How do you do 27 up bows?

October 13, 2009 at 05:11 AM ·

Here's a link to Rachel Barton Pine's version:

At around the 6:30 point, there are 2 runs of 27 up bows.

HELP!  How does one do this?  Son is playing this for his recital in a month and can't get this.


Replies (24)

October 13, 2009 at 05:31 AM ·


look for any discussion of up bow staccato or flying staccato (the latter is a less common name for the bowing).  Those should describe the ways to develop this stroke.   However,  I would note in passing that this kind of bowing is something of a feature of Wieniawskis music  (esp f# minor concerto)  because he had the natural ability to do this a certain way which is sometimes refrred to as a nervous staccato. It is an extemely high tension stroke done by locking the arm hand,  everything,  and just-------BANG!!!!!  Its very much uncontrolled.

Some players can do this straightaway.  If you can`t then it is not such a good idea to try and learn it this way.  There are Actually many great players have had trouble with this because they dn`t have the kind of muscular tension to play this way.  Zuckerman,  Francesacatti  and Milstein spring to mind.

These great players certianly could develop the stroke and use it but they really didn`t wnat to sinc eto be honest it is as much a visual as aural efect.  Francescatti refused to do it and substituted a flying spicatto whihc is simply all up bow spciattos and he sounded vey elegant. Sometiems greta player ssimpy played spicatto. You can see the difference but the sound is only a little differnet and franly it isn`t that important.     If yur son can develop a `controlled up bow spicatto `  which is somewhat slower and possible  for anyone then good.  But be warned,  how long it takes depends on the player and in some cases it is a lot more than a month.  If the worst comes ot the worst just play spicatto.  If the rest sounds superb noone is going to care except the worst kind of pedant.

Incidnetally,  it helps to be somewhat obese if you wnat to do the uncontrolled Wieniawski staccato.   You might have to pass on prunes and go straight ofr the chocolate donuts,




October 13, 2009 at 05:56 AM ·

You'll need to do 32 on hora staccato, and much faster than that.

I find I can do that with the way I hold the bow, without really locking the bow arm (stiffen, but not locked, wrist and fingers still need to be free up a little). I play on a medium stiff bow and I can complete the first staccato pasages of the hora staccato, but near the end where I almost used up my bow the control near the frog is very hard to get a clean sound. Might want to experience with pinky controlling with that, or try to complete the passage before reaching lower part of the bow

I'm searching for a more flexible bow so I can stiffen my bow arm lesser and more relaxed. I think it's difficult to play on either a stiff bow or flexible but weak bow.

You can see in this video that he's doing a whooping 96 times, he can control the staccato very near the frog with ease, holy!

October 13, 2009 at 06:41 AM ·


that`s good but one of the most common errors in trying to play Wieniawski 2(actually this bow stroke)  is using -too much bow- .  Its played in the uper halfuing as little bow a spossible.Note Heifetz uses barely more than a third of the bow strating from the tip in Hora Staccato.

Also try taking the 2nd and 4th finger soff..  The third finger is then going to have to really pull against the forg.

Also experiemnt with height of elbow. It may need ot go a little higher



October 13, 2009 at 02:03 PM ·

One of my teachers from the Philadelphia Orchestra used to do it the tension way and had so much trouble with it but then after joining the Orchestra a fellow member showed him how to do it relaxed and then it was so easy for him.

The simplest way to explain it in words is attempt to do a tremolo with your wrist yet simply play an upbow normally. The key is not to stop the bow. The fingers must also remain relaxed. The way my teacher demonstrated, he also involves some of his fingers in the stroke - which I can't quite grasp yet. You adjust the speed with your wrist and the amount of bow with your arm (since it's 27 don't use too much!). Downbow staccato is just as simple this way - think of the tremolo and all you have to do is reverse the bow direction.

Edit: Buri reminded me of a couple things. The comment about the elbow is excellent - I find I have to raise it slightly for the upbow. As for taking fingers off - somehow I've gotten the habit of removing 4th (and sometimes 3rd) for the upbow and removing 2 and 4 for the downbow. I don't know but I'm going to go with this technique requires such personal physicality that whatever you can do to sound fine is A-OK. I also have to tilt the bow backwards for the downbow, but flat-hair for the upbow.

October 13, 2009 at 02:49 PM ·

This is a video clearly demostrate the tremolo+upbow, and other highly useful tips and suggestions! I watched it recently and thought of sharing it here since we're on this topic.

PS: I used to have that raised middle and pinky bow hold. I'd suggest to learn to have all the fingers. I still find when it's near the frog, things got choked and hard to control...

October 13, 2009 at 10:32 PM ·


just looked at the video.   I know he`s a good teacher but what he is teaching is basically very misleading.  The up bow staccato is played in the upper half beginning near the point using as little bow as possible. This is the standard  appraoch used by players who do it well(check Car Flesch and basics for starters or watch the Heifetz ,  Sorokow,  and Prunaru videos on you tube.   You might also take a look at Ms Hahn.  She plays the Hora Staccato rather slowly using a slow stroke. I would hazrad with a slight gasp that this is actually a small weakness in her formidable technique-  she doesn`t have a natural staccato-  bet she doesn`t care that much either....).  You couLn`t ay the Hora staccato using an up bow from the middle to the lower half. That`s why Casey is having trouble when he gets near the heel.  The guy on the video doesn`t sound so good either and he certainly couldnt play Wieniwskis longer runs that way.  He is actually mixing up bow spicatto and spiccato bounce of the bow. But this is a martele stroke  if you are doing the controlled version.  Note also the other explanation on this thread- you don`t play tremolo in the lower half.

Up bow staccato is done by most people using the forarm and that is going to function more efficiently in the UH.  

This is I suppose one of the danger sof the Internet-  an idomatic approach becomes generally accepted and then people never quite get it.


If in doubt consult Basics.



PS why do you think Wieniawski gave a nice long down bow before each run?  So you can get to the point.....

PPS just watched the rachel Barto video.  I gues sshe has some trouble with this stroke too. That`s why she omits it most of the time;) and plays legato.  

Incidentsally I spent months pondering the best fingering for the first run of fingered octaves and did come up with a fingering that is veyr helful  and fits a lot of hands:



October 14, 2009 at 12:50 AM ·

 In general, I wouldn't be surprised to find that many people can't do up-bow staccato because they try to put the whole passage together at once instead of breaking it into separate problems.

There are two other things besides the bow stroke itself that can get in the way: string crossings, and shifts. Both should be practiced independently. For example, in Paganini #18, the "B" section starts with a slightly shorter passage of 18 up-bows. When I was learning it, I actually wrote out the passage in open strings:EEEEEAAAADDDDGGGGG. I practiced that with every possible rhythmic grouping until my arm knew by itself where to change strings. Ditto with the scale. Only then did I put them together.

What works for this stroke is personal, but for me I found that tensing up is definitely not the way to go. My arm has to be relaxed to do it.

Also, it helps me to turn the bow towards me. The hair tends to be less used on the other side and has a little more bite.

October 14, 2009 at 12:57 AM ·


I think that another factor that may help when you turn the bow toward you is that the  stick and the bow hair work more together ("in concert" so to say) so that one gets the maximum flexure (and thus maximum vertical displacement) of both wrt. the string for a given force from the hand.

At least, that has been my take on doing it that way - especially with certain bows.


October 14, 2009 at 02:19 AM ·


The first video I posted earlier clearly demostrated that it IS possible to play up bow staccato very near the frog (in fact, he's doing it virtually next to the frog). This video alone is enough to defeat the debates of being "wrong" to play near the frog. ;-)

And I believe not every bow allow you to play cleanly with plenty of power with the approach you mentioned. Stiffer bow will normally bounce too much and difficult to stay on the strings, while weak bows are too slow to react to fast up bow staccatos. Bows with good bite will make things easier too. I play on medium stiff bow, if I apply too much weight (since I need to save bow hairs for the entire passage), it'll bounce and thus making the staccatos sound much too short and edgy. If I play it too gentle, it won't produce enough sound to be heard. So the only way is to use more bow. (Buri, since when I stated I play up bow staccato starting from the middle of the bow? Too early to jump into conclusions? Well like you said, it's the danger of internet. ;-)

Lastly, there isn't any hard rules on this. Like what Christopher mentioned, as long as it sounds good, it doesn't matter. Setting a rules will make music-making much too difficult.

October 14, 2009 at 03:28 AM ·


I`m very sorry Casey but I know a lot more about this bowing than you.

The bowing starting in the middle of the bow as demonstrated on the video you cite is a kind of hybrid and is not how up bow staccato is describe or taught by good player sand teachers.  It is actually qite easy to sustain a number of up bows in the lower half.  can`t remeber if I also suggested you start in the middle but that`s your fault for citing this video.  Presumably then you are trying to use the whole bow which is too much.

I am not really interested in the rather banal hack `there are so many individual ways to play the violin,  music making is unique blah blah.` It says less than nothing and it is far more importnat for a young player on a deadline to get correct advice (solidly supported by videos of real up bow staccato and citations form texts) than to worry about the feelings of someone who doesn`t really understand this bowing.



October 14, 2009 at 03:55 AM ·

Ok, I'm young and should not challenge you about your knowledge.

Thanks for your input.

October 14, 2009 at 04:23 AM ·

I tried to tackle up-bow staccato near the end of the summer with my newly purchased Basics book, so highly recommended on this site. It seemed to be working-- I was doing the Kreutzer #4 as suggested, day after day, trying to keep the bow angled "in" as the book said. There's even  exercises in there with the passage from the Wienawski (string crossings and staccato).  Watched the pro's do it on youtube and practiced in the mirror--all seemed to be helping.  Then fall came and I'm back to sporadic playing-- for me, it'll be a long term project  to get this technique. 

October 14, 2009 at 05:21 AM ·

 After watching the video, I'd admit that there was a time when I was learning the stroke that I too was tempted to do it in the lower half. But I soon realized that A. it's very difficult to control and B. the sound is almost all bite and little tone. 

BTW-One of the ways I judge a good bow is articulation at the tip. If you can't get it to bite without too much effort, this stroke will be even harder.


Ps. Buri, you forgot "cheers."



October 14, 2009 at 09:55 AM ·

He isn't that cheerful because the ladies from the elderly care that feeds him had him to eat all the mixed vegetables.

October 14, 2009 at 02:07 PM ·

Demo yasai wa ichiban oishii desu ne...

October 14, 2009 at 02:59 PM ·

This is so far out!  Now I can't wait to get home and try this!!!!  Maybe I can the rest of the day off??? Nah, it's 1/2 over anyway.  Up-Bow Staccatto here I come!



October 14, 2009 at 03:28 PM ·

One other thing, in case it hasn't been mentioned is to to turn your arm somewhat towards the violin as if pouring a pitcher of water. Whether one does the up-bow staccato with a stiff arm or with the whipped movement of the fingers and wrist as described by Todd Ehle, if the arm is leaning towards the bow and violin, the natural weight that allows you to feel the bow catching the string will make it physically easier to do the stroke. You may also find it easier to cross the string if you let the angle of the violin change as if tilting to meet the bow as you go from E to A to D to G strings so that the bow and arm do not have to do all the work of the string crossing while the staccato is going on. You are in effect shortening the distance the arm has to travel to cross the strings and also helping the left hand not have to reach over as much as you go to the lower strings. What appears to be only a  bow technique is therefore helped by the way you allow the violin to move in relation to the bow.

October 14, 2009 at 05:42 PM ·

Just wanted to say that my son's been reading all the posts and is having a little more success than before after trying one or two suggestions.  He realizes this is a long haul deal.  He has a slow trill, an average but very lovely vibrato, and he acknowledges the slowness of his hand.  Before, he was trying to muscle it with his bicep freezing up on him.  I am not sure exactly what he's tried but if he has time on Friday, his slower day, maybe he can post on his progress.

PS. *I* think I'm going to eat the donuts, Buri. :-)

October 14, 2009 at 10:35 PM ·


Yasai wa oishikunai to omoimasu. 

Yaki Ho-ho ga sukidesu.



October 14, 2009 at 10:36 PM ·

Good, more prunes for me }:^).

Best wishes to you & your son!

October 15, 2009 at 02:49 AM ·

Can anyone beat 44 different notes??


October 15, 2009 at 02:51 AM ·

Actually here's 58 :-x  Let us all thank Sauret for the above and Francois Schubert for this particular one :-)



October 15, 2009 at 02:56 AM ·

Here's 64 from Vieuxtemps but mostly repeats



October 15, 2009 at 04:07 AM ·

The way it was taught to me by Josef Gingold:

1. Start at the upper 3rd of the bow.

2. Apply so much pressure that you get an incredibly ugly sound in in a slow tempo.

3. Keep pressure on throughout the bowstroke, even with string changes.

4. Accent at the beginning of each 4 note group.

5. When the tempo gets faster, the scratches will disappear because of faster bow speed.

6. Use as little bow as possible.

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