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French bowing r/h

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Hi all

    what may cause the middle finger moving away from the ferrule, and onto the hair of the bow, please, and how can this be corrected? particularly as this seems to come more naturally to me? The ring fingers ends up on the ferrule, particularly on fast passages.

    Thank you
  2. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Squeezing too hard/wrong angle/position of the thumb.
  3. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    Tuck your thumb in tight against the frog, and get the pad of your middle finger settled into the curve of the frog for guidance. Relax your hand and wrist as much as possible without actually dropping your bow. The string helps keep the bow in your hand. And time focussing on your bow hand, correcting it whenever necessary. Boring, but necessary
    JayLaughlin likes this.
  4. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Thanks. At present this video is close to what I have been doing:

    but then (typical of YouTube) you get also get this:

    Experimenting now...

    Thanks again
  5. You've picked a beauty, Andy! I looked at your three examples above and can find disagreements in each, especially your first. I can agree with most of example #3 where the fingers do not rest so far over the stick and the bow hold is more flexible and sensitive.

    My basic premise is that the wrist has greatest chance of relaxed mobility when the tip of the thumb opposes the second finger anywhere along its length no matter how hard you press. If you touch the tips of thumb and second finger you will see a long curve in the thumb that keeps the big muscles relaxed and flexible and the palm slightly cupped. If you look sideways at your hand shape it will look much like a snake's head with most bending happening not on the big knuckles but on the next line of knuckles. Then open the gap between thumb and second finger and drop the hand over the stick ( held up parallel in front by the other hand) feeling for the corner (front edge) of the silver ferrule with the tip of the second finger and the corner between the end of the frog and stick with the tip of your thumb. So far this agrees with example #3 above except that his fingers are slightly more advanced up the stick that might add a little more tension to his thumb muscles while giving him slightly more leverage. My index finger opens forward and hooks over the stick (the same curve as my other fingers) but not around it, and the stick rests on the outer end of the second last pad. Puting more index finger over the stick limits both its flexibility and sensitivity IMO.

    Unlike example #3 above I believe that the bow pivots around the thumb and that the index finger has two roles, to form a hook that transfers the weight of the arm via Newton's weakest system of levers to the string and, being hooked over the stick, also supports and lifts the point of the bow to stroke at 90 degrees to each string. I see that the thumb tip pushes gently up through the stick towards the fingers at 45 degrees and the fingers push back towards the thumb tip in the opposite direction. The thumb should then not slip from its place. The main roles of the fingers 2, 3 and 4 are to balance the bow against the thumb and control the angle of the hair contact to the st. The last pad of the ring finger is flat on the side of the frog and is just resting over the top of the stick, forming a triangle with the index finger and thumb. It is the pinkie pad and this gentle triangle that tightens slightly and stops the fingers sliding forward on the stick during up bows and bow changes.

    Some of the biggest differences between bow holds are their effect on the use of the right elbow, a hinge joint that only bends in one direction, in the blended right arm movements required for fluid bow strokes of all lengths and speeds. I believe that the bow hold should turn in a few degrees by rotating the elbow up and out slightly while maintaining a natural flow of line from my shoulder to my index finger tip across an almost flat wrist. Without altering the snake's head shape of my fingers it throws the weight of my arm forward into my index finger. Here I agree with example #3 above too.

    In my set-up I try to keep the vertical vector of my arm weight separate from the horizontal drawing of the bow strokes and rely more on the flexibility of my fingers and thumb than the florid bending of my wrist during bow changes. I want each string, even each note, to dictate how much movement is needed.

    Andy, without the bow in your hand and your pinkie bent feel the relaxed muscle on the side of your hand with your left. Then straighten all the fingers and bend them from the big knuckles to meet the straightened thumb. This closes your palm and makes both the thumb muscles and side- of-hand muscles become stiff and rock hard, quickly tiring and giving pain. This is potentially the difference between example #1 and example #3.
    Adam Booker likes this.
  6. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    Beautifully detailed explanation. I've just been through this and it's bang on the money, and brilliantly described
  7. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011

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