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Bow Angle

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by skaboy, Mar 26, 2003.

  1. skaboy


    Oct 16, 2001
    I've played the Double Bass over a month now and noticed that another D.B player in the orchestra was playing with the bow tilted slightly upwards so a small amount of the bow is not touching the strings. I been taught to bow flat without any tilting and was wondering if this tilted bowing makes any difference.

  2. Darth_Linux


    Oct 12, 2002
    Spokane, WA
    it's pretty typical to see this amongst cellists and double bassists in my experience.

    my teacher recommends a slight angle, and then if I need more volume or thickness to the sound i can put the bow flat.

  3. Seppie


    Aug 14, 2002
    Austria, Vienna
    hmm...as i was thought...in the streicher method...so i play the e string with the bow angled downward...a and d nearly flat and g angled upward...hmm hope it helps...

    gruesze sebastian
  4. Whether you tilt the bow or not, the full ribbon of hair should be in contact with the strings at all times (the only slight exception is on ppp or more passages you might use only part of the ribbon, in extreme cases maybe only the edge.) You don't won't to play with only part of the ribbon of hair making contact most of the time because the sound is not as full and deep.
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I've been trained to do the same, but I got the chance to play a great old violin that was used in the Chicago Symphony for a number of years. I simply could not draw a decent sound out of the instrument by using all the bowhair.

    I felt like I was using only one hair and the rest was simply for backup. I wonder if violin bows ever go in for a rehair...
  6. You'd have to have either a lot of tension on the bow hair or a very light touch in order for all of the bow hair to not touch in my experience. I've noticed that tilting the bow doesn't reduce contact with the string, but increases my traction on the string - I get more sound with less pressure.

    I just wrote a little thing to try to explain why then quickly realized I haven't taken physics since high school.
  7. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    My understanding is that tilting the bow increases the torque. Especially when you need to get a big string (big, fat gut core E string) moving and you don't want it to be real loud, tilting helps. The downside is that the sound isn't as full. You can tilt it a bit and start the note and then flatten it.

  8. ah yes! torque is the concept of physics that i was searching for in this dusty old brain.
  9. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I don't think it's torque- I think it's pressure. Halve the number of hairs in contact with the string while maintaining the same weight on the bow, and you've doubled the pressure per unit area (or per hair, if you like). More friction which should make it a bit easier to grab the string and start the note.
  10. Aren't you both right? You are applying torque to the bow hair by forcing it into a plane out of its normal axis via the application of force. So that force (pressure) is translated into friction on the string via torque.
  11. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Not really. You're not applying torque because there's no appreciable resistance to tilting the bow. The increase in pressure per hair comes from changing the area of the contact patch, not from any rotational force applied.
  12. Hmm. I disagree, since the resistance is directly proportional to the work you put into tightening your bow hairs. You may not notice that since most of the resistance to turning it at an angle is passively overcome by the weight of your right arm.
  13. skaboy


    Oct 16, 2001
    Yep I've started to bow slightly tilted and everthing been pretty sweet. Cheers guys
  14. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Since the hair is in contact with the string, and since we don't hear a squeek when we rotate the bow, the hair must be the axis of rotation. And if the bow is rotating around the hair, resistance to rotating the bow is a function only of the weight of the bow and the arm, not the tension of the hair. If torque was being applied to the bow, then we would have to assume that the friction holding the hairs to the string was strong enough to lift the arm as the bow was rotated. But if this were the case it would be very difficult to bow a string.

    Now it can be observed that as the bow is tilted, fewer hairs contact the string. If all other conditions are held constant, it is obvious that we are putting a greater force on each hair. If we saw that the same number of hairs were contacting the bow, then it would follow that we must be applying more force to all the hairs.

    But if that was what we wanted to do, then why tilt the bow? We could acheive the same effect by simply applying more weight without tilting.

    This is why I think the effect of tilting is to put the same weight on fewer hairs.
  15. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    1) As for the bow hair question...whether to play with "flat hair" or without is quite controversial. Many orchestra players play with flat hair because it will give you a big, beefy sound. The downside is that it is harder to make the instrument sound with your hair flat than it is with it is with the stick tilted slightly upwards, especially in the higher register.

    2) As for your endevors into physics. If you are discussing the amount of hair on the string this would be a question of pressure, pressure being the force per unit of area. The only issue of torque that would be involved would result from the rotation of the arm and would have no subsequent effect or dependency on the amount of hair on the string. Your enthusiasm is encouraging though.

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