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A click in time saves...

December 26, 2007 at 12:55 AM

Greetings,
In my opinion, one of the best exercises in the ubiquitous `Basics` by Simon Fischer is the `click` exercise. One places the bow on the string, preferably with a clear decision about which part and which sound point, and lets weight sink into the string with the bow kept at a virtual standstill. The slightest inflection of the bow to the right (or left for that matter) and the grip of the rosin on the string reaches break point and releases producing a nice click sound which we are encouraged to repeat at a rate of roughly one per second.
By taking careful note of the part of the bow one is using and the sound point , this exercise teaches us the exact maximum weight that can be entered into the instrument in for example, the attack portion of a martele stroke or articulation in general. Not only this, it also has a considerable role to play in communicating with those African tribes still using click languages.
You’d think such an important exercise would become the daily fare of all and sundry but in my experience it doesn’t. Instead it seems to engender frustration and defeat in many. What tends to come out is a big fat nothing followed by a `schmeer` which is actually many such click run together in an ecstasy of over pressing. One fiddles around trying desperately to find the correct `weight` for that elusive ping to no avail. Alas, Basics offers nothing further to help the pingless.
There is one possibility I would like to offer here as my year end swan song. If you have never watched a video of Heifetz playing the Mozart Rondo then do so. It is probably the most perfect lesson in one specific area of bow technique extant, whether or not you like the interpretation blah blah. That is, the relationship between the upper arm and the bow remains unchangingly perfect and this perfect entity of bow arm and body approaches each string at the most perfect level required for that specific note. This question of level refers to the distance between the point and the floor and the distance between the heel and the floor at a given moment. This level issue is absolutely miniscule yet it can make a world of difference. Cellists actually pay more attention to it in my experience. I believe they even refer to two specific schools of sound according to whether the bow is angled higher or lower on the string on one side….Getting back to the click exercises. When one is experiencing the `schmeer` exercise instead of getting hung up on weight adjustment try moving the whole arm and bow as one unit a little higher or a little lower. You might be surprised what comes out!
Happy New Prunes,
Buri


From Jim W. Miller
Posted on December 26, 2007 at 2:20 AM
Originally I thought you were saying there's an ideal weight before click and that having it is dependent on having the ideal bow angle. But I think you're saying his angles are perfect in the context of his interpretation somehow, which you like, whether anyone else likes it or not. It looks like it might vary from violin to violin, and might even imply there's a "best" amount of roll to have in the positioning of a particular fiddle.

Do you think Heiftez understood this intuitively, or do you think he was doing all of this consciously? I don't need to know unless I get on as robot programmer at Toyota, but it's interesting.

From Joshua Hong
Posted on December 26, 2007 at 7:29 PM
It's horrendously difficult to obtain only one click at a time in every part of the bow.
From William Yap
Posted on December 27, 2007 at 5:18 AM
You are right Buri. In my very first cello lesson, my teacher taught me just that when I started to bow the open strings. He referred it as the "bite" at the beginning of each bow. Apparently, once you had a good "bite", the string would start to vibrate and you only need to glide lightly for the rest of the bow to continue the string vibration. I tried it on the violin but it didn't work so well, probably because cello and violin have different temperaments. I'll refer to the Basics try it on my violin again.
From Julie Slama
Posted on December 27, 2007 at 4:58 PM
We used to do this for fun in rehearsal as a way of 'commenting' on whatever the God on the Podium was saying...I didn't realize 'til years afterward that it was actually an exercise...lol
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 28, 2007 at 4:13 AM
Greetings,
>Originally I thought you were saying there's an ideal weight before click and that having it is dependent on having the ideal bow angle.

Yes, I was. Although I guess it@s like a lot of things in violin playing- although there is an optimum angle doing it less perfectly may well produce something close to the require dresult. I think the purpose of the exercise is not so much to find the ideal weight as to find the `maximum.` Perhaps not quite the same thing.


>But I think you're saying his angles are perfect in the context of his interpretation somehow, which you like, whether anyone else likes it or not.

That`s interesting. Actually I didn`t mean that. His angles are as near perfect (in that piece ;)) as one could wish for. Interpretation would be a secodnary issue depedning on the degree you associate dit with the actual quality of sound.


>It looks like it might vary from violin to violin, and might even imply there's a "best" amount of roll to have in the positioning of a particular fiddle.

I think your right. But , depending on diffenret physiques to some extent there is generally a golden mean for most aspects of playing the vioin which is not wise to devaiate from. The majority of us do so for one reaosn or another. Nothing to do with prunes I belive.
Cheers,
Buri

From David Rose
Posted on December 28, 2007 at 2:18 PM
Hi there,

This 'click' exercise is so intriguing, yet tough to understand through description. Is there any chance it exists on Video, or could be taped and posted by someone who is comfortable with it?

David

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on December 28, 2007 at 7:39 PM
I don't understand perfect angle except as part of an interpretation. For example, if you used software to cut a note out of a sound file and played that note by itself out of the context of an interpretation, I'd know very little about how effective, appropriate and so on that sound was in its real context. Since the sound is determined in part by angle we're saying, we don't know if the angle was perfect unless we're discussing an interpretation. That's why I thought you were talking about the interpretation.
From Lawrence Price
Posted on December 29, 2007 at 3:26 AM
I had never heard of this click exercise so I thought I would try it. I was able to get the clicks on the first try and I was quite amazed at the sound. Doing them up and down the bow produces an interesting effect. I am not quite sure of the efficacy of this exercise but it is an interesting sound. Have any composers used this in their music?
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on December 29, 2007 at 3:33 AM
PS Buri, if you mean this angle should be a constant thing, unlike speed, pressure, and bow position on the string, then what you're saying makes sense to me.

The click exercise reminds me that one of my teachers had me making loud steady scratching sounds with the bow and gradually easing up each try until the scratch was gone. Similar idea of finding the maximum weight, maybe.

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