Inspired by Rachel Barton Pine's yesterday's video ("RBP on JSB") on YouTube and driven by my own love for Bach's music which I happen to experience very similar to her... Well, what should I say... I'd like to try a baroque bow, and be it just out of curiosity.
It seems that a baroque bow is some completely different kind of an animal than a modern bow. I've got no experience with that at all. Anybody with an opinion on what to look when deciding for one? (Budget may be 0-500 bucks, nothing from the very high end but a decent playable thing to start with...)
I recently purchased a Baroque bow from David van Edwards (http://www.vanedwards.co.uk/bow.htm). I can't really say how it compares to other Baroque bows, but I can attest that it is finely crafted. It plays the triple and quadruple stops of solo Bach smoothly, with less effort than with my modern bow. On the other hand, I find the tone it produces a little softer, kind of wispy, and off-the-string strokes like saultille are more difficult to accomplish. I feel that playing with it teaches me something about how to approach Baroque music, particularly solo Bach, even if I ultimately use my modern bow more often.
With much regret, I suggest e-bay. I've gotten quite a few for customers and they have had little complaint. The bow rehairer, on the other hand, cusses them and charges extra to re-cut the mortices on the first rehair.
If you're going to buy a cheap ebay bow, make sure you get one with outward camber, all the rest are fake baroque that bow in like a modern bow, a baroque bow bows slightly outward or straight under tension, not inward like a modern bow.
While you're at it you can get a cheap Chinese violin on eBay and saw a couple of inches off the fingerboard. Voila! Baroque violin.
Broadly speaking there's two kinds of Baroque bows: long bow for high Baroque (Bach, Handel), and short bow (early 17th century Italian music, French dances, etc).
Paul, an advantage of the shorter fingerboard is no more rosin dust deposits on same, and it's easier to clean rosin off the strings. Other advantages are that the instrument is lighter, and an argument could be made that it projects better.
Glenn Braun built me a lira da braccio and I love the Renaissance-style bow he included. He also sells the bows separately, probably better for continuo playing than virtuoso violin, but I love the clip-in frog (no threads) and the big concave shape!
What the intent of my question originally was... Is there anybody out there who regularly uses a baroque bow, is used to its behavior and has experience with decent and poor ones, like most of us have experience with decent and poor modern bows. I'd like to get some hints on what to check it, be it material, form of stick and tip, advantage and disadvantage of different frog types, length, weight and weight distribution, etc. etc. What should a good baroque bow feel like when played, how could it sound, what would be the difference to a modern bow?
I went through easily 15 or more bows/bow makers at an exhibition till I tried a Roger Rose. It was far superior and the least expensive (£600). I use with both my 415 and 440 violins and for most music up to Beethoven. Can't put into words its qualities, you just need to compare with as many others as possible. I've got 2 cheap (£30 and £90) Chinese ones but I'd never buy without trying again - I really no longer enjoy them.
Bud, and what is it you like in it, and dislike in the others?
Baroque bows weren't standardized, varied in regions and styles...in a same 18th century orchestra people used different bows just like you see old Beetles and brand new Teslas on the road. Clip on frog vs a bow with screw mechanism is another choice you have to make.
Compared to the other baroque bows it has a superior tone. It's lighter than my modern bow so more fun to use. Re-takes seem to come quite natural as does playing nearer the heel.
Trevor, I'd just hold it down and run the radial arm across it.
Speaking of bows, I am new to this site and I would like to ask a totally unrelated question. I have a J.R. Carlisle violin I would like to get appraised . I know there has to be a dark side in violin world and I haven't a clue who's on it. Any help would be much appreciated.
Appraised for insurance or for sale?
Hi Tim Sims, welcome. Under the rules of 'netiquette' it is considered rude and counterproductive to bring in a matter that does not pertain to the original post (OP). I encourage you to begin a new thread.
Welcome aboard Tim Sims.One of our members bought a Carlisle a year or two ago and after having some repairs made said he was quite happy with it. There is an old black and white YouTube video of Carlisle and his shop wh8ch might be of interest to you. I think you are very fortunate to have such a great instrument to play on.
Ebay! -- I may have been lucky, but I've bought snakewood bows, inward and outward camber, for under $100 and they're really not bad. They can serve as learning tools. I do shop carefully, read the descriptions and try to make a judgment about which of the Ebay sellers understand musical instruments.
It is really not at all difficult to recamber one of these bows, if you get one with an inward camber. Alcohol lamp + some Youtube instruction and you are good to go.
Thank you, Thomas. It's things like these I need to know. Now I know WHY I should try an outward camber bow, and not onoy out of tradition.
Nuuska, in my case I ordered a bow off of Ebay that was pictured with an outward camber, but I received one with an inward camber. I kept it because it was a well-made bow; I suspect that the bow maker knew what they were doing, but it was passed off for cambering to someone who did not. So I recambered it, and am happy with the result.
But you could also have it sent back and insist on the delivery of the correct item...
Then I would not have learned a new skill.
I've got 2 bows that might be classified as "Baroque." I bought the newer one within the past couple of years from Amazon for about $100 after Laurie Niles wrote a blog about Baroque bows. It weights 59 grams is 2 inches shorter than a conventional violin bow and made of all snakewood including the frog. It is cambered but loses the camber and arches slightly the other way when properly tightened. It is quite a beautiful looking bow with its graceful "swan" tip and plays Baroque chords nice and gently. It looks like Amazon still sells it.
Shar has just started selling outward-camber baroque bows with Rachel Barton Pine's endorsement. They're only $150, and Shar has a good return policy so it would be a low-cost, low-risk way to try one out.
Thank you, Thomas, good suggestion, although the description (outward chambered) wouldn't fit the pictures (inward chambered), but in doubt I'd rather believe in the description. For this amount of money I would definitely give it a try, but since Shar only delivers to the United States and Canada, I'm a little bit lost for that in Europe... Guess I'll have to suck the lemon, visit a dedicated bow maker and pay what will be necessary. Hope I'll find one who's got a few if them for trial, since for at least €700...
The typical baroque bow bows inward under no tension, then bow straight or slightly outward under tension.
I thought this would rather be a transitional bow? And a baroque one being at least straight if not on tension?
no, that would be more of a renaissance bow that is straight under no tension, a baroque bow would usually bow inward under no tension, though not as much inward as a modern bow, or as the fake inward bowing "baroque" bows you see on ebay.
heres one from China that shows before and after tension pics, not sure its real snakewood though
I have a baroque bow from the same Ebay dealer. A different model with a bone frog, but also with the outward camber. I am using it in our baroque ensemble and find it much easier to get the "bouncy" feeling on the notes than with a modern bow. Actually we are considering to order similar bows for the whole group.
Greater contrast between light and dark areas means fake stained grain, I got a real snakewood bow or some Chinese equivalent and the contrast was less, more like brown to tan. I'm pretty suspicious the snakewood grain in the link I posted is stained, not natural.
Snakewood is one of the densest of timbers (density 1.2), so perhaps the weight of a "snakewood" baroque bow could be a first pointer to whether it is the real thing. Note that websites selling the less expensive bows do not necessarily mention the weight.
Pernambuco wood can vary in density higher and lower than the density of water.
And I thought a baroque bow would be lighter than a modern anyway...
I can't speak for that bow or that seller, all I can say is there appears to be evidence that it is designed to function like a proper baroque bow, and at that price it might be worth experimenting with.
Disclaimer: I have purchased only one bow from that seller. And I have no experience playing with a "real" baroque bow. So I can not promise that it is authentic. But after playing Bach with that bow the modern bow feels like it is working against you when playing baroque. It has to much "sustain" - you have to much more actively lift the bow towards the end of notes. The baroque bow does that by itself.
Looks like another fake snakewood Chinese bow to me, worth about $60. And judging from the picture quite possibly has the wrong inward camber.
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