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Baroque style bow?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    I have seen videos and players using hat looks like a French bow but held away from the frog, I would say the player is holding the stick instead. Is this hold specific to the period or are there players that actually find it easier to hold the bow this way, regardless of genre?

    Thanks for reading!
  2. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    Some answers for you.

    1.) They may one may not be using a baroque-influenced bow. You have to look at the tip to get a clue. If it has a "regular" tip, then it's probably just a "regular" bow that they're holding further out on the stick. If it has a "arrow" head, where the tip is more pointed, then it's a baroque bow that they're holding further out.

    2.) They hold the bow further out to change the balance of the bow, and to get a different sound that is more associated with period-influenced style.

    3.)these "Baroque" french bows never really existed: they're essentially upscaled period cello bows. Most of the bassists at the time would have used a bow more like THIS BAD BOY. But then again, try playing the cello suites with one of those (i'm sure someone has).
  3. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    I had similar questions at the end of the Eric Ruiz thread from a few days ago regarding baroque bows. I haven't seen a response yet. Perhaps my questions were too silly?
  4. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Gerry, I probably am at front of line when it comes to silly questions!!
  5. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    Just saw it. Idunno how I missed that thread. I think Edicson uses some sort of a "transitional bow". Basically, it's a german bow with little to no camber. I don't know if it really ever "existed" as an extant piece of tech, but it's an imagined step on the road from the Dragonetti bow to the modern german bow. It more than likely wouldn't have existed in the Baroque era, but period informed music also includes classical music and modern music influenced by that style.
  6. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    The overhand/"French" Baroque bow did not exist. There are some die hard French bow players that insist it did, where our modern interpretations are exactly what eerbrev said: upscaled designs based on cello/violin Baroque bows. This coincides with a lot of the selective views of bass/music history that some people have, but that's another discussion.

    Bottesini was one of the first players to be credited with using a French bow. Considering the time period and the pictures of him with a bow, it appears to be very similar to a modern bow. Some photos indicate that it had less camber than we are used to now, which was something that progressed a little after his time.

    As far as Baroque bows, transitional bows, and anything predating the established French and German bows we have today, there were a LOT of regional variations. Because there wasn't mass communication/travel between even cities very close to one another, bows from the same time period can look extremely different. Any of the bow makers I know who make "period" bows have a small selection of models they base their work off of, and they can be extremely different in length, weight, camber, frog height, clip in frogs vs. button screws etc.

    Yet another issue is how people think of bows. Until very recently, bows were considered not much more than an accessory. There were successful makers, but much more emphasis was placed on the instruments. I met a cellist this summer who purchased a very nice cello early in his career (maybe 30 years ago?) and he said something like "shouldn't it come with a bow?" The shop owner agreed with him and gave him a Sartory to go with it, the way that some shops now throw in a bass bag when you buy an instrument. A lot of bow making history is patchy, because it wasn't really worth writing down. I would assume this is why there are relatively few surviving early bows, because when something better came along the musicians of the time didn't feel the need to preserve something that insignificant to them.

    Hopefully that helps explain things a bit. I myself would like to learn a lot more about bow history than I currently know, but I am struggling to find resources about it.
  7. benharrisfan


    Sep 27, 2009
    There are many types of historical bass bows, as there are many types of historical basses. I believe the bow that Edicson uses is a copy by Matthias Hoyer, but it may be an original. The bows most often used in late 18th century Vienna had a straight stick or very little camber. Existing bows from that period also tend to have low frogs, but some are quite large - see the "Sperger" bow in the Klaus Trumpf collection. A bow contemporary with the style of the Viennese classical bows was the "Dragonetti" bow, which far outlived this other model until other types of bows, such as the meat-clever head bows and our contemporary model bows by Pfretzschner and Nurnberger, took over the scene. So these aren't fantasy bows like the French-style baroque bass bows you mentioned (which were probably not not used, as far as we know. But for players who don't play German bow it's not too ridiculous a compromise).

    Keep in mind, these two types of bows are post-baroque. Examples of baroque double bass bows are hard to come by, but a good example is the bow in the Cite de la Musique instrument museum:

  8. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    Truth. I misspoke, and shouldn't have overgeneralized

    Agreed. You shouldn't have to learn a whole new bow just to play baroque music - That's just an impediment to the joy of playing baroque music.