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Drew Lecher

Scraping, fuzzy/scratchy...

July 20, 2008 at 10:13 PM

Dear Drew,
I have been working on flat hair and am doing fine with long, slow bows, but when doing quicker bows with any fingers down, I have this scraping sensation and fuzzy/scratchy sound which is driving me nuts.

I have recently changed strings and I keep the strings clear of rosin residue. I have been trying different amounts of arm weight but that isn't helping. Any advice?

Hi Nicole,

RE: Scraping Sensation and fuzzy/scratchy sound

The scraping is inevitably from a couple sources:

1. The wood of the bow is coming in direct contact with the string.
Usually the stick is hitting the string on the far side (fingerboard) of the hair, but at times a player will lower the right wrist toward the floor with the down-bow stroke.

The wrist, elbow and shoulder joints must hinge and flow smoothly along the required plane of the bow stroke. Having begun the down-bow with the upper arm from the shoulder, concentrate primarily on the flow of motion in the wrist and elbow maintaining the plane of the stroke’s motion.

2. The bow is skidding off its track and therefore point of contact is lost.

Having done the stroke slowly with good success is no guarantee of its quality being kept when doing faster strokes. Work smaller amounts and various sections of the bow, but realize theses are then individual strokes and have their complete Crescent path — very slight curve. When lengthening the bow stoke, adjust the Crescent Bow to be in proper proportion.

Examples: Set metronome at 120 with the beat equaling a quarter note.

1. Draw smaller quarter beat bows varying the parts of the bow. Then make them 2 and more beats each by slowing down the bow and moving nearer to the bridge — maintain weight of stroke and degree of hair in this. Do not increase quantity of bow.

2. Maintain the bow speed and thereby increase the amount of bow — sustain the bows weight and keep the contact point, simply lengthening the arc of the Crescent Bow's path.

As you add more beats you will arrive at the whole bow — about 6 or 8 beats each.

Keep using whole bows as you subtract beats — maintain achieved quality. (All this time you have not had to constantly adjust the Metronome — our Personal Assistant, and slave driver:-)

Careful, the transition down to 2 and especially 1 beat per whole bow is when most lose control. Then simply slow down the metronome substantially, making it easy to achieve the desired quality. Follow this with slight increases of the metronome continually using the whole bow.

Initially do the above with open strings and then apply to your work with 4ths, 3rds, 8vas, 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, 10ths, arpeggios, scales, etc., etc. — piece of cake:-)

The above will also take care of the fuzzy/scratchy sounds as they are caused by distortions, twists and turns in the Bow's path along with lost point of contact.

Contact variables of the bow hair to the string — the 1) point of contact, 2) speed of bow, 3) weight of bow, 4) amount of hair, 5) string selected and 6) vibrating length of string/position number are brought together in order to accomplish the desired dynamics and character of the music and maintain clarity and focus of tone and pitch.

Hope this helps —

Author of
Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master…
Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…

Everything affects everything.

Also see other articles in my “GPS” Series regarding the bow.

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