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The World of Bowing Possibilities!
Time to look upon advanced techniques.
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (15 votes) 
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RDP
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January 1, 2022 - 8:12 pm
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You mentioned bow holds.  I was listening to some Celtic Slow Airs and came across this video.

 

 

I saw a video of one of the performers on Celtic Woman playing with this hold the other day and thought it odd that she'd "choked up" on the bow.  I didn't know that this was a specific bow hold at the time.

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ELCBK
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January 1, 2022 - 9:49 pm
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@RDP -

Every fiddler who has learned any Irish music will run across someone who uses that bow hold - not really a good thing. 

I believe some people probably get into the habit of this when learning because they don't learn with a well balanced bow.  It has been mentioned elsewhere that student bows are usually tip heavy - so people learn to choke up on it instead of learning to use a better bow.  

Some people claim that hold is the only way they can play fast - and some fiddlers use 'Baroque' style bows that are shorter & lighter, but I believe there's a bit of a misconception at play here. 

My hand used to creep up the stick, because I wanted my hand to remain as relaxed and light as possible (which I still want), but a better balanced bow and a slight adjustment to the pad end (nearest the frog) - now my hand stays where I have better control, and can use all my fingers. 

It took me a long time to figure this all out (I don't have a teacher). 

There are other types of bow holds, and I've weighed the pros & cons of them all, but once you realize the broader spectrum of control that is possible with the basic bow grip on the frog (like the video in the 1st post of this thread), or like what Fiddlerman shows in his tutorial - you won't want to learn the choked up version. 

Darol Anger also addresses this in this video - and he plays many styles of fast fiddling. 

 

 

Kevin Burke is an Irish Fiddling icon - here's his take on it.  It's the basic hold on the frog, not choked up on the stick. 

https://youtu.be/1AMesSTGSd8

 

https://www.lovethispic.com/uploaded_images/225627-A-New-Year-A-Fresh-Start.jpg

 

Sorry, I could've clarified my bow grip views in the post you read. 

I just hope you won't see the 'choked' hold as something to emulate.

- Emily

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ABitRusty
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January 1, 2022 - 11:33 pm
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ive seen that @RDP. For what its worth i have a lesson and classes from time to time.  none of the atudents or teacher choke up on bow.  ive played around with it and cant say it made much difference but i dont have much time in this compared.  It does feel different...  its possible i do it more than i think.  if i do its not anything like...gonna choke up on bow to play faster.  I think my hand will definitely be closer to the frog than somehwere up the stick though.  Id say try and see what you think but since youve just started and are following books and online lessons geared more toward classical training it may mess you up.  just a guess though.  

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RDP
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January 2, 2022 - 12:18 pm
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@ELCBK  I watched a video by another "pro" Irish Fiddle instructor, Niall Murphy.

 

 

His take on it is that it's about bow balance.  In a way I sort of believe him because the balance point on my bow is so awful that if it was a sword, it'd be uselessly tip heavy.  At one point I did move my hold up the stick to where my thumb was at the end of the grip to try and get better balance but, for me, that didn't work.

I'm still using the classical bow hold and will probably keep on with it.  I also found this video helpful (even though he's a bit of a showboating clown) when he talks about the purpose of each finger in the bow hold.  His comments made me more aware of my ring finger and my bowing improved almost immediately because of that one little thing.

 

 

Regarding bows (and violin shaped objects):  I WISH WITH ALL MY HEART that manufacturers would understand that selling absolute junk to beginning students is NOT the way to increase lifetime sales.  A student who is frustrated that they cannot play, and think it's them instead of the junk equipment they received, will not go on to buy/upgrade to more expensive offerings.  Yes, there's a price point, but degrading the product below the bottom of the barrel to achieve it is not the way to go about increasing sales.  That's just my opinion and isn't reflective of anyone in the music business because I've seen it across the spectrum of everything ever made.

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RDP
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January 2, 2022 - 12:31 pm
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ABitRusty said
ive seen that @RDP. For what its worth i have a lesson and classes from time to time.  none of the atudents or teacher choke up on bow.  ive played around with it and cant say it made much difference but i dont have much time in this compared.  It does feel different...  its possible i do it more than i think.  if i do its not anything like...gonna choke up on bow to play faster.  I think my hand will definitely be closer to the frog than somehwere up the stick though.  Id say try and see what you think but since youve just started and are following books and online lessons geared more toward classical training it may mess you up.  just a guess though.  

  

I moved my bow hold around a bit before watching videos on this or that bow hold technique and decided they weren't for me.  The Niall Murphy video I linked above still has me considering what he said about lifting the pinky (because I did that too) as a possibly valuable insight for some people looking to solve a bowing problem that diligent practice and training can't seem to do anything with.  We are all different, learn differently, and have different physical capabilities so "the one true method" doesn't work for everyone.  Having alternative possibilities can help sometimes.

 

My experience the other week with that "magic moment" practice session put a stop to my hunting for bowing shortcuts and secrets.  Yes, they might work for some people, but I figured out that, as a general rule, the classical hold is more versatile and will be more stable no matter what genre of music you want to play.  On the other hand, information on how to improve the bow hold is always better.  The Romance School video linked above helped me understand what no one else seemed to actually know or be able to articulate; namely that each finger has a job to do.  Have each finger do it's job and your bow hold will improve automatically as a result.

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ABitRusty
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January 2, 2022 - 1:44 pm
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I think a big take away on the Niall and Hanna videos to remember is they are offering some alternative bow holds in the context of Irish or traditional fiddle tunes where there is a narrow region of the bow being used.  Anytime accomplished pros put up suggestions in an area of interest its appreciated even if at that moment in my progress the info may not apply.   Later on there may be that ah hah moment where it does apply.  Like you said its not always a one size fits all thing.  Thankfully with youtube and other online resources we have alot of valuable insight..views..info whatever for us to look through.  some of these folks do it just out of the willingness to share info.  

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ELCBK
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January 2, 2022 - 5:27 pm
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Thanks, Guys! 

I'd like to talk a little more about info from my previous post:

When talking about more advanced bowing techniques, I had expected this thread to cover more refinement than it has. 

Thanks to a recent post by Mouse (about cello), I'm revisiting this thread and continuing my search for a better understanding of bowing. 

So, I have MUCH more to explore!

Zlata addresses my tilting the bow interest in this video.  

 

 

Here's a very interesting video from ARCUS Müsing (ARCUS bows, Germany) - how our bows work with our strings to get the beautiful tone from our violin, viola or cello!

Now, this video is remarkable because it talks about how strings move when they vibrate/string overtones, how the bow is not totally engaging with the string 100% of the time and how the strings actually move in the opposite way when up-bowing vs. down-bowing!  

It explains that when you change bowing direction, the string must stop to change - but we hear continued sound from instrument resonance. 

I believe I've experienced some issues when I haven't allowed the string to settle before changing bowing direction - or, at least I haven't changed direction of my bowing in a way that helps the string change. 

Been wondering if this isn't what's sometimes mistaken as a 'wolf tone', or maybe it's whistling? 

This video also explains an important feature of violins - each has a unique resonance profile, but each bow also has it's own, unique, resonance profile. 

Also info about bridge function, rosin function and all about damping (huge difference between lower & higher strings)! 

Gets pretty interesting starting at 21:24 - the force between the bow, the string and how it changes with time. 

 

 

I like how Zlata explains that different sounding points, on different strings... sound different! (lol) 

What is really interesting, is that we should consider changing our contact points, when playing in higher positions! 

 

 

I really should've mentioned more of what I took away from the ARCUS physics video and others. 

 

Maybe more respect for bow making and how a bow can help with tone, but I was amazed, learning more about how our bridge/strings/bow & instrument all work together - all places for potential improvement. 

I might have more of a vested interest than others, since I'm waiting to see if a CF bridge will make an improvement on the 5-string Viola I ordered from Fiddlershop. 🤗 

These videos also confirm my thoughts about how EACH string needs to be bowed differently for best tone!  

Lower strings, especially, need different amounts of force (pressure/speed) to start their vibration and also more time to settle when changing bow direction, but the nice thing is their longer resonance - to sustain that tone might also requires different bowing than a higher string!

So, I believe 'refinement' comes into the overall picture when we stop viewing ourselves as playing notes on a Violin/Viola or Cello, but playing notes on each string as if it were a separate instrument in it's own right!  

And, of course, we can do that with how we use our our fingers on the bow, weight, speed and bowing position on each string. 

Any more suggestions for refining our general bowing? 

- Emily

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AndrewH
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January 2, 2022 - 8:04 pm
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A few thoughts...

Re: equipment, I think there may be some merit to having a tip-heavy bow as a beginner, and would not be surprised if student bows were intentionally made that way. A tip-heavy bow is easier to keep on the string and tracks more easily, and at the beginner stage, most students are still learning to keep the bow straight and on the string. The disadvantage of a tip-heavy bow is that it is less agile: it takes more effort to change strings (especially common problem for fiddlers) and the bow does not bounce as easily when you want to play off the string (the main issue for classical players). Ideally, once you're able to consistently bow straight across the string and avoid unwanted bounces, it's helpful to switch to a bow that isn't as tip-heavy.

 

When it comes to bow changes, one of the common mistakes that beginners make is to press too hard on the string. The hand needs to relax and let the bow simply rest on the string during the change of direction; the bow hair will give enough to avoid damping. I remember seeing a good video by Zlata Brouwer on bow changes, just look through her channel.

 

The point about each string almost being a different instrument is very true. In recent years, I've found myself increasingly paying attention to string changes when practicing, specifically when trying to play a scale or a smooth melodic line across strings. And one thing that my current teacher is emphasizing in my lessons is being conscious about deciding to use one string or another as an artistic choice, thinking not only about convenience but also about timbre, and bowing accordingly. For example, in the first few measures of the Gigue in the second Bach cello suite, there is a spot where I can either stay in first position, or shift up to third position to avoid crossing to the A string. I had been shifting to third position mainly for convenience. Without pushing me toward either option, my teacher pointed out the artistic choice to be made there: I could stay in first position to maintain the brighter tone quality that the movement starts with, or I could shift and try to emphasize the contrast of the darker tone by using a slower, heavier bow stroke. I still shift, but now I'm emphasizing the change in timbre more. I actually differ from the way my teacher performs it, as she prefers to continue in first position with the brighter sound, but the important thing that she wanted to convey was that the bowing technique and fingering choice should be consistent with each other. (Maybe this is excessive detail -- there are always more layers of refinement to work on.)

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ELCBK
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January 2, 2022 - 8:53 pm
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@AndrewH -

THANK YOU VERY MUCH! 

Please, NO such thing as 'too much detail', as far as I'm concerned - otherwise, how do we know what to aim for? 

 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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Thought I should get to a couple more 'fiddler' bowing techniques, that I need to work on more & don't think these have been mentioned earlier in this thread.  (checkout previous post no.13)

I believe that even if you are a classical Violinist/Violist or Cellist - you should still have these techniques in your toolbox to use. 

"Single and Double Stop Alternation" - tutorial (fiddleHed). 

 

Here's a simple explanation for 'Chop' execution, "Bowing Tips: Master the Chop" - Laurel Thomson tutorial (Strings Magazine). 

 

Now, for a deeper look into 'Chops'! 

There are MANY great videos about 'Chopping' available to watch, but start here. 

 

 

@Fiddlerman -

Maybe stick to the Violin kind of 'chopping' - you're great at it!  

...it's also MUCH safer! 🤭 

- Emily

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Fiddlerman
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January 7, 2022 - 10:10 am
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I really like Casey Driessen.

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

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ELCBK
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January 19, 2022 - 3:07 am
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I'm not sure when I'd want to use this technique, but I think it might explain why I get some bouncing when I get a little overly exuberant with my bowing. (lol) 

professorV explains "Springing Arpeggios" (Sautille Arpeggios or Saltando).  

 

 

 

https://www.kindpng.com/picc/m/383-3831330_heartbeat-with-music-notes-clipart-png-download-heart.png

 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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March 31, 2022 - 12:14 pm
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https://i.pinimg.com/736x/55/3a/6a/553a6af6d61c355df23e2b753c73b111.jpg

 

There's one bowing effect, most people try avoid like the plague (especially beginners), that is GREAT when used in "Orange Blossom Special"

It's done by brushing, back & forth, along the length of the strings with the bow - for the 'chugga, chugga' train sound.  Lora Staples (Red Desert Violin) demonstrates.  Video started at 3:28 minutes into this tutorial: 

 

 

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ELCBK
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May 2, 2022 - 4:51 am
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BOWING ARTICULATION! 

Without it, bowing has no life

I'm trying to work on mine, more, so sharing some of the videos I've been using (my way of avoiding boredom). 😊

LOVE this 3 minute lesson, "Bowing Techniques - Clear articulation" (Ms Zhu's Weekly Lesson)! 

Nice VIOLA "lesson on bow articulation, vibrato, and 16th note passages", by Brett Deubner!

 

LOVE this technique, "PARLANDO" by Zlata (Violin Lounge).

 

For a bit of fun, sometimes BIGGER makes it easier to see what's going on - so CELLO!  GREAT lesson to pick up bow articulation (on & off string) tips!  "Technicals" (Cambridge Cello School). 

 

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Doc-Ivory
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Didn't know about Ms. Zhu!!!
Need to check her lessons out.
THANKS!

-Jim

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ELCBK
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@Doc-Ivory 

Pretty amazing, how Ms Zhu hit quite a few important points, as well as showed effective exercises - ALL within 3 minutes! 

One things for sure, I CAN'T WAIT TO GET A BETTER BOW - cause I really notice different things about my bows while practicing this. 🤣

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Doc-Ivory
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ELCBK said
@Doc-Ivory 

Pretty amazing, how Ms Zhu hit quite a few important points, as well as showed effective exercises - ALL within 3 minutes! 

One things for sure, I CAN'T WAIT TO GET A BETTER BOW - cause I really notice different things about my bows while practicing this. 🤣

  

She's absolutely amazing - three minutes!!!

I don't know want there is about fiddling with a better bow but IT DOES make practice better. I'm in no position to afford that 3K Arca but I got a better bow and IT WORKS!!!

-Jim

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