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Which portion of the bow to use?
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laserbrainz
SLC, UT
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September 17, 2013 - 2:57 pm
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I notice in a lot of videos/performances I've seen of violinists and fiddlers that most people seem to bow using the top half (ish) of the bow.  When I'm playing, I notice that I tend to stick more toward the frog end.  Is there a benefit or disadvantage to doing either?  My guess is that bowing toward the tip would be preferable, because I have to really concentrate not to get awful scratchy sounds when I bow near the frog which I'm pretty sure is normal, but for me to bow near the tip is an uncomfortable stretch for my arm.  But maybe that's just because I'm not used to it, and with practice it would get better.

 

Is there a right or a wrong place to bow?

 

On a semi-related note, with fiddlers especially I notice many grip the bow higher up - away from the frog.  Like, my pinky rests just above the string tension peg (whatever it's called), but on most of the fiddling videos I watch there seems to be a good couple inches between the pinky and the peg.  Any thoughts on that?

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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September 17, 2013 - 5:36 pm
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@laserbrainz: Your bow has approximately 25" or 64cm of usable area / horse hair and every bit is ment to be used. You will sometime's during a song use near the tip, sometime's near the frog and sometime's the middle, depending what you are playing and what the sheet music call's for. The speed at which you draw the bow over the string's usually determine's how "scratchy" your note's sound. Fast helps to eliminate the scratchyness, slow add's to it.

Also the amount of rosin build-up on the string's will add to the scratchyness. Keeping the string's clean is pretty much necessary, IMO. Sometime's during a playing or practicing session, I'll just run the finger's of my right hand over the string's to kinda wipe away the rosin before it start's to cake up. Think of rubbing two piece's of sand paper together and the rough scratchy sound you get, then rub the sand paper on a piece of glass, compare the two sound's.

You'll get the hang of it it just take's practice.

 

Ken.

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StoneDog
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September 17, 2013 - 9:38 pm
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Like Fiddlestix said > It is all meant to be used.

>> Just an extention of your expression.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 18, 2013 - 9:01 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Great question laserbrainz,

First of all, it's true that the whole bow should be used.

There are specific reasons for playing in any part of the bow, all based on what you need to achieve.

Playing at the frog is good for chords, attacks and short very slow specific type of staccatos, playing loudly... etc...
Playing more in the middle is good for marcato, staccato, spicatto, martele, fast short bowing..... etc..
Playing at the tip is great for smooth on the string articulation, seamless bow changing, soft playing, flautando.... etc.
Using the bottom half is good for some things while using the top half is good for other things. Using the whole bow is necessary when playing very long and slow notes.

If you play a long note followed by two shorter notes over and over you might play a whole bow followed by two upper half bows, whole bow back followed by two lower half bows over and over.

In any case, experiment and discover what works best for you. :-)

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

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laserbrainz
SLC, UT
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September 18, 2013 - 12:13 pm
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Thanks everyone!  I guess what I was noticing was mostly on fiddle music, where it's all fast and quick, it seemed most people played nearer the tip for the most part, but I guess that is probably because of the type of music.  My only speed thus far is slow and slower so I tend to use the bottom half or the whole bow on occasion.

 

Does anyone have any insight on my other question, about where to hold the bow itself?

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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September 18, 2013 - 2:40 pm
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laserbrainz said

Does anyone have any insight on my other question, about where to hold the bow itself?

 

Go to the Black toolbar at the top under Fiddlerman, put your cursor on "VIDEOS/TUTORIALS, drop down menue appears, BEGINNERS TUTORIALS, to the right you will see, Holding the, Holding the bow.

Open it and have fun. 

 

Ken.

 

 

 

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laserbrainz
SLC, UT
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September 18, 2013 - 3:02 pm
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No, I mean, I know how to hold the bow. My original question was that I see a lot of fiddlers (meaning, violinists who play primarily fiddle-style music) hold the bow higher up than what seems to be a "normal" position, and I'm wondering if there's a benefit to doing that for playing fiddle music?

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Fiddlestix
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September 18, 2013 - 4:04 pm
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I guess the fiddle player's hold it higher on the stick for speed. Although holding the bow higher up on the stick I think will tend to dampen/muffle the sound/vibration's traveling through the stick, it also change's the balance point of the bow.

I hold it higher sometime's myself, depending what i'm trying to achieve. 

 

 

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
September 19, 2013 - 8:28 pm
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My observation is that some fiddlers hold the bow way up the stick, I assume for greater agility and speed. For example, here's a pic of Natalie MacMaster and her husband Donnell Lahey. She holds it farther up than he does.

http://farm5.staticflickr.com/.....8aa2_o.jpg

I saw a fiddler at a fiddle festival last weekend who held it even farther up the stick.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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Kevin M.
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September 20, 2013 - 3:59 am
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I wonder if it might have to do with the way they were taught. Old time fiddlers have their own way of doing things and pass their way on to others. Not only the bow hold but the hold on the violin as well.

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Crazymotive
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September 20, 2013 - 4:30 pm
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Also important is where you bow over the strings, i.e. close to the bridge, close to or over the fingerboard, or, somewhere in between.  If what I am playing calls for pianissimo (very soft) I might use the upper end of the bow and bow the strings way up over the fingerboard. If the music calls for fortissimo (very loud) such as the beginning of Beethoven's 5th I'll bow the strings close to the frog and also pretty close to the bridge.  So yeah, depending on the dynamics of the piece you are playing you'll use all different parts of the bow and different bow strokes and lengths, and you'll also have a range of exactly where on the strings you will pass the bow, near of ever the fingerboard, near the bridge, in between somewhere, etc.

 

Then there are times we don't use the bow at all, like when we play pizzicatto, and pluck the string with the right hand while fingering with the left.  earlier this week I played a piece of music about 3 pages long and it was all pizzicato except for a few measures where we used the bow,.

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