String crossing technique

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Lately I have had to play a few Baroque pieces and I am finding it hard to cross strings, particularly from the G to the A or E string...I have been working off the Zimmermann's E and A patterns, however where the leap is wider is where i struggle, specifically I keep hitting the d string in between, or I don't get quite the sound on the g string when jumping from the A string.
    Are there any specific exercises - such as playing octaves, or ninths or tenths (in jazz parlance) that you recommend? It seems to be particularly hard with German hold, I might add..

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006
    I think, you don't need a specific etude or exercise.
    Just make the bar, that is the problem your exercise. Start slow and try to avoid unnecessary movements.
    If you want to leave out the left hand, just do it, or use E, A, a, e just like in the Zimmermann book.

    Very often it makes more sense to make up your own exercise, directly related to the piece, that you are practicing, instead of using an etude, because in that way you don't just practice the movements, but also incorporate tempo, expression, sound, articulation. And the goal is much clearer.
  3. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Thanks much, Co. - I'll try that and see how I go!
  4. When you're working on string crossings, focus on using your upper body/torso to lead the motion. If you're only using your arms, you will have a hard time.
  5. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
  6. coldtrain


    Aug 19, 2004
    Middleburg, VA
    It's there but he's been playing for a long time and the movement is very subtle. When you're first learning this go ahead and exaggerate the motions. Eventually it will become part of your technique and become more and more efficient.

    Take a look at this masterclass by Paul Ellison, especially at the 12:00 mark:

    And do take his recommendation to check out Leonidas Kavakos' bowing technique. There are many examples on youtube.
  7. irbassist


    Jun 17, 2009
    Boston, MA
    There are a lot of ways to get more out of the zimmerman book. Do pattern over all combination of string crossings (G-D D-A A-E ; G-A D-E ; G-E...only really works in slower tempos for the big jumps but helps you get the right feel). Also do dynamics, crescendo/descrescendo/accents/sudden changes. Do this for 10-15 minutes a day and string crossings will be much much easier.
  8. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    We need to make string crossing part of our daily practice. Zimmerman is great, but Sevcik is king. There's a reason every other member of the string family works out of it...
  9. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
  10. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
  11. This is a pretty standard trick that no-one above has mentioned. If possible reverse the bow directions so that the lower note is played up bow and the higher down bow. The magic place is on the bow where it balances. The action of crossing keeps the bow down on or very close to the strings. Down bow lower note to up bow higher note throws the hair away from the strings and is much harder to control.

    Use playing octaves as an example. Make very definite bow movements with only just enough length for each note to sound musical. Play virtually on the string, not bouncing off the string (much harder to control). So long as the bow is not moving as you cross on the intermediate string you can lever the bow across without making an extra unwanted sound. If the bow does lift off the string keep it very low. Experiment. Much depends on timing and coordination.

    Cheers, DP
    Last edited: May 1, 2014