1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Mozart and bow bouncing

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by aaabass, Dec 16, 1999.

  1. aaabass

    aaabass Guest

    Ok, I've spent soooo many hours on Mozart 35... you know the lick. Is it correct to play the passage off the string? Or is it ok to play on the string? I've heard conflicting opinions from a couple different teachers... any ideas?
  2. jeffwhite


    Jan 20, 2000
    You are right, the opinions vary.
    Here at IU we have been told off the string, but some people from here who have studied in the summers with east coast teachesr were told to play Moz 35 on the string. I guess it all depends on the teacher/conductor/orchesta

    [This message has been edited by jeffwhite (edited January 20, 2000).]
  3. The idea is that we need to be able to play the stroke both ways (on or off the string). I am also at IU (Hi Jeff), and both teachers recommend both ways at different times, depending on how someone may have just played it... For auditions and in the orchestra we need to play it the way the committee wants it, or how the rest of the orchestra is doing it!
    As far as developing the stroke, start with a slower stroke that has a fair bit of "air" between the notes, and just get the excerpt to sound good at that speed. Then start trying it at higher speeds and see if you can retain the clarity of the slower stroke. Then try it much slower...
    Start with what you know and alter styles and speeds.
    It's *ALL* about the bow and bow strokes. 'Gotta practice them every day, they've gotta be solid - and a whole variety of strokes and speeds shpould be available at the drop of a hat.
  4. basserino


    Apr 28, 2000
    Although I specialize in Brazilian music, particularly the folk-rock genre, often times I am required to use a variety of bow strokes. You're wondering how this is related to the perfromance of Mozart, aren't you? I really think that you shouldn't be tied down to one method or one person's OPINION. Do what YOU feel sounds best and best expresses your personality. This is what music's all about isn't it?
    As far as the performance of Mozart's music, I have never actually played any of the orchestral works, but my band has performed my own arangement of the Violin Sonata K 378. I imagine that the bow strokes used for that performance (spicatto, sluring, spiccato etc.) could all be applied to the exceprt which you speak of. Once again I actually am not familiar with this particular work, but I'm sure the strokes used from the various dance forms of the Brazilian folk-rock idiom would offer some valuable insight into the performance of Mozart. That's why music is the international language right?! comments?


    [This message has been edited by basserino (edited May 15, 2000).]
  5. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Sorry, basserino, but your approach is an excellent way to get fired, for good reason. You can't have 70 players each doing what sounds best to them and "expressing their personalities." Orchestral playing involves teamwork and sublimation of the individual will for the greater good that results. Otherwise, why have a conductor? I have disagreed with my conductor's choices at times, but I also know that hours and hours of deep thought and analysis have gone into her work. The search is to learn and how best to honor the composer's intent. We did Mahler's 4th with Sylvia McNair this year. The idea that my feelings take precedence over Mahler's is beyond me.
    Having said that, the dirty little secret is this: On the string, off the string, etc., you do what the principal does. If the conductor doesn't like it, the principal takes the heat for the whole section. There are VERY few instances of free bowing in the major orchestras. As kpo correctly said, you have to be prepared to do anything that is asked. That's being a professional.

    [This message has been edited by Don Higdon (edited May 16, 2000).]
  6. Alexandre


    Apr 14, 2000
    Mozart's 35(Haffner)?It realy could be played in the rigth time,with ANY bowing????!!!
    And,Baserino, what is brazilian folk rock???
  7. Alexandre


    Apr 14, 2000
    Mozart's 35(Haffner)?It realy could be played in the rigth time,with ANY bowing????!!!
    serino, what is brazilian folk rock???
  8. someone said "Mozart's 35(Haffner)?It realy could be played in the rigth time,with ANY bowing????!!!"

    I reply: sure, it's called being a capable professional. There are more and more bassists these days who are leaving (or for heaven's sake *entering*) music schools and conservatories "audition ready" (at least here in North America). That is, they have all the tools to play all the notes, in time and in tune - they just have to season it with experience (and a sense of ensemble) and GET A JOB.

    If you know what you want (say, an orchestra job in the USA), it's time RIGHT NOW to sit down and figure out what it's going to take, and do it. Orchestral jobs for bass players are still plentiful (compared to horn positions, for instance), but the current talent that's starting to take auditions is going to mop up and hold onto their jobs.

    Practice carefully!
  9. I've always thought of spiccato as being more of a 19th century technique, and given also that the basses in Vienna were probably bowed with some variety of underhand bow, I doubt spiccato is the *accurate* method for anything of Mozart's. It does, however, make clean playing much easier, and there's nothing to prevent a conductor from requesting it off-string, and many do.

    My advice would be to get it up to speed with a spiccato stroke, so that you at least have the lick, and then learn it as well on the string (martelé stroke, no?).

    Off topic, but since there's IU folk here, I have to ask: is it a good school for DB? One of these days I'll get my bachelor's and IU is one of my serious considerations for grad school.
  10. While I've never heard of anybody using an "on the string" stroke for Mozart (or other classical period pieces for that matter), I agree that it's wise to be prepared for anything. In general, however, you want a light, crisp, delicate stroke for 18th century music. At least that's what I hear, and what I've always been taught. When using a spicatto stroke, in faster passages, don't come off too much. And where string crossings are involved, you actually should try to stay on the string, since your bow will come off anyway on its own. But most importantly, no matter what approach you use, you need to pay attention that all the 8th notes are the same length, articulation, dynamic, etc. That's what you're really shooting for.
  11. I would very much recommend IU.
    I went there for my Masters, studying with Bruce Bransby. Mr Bransby is very blunt with "what is wrong", and that's exactly what I want from a teacher - someone who's not going to hand you "their formula" for learning how to play bass, but rather pick examples from what you just played and work specifics to get better.
    Mr Bransby is also very generous with his time and resources, and that is also very important. To boot, every lesson is videotaped, so you can keep on learning for weeks from just one lesson! You quickly learn how valuable it is to regularly record yoursef in the practice room, too.

    IU has a huge bass class, and that is an ADVANTAGE. Bass players there are as fun and supportive as anywhere, and you get to work with a large variety of talented peers. For example, one student who is a sophomore there right now is playing better than Edgar Meyer was when Edgar was a Sophomore at IU! Mr Meyer sees that and believes in Da-xun, and is working with him.

    The academics at IU are very serious, and will do you a world of good. I constantly wish I had gone to IU as an undergrad; their programs will help you be a better and more well informed musician than most other schools and conservatories can even come close to.

    Since the topic of this thread is Mozart/Bow bouncing, I should add that I learned my spicatto with Bransby at IU. Most of the work was done by me as I got up at 5:00 am every weekday morning so I could be awake and practicing by 6:00 am, well before those pesky 8:00 classes started. But Mr Bransby had the patience to listen to my slow but steady progress every lesson, doing the same basic material for most of a semester, until I finally had a spicatto...

    Louisville Orchestra
  12. Tele295


    Jan 8, 2002
    Ventura, CA
    To which lick ("you know the lick") are you referring? First movement, the 16ths and 32nds that precede "C" (2 and 8 bars before "C") in the Zimmerman edition?
  13. Sure we have to follow the conductor's idea.

    Besides this, one can make some research about this question of bowing.

    Take a look at Harnoncourt's "Musical Dialogue"*,
    there's a chapter about written and non-written
    bowings in Mozart.

    *hope this is the title in English (sorry, I know it in French)

Share This Page