Big Bow sound

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by The Beast, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. The Beast

    The Beast

    Jul 19, 2004
    Evil Town
    I have recently added the double bass to my repritoire, in addition to the tuba and electric bass. I really have no problem with playing fingerstyle on it (i just need to really get used to it), but i simply cannot get a consistently big, nice, open sound with the bow (it happens occasionally). Now, i know from tuba experience that great sound is no easy thing to do, but i was wondering if you guys had any tips for a warm and lovely sound.
  2. Bubbabass


    May 5, 2004
    Long tone scales, same as the tuba. Keep your bow perpendicular to the string, let your arm/hand sink into the bow, use some rosin and patience. As you get toward the tip, add some weight by turning your right elbow out (works w/ either bow).
    BTW, we also live by the Credo.
  3. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    i love sentances like this! you wait...
  4. mcbosler


    May 12, 2000
    Plano, TX
    I'll second the long whole tone suggestion. Keep in mind that the volume is controlled much more by the speed of the bow than any downward pressure. As far as the tone itself goes, you'll have to experiment with where you're placing the bow; closer to the bridge gives brighter tone and quicker response, while playing closer to the fingerboard will give you a darker shade and allow you to dig in a little more.
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Got someone in Evil Town with a sound you like and interested in giving you lessons?
  6. Concentrate on a "slow bow".

    First, take a look at how you pluck the string without the bow. You wrap a bit of your finger around the string, pull it over a bit, and then you let go at a precise moment and precise speed.

    So the same with the bow: let the weight of the arm and the stickiness of the bow hair/rosin pull on the string (you should see it twist or pull, just like when plucking), then you move the bow arm and let go of the string.

    The moving bow arm just keeps the stirng moving after starting it with a bow pluck.
    Practice doing this, getting slow, clean starts with the bow, then you're on your way to consistant good bowed sound.
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Just another perspective:

    It is true that if you reach the point of getting a quality slow bow sound, you will (or already have) gain touch with the bow, it is also true that it is HARD!!! IME and at the strong encouragement of my teacher, I get a better, stronger sound with a better pace on the bow.

    I have heard "more bow, faster bow" so many times from my teacher that I even hear it in my head when I practice at home.

    For the most part, beginners (me being one) tend to bow too slowly anyway, with too much pressure and tend to use too little of the bow. The bow is 28" for a reason, use it.

    There are plenty of reasons for going too slow. Often beginners slow their bow because they don't take a complete bow on the retake and thus slow down so they have enough bow to finish the note. So when you take a new bow, work on getting back to the frog. Or the pace on the upbow is slower than the downbow or vise versa, so you can get out on one end or the other and can't complete the passage correctly.

    For the sake of the experience, practice your scale routine on the quarters in the 90-100 bpm range. Start on the downbow and use a full bow on each quarter. Not only will you begin to understand how bow speed impacts the sound, but you'll also have to get used to keeping the downbow speed and upbow speed at same.

    Eventually, you want to get to the point where you can slur 2,4 and even 8 notes on one bow at a similar tempo and/or take the scales on the whole notes. This is where your slow bow technique comes into play. I still struggle with 8. It's pretty hard to get a good sound out on the tip of the bow when you are crawling.
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Great post, thanks, Chas.
  9. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Many thanks. I do listen to the guy well, even if I do struggle to actually execute what he is trying to teach me!! :)

    I'll add this one that the teacher dropped on me not too long ago. It's a killer for me but it helps:

    Once you get the hang of the slur 4 (or 8), instead of the same bowing every time, start on the up bow, slur 4 and finish the ascending scale with the down bow. Now here's the wrinkle:

    When you descend (or ascend the second octave if you are feeling particularly froggy) take a new bow and start on the down bow but stay in tempo.

    This biggest reason I think people cheat the retake is that they don't want to kill the pulse of the music. It takes some practice to get it down. This one has helped me a great deal.
  10. 1 important thing is to remember to keep the bow perpendicular to the string. buy a mirror and watch your bow move across the string... always remember that the bow is your "voice". the direction of the energy in the bow arm should be pulling the bow straight across the string. be conservative, dont waste energy pushing or pulling in a direction that is not going to give the string the oportunity to vibrate correctly.
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Ah, there you are! I was wondering where you went....
  12. haha! hi marcus! been away all summer... ready for NYC again...
  13. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002

    Kurt, Have you found a teaching space in NYC yet ?
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Kurt -- are you playing anywhere in town that I can come hear you? I might want to bug you for some lessons with The Stick to boot.
  15. hi guys! I'm the new teacher at the Bowdoin Music Festival in Maine in case you know anyone who wants to go. also I do have use of the Chamber Music Society rehersal space at Lincoln Ctr. for lessons, but I do not want to abuse my privilege... heh... let's see as far as concerts, I mostly have recordings for a while. I play principal of stamford symphony in stamford on the 16th 8:00 and 17th 3:00 of oct. lets see the fun stuff (chamber music) is rossini duo and schubert octet nov 14th in washingto DC then trout quintet with the chamber music society in merkin on 21st of nov. there is a bunch more, but the most interesting thing will be a concert with the Wein-Berlin winds (principal winds of the Berlin and Vienna philharmonic on apr. 17th at 3:00 at the 92 st Y. we will play the Dvorak wind serenade and the Martinu Nonet. also for those in Hawaii... I'll be performing the Bottesini Gran Duo with the hawaii youth symphony on sunday dec 5th... my e-mail is if anyone wants tickets for anything... I can try and get some. Would love to meet all of you!
  16. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Cool, you a busy boy. Glad to hear you're coming home for a bit.

    I'm resisting the temptation to say "How's yer Bow doin'?" :bag:
  17. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Kurt, How much to abuse your priveledges ???
  18. well, I usually charge $40 an hour and I probably wouldn't want to use the space more than once or twice a month. I wish there was a better option for me right now, but I usually I go to my students homes to teach.
  19. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002

    only $40 ? ? stay in NY please ! I get $50 down here.
  20. haha, yeah people say I'm cheap. I just like to not charge too much... I charge less for people who can't afford it. I give one guy free lessons...