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Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Albass91, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Albass91


    Apr 28, 2010
    Hey guys, new poster here. Just recorded Brahms 2 Letter E tonight, please school me

  2. Andrew Hamilton

    Andrew Hamilton Guest

    Apr 18, 2010
    I tried German bow for about a year and although I didn't decide it was for me ultimately my first piece of advice would be to try to loosen up your wrist. Pull the bow from your back/shoulder blade. I like to think of bowing like the waves of an ocean. It should be an oscillation and not a sawing motion. Freeing up your wrist and making sure your fingers are loose should help your expression on the instrument. Ride the string with your weight going into the string through the thumb!
  3. Albass91


    Apr 28, 2010

    thanks for the response. for letter E i feel that the wrist must be firm to achieve the marcato stroke.
  4. The basics are all there. Good LH and intonation. Good timing and coordination between hands giving clear articulation. As far as I can tell, good tone. Well done!

    I'm a Frenchie so, for what my comments are worth, your playing needed a little more dramatic approach to be more strongly in style. If you were playing this for an audition, especially if you were behind a screen, I would suggest looking for ways to bring the single line of music to life more and project it in a manner that encourages the panel to think they are hearing the orchestra and playing too. Assuming that every candidate is just as strong technically and knows the music just as well as you, how can your approach be better and stronger? To me the answer is to be the most musical and the most in style. Make Mozart sound like Mozart, Beethoven sound like Beethoven, Brahms sound like Brahms, etc, each one distinctly different in style.

    Yes, perhaps be a little more flexible in wrist and fingers and move with more energy but remember that the strings are "springs", the bow stick and hair are "springs", so your bow hold also needs the same flexibilty and sensitivity, with only enough movement to tie the whole system together. Then everything feels natural and in balance. With your good sense of timing and coordination this should give you greater freedom to produce a range of attacks and energies of note starts followed by degrees of "release", based on understanding how each string (even each note) will respond. Also, try for a greater range of expression and nuances by varying bow speeds, bow weights and contact points.

    Best wishes

  5. MDEbass


    Dec 15, 2008
    Thanks for posting. I think anyone who puts a video of their own playing up for everyone to see and add their input deserves a big congrats.

    I totally agree. To add to this thought, your bow is not the stick or the hair, its your arm. It should be a flexible curve that runs through your arm down to your fingertips, into the bow. By adding any firmness or tenseness anywhere, it cuts off this consistent curve and you lose the natural tone, as well as the natural and relaxed feel.

    I'm a German player, but I would assume the fundamental movement of the arm should be the same no matter what hold you use. In the case of working on relaxing the wrist, i find it helpful to lead the stroke from the arm, not the hand or the wrist, and keeping the elbow up. With german, its especially easy to let the elbow drop down - this is something i have been working on and continue to work on.
  6. Balls Out

    Balls Out

    Mar 23, 2010
    You need to press much harder. You'll never make a great sound unless you put all of the weight from your arm in the stick through your thumb. You just have to grip the bow tight and press down firmly.

    As for the rest of it, just play louder. Brahms is loud, you just need to make sound. String noise is encouraged. Make sure your vibrato a lot too. Vibrato makes everything sound good.
  7. MDEbass


    Dec 15, 2008
    This is a recipe for arthritis
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Trolling is not allowed in Talkbass. Just say "no".
  9. Nice work, good intonation and rhythm... as said before, all the basics are there.

    Seems a little too slow. Also, as was mentioned before, the character is lacking. Maybe try using more bow and playing further from the bridge at the beginning of this excerpt to draw a huge sound with lots of air - particularly on the sf. Also, keep the left hand more active. Currently you are only vibrating notes that are a greater duration than a quarter note. I think this passage needs vibrato on literally every note to keep the beginning of the excerpt lively and the second half of the excerpt connected and smooth. One more thing - dynamics could be more exaggerated. Your top dynamic in this passage needs to be bigger and it needs to seem bigger in relation to bottom dynamic (the poco forte).

    Great job though!
  10. So, the dynamics seem a bit flat, as has already been commented on. For audition, you want to concentrate on clean sound and getting the soft end of the dynamics right; the loud end tends to take care of itself, and you can't be completely clean at full power (it doesn't matter in the orchestra, but sounds wrong in an audition).

    Your bow seems locked into your hand... there's 19 joints in your hand that you're hardly using. That makes your sound a bit stiff most of the time. I'd suggest letting there be a bit of air between the frog and the palm of your hand. That will let you get a range of movement into your knuckles. Although there aren't many in this excerpt, some flex in the hand lets you do a legato turnaround where your arm changes direction before the bow, leaving an imperceptible direction change to be done by the hand. It also lets you get much more character in your playing... all those little muscles with a huge chunk of brain controlling them together have much more control than the big muscles of your arm.

    For getting a big sound, there's two ways... either, lots of bow and further from the bridge on low notes, or the opposite, go closer to the bridge, slow the bow right down and use a lot of focussed weight. The first is going to require the hand flexibility, the second just practice to avoid it scraping like sul ponticello. I guess the long bows version is more appropriate for Brahms, especially for an audition, but in practice it depends what happens in the section... someone might need to brighten up the sound.
  11. Albass91


    Apr 28, 2010
    Thanks everyone for responding. I appreciate it!
  12. granted everyone you audition for is looking for something different, but fwiw i just played a bunch of excerpts for tim cobb a couple weeks ago in a masterclass. surprisingly enough, his suggestion to me was to not back off for cleanliness sake, but instead focus on producing a huge sound. makes sense if you think about it... most orchestra audition panels are looking for someone who will be an asset i.e. produce a high quality sound and lots of it when necessary. yes, it has to be precise and in tune and everything you try to achieve, but the fact remains you really gotta make some noise to convince people that they want you. especially when you are playing brahms.
  13. On the question of "noise" versus quality there is a third quality mixed up in everything said above. That is Quality.

    As a panel member in auditions for our Sydney Symphony Orchestra I was listening for the applicants who could project five basic qualities. They are In Tune, In Time, All The Notes, Played Musically and In Style. The candidates who could do all five really well stood a chance of being finalists. One or more might then be offered a trial period ranging from 3 months to a year before being offered a permanent 52 weeks a year position.

    Brahms can broadly be approached 2 ways by conductors and I have experienced both. First there is almost a chamber music approach which allows for Brahm's rather thick warm orchestration and deliberately avoids too much heaviness in the bass sound, taking a lot of care with phrasing. Then there is the boots-and all fiery passionate approach that might suit some of the above comments about making as much sound as possible. I would reserve that approach for Richard Strauss's Tone Poems, especially Heldenleben, Thus Spake Zarathustra, and Don Juan!!

    I think of projection as being able to play convincingly to the back row of seats in an auditorium, or to the audition panel sitting unseen behind screens. Loudness alone will not be enough. There are usually a range of excerpts deliberately chosen to reveal candidates' abilities, importantly including musicianship.

  14. Well done! There are many good points in your playing. Rhythmically, you have got it nailed but you now need to inject some fire into that to make it work. Get into the piece! I feel like you know the passage in your head but not in your heart yet.
    Technically you should go for a slightly more rounded sound in the short notes. To get that I would suggest playing longer bow strokes a few inches further away from the frog. Get some arm weight into the stroke and really feel the resistance of the string. (You'll get criticized for 'picky' playing as it is now.)
    The comment above about vibrato is right! In the singing passage (quarter and half notes) you should almost fell like it's a solo. It's hard to tell on the video but judging from the bow speed and pressure the dynamics need to spread out a bit too. And Brahms is loud but 'controlled loud'. Don't ever get ugly in Brahms.

    Oh and one last thing, try the singing passage just going up the A and D strings. the shift back to the G string is just optically strange. Remember when I come to a concert I like to watch the orchestra as well as listen so give them a show too!
    hope this helps
  15. By chance there's another guy playing the same excert on youTube where you can see pretty much how you can improve things (vibrato, dynamics, that fire I was talking about) again this is not perfect but he'd get the job so listen to him (and steal his mojo!)
    As they say on a famous sci-fi series - 'Keep listening, keep watching the skies!' (watching these guys)
  16. basspirate777


    Mar 21, 2009
    Latrobe, Pa
    Sounded great. The only thing, that I don't think has been said; don't look at your hands! Bad habit-I have it too.

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