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To bow parallel .. or not?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Whilst there is something to be said for starting this way, in reality, it is very difficult – and fairly impractical – to keep the bow completely parallel throughout its trajectory.
    Is it a case that as long as the contact point remains the same you can do pretty much anything you want to with the angle of the bow relative the bridge??

    Regards to all
  2. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    Tom Lane likes this.
  3. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    You mean perpendicular to the strings, parallel with the bridge? I'd be curious to see someone bow parallel with the strings. :D
    Tyler L likes this.
  4. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    It is difficult, but it's worth getting as good at this as you can. It makes a significant difference to tone production and especially to starting notes. It's difficult to play in tune too, but we all spend lots of time on our left hands. The right is the one that makes the sound. Get it relaxed, loose wrist and all the way up the arm, and it becomes easier to draw the bow consistently parallel to the bridge. It's worth practising in front of a mirror for this
  5. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Also, weird sounds from the bow at different angles can sound wrong and make us question our intonation. I always say, "wrong is not always out of tune".
    My advice is spend some time angling the bow intentionally, learn what that sounds like. Once you know what it sounds like, it is easier to purge the sound. As soon as you hear that slightly nasal tone you will straighten the bow right up.
  6. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    It's ironic that Bradetich has such incredible command of the bow, but comes up with a weird idea like this. He could keep his bow straight as an arrow if he wanted. Most of us would kill for the kind of suppleness he has. I disagree with him. Keep your bow as straight as you can.
  7. I disagree with Bradetich's tilting concept too. If you listen closely about half the time there's a crunch which is what he's saying this avoids. He's got enough skill and a good enough instrument to make it not that noticeable but it's there. What he's after can be accomplished using your body effectively and not doing anything funny with the bow.

    What's important for a clean, consistent tone is to keep the direction of the energy going into the string at a perpendicular angle. This doesn't mean that the bow has to be perpendicular to the string but it's usually the easiest way to keep that consistency. I try not to think about the angle of the bow. My goal is to find the sound and feel that I want and lock in to that. The vast majority of the time that means that my bow will be straight. I'm constantly adjusting my body position to keep or find the sound that I want.
    CSBBass and djc03006 like this.
  8. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    First learn to play with flat hair, straight bow and no patented moves and twirls. From there you can easily move in any direction with control, including tilted hair and figure 8s at the turn.
    lurk, djc03006, csrund and 2 others like this.
  9. I can only agree with what everyone says- as perpendicular as possible makes a difference.

    I’ve found the degree of this difference to be dependent on what string you play (probably amongst other factors like rosin). At the moment I’m on Pirastro Eudoxa and those are an incredibly good perpendicularity detector. They just don’t respond nearly as quickly and cleanly if you’re sloppy with the bow angle. Fast passages are REALLY hard when the bow does not travel perpendicular. And the Intonation/pitch issue Damon points out is equally strong on Eudoxa bowed inperpendicular (is that even a word?).

    Dominants for example are much more forgiving. But the effect is there as well.

    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  10. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    There is always the Vienna Phil - their bow angle is pretty amazing:

    Lee Moses likes this.
  11. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Fascinating topic.
    I'll throw a bucket of gasoline on this fire!
    (Bow Perpendicularity seems to be of secondary(?) concern to Mr. Stoll!)
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  12. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Imagine how much better he'd sound if he kept it straighter.
  13. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Sorry - I can't tell if you're serious or kidding.
    Lil' Help, Please???
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  14. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Berlin Phil doublebass Sextett!
    Some are more (or less) Perpendicular than others!
  15. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    I find it silly to play gotcha. Look at Vienna phil. Every decade their bows have gotten straighter to finally match how all the other strings play. Same goes for the development in Berlin.
    There is also the aspect of what happens when you play huge basses, get a big gut and have a bad back. Not something to teach a young player.
    Jeffs weird twitch is also something you don’t see in the rest if the string family. Bassplaying has evolved past these anachronisms.
    the_Ryan and Neil Pye like this.
  16. There are many great things to be learned from that video. Respectfully, a smooth bow change is not among them.
  17. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006
    Some of the best sounds I have heard on a double bass were produced with an extremely slanted bow. And that was not in a improv or contemporary music setting, but in an early music ensemble with gut strings.
    You don't always want smoothness, sometimes you need a powerful attack with immediate release on a downbow and a considerably lighter upbow after that. Try it with a straight bow and try it with a lower tip. If possible on a thick unwound gut A string. Very revealing.
  18. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    And interestingly enough, AFAIK, the guys that are now retired and were playing with a slanted bow atleast started their careers on fivestring guts.

    But these digressions are but a distraction for a young player who should be busy with daily 15 of strokin with a straight bow and flat hair. Everything else is easy to add after.
    Neil Pye and Co. like this.
  19. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Don Kasper likes this.
  20. Ludwig


    Aug 17, 2006
    Playing at same sound level => try to keep your bow constantly at a 90 degree angle.
    Increasing or decreasing sound level => slant the bow somewhat to move contact point closer to bridge or away from bridge.
    That is the way I learned bow control with cello.
    To have the bow with 90 degree to strings at whole time, dip slightly in direction of ground at tip and frog to fight the natural pendulum motion of the arm.

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