My question is how do you play very very softly with good tone throughout and no shaking of bow. When I try I lose good tone, bow stops and is shaky and as I play more over the fingerboard and less hair I lose grip and run out of bow when trying to keep consistent tone. When I get good tone I am then too loud. I can't seem to master this technique.
On a related note, might sound silly but when playing in orchestra do you strictly follow the dynamics? For example at mf you play a certain loudness keeping reserves for ff and pp? Following markings as closely as possible so at mp you go down one notch and then f you go up two notches and then mf back down one notch etc. How strictly are you suppose to follow the markings and does playing higher notes kind of automatically give you a louder sound so you actually back off if maintaining the same dynamic marking?
I think you've answered your own question - good bow control is not quite there yet. I can only suggest a few lessons from a good teacher to sort it out, and a good teacher will.
> "This really did convince the audience that they were hearing the best ultrapianissimo ever!"
I recently had the problem of a shaky p/pp tone. My teacher told me to increase bow weight (using the bow-hand index finger) gradually while approaching the tip, and release gradually during the downstroke. It worked like a miracle.
"This really did convince the audience that they were hearing the best ultrapianissimo ever."
All I can say is play as soft as possible with good sound. Your bow arm could be tense, causing the bow to bounce etc. Also keep it mind that the weight of your arm should push your fingers against the bow, not hand muscular pressure.
On a lot of instruments it is close to impossible to play beautiful ppp, this is something for good equip with excellent setup.
@Paul But .. did it "project" as well?
If you have problems with bow shaking in ppp, try dropping your wrist lower than the bow, so it supported from below not suspended from the fingers.
Thanks for the tips. I will try the couple of them that were mentioned. There were some nice insight that I never thought about.
If you try Nathan Cole's one-minute bow experiment you'll be playing ppp whether you want to or not! :)
I suggest watching the ALL STAR ORCHESTRA that has just resumed on PBS, starting it's 3rd season last week. Comprised of top (low-digit-stand) players from top US orchestras you can clearly see how the expert string players ALL use their bows the same way to vary tone and dynamics. Also - in all 3 seasons this "show" has had presented the best orchestra video I have ever seen - and if you have watched many you know they usually suck - but for this show they have 18 video cameras recording continuously so they can edit what you see to perfectly match the sources of most important sound.
Soloists and Orchestra string players have a different approach to dynamics. The soloist needs to be heard at the back of the hall, so they are never less than a well-centered, "spun-tone" mp-mf. In an orchestra section, if I see anything less than pp I take all the weight off the bow, slow down the bow-speed, turn off the vibrato, fake it, eventually just stop. I'll have to try that air-bowing trick next time. Each instrument has a maximum volume that it can produce; if you try to push it harder, the quality just deteriorates, gets noisy, not louder. Most composers write dynamics for the whole orchestra, not individual lines, so when you see fff-ffff in a Tchaikovsky crescendo, that is for the brass and percussion to take over. What is more important than the written dynamic is your parts' importance; do you have the main melody or the background. jq
You could always take the easy way out, pretend to play and softly hum the music.