Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 232

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 234

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 235

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 252

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-includes/cache.php on line 36

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-includes/query.php on line 15

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-includes/theme.php on line 505
John Boulware.com » Technique

Archive for the ‘Technique’ Category

Advanced Bowing Tips and Tricks

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Hello everyone, and welcome to the final article in the Bowing Technique Series (for now). This article will deal with:

  • Consistency of Tone and Volume
  • Exploiting the highlights of your bowing style
  • Maximizing control of the instrument

So let’s jump right in!

Angles

Do you ever wonder how some people get that wonderful, even tone out of the instrument when they’re playing at half the volume that you are? It has to do in part with the angles of the bow’s position. A perpendicular angle will give you much more volume, tone, and control than any other angle.

The first angle to think about is the way the bow is moving across the strings. Just like a car driving across asphalt, it is going to get more grip if you keep it going straight. If your car starts to slide to it’s side, you are not going to have as much control or traction with it. Similarly, if the bow is not going straight, if it is sliding across the strings at a strange angle like Figure 1, then you will not have as much control as you would if it were going straight like Figure 2.

 

 

Figure 1

 

 

Figure 2

One way to think about this is to say that the bow is moving perpendicular to the angle that the strings go across the bridge. I prefer another idea though; I like to say that the bow is moving parallel to the bridge itself. When you play, try to keep in mind that you will get more traction, and therefore better tone and volume if the bow is going parallel to the bridge.

If you are having trouble with this aspect, try to remember to move the bow with your elbow, NOT your shoulder. Moving your arm from the shoulder will result in the bow turning as you go from tip to frog and back. If you concentrate on bending at the elbow, you will have less to worry about. Also remember to keep a light, relaxed, and flexible wrist. If your wrist is stiff, it doesn’t matter how much your elbow is bending, you will still be working against yourself. The wrist isn’t the only thing to keep relaxed though. Your entire hand needs to be relaxed so that your fingers can move around on the bow and give you some freedom or “wiggle room”.

 

Another angle to keep in mind is the “tilt” of the bow. A lot of fiddlers tend to lean the bow forward (away from the bridge) as shown in Figure 3. While this is not the end of the world, it is not quite as good as it could be. Instead try to keep the bow straight up and down in relation to the strings (Figure 4). This emphasizes the force that is being put on the strings by the weight of your arm as discussed in Bowing: Volume and Tone Pointers. This in turn minimizes the amount of work that you have to do, and allows you to stretch the limits of your current bowing style.

Figure 3

 

Figure 4

This is hard for a LOT of people, so if you don’t get it right at first, don’t feel bad. There are STILL times that I have problems with this. (Sometimes you just have off days.) If you can’t seem to get it, try wrapping your fingers further around the bow. This will rock the bow back toward you a little more and will prevent you from having to turn your hand backward.

The same thing goes for the opposite problem. If you are leaning the bow back toward you, you can try not wrapping your fingers around it so much.

This is all I have for this time. If anyone can think of something else that would be good to add, or if you have trouble with any of this, please feel free to email me.

john@johnboulware.com

 

If you find the content of this website useful and would like to make a donation, click here:

yeah

Bowing: Volume and Tone Pointers

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

In this episode in the Bowing Technique series, we will discuss:

  • How to make more volume
  • How to use dynamics
  • How to produce better tone
  • How to make your bowing smooth and clean

*First off I will note that each of these tips uses the bow grip shown in my article The 3-Point Perfect Bow Grip.

When playing the fiddle, the sound is of course made by the rosin on the bow-hair catching the string as it travels across it. So the less rosin you have on there, the less sound you’re going to get. So be sure to have some on there, but don’t over do it; getting too much on there will affect your tone.

The volume of the sound you produce is a combination of two factors: the amount of downward force that is being applied to the bow, and the speed at which the bow is traveling. An increase in either one or both of these factors will undoubtedly result in an increase in volume.

  1. Force: When I use the word force, I don’t mean how much muscle you have in your arm that you are pressing down on the strings with. In fact, that is exactly what we don’t want because it creates tension. Instead, the downward force is simply the weight of your arm, nothing more. If you completely relax your arm, gravity will have enough effect on it to bring plenty of force. You don’t have to press down on the bow at all; gravity does all the work for you. To get less volume, you simply lift your arm up a little bit.
  2. Bowspeed: This one is pretty hard to mess up. The faster you move the bow, the more volume you get out of the instrument. The reason is because of the rosin particles. Each particle of rosin “grabs” the string as the bow goes across it. When you move the bow faster, you are basically going through more particles of rosin in the same amount of time. Therefore the string is being caught by more particles, so the string vibrates more and more sound is produced. To get less volume, move the bow slower.

When you put these two factors together, you can have more control over how your music sounds. You can even change the volume of a note in mid-bowstroke. By using this, you can create crescendos and diminuendos (gradual increases and decreases in the volume.) This is called using “dynamics”. Especially in waltzes, these techniques are priceless. Being able to convey emotion through your sound is what makes the difference between just notes, and real music.

The tone of the sound refers to how rich it is and how clean it is. Richness is achieved by force, which again is gravity pulling on your arm. The clean aspect of the sound is achieved by altering bow speed. However, you have to work together on these two. If you move the bow too slowly while using lots of force, then your sound will be rich, but very scratchy and unclean. If you move the bow faster, but don’t use much force, then the bow will just skate across the string without grabbing it much and your tone will be airy and not rich. As a general rule, the more force you use, the faster the bow will need to travel. Likewise, the faster you are moving the bow, the more force will be required for the bow to “dig in”.

That’s all I have for this one. As always, if you have any difficulty or questions with this or anything else, feel free to email me.

john@johnboulware.com

If you find the content of this website useful and would like to make a donation, click here:

yeah

7 Exercises To Improve Your Bowing

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148


Hi everybody! We’re back with another article on Bowing Technique. In this particular article, I will be discussing actual bowing examples rather than just theory and technique. These exercises are designed to not only improve bow control and bow speed, but also to broaden your vocabulary of bowing patterns to make fiddling in general a lot easier.

To begin this lesson, you will need to download the bowing exercises by clicking on the link below:

http://www.johnboulware.com/SheetMusic/Bowing.pdf

*Note: You will need Adobe Reader to view this file. Your computer probably has it, but if it does not, you can download it at:

http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

When you open up the bowing file, you will notice that the different exercises are separated by repeat signs and have numbers assigned to them. The squared-archway symbol indicates to play a down stroke (from the frog to the tip), and the V-shaped symbol indicates to play an upstroke (from the tip to the frog). The curved line leading from one note to another is called a “slur”. It indicates to play all of the included notes on the same bow stroke without stopping, whether it be down or up. The ‘A’ note is intended to be played with the fourth finger, rather than open. This is so we can keep everything all on one string for simplicity. I will go through each of these exercises individually to help explain them all better.

Before I jump right into the individual exercises however, let me say a few things about bowing exercises in general. (This goes for all bowing exercises, not just mine.) They are exactly that: “EXERCISES”. They don’t have to be absolutely perfect every time you play them. You’re never going to need these things in a real musical situation. Exercises are designed only to help you improve and maintain your playing level. They are a means to an end, not an end in themselves, so don’t get frustrated if you can’t get every bit of it just right.

Now for the exercises themselves!

  1. These notes are all single stroke quarter notes. Start this exercise very slow. Start downstrokes all the way at the frog, and go all the way to the tip. Start upstrokes all the way at the tip and go all the way to the frog. However, do not stop between notes. Keep this as fluid and consistent as possible. Once you get used to this, you can increase the speed in small increments, but don’t rush anything.
  2. Use the same ideas for this one. Long fluid bow strokes, all the way from frog to tip. However, these will have to be much slower to accommodate the four notes on each bow stroke. Be sure to keep your bow speed consistent all the way through the stroke.
  3. This one uses a lot of two-note slurs. (You can probably guess why they’re called that.) Still try to use the long fluid strokes on this one. Keep it consistant though; keep each note’s time value the same length. The bow speed will be much faster than the previous exercise.
  4. This is one that gives a lot of people trouble. This is called the “shuffle-stroke” and is used in a LOT of fiddle tunes. The basic pattern is “two slurred, two single”. This is one of the harder exercises to get the hang of because it is the only pattern that reverses itself. The first note starts on a downstroke and slurs through the second note. Then the third note is an upstroke, and the measure ends on the fourth note which is a downstroke. This means that the second measure starts on an upstroke, which is not very typical of fiddle music. This note slurs through the second note, then the third note is a downstroke. The last note is an upstroke, allowing the pattern to start over again evenly. On the slurred notes, practice using the full bow, frog to tip. The single notes however, should be only half of the bow, being that they are half of the time value. This exercise may take some time to get a grip on, but keep practicing.
  5. This one is sometimes referred to as the “Nashville Shuffle”. It starts with a very fast downstroke, then three slurred notes on an upstroke. The reason the first stroke has to be so fast is because you will need to start the next stroke at the very tip of the bow to get all three of the other notes in it. Make sure to keep the second stroke (the three not slur) slow enough so you don’t run out of bow.
  6. This exercise is almost never used in real music, but can be great for improving bow control. It is basically an inverted “Nashville Shuffle”. It starts with a very fast upstroke, followed by a slower three note slur on a downstroke. This exercise will be much harder to control than the last one. The reason is because it takes a lot more work to go against gravity with the fast upstroke, rather than going with gravity on the previous exercise’s fast downstroke.
  7. The final exercise in this lesson is used a lot in jazz fiddling. However, even if you don’t play jazz, it is still a priceless exercise. It is similar to exercise three, only the pattern is offset by one note. This one is probably the hardest of all of them if you are not used to it. The reason is because the bow changes occur on the offbeat (2nd and 4th) rather than on the strong beats (1st and 3rd). Don’t forget to use the whole bow on each stroke! There are no real tricks to this one, just a boatload of practicing. Once you get it down though, it is quite useful. This exercise will greatly improve bow control.

That’s all I have for this time. If you have any problems or questions on this, feel free to email me and ask; I’ll be glad to help you.

john@johnboulware.com

If you find the content of this website useful and would like to make a donation, click here:

Go To Previous Article: The 3-Point Perfect Bow Grip

Go To Next Article: Bowing: Volume and Tone Pointers

The 3-Point Perfect Bow Grip

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /home/content/j/b/o/jboulware/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/adsense-manager.php on line 148


Hey everybody. I’ve been getting a lot of questions on Bow technique, and it seems to be an issue with lots of fiddlers, so I figured I would write some articles on it to help clear some things up. This particular article is going to focus on gripping the bow.

*Note: Remember that just because I do something a certain way, does not mean that it is “right” or the “best” way. This is just how I do it, and what I believe to be the best way. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. :-) (more…)