I really struggle with dynamics and the problem of both my hands wanting to do the same thing/same time. I also still have a huge problem keeping my thumb arched/curved on my bow.
I found 5 techniques (so far) that influence our production of dynamics.
- Bow speed
- Bow weight
- Bow position
- Bow hold
- Bow roll/tilt
- Bow distribution
Fiddlerman makes great points about the angle/direction the bow moves to change position and bow tilt/rotation to change the amount of hair touching the strings.
My exploration into bowing possibilities.
See the bow hand here - I set this video to start at "#2 Forte vs Piano". (Different VIOLIN BOW HOLDS for Different Bowing Techniques)
I started this video where Zlata discusses "playing too soft". The beginning of the video (I skipped over) is about finding how lightly you can hold your bow vs the point you let it drop from your hand. (How to Play Soft without Bow Shakes - Violin Lounge)
...anyone know of any other skills, related to bowing, we could use to master dynamics?
You guys are keeping me on my toes!
Going to edit my post - changing "factors to techniques" and add "our production of", to clarify & fit the heading of this thread.
"Brain-on-Fiddle", afraid I'll never make a good public speaker.🙄
Valid point! It's definitely important we choose the appropriate dynamics and bowing patterns to create specific styles of music.
But, does a "style of music" actually produce dynamics?
Maybe we should take a closer look at bowing patterns we learn for some genre music. Are any a technique/skill used for variable loudness & timbre?
They can make distinct sounds, but is that really dynamics? Aren't bowing patterns more for rhythm, and some that cross strings also for variable pitch?
Did I muddle things up?
Definitely! Rosin, type and amount used, can be a factor.
I'd go as far as including the quality of bow hair, bow, strings and also the actual instrument.
But, are any of these a bowing technique or skill we learn to vary the loudness & timbre of dynamics?
I see these all more as products/equipment - very important ones.
So many skills to learn all together can be overwhelming!
...good thing we enjoy being Fiddlers and Ceddlers! 🤪
🥰 Love more ideas/tips on this subject!
(sorry, I've lost track of whether this thread is about dynamics or tone)
You haven't even mentioned vibrato!
No offence, but there are some beginners here, and all this stuff (the full monty) is too complex for them.
For good tone (and I mean Itzhak Perlman good), bow half way between the bridge and the fingerboard and (a) use maximum possible (using your ears to judge) pressure for your bow speed.
To get louder, bow faster and apply more pressure (a).
To get softer, bow slower and apply less pressure (a).
Probably vibrato needs to come next (for good tone).
The rest will follow later.
Rosin or strings may affect tone, but if you are a beginner you will have 1000 times greater effect on your tone by practising.
When you play that loud note with a fast bow, and your bow slides over the string with a squealing noise, it's not because you need more rosin, it's because you aren't applying enough bow pressure (unless you last rosined your bow a month ago).
Jack Benny is not only joking - if he were a poor violinist, he'd be expressing an important truth!
Simpler version of the above.
Yeah, let's keep the thread to dynamics.
It's not the case that your dynamics are suffering because you don't have enough to think about: it strikes me that your playing is being hindered by having too much to think about, yet you are asking for even more to think about!
KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
First, good tone: bow half way between the bridge and the fingerboard and use maximum possible (using your ears to judge) pressure for your bow speed.
To get louder, bow faster and apply more pressure (keep using your ears).
To get softer, bow slower and apply less pressure (keep using your ears).
Then later add vibrato for better tone (when your ears are happy with the pitch).
Then much later worry about anything else.
We are tempted into taking on too much because in our old age we are impatient and we know we are less good than we want to be and the urge to play catch-up is very powerful.
Sorry, that's the best I can offer.
As far as I can tell, Emily wants to know the basic technique of playing loud or soft. Before you can combine them in a piece, you have to be able to do them separately. Can you play a whole piece soft? Can you play a whole piece loud? Can you play a scale soft or loud? If not, it's not your rosin, not your bow, not your violin, not your shoulder rest. You have to practise.
The simplest answer to Emily then is the one I gave above.
To play loud, bow fast and apply lots of pressure (use whole bows if you have to).
To play soft, bow slow and apply little pressure.
In all cases follow Benedetti's advice, which I'm sure we agreed on, to use the maximum pressure for your bowing speed for good tone.
If I have understood you correctly, you can play Twinkle Twinkle to do practice of this kind. To play it loud, use a whole bow per note. To play it soft, use an inch of bow per note.
Hey, thanks for all the opinions on this subject!
As I eluded to in my 1st post, I'm struggling right now to consciously focus on controlling changes in my bow hold, for better Dynamics (variation of loudness & timbre). Otherwise, it's very noticeable that I can sound terrible no matter how much bow weight/"pressure", or speed I use. (lol)
Like to remind myself that William Fitzpatrick mentioned something like there's a hundred different bow stokes and also, that many ways of holding the bow.
Noticing I'm slowly gaining more subconscious control over some of the other bowing techniques related to Dynamics - except I've barely begun exploring the bow positions closer to the fingerboard. Think it's because, for me on my 5-string, it's a mighty fine line between bowing on a string close to the fingerboard and playing double stops! (lol)
I do believe in keeping things simple - at least broken down in simple parts/components.
I don't want to just sit in the dark, oblivious to all that is possible for me to achieve.
It may seem like I dig too much into some of these subjects
- especially since I haven't come upon 2 years of playing, yet. (lol)
Just think everyone can benefit by trying to learn
beyond their current capabilities.
Doesn't mean I can immediately act upon what I learn! 🙄
Personally, I search to associate/remember what I think are the most important elements of more advanced skills for playing the violin - Music Theory and history, also.
If I'm able to store these "key features" in the back of my mind, it becomes so much easier for me to test them out when I'm ready.
Discussion of what all of you feel is important really helps me reinforce what I remember!
Hope it helps some of you, also.
Thank you! 🤗
...more pesky wabbits for Easter.
I had to share. This young lady's talent and dedication is amazing. What an inspiration.
Violin ---- the most human of all instruments
I've learned Dynamics does include changes in timbre, so getting back to "how".
Figure I have reason to look further into some of the bow stroke/techniques that might enhance the Dynamics of the more lively tunes I like to play - one way is with Staccato.
"Staccato" - Violinmasterclass on YouTube stresses 3 ways to try.
- "rotation of forearm"
- "tremolo motion in wrist" 🤔 seems more like fingers extended/retracted - bow hold!
- "pinching the bow between index finger and thumb" 🤔 Bow hold!
According to Violinmasterclass,
"3 minutes of patient staccato practice a day,
for about 2 years
will enable anyone to develop a nice staccato."
Does anyone believe it will take that long to learn?
...I don't think so! 🤨
Prof. William Fitzpatrick talks about using the 1st and 3rd finger pressure points (bow hold!) for Staccato, as well as other finger combinations/strokes.
Everyone else already good at all these bow strokes?
...I'm getting right on it!😉
Transplanted this from another thread - think these certain aspects of bowing shouldn't be overlooked.
"Masterclass" video by Frankie Gavin about bowing for Fiddle music.
Gavin is quite a character. (lol)
He's got straight forward views and very strong opinions about fiddling, but he is a bit of a legend - sold a Platinum record (among others), collaborated with some Big Names & even got his name in the Guinness World Book of Records as the fastest fiddler!
So here's Frankie Gavin's take on how to play the Fiddle (IrishMusicRightsOrg) - cracked me up.
...it's ALL about the bow. 😊
So, nobody laughed at the "must press fingers hard on the strings" and "really press hard on the bow" (not Gavin's exact words)?
Felt callouses grow on my fingertips as he spoke. 😖
I wish I could be sure he's talking about gut strings, but I don't think so. 🤔
Can't believe it's good to think all we have to do is press hard on the strings with our fingers and bow. If that's all we do - might as well be a machine making the noise.
Isn't it the nuances we learn that are important?
For me, it is important to be able to engage a string quickly for short bow strokes, with a little more weight & speed at the start or the note won't sound full, but it's not the same for each string. I have found that extra weight is much less on the E string than G or C strings - lower strings take more time & effort to get vibrating.
This might be getting too far off topic here, but ran across another video that alarms me a bit.
Toughening our fingers a little is one thing - isn't it important to be able to feel the vibrations in our fingertips? ...know I rely on it!