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sitting while playing german bow?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by mike_odonovan, Jan 18, 2004.

  1. anyone here sit and play a German bow? my teacher plays french. i have been taking inspiration from Gary Karr ( and a bit from Alan Karr re. January give up smoking) but he stands and uses the hole arm which is impossible sitting. i use more of a wrist action. my teacher says it's fine but does anyone have any thoughts about if i am going to run into problems later on? any players you could name that i could try and find photos of who sit and play German bow? i would appreciate the tip.
  2. Bassius


    Nov 6, 2001
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar amps

    I sit and play german bow (and French) and I'm still able to use my whole right arm. My stool is custom fit to my leg length so my feet can reach the floor. My teachers were students of Ludwig Streicher, and Lawrence Wolfe (french).

    By sitting i can free up my upper body from instrument support and focus on playing the bass, not holding it. I dont know of any methods that teach how to sit other than my teacher's.
  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I play German. I used to play both pizz and arco sitting. Bowing the E string was always a problem requiring body and arm adjustments.
    I've stood for years, now, and I intensely dislike playing seated. Standing, I feel at one with my instrument. I feel that bass playing (as does all human use) starts in the spine, and I achieve better use of the spine, neck (actually part of the spine), and head standing.
  4. I play both sitting and standing. When I play sitting down, I try to get the instrument in almost the same position as when I'm standing, so my technique really doesn't change much. All sitting down does is take some weight and strain off of my body makeing those long rehersals a bit easier. I still stand when I'm doing solo work and practicing and stuff, simply because I don't want to become dependent on a stool; I hate packing them around.

  5. I have played both bows, and in both postions. I currently play predominately French while sitting for reasons of comfort, control, and ease of shifting from lower to above upper thumb postion. I do believe it is a matter of preference, neither one better than the other. That being said, I have found from my teachers, and with my students, holding the bass in a "open" position, (cello-like, more from the back as opposed to from the side), should enable you to play the E string without obstructions. Given that the stool is at the correct height, where your left leg is straight, but not locked. you should be able to use your arm instead of just the wrist. I believe playing with mostly wrist will affect the quality, intensity of your sound, not to mention wrist problems over time. Hope this helps!
  6. brandonwong


    Dec 16, 2003
    I have been playing german for a good long while but have also went the french way for experience. in case im the only one in the orchestra thats holding german and doin pizz. i definitely do prefer standing over sitting as it allows me change position for leaning back and play lower fingerboard notes or leaning forward to play those solo stuff/passages. the other concern would be being able to play the A and E string properly while standing.

    The reason why i went to sitting is because of long practise hours and i juz cant make it for anything else after standing for 4hrs. I would think that there is not too much disadvantage in terms of pitching as i move my hands relatively to the last position im in. so even if i have a very tall bass that's not mine, im still able play my notes in tune. Playing the E string will require bigger movement of pushing the bass outwards so that your right hands doesnt hit your right knee and stop there while sitting. This is probably the biggest obstruction for sitting. As for playing higher fingerboard passages, it would require more effort in trying to lean forward while sitting as im not of huge build. i would still prefer playing solos while standing.

    When it comes to playing jazz and pop. doesnt matter at all. altho it does helps a little but having more arm power when im standing doin really loud and unamplified bass settings.
  7. My bass teacher is a long-time stool player , and a former german player...He finds both types of bow very comfortable...Dont know why he gave up german come to think of it........
  8. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    Mike, just curious as to why you play German? I was looking through your profile, and you seem to be from the London area. There's a long standing tradition of French bow there, why would you want to stand out like that?
  9. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski

    May 13, 2005
    I play sitting and I've found that Levinson's technique works very well for german sitters.

    The idea is that you should not adjust to playing the bass; rather the bass should adjust to you. I play with both legs up on the rung of the stool and I use my left leg to angle the bass according to what string I'm playing. I open my leg to play the E so I have room for the bow and close my leg to bring the G string to my bow.

    If you want to try this it is very VERY important that you get a stool which all the rungs are even. If you use one of the wooden stools with off-set rungs, it will make your spine crooked and cause some nasty pain.

    Good luck!
  10. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    Good point. You could also grab a french bow, stand/sit with ease and comfort either way, and not look like you're chopping meat :smug:
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    It looks to me like Snakewood is trolling for a religious argument.
  12. Arnold

    Arnold Supporting Member

    I never felt comfortable sitting until I subbed for a friend who sat on a roc n soc drum throne. Saddle seat with a back for those interested. Soon after, I broke my left thumb and the chair has proved invaluble after rehab, taking a lot of work off of my hands and transporting it to my body. I've definitely found a place for me that I can comfortably bow the E string, however like all bows, basses, people everyone is different, and I'm only stating what works for me. I've not found any other stool, chair etc. (and I'm looking) to be as comfortable as the roc n soc. Peace. ASG
  13. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    hehe, nah; I think we've all heard the bow battle argument too many times. I think both bows have their strong points, I'm just one for poking at my German brothers :smug:
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'm sure that they also get a kick out of French players after about 10 minutes of FFFF on the E string, waving bye-bye with their still-working right hand as the EMS runs the compatriot to the ER.
  15. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    :) :) :) :) :) :)
  16. The whole advantage of German is that you get to use the whole arm without ever feeling like you're "holding up" the bow. I use a lot of Gary's ideas for my bow hold, even while playing seated - Full Time.
    It's easy to play with either both legs on the stool or with the right leg on the floor; either way, thinking of Alexander-type alignment and muscle-use.
    Gotta run; more later,
  17. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I play both bows and don't understand this distinction that you are making. I'm an advocate for using the whole arm whenever possible and the only time I feel like I'm holding the bow up is when it is not resting on the string.
  18. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    Don't you guys ever feel awkward bowing the E? or What if you have a five string? I'm asking this sincerely, cause I was tried playing german on a five string while standing and I just couldnt get the hang of it. Does the process of tilting the bass back and forth get difficult in fast passages?
  19. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I've switched to the Freedom Stick myself, incidently...
  20. If you play both bows, then you know! It's especially obvious with beginners, as to the "holding-up" feelings.

    Someone else explained it better; you feel it most after 5 minutes of Tchaikowski Quadruple-Forte on the E string....

    Anyway, both bows can be played in the seating posture easily. Standing posture actually can require more adjustments for German bow, but it's never on-the-fly; if a lick comes up that you actually change the angle of the bass for, the angle is changed for the whole lick.

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