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Bow speed

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by 33degrees, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. 33degrees


    Jun 4, 2005
    i notice that when i bow slower i get a clearer and more defined tone, is that correct? im using a smaller area of the bow as well.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    What sort of bow speed you should use depends on the circumstances. In general, however, a slower bow stroke on the lower strings delivers a more full-bodied tone. If you stroke too fast, the bow won't catch the string.
  3. 33degrees


    Jun 4, 2005
    okey! yes thats souding good!
    what about when you come down from a note on the G -string and follow thru to the E-string, for example an arppeggio,do you just bow one down stroke and move the bow accross all the strings? or do you have to have to change direction for every string coming down?
  4. There is no "have to". It all depends on the speed of the phrase and the sound you want. You are talking here about articulation, and in classical music, at least, these things are usually defined for you by the composer or transcriber.

    Where you place the bow at the start, and the speed of the phrase will have a big impact on what is or is not possible, as will the direction of the bow at the start. Otherwise it is up to you and the sound you want to hear.

    In my excercises I start with a down bow and use alternating bowings for each note, however in actual practice in the classical music I have played it could be required to slur the arpeggio, though not usually.
  5. 33degrees


    Jun 4, 2005
    ok, yes i really understand the logic in what you are saying from my little experience with a bow. don't spose you have any tips for hand ache after using the bow for only 5 minutes!
  6. I could be that you are gripping the bow with too much force. You need only to hold it gently but firmly, you really only want to use enough firmness to control its motion.

    If you find it is necessary to apply great pressure to the strings, perhaps you should try using more rosin or a slightly softer rosin. Some strings (usually dedicated orchestra strings) require more bow pressure and this makes things more difficult.

    All this can make an inexperianced player feel that a stronger grip is needed. The truth is that you can learn to apply greater pressure (if needed) to the strings, without cramping up your whole hand.

    In the begining, you really should be patient though, you may simply need to give your hand time to adjust and to build stamina. Stop and shake your hand out, and maybe switch to pizz practice for a little while. Or take a few sips of coffee and then go back to it.
  7. 33degrees


    Jun 4, 2005
    ok thanks, i will work on that. im using a french bow and i am also having problems with balance, the bow seems to drop forward , so thats when i apply more pressure with the thumb to balance it and that's how i get the pain.
  8. When you say dropping forward, I assume you mean down toward the floor.

    I have never used a bow that was so tip heavy that I got a sore thumb compensating. What is your first finger doing? That finger should be helping support the tip.

    You could, if it is really that tip heavy, try moving the position of your thumb. I keep mine tucked into the hole or cutaway in the frog, but you could try moving the thumb forward to the end of the frog.

    Lastly if all else fails, get a new bow that balances properly - at least now you will know what to watch out for.
  9. The clearer more difined tone is not based on bow speed, but bow control. At slower speeds it is easier to control, which makes it seem like going slower makes it clearer. But if you listen to a really skilled player they can keep each note well defined regardless of how fast they are playing. The issue is the initial attack, if that is good and clear then you can play rediculously fast without losing any clarity. To get this clean attack practice playing staccato (etudes, doodleing, pieces, whatever) without ever lifting the bow of the string, but make sure its clean. Start slow, move faster, etc. This is quite difficult and I am not even close to mastering it, but I have seen a marked improvement by concentrating on the attack.

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