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Hi Folks, a quick question: when playing in a higher position, say 3rd+, do you need to use more bow speed or weight than in lower positions to maintain the tone?

Thanks.  Simon

19 Responses
Posted: August 29, 2011
Last Comment: September 2, 2011
Replies


Posted: September 2, 2011
Thanks for all the advice  - and the YouTube clip of the vibrating string, fascinating to see what it looks like slowed down so much, and how 'loose' the string seems!  Was the D string vibrating in symphathy, or was the G string actually contacting it as it vibrated?

I watched Beth's video series on tone production when they were first uploaded and they are brilliant!  It's clearly been too long since I last studied them so will ensure I go and do that this weekend...

Simon.

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: September 1, 2011
Tomi, thank you so much for your explanation and the videos. Just brilliant.


Posted: September 1, 2011

Hi Simon and Tomi:

Simon, you posted a question related to a very interesting topic.

Tomi, I have paid a lot of attention to your findings in the Internet because, as Eileen mentioned, are fascinating. Thank you for channeling me to those videos and books.

Tricia


Eileen
Posted: September 1, 2011
Yeah, I've seen my G string vibrate so I thought it would leap right off the instrument !  When I first notice that I thought there was something wrong with it ...lol...why is it doing that ??


Posted: September 1, 2011
Yeah, it would be interesting to see when a resonating note is played, like 3rd finger on D,A or E.

Also that video demonstrates how durable violin strings really are. Looks like it could snap any moment :)

Eileen
Posted: September 1, 2011
Wow...Tomi, that's fascinating !  You can even see the D string vibrating along with the G.


Posted: September 1, 2011
Anne, it is because bow needs to grip the string and let it slip in correct proportions to make good sound. If you add speed but not weight contact slips too much.

Here, I found a video where you can actually see the helmholtz corner. See how bow "drags" the string and when the "corner" passes beneath the bow hair it yanks the string back. Then bow grips it again...and this keeps repeating.


Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: September 1, 2011
I agree about the PHANTASTIC videos. No need to invest in Simon Fisher's tone production DVD if you have Beth's videos.

Also, of the many variations in the weight/speed/contact point puzzle, there is one I have to keep in mind, namely when you stay on one sounding point, more speed requires more weight and vize versa. I know it is correct, but I just can't understand why. I'll follow your suggestion, Beth, and see if my body can learn it better than my brain.

Ray
Posted: August 31, 2011

Those videos that Beth is talking about are FANTASTIC.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 31, 2011
Yes, Simon, that's all true. It is a lot to keep in your head, which is why I think the best way to "learn" it, is to "experience" it.  Play an entire scale as close to the bridge as you can, with a loud dynamic. Then start experimenting with speed and pressure. You get instantaneous feedback! Your violin is the teacher.  As you draw each bow stroke, keep optimal tone. You'll quickly figure out how much pressure you'll need.

Do the same close to the fingerboard. Always work for a nice tone, and experiment with pressure and speed. I really think if you do this enough, watching where you're bow is traveling, you will begin to intuit when to make pressure and bow speed changes in your playing. Your body will act automatically. As you come closer to the bridge (to make a stronger, more potent sound), you'll automatically slow the bow speed a bit, and add more pressure.

(For those of you who have recently joined VL, there is a series of videos on Tone Production that describes these principle in more detail.)

Eileen
Posted: August 31, 2011
There certainly is Simon.....a lot to think about...so many different things all at once...


Posted: August 31, 2011
Thanks Anne - that Simon Fischer link gave my head a work-out, especially when he reversed the conditions!  I have to say, I didn't fare too well with a disappointing 5/12!!

However, after thinking about it some more and trying to follow the answers, I think I've got it down to three combinations:

So, to check my understanding:

If you....
  • INCREASE pressure; either - INCREASE speed  or move towards the bridge
  • INCREASE speed; either - INCREASE pressure or move towards the fingerboard
  • Move towards the BRIDGE; either - DECREASE speed or INCREASE pressure
The reverse would also be true?

There's certainally a lot to think about when trying to play the violin!

Simon
 

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: August 30, 2011
Thank you, Tomi. I'll see how I fare with the papers before investing in the book... It is amazing what you can find on the Web if you know how to search, isn't it? I have researched this topic before, but have not found your sources.


Posted: August 30, 2011
Anne, you asked for physics...warning, HEAVY reading ahead ;)

http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/~jw12/JW%20PDFs/ContempPhys.pdf

http://www-acad.sheridanc.on.ca/~degazio/AboutMeFolder/MusicPages/VL%20Docs/BowedStringReview.pdf


This books seems interesting...the price tag not so much ;)
Still, I've concidered ordering it...might be helpful if one has trouble falling a sleep ;)
Nah, just joking. Seriously, it seems interesting (to a science freak like me). You can browse TOC and some pages to see for yourself.

http://www.amazon.com/Physics-Violin-Lothar-Cremer/dp/0262031027

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 30, 2011
Precisely, Anne!

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: August 30, 2011
:-) There may be short questions but there are no short answers regarding tone production, are there? If someone has a handle on the physics of it, I'd be quite interested.

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: August 30, 2011
Simon Fisher has a tone production quiz on his Web Site http://www.simonfischeronline.com/. Just a number of questions, plus solutions at the end. It is on proportion of bow speed, bow weight and contact point. I did the quiz some time ago and found it tricky. Perhaps will do it again tonight. See if I understand it better now. No time right now.

If you play in high positions, Simon, the spectrum of the five sounding points gets more compressed towards the bridge, so much so that in the highest positions you can't differentiate any more between them but always play as close to the bridge as you can. Also, the bow weight is considerably lighter and faster. This is for very high positions, like 10th and above. I don't believe the effect is really noticable in third position. As to bow tilt, my (my teacher's) default is to play with flat hair (because of less extra noise). But in extremely high positions the bow needs to be tilted because the usable sounding point "lanes" are so narrow.


Posted: August 30, 2011
Thanks Beth.  Your answer has made me realise that I think the problem with tone that I'm having is because I'm slowing down as I work in the higher positions!  Because I'm still not fully comfortable in 2nd or 3rd, I'm slowing the bow down to make the note last longer so I can listen to it and be sure I've got my finger in the correct place- ironically this is causing the poor tone and the note to wobble!!  I'll work more consciously to keep the speed going...   

Would you be tilting the bow more to use less hair closer to the bridge?

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 29, 2011
Simon, the biggest change in bowing style in the higher positions is sounding point.  But then, you probably know that. As far as weight and speed, you do have to use a slightly faster bow speed when you get to the really high ones, but not so much that you have to be super conscious about it. And as for pressure, I find that you can maintain the normal amount. But like I said, the biggest issues with tone production in higher positions is making sure the bow is near enough to the bridge to accommodate the shorter string length.