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German Bow - movement of right hand fingers

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by ODB, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. ODB


    Apr 2, 2013
    Los Angeles
    I have noticed some German bow players slightly contract and open the hand with each up and down bow. Others don't seem to have much motion at all in the right hand fingers. What is the thinking on this issue?
  2. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    It's just different schools.

    I'm on the Streicher school and, as you observed, the right hand fingers and wrist move depending on the bow stroke I'm after. Also, the thumb is always relaxed and does no work at all.
  3. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    The fingers work in a very similar manner to the French bow. Much of the time you see them moving but this is just a symptom of a relaxed hand. This natural (but not exaggerated) opening and closing is necessary for a relaxed legato stroke. For some articulate strokes we are actually engaging the fingers but the fingers are never doing the heavy lifting. They are simply adding to the motion of the arm and wrist. Watch a heavy orchestral stroke on a French bow- the first finger seems to pluck out the notes. The German bow uses a similar system.

    Important comment above- regardless of school, thumb tension can lock up the wrist. All of this is best guided in private lessons by someone who has mastered the bow.
  4. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I concur.
  5. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    Thanks for explaining what I meant to say but with a much better English :)
  6. jaff

    jaff Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2006
    For me, the gentle extension/flexion of the fingers also occurs when doing 'push-hands' in tai ji chuan. It feels like a very natural element in hand/arm movement.
  7. ubassman


    Jul 23, 2012
    I think what you are describing is the effect of legato bowing being initiated by the wrist.

    If you pinch your index and middle finger so that they are fixed in position, and move your wrist in and out , you will see the motion. If the wrist isn't fluid the bow has a very different sound and colour.

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