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BEthoven 5th trio

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by mawasi, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. mawasi


    Aug 20, 2012
    I'm having trouble with getting Bethoven's 5th (3rd mvmt trio) up to speed with a clear and clean sound.I'm also having problems with the bow technique for this part, could anyone help me. Am doing this in my orchestra and it's shere hell. I've been trying for the past few weeks and am just not getting it.
  2. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    Coming from another student:

    My first recommendation, if you haven't done it already, is to practice it very slowly. While you are doing that, ensure that the amount of bow that you're using is the same amount of bow that you would be using if you were playing it at tempo (even if that means there's some space in between notes). Make sure you go at a tempo slow enough to make sure your left and right hands are co-ordinated as well. Over time, bring it up to tempo, and hopefully you'll be on your way.

    best of luck,

  3. Are you a French or German bow user? What style of bowing are you attempting?

    There may be a choice of three bowing styles, On the string, Off the String and Semi-off the string. Your bow will give you feedback as to where best to bow and what style. For me off the string is the least successful because it is the hardest to control and produces the least tone and narrowest range of dynamics. It doesn't sound chunky and warm enough to be suitable for Beethoven IMO.

    Starting with repeated single notes in !st. Position and on different strings and notes I would experiment first with on the string bowing at or near the balance point and about 6 inches from the bridge. Play fairly slowly and choose the length of the bow stroke and amount of arm weight to give you a succession of clear even musical sounds without any "release" at each end (just simple flat strokes). Later, when this approach is comfortable, gradually speed up. Maintain the good clear sounds by gradually shortening the bow strokes so that the bow continues to "bite" the string (catch it into life) in each direction but not crush the tone. Bar by bar introduce this stroke into the actual passages. Look for ease of timing and coordinating the bow strokes with the string crossings so that each note starts evenly and receives the same length of stroke.

    Then work on introducing a jiggle into the sideways bow movement (I call it jogging on the string). The bow looks and feels like it is about to bounce clear of the string but doesn't quite do so. The sound is chunky and has more life than the on-string stroke makes. Experiment with contact point and whereabouts on the bow (the sweet spot may be closer to the frog than the balance point). Look for the bow weight assisting you in the short scooping motions. The arm weight drops into the string as you move sideways then releases. The bow tracks backwards and forward through the same short scooping motion. Look for an even feeling of perpetual motion on single notes before applying the stroke to the actual passages.

    With both strokes I use very little bow length as the notes reach performance speed, maybe 2-3 inches at the most, so that I feel in balance when timing and coordinating the work of both hands. Too much bow length quickly loses control.

    What bowing style is the rest of your section using, especially your Principal?

    Happy hunting,
  4. I'm with David Potts on this one. As I type this, I'm listening to the Boston Symphony play the Beethoven 5th trio on the new BSO radio. What an awesome section that is...anyway, the key to getting a big sound is slow and steady practice. Good luck to you.
  5. Yes, very slow playing using very short strokes, being careful to have a clean strong note beginnings and endings. The whole thing should sound very staccato and very disconnected at slow tempo, and the long notes should seem interminably long. Until you can play the whole thing from memory at this slow speed don't try to speed up. I don't try to play off the string, because I find using the short sharp stroke, once I put in the energy needed to get up to speed my bow is naturally bouncing, just slightly.

    I once saw the principle bass of the Berlin Philharmonic give a little YouTube demonstration of this movement, and if you watched you could see his bow just barely bounced off while moving across the string.

    But equally important is the fingerings. For the most part you need to use closed "D"s and "G"s to avoid bouncing back and forth across strings - then introduce the open "D" or open "G" only when you will need to shift, doing so on the open note. As I remember there is a lot of 2-1 slide up a half step to 1-4 if you know what I mean. But using the open strings strategically to give you time to make the few necessary shifts is key.
  6. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Excellent advice above.

    With ANY tricky lick, we need to figure out the hardest part, then make it easy.

    For many people, the hardest part of the trio is the string crossing from the A to E string, and E to A. From the pitches "D" to "G" on the first big lick, then "G" to "B" on the second.

    However you wish to work on it, practice the isolated bow mechanics of these two crossings until it becomes easy and second nature. Voila. The lick is easy.

    One more thing- be acutely aware of minimizing (and making efficient) your string crossings in ALL excerpts that require dedicated strokes.

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