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other styles of bowing besides classical?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Les Fret, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I have been playing classical for some time now. Also I play jazz/fusion. Lately I am loosing a bit interest in classical. Mainly because I miss the freedom and creativity that I want in music. Really like classical for the technical aspects and I have played in orchestras but I don't see myself playing Kousevitzky or Bottesini in public. But I really like bowing. Are there other styles of bowing (beside classical and jazz) that are good to explore? Also really like 'world music' (for the lack of a better term).

    I want to continue with classical but I want to broaden my horizon and become more inspired when it comes to bowing.
  2. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Try looking into Gypsy, Klezmer, Balkan and Arabic music.
  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Bowing is just a technique. What you do with it is just limited by your imagination.
  4. ThomClaire


    Dec 31, 2012
    Asheville, NC
    Much agreed with hdiddy. When you hear something you like, try to imitate it, just like many composers have imitated the voice. Trying imitating a funk guitar line, or even a trombone in a jazz setting. Try getting out of the bass part, but keep the bass. The options are infinite.
  5. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Of course. But playing classical is something completely different than playing say kletzmer. Both styles require different bowing technique and tone.

    I have also studied classical guitar at the conservatory. Really like it but playing classical can be limiting sometimes when it comes to your own creativity. You are much more focussed on interpretation and technique. I am get a bit tired of playing someone else's compositions and notes. On my other instruments (guitar and electric bass and also double bass pizz) I feel more free. When it comes to bowing I am too much boxed in the classical stuff and playing notes instead of making my own music and developing my own way of playing.
  6. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    I play Irish Trad gigs and reels sometimes, and that's a lot of fun, as well as being a technical workout for both hands.
  7. I discovered that simply analysing the harmonic progressions of the classical pieces I'm playing, I could: A) Play it better (original intention) B) Improvise with the bow over a harmonic progression.

    Of course, I do not mean just playing the Capuzzi bass part over "So What", but the new insigts proved quite stimulating.
  8. tmntfan


    Oct 6, 2011
    Edmonton canada
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I too am a recovering guitarist but that comparison kinda doesn't work. Bowing techniques are subtle, it's not a valid comparison to playing fingerstyle vs plectrum vs. spanish vs. classical guitar styles. I think the only valid comparison is probably using a pick and how you are picking the strings (primarily downstrokes vs. alternative up/down).

    If your'e boxed in by the classical idiom, I think it's more of a function of your ears than your hands. I'm trying to get deeper into arco right now with help from a local player who specializes in more folk and alternate styles of arco. What he's showing me is that the technique is the same, but how you approach creating that sound is what's different. For instance, he has a set of bowing exercises that focus only on strokes - patterns that alternate between slurred and non-slurred notes. He plays for a well known folk group and covers all sorts of styles (irish jigs, bluegrass, jazz, etc). I don't think bass is has a natural place in lots of styles outside of western music so there's lots to explore.

    The only people I've seen that has a valid and discernable different in technique for arco is Renaud Garcia-Fons and Charnett Moffett. Garcia-Fons (who has a great NPR Tiny desk concert) bounces the bow off of the strings on the hair side to generate a percussive effect that sounds like a drum, and Charnett flips the bow over to get a different percussive palette of wood on string.

    What I'm trying to get at is that for these alternate styles, the tone is in your ears. You have to be able to hear it first, and maybe then you can develop a technique that can capture it. But for the most part, I doubt if the technique is really that wholly different than what you find in typical arco technique. It's just how you apply those techniques.

    Watch this and tell me (save for the bouncing bow) how his technique is unusual. The sound certainly is.

    If you want to develop your own way of playing... well, staying within the classical idiom won't help. You have to break the "rules" at some point.
  10. I agree. There is a lot of arco playing in Tango check out some there. Some sounds require more attack and grip from the bow than regular classical music, so you may have to re-evaluate rosin level and hair type. Also model after what you hear and emulate. For example, you can listen to a lead soloist using an electric blues guitar with distortion and copy that, doing whatever you have to do, to get the sound with just the bass and bow. Or listen to a bari sax player, or a harmonica player and copy them.

    Then there is also the issue of amplified arco playing to be dealt with. A piezo p/u on the bridge and the bow ... well.:eek:
    We have to experiment and figure out solutions that sound good.
  11. An interesting thread topic, .. have you looked at Francois Rabbath? he offers some alternative styles. And of course Edgar Meyer plays arco in some very non-classical contexts.


    p.s. A fiddle player friend of mine delights in mimicking sounds of animals, trains, etc. as a way of developing versatility with the bow (and entertaining kids in the audience) - pitch, attack/envelope, etc. are all explored
  12. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    That last remark is very good. That's the point where I am now. I started playing classical in the first place purely to get a good technique and intonation and because I always wanted to be able to bow. My goal was not to become a classical solo player. Stayed longer than I expected but now my interest in purely classical drifts away just as it did when I was studying classical guitar.

    And yes, I am familiar with Renaud's work. That bouncing technique is really cool but that's just one technique that is very much his own. Don't see a need to copy that. The rest of his technique is very much classical based.

    Don't necessarily want to play with a total different technique. Just want to get more freedom in my arco playing and have more other inspirations. In classical music you can get boxed in the scores and 'only' play fixed compositions. But that's not what I want.
  13. I know this is silly but a bored musician's career path might be (1) play (2) compose (3) conduct (4) musicologist, and when all else fails, become a music critic !!

    Seriously, perhaps buy yourself some recording gear and create sound loops that you improvise against?

  14. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    haha....David, I 'm not bored at all. I am full of energy and will to learn. Just feel like my path is moving in a different direction now.
    I have plenty of recording gear and also a looper. Do that looping stuff on my other instruments sometimes. Don't feel the need to this on double bass as well.
    Always have been creating my own music and compositions.
  15. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    It's funny, I feel that I can 'express myself' more by interpruting something like the Cello Suites than by improvising over changes. Consider that Casals sounds vastly different than Rostropovich. I don't really buy into the concept of the 'classical box,' or notion of 'rules.' Those 'artists' usually end up in the bargain bin at Tower Records, but are often the ones that get listened to, because they are cheap.

    If you are looking to explore other genres, I fully support that decision, and wish you the best of luck. If classical music isn't what you want to do, please don't write it off as un-creative and lacking inspirational playing.
  16. Brunot


    Oct 29, 2010
    Well, the way I see it is that your imagination is limited at the moment, not classical music really.

    There are many things you can do out of classical or whatever other genre you may put here. If you are going to think of it as constraining, you will find it that way. Every genre has some kind of vibe or 'rules', would you call it and they have different ways you can express yourself through them. Score is just a piece of paper with headers of how it sounds like and markings for certain details. It is not a word carved in stone.

    The way you interpret the sheet is all up to you and right there, there aren't any boxes, just the one's of your own. And I am not saying you should stay only with classical if your interest strays at the moment. Maybe just do exactly what you said you miss, do something out of the box. Try that different bowing you had in mind, change the forte and piano part, explore and look at things in a different way. Just for fun, regardless of genre.

    I like to think of music as Music. Genres are good for designating, not so much for thinking more freely.
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Actually, my comment about being boxed in even in the classical idiom is kinda unfair. If you want a new voice, you have to have the imagination to create it, even within the idiom. Composing your own classical pieces is a great way to find your own voice. I'm doing the same right now and have begun my own exploration in composing in the jazz idiom.

    When you compose, you define the "rules" or at least pick and choose with parts of the idiom you choose to stick to. Or you could do away with all of them. It's all up to you and how you can bend your ear to hear something coming from an internal source that is different to everything else you've already listened to.

    EDIT: Also, changing up your tunings can force you to have a different left hand technique in a way - like going to 5ths tuning. Double stops and intervallic playing changes and can open new doors (but also close other ones). Right hand technique stays the same tho.
  18. I've played a lot of Klezmer, and have seen some of the top Klezmer performers in the world, and feel comfortable saying that if you have a solid foundation in classical technique, you're ahead of the game if that's what you want to play. What do you listen to? What do you see yourself playing? Tango music has some great bass techniques...search youtube for Pablo Aslan. Sticky rosin, lots of smacking the bass around. Cool stuff. Stuart Brotman of Veretski Pass is worth checking out. Slam Stewart?
    It may serve you well to just find a style of music you see yourself playing, and just dive in. The skills you've acquired studying classical music will enable you to focus on the nuances of the styles rather than the technical aspects. It's up to you to be inspired.
  19. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    It is not my intention to say that classical music is un-creative! Not at all. I love classical music. It is just that you have less improvisation or freedom of developing your own lines in classical then in say jazz or some other genres. Creativity in playing (not composing) classical lies more in interpretation.
  20. Check out Sebastien Dubé, especially his work in Swedish folk music. He's very good at imitating certain bowing idioms of particular Swedish folk instruments. Lots of bows and swells not really found in common practice music.

    I don't know if you can see this video without a Facebook account, but give it a shot: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=459346597467514

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