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German and French bow

Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by ekspain, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. ekspain


    Feb 22, 2008
    Hi Patrick

    I've been playing french for the las 14 years. Thats how I started.
    I've gotten better, but in a VERY gradual way. I feel like I still lag behind in certain ways with the French bow and its been a bit depressing.

    Recently, about 2 months ago, I started playing German, and all of a sudden I can kick but. I find certain articulations much easier, that I always struggled with, with French. The excerpts and playing in orchestra in general has become more enjoyable- and playing just seems more natural!

    I studied with Francois for years, and feel a little like I'm giving up on the whole nouvelle technique, though I still feel the need to "get it".
    not sure what to do, very confused. Any ideas, thoughts, etc. At the moment I'm doing both. just bought a new french bow, something awesome, with the hopes that it will rejuvinate my desire, but I also got a new German bow, that I find I'm constantly looking forward to play- also a really kick but bow.

    I guess I'm in this crisis, wondering weather to give up on an ideal I've held for so long, or let go of it and get into something that gives me more...fun!

    I don't expect you to give me the answer to this question, but perhaps you may have an anecdote or thought to share on the subject.

    Thanks Patrick
  2. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Frankly I don't feel there is any advantage to either bow. BUT for many people, and their physique, a particular bow design (French, German or even Hybrids) does hold some advantage... perhaps it is the way their bones or muscles are constructed. But in my (not so humble) opinion, it is HOW you USE the tool that is more important than the shape of the frog. Are you carefully examining and exploring the ANGLES at which your arm approaches the bass, are you applying WEIGHT not muscle pressure, are you PULLING not pushing (in both directions!), and are the angles of the bow (the hold) appropriate??? There are only four simple factors that produce sound: weight, angles, placement (in relation to string length) and motion (or speed). When you are truly considering all four factors, ALL the time, you produce consistently "Butt-kicking" sound. I believe in my own playing that I can play as loud or as accented with the French as I can with the German (or that others who are experts can with the German). I DO NOT believe (my own personal belief coming from tons of experience) that German or French are individually inherently louder or more sustained or or more articulate (butt kicking) or more appropriate, than the other. The Germans won't accept French bow players in their orchestras, the French accept no German players (mostly) and I think that is simply a sad state. Both bows have their qualities, and in a section they are well appreciated (musically), so:
    Do what FEELS good to you, SOUNDS good to you, and allows you to PLAY for HOURS. If switching to German is the "Way" for you ... do it. !!
    It could be that, even though you have diligently applied Rabbath's ideas that: 1. you really didn't get it, 2. you can't IMPOSE the forms and motions because your physique just isn't lending itself to the technique, and/or 3. your equipment isn't applicable to that approach. Remember that Francois is playing on a smallish bass, he has HUGE hands, and he has developed his approach singularly.!
    Best of luck!
  3. ekspain


    Feb 22, 2008
    Dear Patrick

    Thanks for your insight. Actually, I recently made some changes (albeit slight) and its made big changes for me. I go through these periods of intense frustration/ Crisis usually followed by change and improvement. I also recently aquired an amazing bow which really changes things.

    I think perhaps its a question of sound asthetics, right? as far as German and French go.

    I do believe they each have there strong points- buts thats purely my experience...

    Thanks Patrick for your words

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