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Different bow holds?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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Dan-Hur
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May 22, 2014 - 9:17 pm
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I was watching a video of an Old Crow Medicine Show performance and noticed that the fiddler was holding his bow more toward the center, away from the frog, than I usually see. Is it meant for particular styles of music or just a preference that some players have?

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RosinedUp
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May 22, 2014 - 11:36 pm
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When people teach "the" bow hold, they usually teach the one they were taught and the one they use, as if it's the only way to hold a bow, not acknowledging that there are other ways to do it.  It's kind of funny how some very off-the-wall holds are taught as if there were no other.

That said, I'm happy with the dominant hold of today, often or usually called the Franco-Belgian bow hold.  It's approximately the one Pierre teaches in his videos.

But yes, the genre may affect the bow hold.  I expect it's very rare to see someone in an orchestra choke up on the stick the way a lot of old-time fiddlers do.

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Barry
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May 23, 2014 - 7:33 am
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I choke up on mine alot, used to get asked about it constantly here...drove me nuts...lol

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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MrYikes
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May 23, 2014 - 9:15 am
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I must be holding the bow wrong.  I had to file off part of the frog.  My thumb sits in the "c" of the frog, but the rosewood frog has (had) a bump on the top part of the c that I would press into causing the thumb to get sore enough to stop practice.  I guess I am pushing down with the index finger while pushing up with the thumb.

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Uzi
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May 23, 2014 - 10:35 am
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MrYikes said
I must be holding the bow wrong.  I had to file off part of the frog.  My thumb sits in the "c" of the frog, but the rosewood frog has (had) a bump on the top part of the c that I would press into causing the thumb to get sore enough to stop practice.  I guess I am pushing down with the index finger while pushing up with the thumb.

Yea, you don't want to do that.  Your hand should only apply just enough pressure to keep the bow from falling out of your hand. I'm a beginner, but I've learned enough to know that tension anywhere when playing the violin is a bad thing -- and that it's very hard to keep everything that relaxed.  I'm guessing a boneless chicken, if it had fingers would be the ideal violin player. Just let the bow glide over the strings under the weight of gravity (most of the time). 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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RosinedUp
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May 23, 2014 - 5:42 pm
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MrYikes said   I guess I am pushing down with the index finger while pushing up with the thumb.

Nothing inherently wrong with that.  The thumb holds the bow up, and the first finger presses down to put pressure on the string.  When bowing near the frog, the fourth finger presses down to prevent the part of the bow hanging past the strings from falling.  Maybe the best way to think of it is that there is a fulcrum at the thumb, and the first and fourth fingers apply torques in one direction or the other as needed.

@MrYikes I think @Uzi was thinking of excess tension being bad.  Some tension is necessary.

Here's a video explaining the basic (standard, if there is such a thing) bow hold.  See Fiddlerman's bow hold video too.  The following one explains the functions of the fingers in a simple way (some say too simple).  I've found it to be key that only or mainly the TIP of the thumb touches the bow.

There is a lot more to holding the bow than what is shown, but this IMO makes a great starting point.

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TerryT
Coleshill, Warwickshire
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May 24, 2014 - 3:46 am
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Barry said
I choke up on mine alot, used to get asked about it constantly here...drove me nuts...lol

I dont remember that Barry united_kingdom-4178

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

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DanielB
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May 24, 2014 - 6:06 am
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I think that some of one's bow hold is dictated by the size and shape of your bow hand and how much independent finger control you have on your bow hand.  Bows are mostly all very similar, but our hands are not so much.

I noticed my bow hold changed a bit over time as I addressed the issue of holding the bow too tight and having my wrist too rigid.  As I relaxed my bow grip hold and got a bit more wrist and finger movement involved, I found I had moved my thumb onto the leather and just sort of more laying the index finger lightly curved over the lapping rather than actually curling it around so much.  Middle finger moved into the little curved spot on the front of the frog where most people seem to put the thumb.  Pinky finger of the bow hand moved from right back near the adjustment screw to the part of the stick over the back of the frog.

The end result of all that is that no fingers are directly opposite the thumb, so it got rid of my tendency to pinch the bow too much between thumb and second finger.  Not explaining my current hold as an "oh, this will fix your problems" kind of thing, so much as just saying that what ends up feeling comfortable over months of playing might be slightly different than the basic FB as it is shown in pictures and vids.  It's still functionally at least very close to a standard FB.

I figured out I was pinching the bow too much because when I held with my thumb directly opposite the second finger, if I played for a half hour or so nonstop, the front edge of the frog would have left a dent in my thumb that would take a few minutes to go away. LOL  Spreading the hand out a bit and putting the thumb on the part sometimes called the "thumb grip" on the bow has seemed to help a bit.  But it may be an adaptation, since my hands are a bit larger than average. 

So I think that over time things like the bow hold may change a bit as we learn what is comfortable for our hand and and up needing more control over the sound than when we were first scratching out tunes.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlestix
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May 24, 2014 - 6:33 am
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@Dan-Hur: The particular bow hold you describe is more of a, "boroque" hold.

Many player's including myself, (although unintentional) use this type of hold. It seems to allow for quicker bowing action than the conventional hold.

My problem is that I grip the stick so lightly which allows the weight of the bow along with the bowing action to slip through my finger's, sometimes even dropping the bow on the floor.

Which ever way works is ok I guess, but I have never seen orchestral player's using this type of hold.

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Dan-Hur
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May 24, 2014 - 6:51 am
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Mairead Nesbitt uses a similar hold. It looks like it would reduce the usable length of the bow to me, but I could see how it would be good for faster bowing.

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Fiddlerman
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May 24, 2014 - 8:29 am
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Choking up on the bow works great for many people. Usually the ones who have become used to it but also some who feel they get a better feel and sound from it.
Here are the negative issues that I personally have analyzed from attempting to replicate the technique.
When placing my hand higher up on the stick:
1) It's much more difficult to play at the very frog of the bow.
2) The balance point changes drastically and does not suit my bows optimally.
3) I do not get as much natural gravity pressure from the stick which I need and desire.
Once again, I have heard and seen many great fiddlers who use this technique so my guess is that there are advantages as well.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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MrYikes
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May 24, 2014 - 8:58 am
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Thank you for the responses, it all helps

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pky
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May 24, 2014 - 11:15 am
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In general, fiddlers use less bow (hardly full bow) so their fiddler produce less volume but allows fiddlers to play fast as well as more control at the tip (no worries about crooked bow); they hardly use the frog part but mainly a third from frog and between that and tip. Therefore, holding their bow away from frog does not affect their bowing; however, if one used this bow technique for classical music, one might find it difficult to bow especially at the frog where the pressure had been taken away.

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Oliver
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May 24, 2014 - 12:13 pm
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Lacking a solid reason I would guess that the bow away from the frog is quicker with less effort.  This is because the proximity to the balance point offsets the torque that would otherwise be involved at the far away frog location.  In fact, holding the bow at the balance point would only require a vertical lift equal to the physical weight of the bow.  My first teacher would give me the "Don't make me come over there" look if I played behind the balance point so there must be something going on.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Barry
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May 24, 2014 - 3:12 pm
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Its interesting for me that when playing a fast paced fiddle piece even if I start with the "classical" hold my fingers seem to walk up a bit to where I like. I guess it comes down to finding what works for you, dont just do it because you saw your favorite fiddler doing it

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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Fiddlerman
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May 24, 2014 - 4:25 pm
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Agreed :)
"What works for you" is all that matters in the end.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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