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The Key to Our Heart Lies Within a Bow Stroke
More Personal Expression!
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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ELCBK
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January 26, 2021 - 3:20 am
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I believe the violin (viola and cello, equally) probably has the widest range of emotional expression of any instrument. 

So what are all the ways for us to communicate our emotions? 

Let's face it, the only skill we can use for emotional expression in our left hand is vibrato - fast, slow, wide and short. 

...but there are many bow strokes for the right arm/hand. 

What about within these strokes?  

We use weight and speed, but also within these strokes is

a beginning,

a middle range

and an end.

All can be altered - for emotional expression in our playing.

I can start with this example - 

"How to Play Trad Irish Fiddle" - Free Lesson by Kevin Burke.  He talks about building a "swell" in the bow stroke. 

 

"Playing Expressively: The Taper" by Violin Lab Channel. 

 

What about others?

giphy.gif

 

I'd really love any/all help exploring this topic! 

- Emily

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iFIDDLE
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January 26, 2021 - 8:24 am
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i was going to say something yesterday when you posted but got off on other things..that bottom video is great!  As far as the top one, Im not sure I agree with the only thing you can do with left hand is vibrato though.  Watch his video on the rolling waves jig, I think it is.  youd think alot of what youre hearing is slides ( which is a form of expression ) but actually what he says he is doing is slowly pressing and releasing the note, which gives the same effect.  another form of expression.  I understand what youre getting at though. Have you seen his video on where he is discussing his views on the bow and ryhthm?  If Im remembering correctly, he feels the bow is the tone maker not the ryhthm maker.  He gives an example by slurring like 2 measures of a tune and by using his left hand makes it sound like different bow strokes.  ill try and find it.  

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ELCBK
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January 26, 2021 - 8:38 pm
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@iFIDDLE -

Thanx Greg! 

You make a really great point!  I like to use delayed finger pressure and slides as left hand techniques for expression! 

I did see Burke's "Irish Bowing Technique" video.

Don't think I see slurring as emotional, though. 

Rhythm is emotional... yes. 

After thinking on this, I can't agree with Burke that the left hand is completely the rhythm maker - all you have to do is add a long (or longer) bow stroke in somewhere to disprove that - unless your finger interrupts... okay, guess I need more discussion on this.

Without the bow, you'd have no long notes - but I see left finger movement can effect rhythm. 

Then there's bowing rhythms of Old Time, Irish and Swedish bowing music, etc...

I do love swinging notes and the rhythm of a piece definitely conveys mood - isn't emphasis with the bow responsible for this? 

"The Scrunch" by Hanneke Cassel.  She calls it a gracenote, but it's a bowing technique.  Definitely adds a powerful expression! 

 

How we emphasize notes with our bow can be great emotional expression.

giphy.gif

 

Anymore expressive bowing techniques?

- Emily

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iFIDDLE
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January 26, 2021 - 10:06 pm
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@elcbk the video i was speaking of was on fiddle hell so cant share due to ruleszes..but the example came up in a discussion.  His basic point was the bows principle job is to vibrate the string to make sound.  as an example he suggested use one long bow without changing speed and play say..happy birthday.  as his example he was able to use grace notes( cuts) rolls and such to setup the rythym of that tune without changing direction in between phrases.  He also played a long portion of britches full of stiches with one long up and one long down bow...not individual up down strokes.  but it sounded like it was.  I had to go back and get the context.  does it still apply here in this topic?  think im sidways..oh boy.  what i got out of it was as a fiddle player you dont have to change direction to get rythym...grace notes (cuts)  ornaments can do that as well to add feel and emotion.  and he is giving these examples as an Irish fiddle player and acknowledges that by bringing up how different traditions use different parts of the bow.  He likes to use top half of the bow but said quebecois likes the scrunch generated more from the frog end.  hope i didnt totally get it screwed up.  wish youd been able to view it..dangit.  keep an eye out in April..hopefully he will be there again.  So in a way there are a couple more examples of left hand generating emotion...i feel.. Just hope it adds to the discussion some. 

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ELCBK
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January 26, 2021 - 11:44 pm
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@iFIDDLE 

I hope I get a chance to see it - pretty sure I understand what you are saying.

I agree you don't need to change bow stroke direction for expression... but variables of bow weight, bow speed, e.g., lift and taper - convey emotion. 

Maybe I should have said "Rhythm from your left hand can contribute to emotional expression". 

Rhythm, especially a steady one (by itself), doesn't really elicit an emotional response - but emphasis within a rhythm can make you wiggle!  

So, are there more ways for us to evoke emotional feelings from our left hand or our bowing? 

 

giphy.gif

Any more examples?

- Emily

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iFIDDLE
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January 26, 2021 - 11:59 pm
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oh yeah..double stops.. and  slurs convey emotion..no slurs or wrong placed sound boring.

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ELCBK
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January 27, 2021 - 1:24 am
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@iFIDDLE -

Okay... need that bow  - to cleanly hit those 2 strings equally for a Double Stop.  Aside from intonation, Double Stops are a bowing technique.

Along with that Double Stop you may even want to convey more with your bow by lingering on one of those 2 strings or just lightly catching another within a stroke - all bow! 

Anyway, you don't have to have fingers to have a double stop - alternate tunings promote more open string Double Stops and drones. 

Can't have a slur without a long enough bow stroke... 

All I'm saying is maybe we ought to be looking into just how many ways our bow is capable of helping us convey emotion. 

I think being aware of these is especially important for beginners - easily overlooked since most people are more concerned with intonation. 

giphy.gif

 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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January 27, 2021 - 1:42 am
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Black Cat Red Heart Smiley 

I certainly don't want to forget this great Fiddlerman video! 

"Phrasing - Expression and Dynamics"! 

 

To help convey emotion by bowing in Classical music, I found a great video that can help you learn to interpret your sheet music.  

"Art of Phrasing: Violin - Off-the-string bow techniques" (with examples) by Bernice Ooi Khai Ern,

  

Hmm Thinking Here Smiley

Here's something important I hadn't thought about, obstacles preventing us from playing expressively! 

"3 obstacles to expressive violin playing" from the Red Desert Violin. 

giphy.gif

 

- Emily

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iFIDDLE
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January 27, 2021 - 6:45 am
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ELCBK said
@iFIDDLE -

Okay... need that bow  - to cleanly hit those 2 strings equally for a Double Stop.  Aside from intonation, Double Stops are a bowing technique.

Along with that Double Stop you may even want to convey more with your bow by lingering on one of those 2 strings or just lightly catching another within a stroke - all bow! 

Anyway, you don't have to have fingers to have a double stop - alternate tunings promote more open string Double Stops and drones. 

Can't have a slur without a long enough bow stroke... 

All I'm saying is maybe we ought to be looking into just how many ways our bow is capable of helping us convey emotion. 

I think being aware of these is especially important for beginners - easily overlooked since most people are more concerned with intonation. 

giphy.gif

 

- Emily

  

roflol  are you making the gifs!!??.. this topic has certainly....released the craic..( get it??)  oh boy facepalm lol theres another one..haha

good points.  the occasional off note in the middle of a tune being played with a great groove and feeling probably will be forgiven more easily.

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Fiddlerman
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January 27, 2021 - 9:00 am
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Great points. Yes, we focus so much on technique, intonation, sound that we don't always show as much expression as we should. Exaggerate dynamics because even though you know what you are doing, there is no guarantee that anyone else does. 🥴

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