From Jonathan Stuchell
Posted December 14, 2005 at 12:48 AM
There is a lot of great & interesting literature on the use of the bow (and types of bows used at the time) from Geminiani, 1751; L. Mozart, 1756; L'Abbé le fils, 1761; Labadens, 1772; Löhlein, 1774; Reichardt, 1776; Corrette, 1782; Schweigl, 1786; Crome, 178-; Hiller, 1795; Bailleux, 1796; Cartier, 1798; and Bornet, ca. 1807.
The basic bow stroke of the Transitional period was the 'non-legato' stroke. Because of the 'give' of the hair, the bow does not produce the full tone immediately at the beginning of the stroke, but only after some finger pressure has been exerted. There is a momentary softness followed by a crescendo in each stroke.
In general, there were fewer varieties of attack than in modern bowing, but there were greater nuances within the stroke itself.
I have a Corelli-Tartini model bow that is very strong and fun to play with.
They are also less expensive than the bows we are used to playing with.
If you manage to find a good one for under $1K, let me know where. I'd like to get one myself, but all I've seen is either low end ($100) or over $1K ++++ not much in the middle range.
He must have been an influential figure for he was also known for endorsing aspects of Leopold Mozart's violin method:
Mozart's rules on where to shift were endorsed by writers such as Reichardt (1776), Galeazzi (1791), Campagnoli (c1797) and Woldemar (1801).
I'm fascinated and tempted to give one a try......
Once we've learned how to use them the main differences are:
1) They're much lighter than modern bows which makes fast passages with string crossings much easier to negotiate.
2) Because they're softer, you get a softer range of articulations. One thing I really like about this is that I can play fast passages with plenty of energy, but the there is still a roundness to the sound and the articulations--whereas playing in the same way on a modern bow would give it a certain "edge".
As Erie mentioned, cheap no-name bows are probably not worth you money or time.
There are some good Baroque bow makers around and you can get a nice bow for a good bit less than modern bow makers are charging.
I have a Baroque bow by Ralph Ashmead which I like.
If anyone is interested, here's a site with some contact info on Baroque bow makers:
A player trained in a modern "elbow-up", pressure on the bow, style would find that a baroque bow does not have the attack of a modern bow. Baroque technique comes more from the wrist *and fingers* of the right hand. In general, the attack using this technique should be very sharp - more so than with a modern bow.
The gut strings mean you have to have a very slow bow stroke, and the stroke has to be intiated from the fingers. The way I was taught to practice was:
1) to put the bow stationary on the strings
2) depress the stick until the wood rests on the hair (the knuckles should be "flat" in this position).
3) "release" the pressure while beginning the stroke with the fingers / wrist.
4) then repeat on the next note, alternating up and down bows.
Use one the Corelli 16th note allegros for this practice.
If you practice this technique for a week or two (or even a few minutes at the beginning of your practice session) you will find that the bow suddently seems to "engage" the string much more positively, and that you have a more powerful ("concentrated"?) sound. The slow bow stroke means that you get a very intense and focussed timbre.
The baroque bow does not have the "power" of the modern bow played with a modern technique: But that is not the point. Baroque music works on a smaller scale - The detail and phrasing is from note to note, rather than bar to bar (if that make sense?) Less of a "sweep" and more of a "plucking" and deliberate placing of notes.
If you try approaching it this way you may be surprised what you can acheive in apparent volume (but I think "intensity" is a better way of looking at it). Have fun.
PS: As to playing 3 or 4 note chords on a baroque bow, the so-called "Bach" bow was a rather literal interpretation of the look of bows in old engravings... All I can say on that, is try playing Bach on a violing that looks literally like the violins in old engravings...
Glad you brought your point of view. I've been training on my baroque violin/bow for a month now, and one of the first things I noticed was that you could easilly get some sharp attack sounds and that bouncing bow strokes like the spicatto or the collée can be accomplished easilly... and this kinda goes against much of what I've been reading; I am not denying the softer articulations of this setup (I think it is not only a bow thig, but also the strings and the violin) but simply saying that the opposite is also true.
I don't know how much of a myth that is - as also Leopold Mozart referred to it, for instance, to the "small softness" at the beggining and ending of each stroke.
My playing experience with the baroque setup is fairly limited, but I've been listening and analysing the baroque sounds and technique for many years now - cds, videos, dvds, concerts ... whatever I can grab! - and, as an example, one of the things that characterizes the Fabio Biondi/Europa Galante sound on Vivaldi is the extremely percurssive approach.
The gut strings have - in my opinion - a much higher grip than the regular wounded strings, and if this is true for my left hand fingers why not to bow hair, too? And, a higher grip favors a bow stroke like the collée.....
Keep the thread rolling ;)
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