Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

string-crossing

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Peter_00, Aug 31, 2003.


  1. Ive been getting very picky with my technique lately and really listening to how I play. My weakest point is string crossing with the bow, any tips on how to avoid that "crunch"?

    thanks
     
  2. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I think it's helped me a whole lot to make sure my left hand has stopped the note before I bow it, but I haven't really analyzed this problem much and just do the string crossing that gives me trouble over and over until I feel like I've got it down sans crunch.

    If you're talking about crossing to open strings, then I'd just woodshed it and work on my open string sound if I didn't like it.
     
  3. Not having the string firmly stopped against the fingerboard is one source of noise, but that sound isn't usually a crunch. Crunching comes from having too much space between the hair and the string you're crossing to at the moment when you start the note.

    At the completion of the note on the first string the hair should be on the string you are crossing to. Make that movement (moving the bow towards the next string) part of the bow stroke. The bow on the next string should be the end of the first stroke, then the next stroke begins simply by pushing or pulling the bow as the movement towards the new string was accomplished in the previous stroke.
     
  4. Which, as my teacher explained it, means that you are starting the stroke without having achieved the proper pressure, or contact first.

    He loves to relate it to proper technique with a shoe shine rag (assuming anyone here is old enough to remember shoe shine "boys"). He says the pressure should never relent, especially on change of bow direction, note, or string.

    I have a tendancy to unconciously, ease off on the bow at the end of each note, which sets you up for those undesireable sounds upon string crossings.
     
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Yes, Mr. Kaczorowski’s reminding me of an unexciting but useful Zimmerman bowing book that may help you. You would have lots of crunching obstacles to dodge through there, and the left hand doesn't move.
     
  6. Shlomobaruch

    Shlomobaruch

    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    Specifically, "A Contemporary Concept of Bowing Technique" by Frederick Zimmerman. You can order it from Lemur Music or www.sheetmusicplus.com All the same though, I've found the book has limited usefulness. There really isn't anything in it that you couldn't work out yourself through slow, steady practice. Setting up both the left and right hands to be prepared for each note as it comes whenever possible will help you. For example, if you're playing a first finger note on one string to a second or fourth finger note on another string, move the appropriate finger to the appropriate string while you're playing the first finger note. This, with making the string crossing part of the bow stroke in the right hand will help. So will lots of slow practice. Practice doing several stopped notes in one bow, say, 4-8 separate staccato notes per upbow and downbow - this will help you start and stop a string with constant pressure from one end of the bow to the other. Practice this at different areas of the string to see what will give you the right volume, tone, and ease of execution. Don't necessarily look for an answer, look to understand the problem as thoroughly as possible and it will answer itself.
     
  7. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    O.K., so some may also consider the book to have limited usefulness as well.

    For me, though, the book went a long way to helping me understand that the crossing of strings could be contemplated much more deeply than I ever considered before. Plus, there are symphony excerpts all over the book to accompany the static left-hand/frantic right-hand exercises, and if you can nail the right-hand work at tempo then all that's left is the left-hand...you can then woodshed excerpts from which those particular exercises are derived.

    Best of all, Zimmerman lets you know that it's quite alright to isolate some part of a technically challenginging part and work it like no tomorrow, that you don't have to tackle it all at once with no mercy on yourself...and you will improve. That's a relatively inexpensive lesson you can carry in your backpack.
     
  8. Shlomobaruch

    Shlomobaruch

    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    But it's also a lesson you summarized very well in your post, which is free. Why recommend that someone pay for that same idea dragged out over 100+ pages? Any transcription of Sevcik would be preferable.
     
  9. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Though I'm flattered anyone would assert that my post is equal in value to Zimmerman's 100+ page book, I don't feel like I made a mistake by paying what you paid for my post and paying what the book goes for.

    Haven't been exposed to Sevcik yet. What is offered there?
     
  10. Shlomobaruch

    Shlomobaruch

    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    Otakar Sevcik was a guy who wrote several books outlining various aspects of violin technique. What's most famous are his "School of Bowing Technique" volumes, which are literally a compedium of every bow stroke or combination of strokes you will ever use. A few transcriptions exist for bass, I have a German one by Gerd Reinke. There's another one publishised by Hal Leonard called "Strokin' Sevcik" which comes highly recommended though I haven't seen it myself. Even still, these just teach you the strokes themselves, practical application is a different matter.

    My teacher had no interest in or patience with the Zimmerman book and at the time I found it frustrating, but I've recently come to fully understand why. He avoided a lot of the nitty-gritty aspects of exactly how technique is executed, and I thought this was part of it, but it wasn't. I'll explain. You can isolate the right hand part of a passage and practice it seperately to get it where you want, then add it back into the mix. Since that does work, logic would follow that you could isolate common string crossing patterns, practice those, and be prepared for them when they occur in actual music. While this holds true to a lesser or greater extent it just makes much more sense to spend precious practice time working on actual music and isolating the right hand as necessary as opposed to spending hours isolating an issue that might not be the problem you think it is. Particularly when what works even better than isolation is to practice a passage slowly enough to where you can be fully aware of what both hands are doing and how they cooperate to execute a passage. Bad tone isn't always a right hand issue, intonation isn't always a left hand one.

    I do agree that the Zimmerman book got me to stop and think about right hand technique in a way that I hadn't before, but I'll reiterate that what you yourself said contained that very same message for much less. Are we really so spoon-fed and without imagination that we need this spelled out for us over dozens of minute exercizes?
     
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I'm not sure it's fair for you assert Zimmerman's bowing book to be devoid of imagination while expressing enthusiasm over bass transcriptions of every bow stroke or combination of strokes one may ever use for the violin.

    Still, I trust that Sevcik's works are also useful. If I ever run into them I'll check them out.
     
  12. Shlomobaruch

    Shlomobaruch

    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    I wasn't suggesting that Zimmerman was devoid of imagination, it is a very thorough work. I was suggesting that we (myself 100% included) aren't trusting or just not using our own imaginative capacity, our own ability to pursue solutions to our own problems when someone such as Zimmerman has to spell out over dozens of pages how to break down string crossings in excerpts. A big part of playing an instrument is the intellectual capacity to solve the problems of technique. It's kind of like baby food vs. real food. At some point a person has to learn how to chew and digest and at some point a musician has to learn the same thing with music - break it down into bites and chew it over. What do you do when you're faced with an excerpt that Zimmerman hasn't broken down and digested for you? You figure it out yourself, of course. Well, why not just do that in the first place and leave Zimmerman on the shelf? Why not exercize your own capacity to break things down? Every good teacher should be able, if nothing else, to give a student the ability to break down the information on a sheet of music and master each facet separately and collectively. Zimmerman has its uses, but like tablature for example, relying too heavily on it robs a student of the ability to develop a crucial skill.

    This is what those who don't care for Zimmerman are getting at. On one level it seems to isolate a crucial skill for proper technique. But that skill occurs in context, and any isolation necessary is something you should be capable of on your own.
     
  13. Betsy

    Betsy

    Dec 30, 2004
    I'm new to this board and wasn't even sure how to look up my question, but you've answered it here. I'm practicing long tones an hour a day at 50 on the metronome. Experimenting with my body position and bowing in front a mirror has made a huge difference in tone quality, but didn't help at all with crossing, which has been very frustrating. I'll go try what you've suggested here because it makes a lot of sense. Thank you!

     
  14. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Here is a page of exercises on string-crossing that I have found useful.
    I like Sevcik, and I like Zimmerman (My teacher studied with him).
    Breaking things down is such an important part of practice, and this thread has helped remind me about it!
    LM
     

    Attached Files:

  15. On a related note, has anyone ever heard of an audio tape, CD, or video to accompany any of the sevcik bass transcriptions?
     
  16. heres my take on the string crossing thing at the moment:
    i am desperately trying to get rid of the very small sound i get when i cross from the G string to the A string that is the sound of the bow pivoting on the D string to cross to the A string. i am not drawing the bow on the D string but it is just the sound of the bow momentarily resting on this string as it moves to the A string. and visa versa the other way of course. the only way of completely avoiding this sound would be to lift the bow when string crossing? which is not right either me thinks? maybe it is just me being picky and only i can hear it?
     
  17. Betsy

    Betsy

    Dec 30, 2004
    Thanks for posting the exercise. I've printed it and will try it soon.

    I can't believe how much one can improve practicing just an hour a day, focusing on the tiny pieces that make up the arco sound. It's fascinating. I don't think that I've ever enjoyed practicing so much.

    The crunching has lessened greatly, moving from string to string is so much more fluid, and what a solid measure of one's intonation this provides. (I have a new and smaller bass, so this matters a lot right now.)

    Can anyone recommend videos/DVDs/CDs of extremely fluid arco players/technique?
     
  18. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    There is a good bass technique video by North Texas State University bass instructor Jeff Bradetich. Very good basic exercises on there. Gary Karr's books are great, and someone will mention Francois Rabbath's DVD (But I haven't seen it yet).

    Hope the exercise page proves useful.
    Laurence