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Rapid whole bows for free prunes

October 15, 2007 at 10:49 PM

When I was a kid I read just about everything ever written by Samuel Applebaum and one particular phrase from the `The Way They Play,` series stuck in my mind. He was describing what makes a virtuoso just that little bit different from an ordinary payer and he noted that one characteristic was that they would go from one end of the bow to the other with utter fearlessness. I remember the time I first saw a video of Heifetz and not being able to believe the sheer speed of his bow stroke. I don’t think anyone has ever so consistently used such an amazing bow speed. Of course Heifetz was doing things his own way and it frankly was not that compatible with many other players physiques (only the principles were) but it looks and sounds wonderful to me. The other occasions when one sees this thing of beauty that have stuck in my mind are Oistrakh playing the last movement of the Franck on `The Art of Violin,` and Menuhin in many of the clips of him now available on youtube. (As an aside, if you Google youtube Menuhin you can see clips of him playing Bach sonatas with Glen Gould which represent to me the highest level of violin playing as timeless art)
When I first started seriously practicing son file I had to take Flesch`s warning about the danger of it causing `a certain sluggishness in the bow arm if overdone,` very seriously as I knew I was prone to this. So I practice son file for twenty minutes a day (and now Drew`s crunching exercise you can find in the bow curve thread) but, as has been my practice since Basics came out, immediately follow such work with rapid whole bows. This exercise from the Sound Points section of this classic tome advocated the following speeds if my memory serves me correctly: 80 SP5, 76 SP4, 65 SP3, 56 sp2 half notes, 40 sp1 whole notes. However I have to confess to being a WB junkie and I do the SP5 wbs progressively faster and faster, finishing off at mm 130. I suspect I may be a little bit nuts because I find the sound of a violin vibrating so freely on a single note so beautiful I often lose track of time and look up to find I have been doing them for 20 minutes or so.

Obviously I need more prunes.

From Albert Justice
Posted on October 16, 2007 at 1:42 AM
The quick bows you shared earlier helped my sp-control very noticeably!
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on October 16, 2007 at 2:27 AM
bloody hell. I wasn`t even in the room!;)
From Albert Justice
Posted on October 16, 2007 at 3:38 AM
Likely story.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on October 17, 2007 at 6:26 AM
Thanks Buri, that's a good, challenging exercise. And now I'm quite deaf.
From Rick Floress
Posted on October 17, 2007 at 4:56 PM
I have seen Pinkas Zuckerman twice (one time I was VERY close at a recital) and every time I would swear he is going to bow off of the tip of the bow or catch the from on the string. To me, he has the most amazing bow arm (I would like ti when he is done please).
From howard vandersluis
Posted on October 17, 2007 at 8:13 PM
Hey Buri,

So what do you make of the videos of Milstein on youtube? He looks as if he's playing relatively far away from the bridge a lot more than most and yet it's so gorgeous.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on October 17, 2007 at 10:31 PM
playing further from yhe bridge witha rapid bow speed is fairly typicla of players who use gut strings. Casal`s wa sa classic case. However, this doesn`t mena the player doesnT use slow speed near the bridge , it just becomes a contrasting color rtaher than the norm. For me, Milstein has the most touchingly perfetc sound of all time. Just enough of the uglies to be a human deity...
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on October 17, 2007 at 10:42 PM
incidentally, most of the stuff on youtube is juts downloaded DVDs so it really pays to get the originals. Much more satisfying unless you are skiving off at work
From howard vandersluis
Posted on October 19, 2007 at 4:38 AM
Well... the youtube versions are plentiful enough that I could spend many a lazy afternoon at work watching various videos and never need to repeat. So why should I plant when mongongo nuts are free? Or something like that.

Yeah, I love Milstein's sound too, just not sure I understand how it works and I'm not sure I believe your "gut string" theory!

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on October 19, 2007 at 8:02 AM
not a theory. Do your homework.

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