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Sevcik book on DB bowing

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Hi all

    someone here mentioned this book, which I have acquired for bowing practice. For anyone who has been using it, though, how do you work through it, do you play some of the examples until you have them "down" and progressively work up to the harder ones?

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Hi Andy,
    I have "Sevcik for Bass" by Abe Luboff. He condensed the original 40 variations down to 20 and gave detailed instructions about how to conceive each particular bowing. If you PM me an email address I will scan the entire short book for you. I think it is out of print now. I would suggest working through them one at a time very thoroughly, taking the time to absorb each new idea into your technique through lots of careful repetition. The old maxim is Learn Well, Learn Once. Perhaps use them as part of your warm-up.

    Cheers, DP
  3. nickbass


    Apr 29, 2005
    Northants, UK
    Or do you mean The Essentials of Sevcik (transcribed and abridged for Double Bass) by Neil Tarlton? http://www.neiltarlton.com
    DrayMiles likes this.
  4. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    The Essentials of Sevcik (transcribed and abridged for Double Bass) by Neil Tarlton.
    Thanks for the offer David, I'll stick with the above but will follow your always thoughtful advise & coaching.
  5. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    To be clear, Sevcik's School of Bowing Technique is a 6 part work, Op. 2. The 40 variations (op. 3) are separate from that. Tarlton abridges and puts all 6 parts of Op. 2 into one book, rewriting the etudes so they work on bass, which is extremely useful. The Luboff is, in my opinion, a needlessly watered down version of the 40 Variations. Just buy (or download from IMSLP) the cello version and use that.
    My advice on practicing would be to take a similar series of bowings to practice in one session, rather than beat one at a time to death. Some will be easier than others: don't waste too much time on the easy ones. Since the method is divided into 2, 3, and 4 string exercises, you might want to include some of each in a practice session. Among other things, this will help alleviate the monotony of playing the same etude over and over.
    mtto likes this.
  6. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Thanks very much, NeilG - I have been doing just that, taking one "set" of several exercises and playing through them, paying attention to the ones that I have "down" and the ones that need work. I think it is useful (for me anyway) to see the suggested bowing (frog, middle, tip), this also forces me to thinnk about bow speed, arm weight etc. This is turn leads me to another question - in orchestral playing (not solos) how is the player to know when to bow at the frog, middle or tip? Is this ever annotated in music? Thanks again, you are very patient!
  7. OK, I don't know or have the Tarlton book so I don't know if the exercises are graded in difficulty, etc. All I can say is that when you are trying to learn various bow strokes that you do them carefully, correctly and for long enough to encrypt your brain successfully. Some might call it "muscle memory". I think there is also a need to be aware of physical balance, both in the way you use each hand and the way you put the two hands together, if your timing and coordination are going to produce clear articulation of complex passages. I still think that the basic bowing pattern of 2 slurred 2 separate is one of the hardest!!

    Cheers, DP
  8. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Generally, the music dictates the "choreography" of the bow. A long note might start at the frog and end at the tip, or vice versa. A long note followed by short notes could have you play the short notes at the opposite end of the bow you started with. There ARE tendencies, such as: it's easier to play loud or execute sharp accents at the frog, softer attacks are easier at the tip, etc. Using a method like Sevcik helps you overcome the tendencies and be able to play notes where on the bow the music takes you. There's no right or wrong, but there MAY be easier or more difficult.

    Where to play on the bow is rarely indicated in orchestral works. When it is, it's based, IMO, on what the composer knows violinists can do with their bows, not double bassists. I've seen things like short upbow fortissimo staccato strokes at the tip indicated. On the E string. That sort of thing has a singular sound on the violin but is a fairly ridiculous request on the bass. Stravinsky did stuff like this and it's not always the best choice. What did HE know? :)
  9. I have just looked up Sevcik Op. 2 and Op. 3 on IMSLP and again, not having seen the Tarlton book, my heart sank when I saw 99 pages of Op. 2. With one exception the Abe Luboff bass version of Op. 3 is the first 20 studies and IMO is perhaps more relevant before taking on Op. 2. Anyway, Andy, I have created a pdf for you if you want it. The main reason I mentioned it above was Luboff's suggestions about how to approach each exercise.

    Cheers, DP
  10. Because Sevcik its not a prescriptive manual with string changes and fingerings annotated you have to figure those out along with solving the bow challenges. Theres quite a lot to pick off the bone!

    Personally I find Sevcik works really well by extracting out a couple of exercises into daily practice with Variation 1 + 2 on one day, 3 + 4 the next, 5 +6 the day after etc i.e. you know the melody and the challenge becomes more of a 'yes but can you bow it like this? ' . Its interesting because sometimes you need to go back and change the fingering and string crossing of a passage to suit the bowing task eg the difference between what would enhance a long legato phrase as opposed to the same notes but played dotted.

    Haven't seen Luboff's version of Sevcik but I can say that Neil Tarlton's version is excellent.
    trkkazulu likes this.
  11. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Regardless of which version you use, there's a very simple way to get a lot out of Sevcik.

    Work through a section and find the parts you're not proficient at. Mark those parts. Move to another section and repeat as necessary. Now you have a set of personalized studies for daily practice. Over time these will become effortless. Repeat.
  12. ondalito


    Nov 17, 2011
    Hey David,
    I hope you are well. Do you still have the Luboff book? I can't find a copy to buy. I would love to get a pdf if possible.
  13. koricancowboy

    koricancowboy Ausberto Acevedo Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    I like Strokin' which is Hal Robinson's take on it. Coupled with Boardwalkin', you got yourself a killer course of study.
  14. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    I own a mint-condition copy of Luboff's book - I bought it well after I was introduced to the concept of moving the Left Hand by means of swift, controlled glissandi/finger substitution and grace note targeting, by my college professor, J.B. VanDemark. This is described on pages 2 & 3 of the Luboff book, and was a real game-changing, mind-blowing concept that was, and still is, crucial to understanding how the total Left Side/LH/fingers arrive and depart while shifting...pizz or arco. IMO.
    F. Zimmermann's "A Contemporary Concept of Bowing Technique..." was the second-most important book, and is a tremendous workout for the Right/Bow Side.
  15. CSBBass


    Sep 21, 2013
    David-- I too would be very interested in seeing the Luboff book for his explanations, if you still have the PDF. If you do still have it, I can pm you my email.
  16. ondalito and CSBBass, please check your inboxes.
    Cheers, DP
  17. Jon Stefaniak

    Jon Stefaniak Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2000
    Tokyo, Japan
    I never worked with Zimmerman's bowing book for long, but looking through it, there's not much there there that can't be arrived at by writing out permutations.

    First, there are string crossing paterns - I made a cheat sheet:


    Then you can focus on each one in a loop,
    Combine them together in various permutations,
    Add slurs, rhythms, articulations dynamics.
    If you can repeat a pattern rapidly without strain or fatigue, then you're making the moves right.
    I think pairing patterns with their inversions and reversed bowings is a good way to work out the kinks... Like drum rudiments.

    I am skeptical of the real usefulness of Zimmerman's etudes. If it was a difficult passage from the repertoire your working, I can understand working on only the bowing, but Zimmerman's etudes can be composed by a random number generator.. you don't need to buy the book for that.

    I know this isn't Sevcik , but I think Zimmerman was mentioned by someone.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
    Scott Lynch and Les Fret like this.
  18. what the pluck

    what the pluck

    Oct 13, 2010
    Hi David,

    Id be really keen on seeing the Luboff book as well if at all possible?
  19. s van order

    s van order

    Oct 4, 2012
    David, may I receive a copy of Luboff too? I am working with a used copy of Sevcik Part 1 for cello, with the other parts from the imslp website, and am interested in other bowing books. I used Hal Robinson's Strokin' many moons ago but it is long gone. Thanks, Steve
  20. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Thanks so much for 'Sevcik' and 'Pichlik'! Your generosity is most appreciated. Fantastic!

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