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Question about bowing that goes against what we are told
Why do professionals, or more experienced players, not follow their rule of bowing straight across?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
December 15, 2022 - 6:40 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 4521
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So, we re told to bow perpendicular to the strings. Straight across between bridge and fingerboard. 

I get that the midway between the fingerboard and bridge is relative as to what you are doing. On cello we play closer to,the fingerboard to get a softer sound. So, I don't say anything when I notice someone playing closer to the bridge or closer to the fingerboard, at least with cello, I was told that sometimes you don't for affect.

But, the statement about going straight across seems to be a "do what I say, not what I do". I have watched professionals and they do not bow straight across. They are bowing at an angle. It is most obvious to me with cellists. They have the bow angle to the floor, not across the strings. I have seen it with violists and violinists, bit not angled to the floor, but not straight across. I was told that that is what causes the grainy sound.

This has boggled my mind for a while. I pay attention and try to bow straight across, but what I see with those who are more in the know, they do not practice what they say. It seems very strange to me.


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December 15, 2022 - 7:20 pm
Member Since: July 23, 2015
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I don’t play classical so can’t speak for people that play that way, but in various fiddle styles it is to produce more texture. I couldn’t find the video, it might have been on Instagram, of a fiddler showing how to purposely make all the grainy ugly noises to you can use them on purpose later. So it could be they do that to add a different sound. 


I found one of the videos, but I thought she had a longer video out there, too. It’s on Instagram but it should be able to be viewed in a browser.


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December 15, 2022 - 7:36 pm
Member Since: November 5, 2017
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It's all about contact point rather than direction.

Beginners are told to bow straight across to keep the contact point steady. The natural tendency when starting out is for the wrist and elbow to be too stiff, which tends to result in the bow swinging and sliding up and down the string.

However, once you can keep your contact point consistently under control, it's no longer really necessary to think in terms of bowing straight across the string. The contact point is what's important.

December 15, 2022 - 7:46 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 4521
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Thank you. It makes sense now. 

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