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The Tilt of the Bow While Playing

3 Responses
Posted: April 7, 2010
Last Comment: August 13, 2010

Posted: August 13, 2010
This discussion includes members-only video content

Posted: August 13, 2010
Hi Beth, do we know why in fast downward 'staccato' many would use the bow tilted towards them (rather than towards scroll)? Heifetz is one who does this, if you watch his video on youtube where he plays 'Hora Staccato' he has the bow tilted towards him and also not totally perpendicular to bridge but 'wonky' with tip of bow pointing away from him and frog brought closer to him. Indeed when I practice staccato with Kreutzer n4 I find that I naturally do this myself (the wonky bow) and I find it 'easier' to play the way Heifetz does (with bow tilted towards me and my bow hand more 'open', look at his hold when he does downward staccato....)

Posted: August 13, 2010
Hi Beth, I get this question from students a lot as well and wanted to respond to the "why" of it. It's because the strings slope away from the bridge slightly that we need to tilt the bow stick away from us slightly. Tilting in this direction allows us to actually just get flat hair! The sound isn't as good when the bow stick is tilted toward us because the hair doesn't grip the string as well (outer edge is either coming up off the string completely or is looser) and the bow therefore has a tendency to slide around more. If we want a softer dynamic or more airy sound tilting the stick even more away from us so we are on the outer edge of the hair still gives a good tone because we can remain in control over the sounding point. The slightly-tilted-away-bow also helps us maintain better bow arm mechanics, specifically through the wrist, which contributes to better tone as well. Keep up the good work!