DVD, quite interesting and good reference source...Having said this, I'd like to resurrect an old topic, and that's around the wrist movement when bowing...If I run my hand along the edge of a cabinet (as suggested by David Potts? some time back) I can clearly see what the movement needs to be. Yet, when I hold the bow (French) I can't seem to keep my wrist flat - in other words, I tend to "rotate" the wrist a little (inward, towards thumb) to get to the same movement. Has someone got any tips on how to address this? Does stance, position from DB, influence how effective you are at it? Is it easier when using a bent end pin? (I suspect not).

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

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    Keeping your wrist flat is not how the Rabbath bow hold works. In fact, If you want to understand what he is perfectly mimicking, mimic a violinist with your bow. The wrist will also follow when you start engaging the Elbow. A common misconception in the hold is that people try to keep their hand flat, or parallel with the bass. It needs to be more perpendicular, Go to the multi-angle/biometrics sections, and play along with his arm. Let the Elbow lead the stroke and the rest will begin to fall into place.

    This is where having Looping Software is really awesome.
  3. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

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  4. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

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    Andy,

    Everything looks a little tight. Your first finger looks a bit too close to the second on the upbow, and your fingers are generally moving around too much. Flip the bow over with your palm up and observe how you naturally want to support the weight of the stick.

    You can't relax the wrist until the grip is relaxed. Have you done the spider climbing exercise with the bow? There are a number of exercises to develop sensitivity and finger strength. We have discussed this material quite a bit here.

    As always... what does your teacher say? :D
  5. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

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    CD - when I was taking lessons, she would have agreed with you - I guess I am trying to understand what I need to do (as per your valued suggestion) to overcome this - lessons are on "as affordable" basis I'm afraid... Is the spider climbing exercise as seen on YouTube from the Anderson (very good) series?
  6. PaulCannon

    PaulCannon

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    If you're trying to imitate Rabbath, there are a couple things to try.

    Your wrist is too flat, as if you're having to extend your arm completely to reach the strings. It's hard to tell from the video, but you may want to set the bass a little higher relative to you (or you could use a shorter stool if you're sitting).

    The basic arm/wrist posture would be as if you sat in an arm chair and let your hand drop at the end of the arm rest. This would let your wrist come slightly above the hand and should force you to use flat hair, which Rabbath generally recommends.

    When moving the bow, imagine there are two strings tied around your wrist. If I'm standing to your left and pull the string at the top of your wrist, your wrist (if relaxed) will move first followed by your arm and hand. This would be an up bow. Standing to your right and pulling the string from the inside of your wrist, the wrist would move the other way and draw your arm into a down bow. It's a smooth, relaxed motion that can allow for clean changes and a richer tone.

    Mind the speed of your wrist's changes. In your video, you seem to be flipping your wrist quickly with each change. The wrist ought to be moving at the same speed as the bow, while anticipating the change before the bow catches up.
  7. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

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    Paul, not actually wanting to imitate Rabbath - merely trying to see how I can best bow with a flexible wrist motion...Thanks everyone for the input thsu far, really appreciate your knowledge and help!
  8. PaulCannon

    PaulCannon

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    Why not?
  9. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

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    Good point, Paul... I have no come back to that!

    To be honest, I may post a video of German bowing, maybe I am barking up the wrong tree with French?? (sigh!)
  10. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

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    Andy,

    I'm assuming the Anderson video covers the same exercise; this is a Hurst "greatest hits" exercise. Seriously, do it at least ten minutes a day. It's a great "watching tv" exercise.

    Both bows are all about feeling the natural weight of the stick. We have to train the fingers to stick to the bow, but to be soft in doing so. The bow wants to do the work for you. Let it.
  11. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

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    OK - I shall, CD - I am also attaching a short version of the German bowing, which feels easier to me, although I think I still look a bit stiff but maybe not as much as when using French? http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=28j8fm1>&s=8
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U Supporting Member

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    Right now I would focus on not lifting the index finger off of the stick during the transitions.
  13. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

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    Andy, in the south we call this a "come to Jesus" moment.

    You need to focus on one bow for a while. Period. There's no way around it.



    You don't appear to have finger sensitivity with either bow. With the German bow, your wrist is just as stiff as your French grip, and your point of contact is very inconsistent.

    Pick a bow. Learn to listen to how your fingers support the weight of the bow in mid air. Now slowly relax the hair onto the string, and feel how the sensation of the bow in your hand changes. The string wants to support the weight of the bow, but there are thousands of tiny variables involved, and you have to listen to the bow for a long time in order to learn to relax the other parts of the anatomy. The bow is about LISTENING, and if you try to lecture it you will always lose.

    You are using both bows on the string the same way you would waving them in mid air, essentially negating the natural weight of the stick, and doubling the amount of effort necessary to start the string.

    I say all of this out of love and support; you seem humble and eager to learn. Good luck on your voyage, and hopefully you'll be able to afford some more regular lessons some time in the future. Until then, there's tons of resources out there, including the one you're staring at right now. :bassist:
  14. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

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    OK - thanks everyone - I'll stick to French, which has been my main bow motion, and I'll post a new video again in a few weeks, to see if I have addressed your (kind) suggestions - will also try and book at least 1 lesson with a teacher...Thanks again...
  15. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

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    Chicago is right on track with this one. I offered you some help on skype if you want, if you cant get to an instructor i still would sit down with you if you needed help fixing things.
  16. David Potts

    David Potts

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    Hi Andy, I know I'm coming in late into this discussion. Thanks for remembering my "kitchen table "technique. In your video of French bow what sort of stroke are you trying to make? Apart from the comments above about stiffness you seem to both lift the bow off and accelerate your bow through the bow change. Are you trying for Detache or Legato bow strokes.

    If you have the time and patience please check out my contributions to the following threads to build a bigger picture about where I come from in relation to the degree of turn in and wrist and finger movement during on-string bow changes.

    Early ones -

    goodgig 04-18-2008
    bassbuddie 07-18-2008
    Steve Boisen 01-01-2004
    bassplayertda 07-10-2009

    More recent -

    bassfriendly913 07-18-2009
    brutalbassist 09-09-2009
    andy mopley 12-11-2011
    AdmiralScreed 12-20-2011
    PederWaern 07-12-2012
    portphilia 11-12-2012
    musicman1586 12-18-2012

    I have not bought or seen Rabbath's videos and have only seen him perform at a friend's house here in Sydney many years ago.

    Best wishes,
    DP
  17. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon

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    It's a moot point if you're staying with a French bow, but regarding your German hold, Chi Doubler's observation still fits. You're collapsing your thumb and finger joints at the distal phalanx, which necessarily leads to excessive hand tension, a muscular touch and less bow freedom.
    I hate to say this if money for lessons is a problem, but practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. The more you practice without the watchful eye of a teacher, the greater the risk of making a wrong technique permanent.
    Good luck.
  18. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

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    Thanks all for the replies, and yes, I am about to see a teacher however..is it possible that, as a result of not having a decent bow, or not applying rosing correctly, the tension in my hand could in fact be coming from it "digging" into the strings so to speak, to try and get a decent sound, something that I notice is a lot easier to do when I apply Rosin (the Karlsen type, in purple can) ? I know this could be one of many, many reasons, but it is the one that, at face value, seems the most likely - I can swing my wrist losely when not holding the bow, so the motion is somewhat there..But again, many thanks to all for the input and sorry to test your patience!!
  19. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon

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    Yes, there's a reason for the price differential in bows. A heavy, poorly balanced bow can cause excessive muscular effort. But this only highlights the need for a teacher at this time. Nobody starts with a great bow, and correct technique will maximize what you can get out of whatever you have.
  20. David Potts

    David Potts

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    Wise words, Don.

    Cheers,
    DP

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