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The Buri Bow Burp

January 3, 2010 at 3:15 AM


for good musical reasons every note in a group of four 16ths has a slightly different value although the difference may well only be at a subliminal level.   This value may be to do with length,  volume or articulation.   We are greatly aided in our understanding of this by old mother gravity which makes our down bows stronger than our up bows.   However,  in order to perfectly control this degree of nuance (which is more often than not ignored)   we have to develop our skill at playing exactly equal notes though practicing a huge amount of variety within our most simple exercises,  especially scales.  First Flesch,  then Galamian and Simon Fischer have shown increasingly clearly how one does this by manipulating the factors of rythm ,  accent and dynamics.  However,  I suspect that many players focus primarily on rythm without actually listening to the core sound itself simply because that is the natural instinct of violinists:  to pay more attention to the left hand than the right.  Somehow the brain likes it this way.

I would like to offer up a small exercise I invented as a New Year gift which if practiced with focus and keen attention will help to develop a better and more nuanced detache.   Its very simple and can be integrated into any scale practice (assuming you do scale practice ;).

Let us take the scale of d major and assume we are going to work on it with separate bows as straight forward 16th notes.   Step by step:

1)  Find the best contact point for playing the beginning d over and over again more or less in the second quarter of the bow assuming the one from the point is the first.  

2) When this is established with the best possible ringing sound  play four groups of four 16ths on this repeated d and then play a half note d which takes you to the point where one immediately repeats the procedure (1)  but starting up bow.  

3)  Go backwards and forwards between these two variations as described until you have equalized your sound on the 16ths irrespective of whether they start up or down.

4)  Carry on with this pattern putting an accent on the first 16th of each group.  This is where it gets dangerous.  The tendency is for a player to release the weight after an accent so what one gets is actually an accent followed by three mf notes rather than forte.  Work at sustaining the sound and keeping the accent within that context.

5) Once it is under control play the scale using that accent pattern listening very carefully for a sustained sound between accents.

6) When you are satisfied go back to steps 1-5   and repeat the whole procedure but this time the accent is on the 2nd 16th note of the group.

At a later stage one can begin adding more than one accent in a group or even one234 1two34 12three4 123four kind of things and then slurs but the basic exercise in step 1-5 is the foundation one can return to again and again.

I think this is vaguely original so I would like to have it christened `the Buri Bow Burp`   and have it appear in later editions of Basics as a microdot.

Happy New Year Everyone,


From Sayre p
Posted on January 5, 2010 at 12:51 AM

Just curious, were you the one who suggested the idea to Hilary Hahn about the Schoenburger?

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on January 5, 2010 at 2:40 AM

Yes. That was me.  Probably the only thing I will ever be remembered for....

From Ray Randall
Posted on January 5, 2010 at 3:06 AM

I thought a statue of a prune was being erected in your memory. <G>

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on January 5, 2010 at 4:16 AM

 Unfortunately its life size and the makers saved money by omitting the pedestal. Thus people keep kicking it around on the basis that is just another Rolling Stone.

From Bill Busen
Posted on January 5, 2010 at 6:27 PM

...thus the Buri Bow Burp!  See, if I had donated when they were raising money for the pedestal, Buri would still be resting on his laurels.

From Ray Randall
Posted on January 5, 2010 at 10:14 PM

At least the rolling stone will gather no moss.

What Buri is saying about scales has a lot of merit. My superb teacher says that you can take a simple scale and, with some imagination, turn it into a concerto. You can vary anything and everything on the way up or down   to suit your needs. Now toss in some broken scales as part of the mix added in with a regular scale and away you go. You definitely do not have to simply go up and down one note after the other. A major concert artists told me to play a three octave scale and once you reach the top stay up there for awhile and don't come back all the way down for awhile. Play scales outside the box.


From Terry Hsu
Posted on January 6, 2010 at 8:26 PM


I just thought you'd like to know that I tried your suggestion on the violin part to the Dohnanyi serenade and it worked like a charm. :)


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on January 7, 2010 at 8:02 PM


Terry, thank you so much. This kind of comment means a lot.  Of course,  you did the actual work ;)



From Drew Lecher
Posted on January 8, 2010 at 5:25 AM

 Buri—isn't Ray describing the Beethoven Violin Concerto?

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