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Spiccato On

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Johnny L, Feb 11, 2004.


  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I got to see a guy named Ira Gold do a master class a couple of weeks ago, and he performed some of the Beethoven 5th Scherzo stuff.

    He did all the 8th notes off-the-string, and it sounded great. So of course, I'm inspired to mirror it. I tightened my bow some more, though I'm not sure why I thought this would have been the answer on reflection, so that the notes on the E-string would speak more clearly.

    Besides simply adding more rosin, does anyone out there have additional insight to doing spiccato on the E-string so that sounds like a cannon firing?

    Thanks,
    Johnny
     
  2. I don't know if you're playing french or german bow. I play german, and my suggestion would be to start slow and work up the speed, and also make use of the weight and rebound of the bow. Instead of trying to control each bounce with pressure and the muscles in your hand, try to get a natural bounce and then dig in with the weight of your arm. I'd also say don't overtighten your bow; you want it tight enough to get a nice bounce and so it doesn't 'bottom out' but if it's too tight the bounce will be difficult to control. Hope that helps some...
     
  3. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    This is my third time trying to reply, and I had lots more to say but I'm too pooped now. Thanks for the info Toman. It's good reading.
     
  4. I know for a fact that Ira Gold spent hours and hours over the course of years to get his beautiful, heavy spiccato. One must start slow, as already mentioned, and never allow oneself to move up the dial on the metronome until it sounds perfect at the given click. Be sure that up bows are as heavy as down bows, and that the bow is prependicular to the string, in order to get the cleanest sound possible. Beyond that, personal research along with a conception of the desired sound will lead you in the direction. Spiccato is a long, long process... anyone who tells you otherwise probably doesn't sound as refined as he could!
    Also, read Portnoi's Creative Bass Technique, an extraordinary "Boston sound" guide book, along with daily practise of Zimmerman's Contemporary Concept of Bowing (I think that's the title).
     
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Why did this message board have to get changed with all this doodad stuff that kills me when I try to write anything??!!?!>!!>!>!>>KKLASFKLK

    Anyway, Thanks TA for additional info. I loved Ira's sound and bouncing bow stroke on the scherzo. He recommended not ignoring Zimmerman's book too, and I pulled it back out last week to bounce my bow with (along with the usual scale stuff). I didn't recall him mention Portnoi though and will look for it.
     
  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    The Portnoi book seems to be an ASTA publication. Does anyone know anything about this organization? Do I need to be a member or know a member with access to obtain this book?
     
  7. I am pretty sure Southwest Strings has the book. Go to www.swstrings.com, I think.
    Its a very, very "old school" approach so you might find some opposition from the progressive approach of bass playing. Best of luck!
     
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Thanks,
    Johnny
     
  9. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well, I'm doing what I said - the Zimmerman book is getting a workout and the string crossings are being done bouncing bow style. When I first started doing this stuff, I was making this effort to make the bow bounce just about every single time. Now my body has learned to do something I don't really understand yet, and I don't feel like I'm making any effort to make the bow bounce - it's like I'm just letting it happen. Not consistent yet, as sometimes I'll start thinking about it and something happens to keep the bow from dribbling anymore, but it's all starting to sound much smoother and nicer. And the ricochet type bowings are starting to happen with a much nicer sound too. Whatever is happening, it's pretty cool, and I can finally hear that spiccato sound in all those Karl Boehm Mozart recordings.
     
  10. A delight to hear of your personal success. Often verbal articulation of what "exactly" one is supposed to be doing when executing strokes (or any type of movements for that matter) is not as helpful as it might seem; personal research, trial and error, compounded with a particular sound in mind, are the resources to exhaust, I feel. Don't feel that an even, heavy, loud spiccato has to be accomplished in a matter of weeks, months, or even years, for as soon as it sounds pleasing this week, you will soon figure out that you have the ability and work ethic to make it sound even better! Basically, to make a wordy passage a bit more clear, keep doing what you are doing.

    A few tips to make the stroke more even:
    -alter the rhythm of stroke. Yes, we must be able to play perfectly even 8th notes, and Zimmerman is full of gorgeous 16ths, however, applying various rhythmic permutations towards a stroke will only strengthen the control, the evenness, and the comfort of the stroke.
    -begin difficult exercises with an V bow for an truly engaging Friday night.
    -set the metronome on as big of beats as possible (in addition to prior practice with subdivisions). For example, have a click on only the strong beats of measure, then only the down beat, then only every other measure, and so forth. At this point any discrepancy in evenness and perfect time will be GREATLY MADE OBVIOUS. Often this exercise is the both the most frustrating and infuriating, but the most, most helpful.

    Best,
    Tyler
     
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Thanks very much for the additional exercises and advice Tyler. Friday nights are now my favorite nights!

    Johnny
     
  12. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    Hey, Super Newb question but... What's a Spiccato? I know my theory but have not heard this word before.


    Full of Questions,

    -Tim S.
     
  13. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Spiccato's just a term for a classical bowing maneuver and getting specific sounds from the bass with it. It's not really about the left hand or note choices, though one does want to have the bow reach the right string at the right time.
     
  14. I'm not a DBer (sigh), so I may be wrong, but I believe spiccato it a bowing maneuver in which the bow is bounced off the string with each note, so it decays like a plucked note would.
     
  15. hi, i would recommend practicing short clean strokes on the string while being relaxed 1st. i try to get clarity on the bottom strings by thinking of getting the same sound as pizzing but using the bow... it's all about pinch and release. just a general idea... hope this makes sense...
     
  16. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    If you mean to say that there should be a clear, strong fundamental pitch speaking when the bow gets the string moving, then I understand what you mean.
     
  17. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    "pinch and release"...is that a new uku removal technique?

    (sorry all, that was for my homeboy Kurt)
     
  18. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I just recently got to watch the Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra bass section (of which Talkbass's own Paul Determan was a member - GREAT JOB to Paul, Steve and David!!!) perform some great music last Saturday: a Bach piece (of course), a Mozart violin/viola duet with the orchestra providing support, and Beethoven's 5th symphony. Got to watch a whole lot of off the string bowings there, which, of course, has inspired me to continue working on those strokes.

    But I didn't realize that the 5th asked for so much off-the-string work throughout. I found out that the scherzo stuff could be done off the string from getting to see Ira Gold do it, but I've never seen the whole piece performed before. Pretty darn cool, since before I thought of this as not a whole lot more than a novelty thing for bassists who want to make Mozart pieces look more exciting or something...maybe lots to learn about the classical repertoire on my part. Is this typical, to see so much bow bouncing on this piece? I was told that it would be played "Viennese Style", is this what was meant?
     
  19. In a waltz context, Viennese style is a way to swing the beat. I don't remember the exact rhythm.
     
  20. If you ever get the chance to see a real Austrian or German orchestra, you would be in for a real surprise as soon as you see their bow technique. It is a far different approach than that of a general American approach. They nearly all exclusively play German bow, obviously, and bounce the bow MUCH higher and much more frequently than a general American orchestra would. The "Viennese" style refers to a bow style that has a player bounce nearly incessantly (when possible), and with a grand horizontal motion, sometimes around 2 and half inches off of the string. That is compounded with a much more bow, and a faster speed. German and Austrian orchestras tend to use the whole bow so much of the time, and is quite a different sight than the bow-saving American counterparts.
    The difference in sound, is a bit different. The volume of the Vienna Philharmonic seems to be much louder, and the general tone is much more round and fat. Compared to an American orchestra that generally has a softer string sound, yet much more focused, clean, and precise.
    Now, OBVIOUSLY I am completely over-generalizing and stereotyping. I don't wish to step on anyone's toes, however these opinions are not exclusively carried by me, and I am sure with observations, another might feel the same. There are videos of Karajan with Vienna, and shots of the bass section that will help clue you into a bit of what they do differently. Check them out; they are amazing.

    A side note- the "Viennese style" in a waltz setting, as it was mentioned before, has an early 2nd beat, and either a perfectly placed 3rd beat, or even a late 3rd beat.