What does Fischer mean by playing

November 20, 2011 at 09:50 PM · Hi folks - the title was originally What does Fischer mean by playing "Round the String" but there seems to be a bug if you submit titles containing quote marks...

A simple question, to check I'm not misunderstanding.

In Simon Fischer's tone DVD he mentions bowing "round the string" at the bow change, but very unusually for him, he doesn't define what he means by this.

Looking at what I'm doing, my upper arm rises a little at the start of the up-stroke, and falls a little at the start of the down-stroke. Is this what he means, or am I on the wrong track?

Replies (33)

November 20, 2011 at 11:44 PM · I think he means a "figure of eight", whereby the bow's motion does not stop at the change of direction, but describes a small ellipse.

November 21, 2011 at 12:57 AM · Jim

Thanks for responding.

Could you describe that in a little more detail? In what way is it different from the movement I described?

November 21, 2011 at 02:20 AM ·

November 21, 2011 at 04:54 AM · does it mean tht the bow pivots around the string?

there an excercise towards the beginning of the Basics that isolates the wrist leading action as you go to higher strings and the arm leading action as you go down to the lower strings. my understanding of that phrase is that the wrist when it leads and the arm when it also leads, in crossing from one string to the other, pivots around the string slightly towards the new string - rather than making an abrupt stop and jump. and, as i'm thinking of this, this gets it closer to the string it has to cross to thus lessening the distance of crossing and jumping over other strings. could that be what he means?

i should get that DVD as well :)

November 21, 2011 at 05:59 AM · I would also imagine he means that the angle of the bow changes between down and up bow. This means that the bow will rotate around the axis formed by the string.

I think for the most part this just happens naturally with the movement of the fingers and arm. Some people think it makes bow changes smoother.

Also, I think Mr. Fischer is a member here so maybe he will eventually provide the definitive answer!

I've also heard that some (supposedly English, but this is an American rumor) violinists say it feels like the bow is about a mm longer if you do this as well.

November 21, 2011 at 09:54 AM · @Geoff - I think he means the "endless bow" technique. If you bowed in a perfect straight line, theoretically the bow would have to stop before changing direction. If you made the bow draw a little 'loop' shape on the string when you changed direction, that would make the change smoother. If viewed form above, the pattern would look like a very narrow figure-of-eight. The finger and wrist movements for this motion vary from player to player.

I think the player always hears the change of direction, but when done well the audience doesn't hear it quite as much, or even not at all.

November 21, 2011 at 10:59 AM · I think it could also mean NOT having a straight bow at the point. Look at Milstein on YouTube for an example of how its done.

I think the technique of making a circle or sphere at the bow change really only happens (usually subconsciously) in slow music where legato is important. In fast detatched bowing you need to hear the click or bite at the bow change.

November 21, 2011 at 03:34 PM · Mr. Fischer is a very nice guy... It has been my experience that he will answer an email. I suggest you ask him.

November 21, 2011 at 05:01 PM · Thanks folks

I didn't want to trouble the great man - I assumed it would be clear what he is saying. But I'll check it out in Basics and if it isn't there I'll ask him directly and post back as and when...

Given the disagreement about almost every element of violin technique, my general approach is to try and eliminate every movement that isn't absolutely necessary. Peter's reference to Milstein is, I think, similar to Drew Lecher's description of the "crescent bow" where you lean towards the bridge a little at the legato bow change - this makes plenty of sense, though as a beginner I find it quite challenging to control.

As for figures of eight, I understand that you don't want a jarring change in legato. But I seem to remember a quote from Galamian where he said that all is required is a slight slowing in the last cm or so of the stroke and a relaxed wrist to act as a buffer. Is there really any need for other movements, other than the slight raising and lowering of the elbow that seems to happen instinctively? If this is an FAQ, a link to the relevant thread would be appreciated...

November 21, 2011 at 09:00 PM · The thin figure-of-eight shape is just one way of maintaining a smooth bow change. Theoretically, bowing in a straight line causes the bow to stop at each end, whereas the figure-of-eight keeps it moving. That said, there are quite a few ways to achieve the smoothness .. flick of the wrist, decrease 1st finger pressure at the change, tilt the bow at the change of direction. Every master has his method :)

November 21, 2011 at 10:03 PM · Greetings,

Hi geoff,

I wonde rif you could give me a rfeernce of some sort fro Drew saying that about the cresecnet bow leaning in toward shte bridge. I may have misunderstood what you or he said, but that doesn`t seme right to me at this time in the morning...

Cheers,

Buri

November 21, 2011 at 10:29 PM · Buri

Now I'm worried I've misunderstood Drew! Here is the quote, from his blog (it expands slightly from the book)

Crescent Bow

The most important technique for the development of tonal resonance and fluidity of bow arm motion.

The partial slightly orbital path around the scroll of the instrument (player’s left hand) enabling the tone to resonate with greater clarity and projection, additionally offering a natural way to free up the right arm’s motions through the joints of the wrist, elbow and shoulder.

1. The bow strokes are to be accomplished with a slight rounding-of-the-path, thus Crescent Bow – the curved drawing of the bow.

2. The down and up-bow paths are mirror images of each other.

3. The down-bow must have a pulling back of the upper arm in the lower 1/2 of the bow followed by a pushing out/forward in the upper 1/2 as the bow continues toward the tip.

a. The point at which the right elbow is 90-degrees determines the upper and lower 1/2 of the bow stroke.

4. The up-bow must have a pulling back of the upper arm in the upper 1/2 of the bow followed by a pushing up diagonally of the left hand for the lower 1/2 toward the heel of the bow.

NOTE: The Crescent Bow is necessary to compensate for the natural resistance of the bow caused by the string/bridge combination – the nearer to the bridge, the greater the resistance. It is like walking into the wind – we lean into the counter force.

My understanding is that he is suggesting you slightly point the heel towards the bridge at the start of the down bow, and the tip towards the bridge at the start of the up bow. And that this is because the resistance of the string tends to force the bow towards the fingerboard, so you lean into this force to counter it. During the stroke you progressively transition from one to the other, with the bow being perfectly straight at the mid-point. So the bow makes a crescent shape around the scroll.

Is there something I'm not understanding?

November 22, 2011 at 02:43 PM · Hi Geoff, here's a quote from an article by Fischer.

"In fact there is no bow stroke on the violin that moves in a straight line: every stroke is curved, or moving in a slight arc, the bow playing (even if

imperceptibly) around the string

http://www.simonfischeruk.com/Musicians'%20Hand%20chapter.pdf

I think he's making a general statement about the actual path the bow travels as demonstrated by such researchers as Percival Hodgson in his book, 'Motion Study and Violin Bowing,' in which he used strobe lights and reflectors to shoot the path of the bow.

Here's what people are doing with today's tech:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=z1A1KXTdcS8

While interesting, this fact alone may not be all that helpful without the details of how such motions are generated, as the path will be determined by bow hold and relative sequence of motions of each segment of the bow arm. For instance, players who use more range of motion in the base knuckles of the hand will have a straighter bow path. Those with less range of motion in the hand will move with a more pronounced 'figure 8' and/or even with a crooked bow at the bow changes.

Here you describe a motion with less ROM through the wrist:

"...my upper arm rises a little at the start of the up-stroke, and falls a little at the start of the down-stroke." For someone who plays with greater ROM through the wrist the sequence would be opposite: the upper arm would sink (relative to the wrist) at the beginning of the up bow, and rise at the beginning of the down bow. Of course all this depends also on context of the music and type of stroke being used.

The idea of the 'crescent bow' has been around for a long time and requires flexibility in the bow hand, particularly at the heel. As far as the relative motions of the arm are concerned it's just a slightly exaggerated version of motions for a 'straight bow' as described by Galamian in his Principles. Here's a previous discussion from v.com:

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=16737

I think you have the gist of it but the timing is a little off. You need to finish the up bow with the heel pointing toward the bridge (for which you'll need flexibility in the wrist, base knuckles and fingers) and finish the down bow with the tip pointing toward the bridge. Going the other direction, the bow follows the same path simply in reverse. To feel his 'walking into the wind' analogy, you need to angle the bow into the bridge so to speak. There is more resistance to the string as you bow nearer the bridge. So on a down bow you want the hand to bow away from the bridge, making the heel point away and the tip point toward. On an up bow you want the hand to bow toward the bridge, making the heel point toward and tip point away. This slight arc in the path of the bow describes a partial 'orbit around the scroll or left hand.' This idea of bowing into the bridge is further exaggerated in the figure 8.

Hope that helps,

JK

November 22, 2011 at 03:41 PM · Jeewon Kim

I think you quotes of Simon F are correct and I agree with him, but your analysis at the end is wrong in my opinion about the way the down bow at the point finishes.

November 22, 2011 at 04:23 PM · Hi Peter, could you elaborate on your opinion? My description of the direction of the bow approaching the point on a down bow refers to the 'crescent' stroke as advocated by Drew Lecher. Do you have a different interpretation of how to achieve the 'orbit around the scroll?' To clarify I'm not implying that Fischer teaches this path of the bow in general. In Basics, he outlines the straight bow path exactly as Galamian does in Principles. Fischer also teaches bowing at an angle as a means for 'changing lanes' and keeping the sound point near the bridge; one way to keep the sound point near the bridge, on a down bow approaching the point, is to angle the bow in such a way as to point the heel away from the bridge, which in effect points the tip toward it -- which is the same principle underlying the crescent stroke and the figure 8. How the direction of the bow is changed varies from player to player; if controlled from the arm there is a more pronounced deviation from a straight path; if controlled from pivoting fingers within the hand, the deviation is barely perceptible.

November 22, 2011 at 05:02 PM · Look at Milstein at the point on Youtube.

The point goes towards the fingerboard.

November 22, 2011 at 05:21 PM · Hi Peter, I think it's important to distinguish between pedagogical principles and what happens in context. I'm in no way suggesting that my description of the path of the bow is what must happen in every down bow for every context for every player. If a student cannot immediately grasp how to produce such and such a sound for a given context, the various motions involved can be analyzed and each motion trained one variable at a time; hence the need for pedagogical principles. It is possible to describe how motions occur sequentially for every phrase of a piece, but how pedantic. I think Fischer clearly understands this difference, so on the one hand he meticulously outlines what's involved in the technique of bowing straight and on the other makes the statement that in reality, no one bows straight. I don't think the latter statement, or the observation that performers vary their bowing to express their interpretation, cancels out his massive compilation of bowing exercises.

Artists have their idiosyncracies; some are more 'text book' in their technique, others not so much. In general, players with shorter arms will tend to finish their down bows 'around the corner.' But even they know how to follow a straight path when the context requires it, only to deviate when they run out of arm.

November 22, 2011 at 07:34 PM · @ Jeewon Kim

Thanks for the fascinating post. The bow tracking video certainly brings home the complexity of the right hand in violin!

The link to the old Crescent bow thread has clarified a good deal. There's a link to an excellent video explanation by Todd Ehle, as well as your own mega-post. They will take time to absorb!

"Here you describe a motion with less ROM through the wrist"

Yes, that makes sense. I'm trying to develop a quiet wrist, based on the Moscow School type stroke described by Drew and others. When your talent is as limited as mine, I figure that it pays to keep everything as simple as possible!

By the way, please educate me. I'm assuming from your name that your origin is Korean? What is the right part of the name to use when chatting with Koreans here? A lot of the most helpful posters seem to be Korean, and I don't want to offend anyone (I used your full name for safety!)

November 22, 2011 at 10:34 PM · Hi Geoff, you're most welcome. Thanks for being sensitive but I don't think anyone would be offended -- at least I wouldn't. In general surnames are one syllable and proper names are two (sometimes written as one word, sometimes separated by a hyphen,) although there are exceptions to the first name. If someone chooses to write out the three syllables with a space between each, then I suppose you'd have to guess :) But most of our surnames are Kim, Lee (Rhee, Yi), or Park (Bak, Pak.) There are some Changs and Chungs and Chuns (or Jang, Jung and Jun.) A few Lims (Rhim, Yim, Im) and some Hans and Ahns (of course all the s's are just plural; there are no Korean words ending in an 's' sound without a vowel after it.) Now I'm sure I have offended more Koreans than you could ever have ;) Of course, it's customary to write the surname followed by the proper name, but when in Rome...

Those are great videos by Todd Ehle and certainly easier to grasp than a thousand words. I think it makes sense to keep things simple. I haven't seen Fischer's video, but by the context of his article I think he is suggesting that even if the bow appears to be moving along a straight path, the segments of the arm are moving in arcs and rotating about it's various axes, all the while coordinating with the motions in the hand and fingers, for the bow arm to be fluid and produce a sound opposite of 'wooden.' Paul Rolland describes these arc and rotations in his 'The Teaching of Action in String Playing.' It would be cool if with some kind of motion capture we could create bow tracking video for ourselves!

Cheers,

JK

November 22, 2011 at 11:17 PM · ROM? Read only memory?

November 23, 2011 at 02:22 AM · I've always been taught to use the crescent that arcs the same way as a circle centered on the scroll would. It seems to be the arc that happens naturally if you open your elbow.

I have been told to use opposite arc for certain strokes in the upper half before, but 90% of the time it's to use the former.

November 23, 2011 at 09:58 AM · With the help of Todd's video, I've finally understood Drew's "leaning into the wind" analogy. It's a new feeling for me, and does seem to add an element of depth to the tone.

So when Galamian and Fisher talk about speed, pressure and sound point as the elements of tone, would it be true to add bow angle as well? In his tone exercises, "with or without crescent" would seem to be a fourth distinct factor in the mix?

November 23, 2011 at 12:55 PM · Hi Geoff, it's good to hear you're making headway. At the risk of a little pedantry myself, there is a difference between figure 8 bowing and crescent bowing. Todd demonstrates changing lanes by adjusting the angle of the path of the bow, leaning into the wind/string by drawing the bow at an angle but resisting the lane change by adding firmness to the hand, and finally maintaining sound point by employing a figure 8 pattern during bow changes. Todd does not demonstrate crescent bowing. I'm pragmatic about technical concepts -- whatever works is good enough for me, and in my experience approaching a problem from several different angles usually helps solve it efficiently. But there are teachers who are quite adamant about certain concepts.

I'd say that varying bow angle is a means of changing or maintaining sound point and not really a 4th element of tone production. So straight bow, crescent bow, figure 8 are three conceptual approaches to maintaining sound point. The main difference between the crescent and the figure 8 is in the timing of the angle change. In the former the angle is changed during the middle of a stroke, in the latter the angle is changed during the bow change itself. In the straight bow, the focus is on how to coordinate the angles and relative motions of the segments of the arm and hand to allow the bow to track the string, how to release the joints of the arm, get the arm to stay 'out of the way' and follow the fingertips. As Peter has mentioned many great artists change bow direction by pointing the bow toward the body (at the tip the heel points toward the body; at the frog the tip points over the shoulder.) For whatever reason this most natural way of moving the arm has been labelled 'crooked' and never made it into the annals of pedagogy (too easy?). If you simply maintain sound point, or vary it according to the musical needs at hand, you really can't go wrong.

November 23, 2011 at 01:17 PM · @ Jeewon Kim

Once again, thanks for the post - that's the clearest explanation of this murky area that I've seen. It does seem that this rarely makes it into the literature, yet when you watch the likes of Milstein it's clear that they are making use of bow angle tonally. And it certainly makes sense when you say that bow angle is just a variable of sound point rather than a new dimension of tone.

I guess the answer, as it seems to be so often with this intriguing instrument, is to experiment and figure out how to make it work for my particular physique and setup. But thanks to your input I do feel much clearer about the parameters I should be playing with.

November 23, 2011 at 02:54 PM · Hi Geoff, glad to be of service.

"...experiment and figure out how to make it work for my particular physique and setup." That's it precisely. Though we've come a long way in understanding how to play this most challenging of instruments over the last few hundred years, there's still too much dogma in my opinion as evidenced by the many 'vs.' threads we still find here. The violin is too hard to play to be dogmatic about it.

In terms of learning to use the bow well I find it's helpful to make a clear distinction between technique and expression. Often teachers will throw a piece at a student and almost immediately demand musical expression, as if it should be obvious, as if it's too much to ask to be shown how. Granted there are students who use the bow expressively without much guidance, but I find them to be the exception.

Mastering technique is about control. Controlling the violin is difficult because it is asymmetrical. The two hands do vastly different tasks. The intervals shrink along the finger board. The levels of the strings feel very different for the bow arm. The give of the string changes from fingerboard to bridge, and also with the thickness of the string, and also with the stopped length of the string. The bow is lighter at the tip, heavy at the frog. The left arm feels different along the fingerboard; the right arm feels different at the tip and frog. The right hand must adjust for all the aforementioned variables. And yet it's probably because of this very unstable environment that it is so versatile, so expressive.

But because there are so many variables control is largely about training evenness and consistency. That might seem obvious but of course it's no trivial matter in execution. To gain technical control one must first gain evenness before one can attempt variability, or musical expression. On the flip side, without imagination one would never know what to do with all that control to make a phrase. So much to do, so little time.

Cheers,

Jeewon

November 24, 2011 at 01:13 AM · Spotted this in Drew's old blog - adds some useful detail, I think:

CURVES FLOW BETTER for the mechanics of the bow arm and hand, and the Crescent Bow path has laws of physics on its side.

When the great artists of the past diagonally angle the up and down bows, they are in essence approaching the Crescent Bow, but with a more chiseled angularity — it also works, but not as easily or as well.

Many times artists will curve the bow’s path around their head — a reverse Crescent Bow. A classic time to do this would be the Bach G Minor Unaccompanied Sonata, Fugue. It begins with 3 8th notes leading to the downbeat, also an 8th note. Do it in the upper-half and “stylize it” orbiting your head. I used to do it in imitation of Szeryng — not a bad violinist to imitate/emulate:-) Mind you, he did it very well AND it looked SO COOL — but it really isn’t as flowing and sensitive to musically subtle use of the bow and arm. Try it. You can also do the first 4 notes of Beethoven’s 5th at the heel/frog of the bow and notice the tonal and touch control differences.

(Remember that the Crescent path is only slightly orbital to the scroll or player’s left hand.)

November 24, 2011 at 02:31 AM · This may be old news for experienced/talented players, but for me may be a pretty cool revelation, if real. Hard to put this into words but I'll try: Rather than thinking in terms of crescent shapes and figure eights, close your eyes and rely purely on sensation. If you have a perfectly relaxed bow hold and right hand/arm, and you angle the bow weight (aren’t you glad I didn’t say “pressure”) at a 45-ish degree angle to the bridge (not talking about the tilt of the hair, but the direction the bow weight falls), and your bow stroke follows the curve of the bow, doesn’t your bow sort of automatically track along the “sweet spot” sounding point for the full length of the bow stroke at whatever bow speed and weight you happen to be using? Kind of like the path of least resistance but not quite. Does this make sense to anyone or am I just imagining things (which has been known to happen on occasion)?

November 24, 2011 at 09:31 AM · Anthony

"doesn’t your bow sort of automatically track along the “sweet spot” sounding point for the full length of the bow stroke at whatever bow speed and weight you happen to be using?"

Whilst that may be true, do we always want to be on the "sweet spot?" There is a lot to be said for playing away from the sweet spot quite a lot, to get more projection and a more powerful (if somewhat harsher) sound?

November 30, 2011 at 01:51 PM · Hi everyone, and thanks to Geoff for starting the discussion. Sorry not to have been able to join in earlier.

All I mean is that usually all bow strokes have some sort of a curve in them. It is good to alway keep in mind that 'there is no such thing as a straight line in a bow stroke'.

Changing direction at the heel, suppose you are on the A string and approaching the frog towards the end of the up-bow. Just before you change to down-bow, notice how the point of the bow can move slightly upwards, as though you are moving the bow towards the E string level.

Then, as you begin the down-bow, see how the point of the bow moves slightly downwards, as though the bow is moving towards the D string level.

Or suppose you are on the A string and approaching the point towards the end of the down-bow. Just before you change to up-bow, the point of the bow can move slightly downwards (the frog of the bow moving up), as though you are moving the bow towards the D string level. Then as the up-bow starts, the frog of the bow moves down at the same time.

Of course in neither case does the bow hair actually touch the adjacent string, but pivots around the A string. One of my favourite formulas that seems to apply to many aspects of string playing is: 'If you can see it, it is too much; if you can't see it, it is not enough!' Perhaps that applies to this business of pivoting around the string at the bow change.

I didn't make a lot of it in the tone DVD, and perhaps should have, because the main thing is 1) to slow down infinitessimally just before the change of direction, and 2) to lighten the bow infinitessimally, as Galamian so clearly states.

My favorite way to show people how to change bow smoothly at the heel is to take the bow in my clenched fist and, by slowing and lightening ever so slightly just before the change, to perform the perfect bow change. Then it is obvious that the answer to the question 'how much technique do you need in order to change bow smoothly at the heel' is 'none at all' (apart from slowing and lightening). All that is needed is the desire to do it, and close attention and control at the crucial moment. You don't need to think about curving around the string if you do it slowly enough, though it helps if you do that too.

Here's an interesting thing: what about when you play double-stops? Surely you can't pivot around the string at the bow change then, since the hair would slightly lighten on one string, or leave one string altogether. I think it is demonstratable that the same curves happen, and therefore the hair does - must - lighten slightly on one string, but it is so absolutely infinitessimal that it is unnoticeable.

But surely all theory, all these descriptions, can and must simply be put to the test. Try sustaining an up-bow all the way to the heel - or anywhere else, for that matter - and strive to keep the bow in an absolutely straight line. Watch the point to make sure that it doesn't move up or down. Perform the seamless bow change only by slightly slowing and slightly lightening. See how easy, or not, it is to achieve.

Then do the same bow change, but this time allow the ever-so-slight pivoting around the string as you change direction. All I can say is, when I do it with the pivoting it feels a lot smoother, easier and more natural. Doing it 'in a straight line' feels a bit like a train hitting the buffers. With the curving movement (even if it is so slight you can't see it) the bow actually sort of doesn't stop. But if it's moving in a purely straight line, the bow has to stop and then go the other way...

Of course, what exactly the bow does depends on what exactly you are playing, i.e. the actual notes and the actual musical tonal expression. Best to think about that first - and to listen, listen, listen - than to try to think too much beyond just the few simple ideas that you need to accomplish these things.

As to the bow curving away from parallel with the bridge, that seems to be a completely different issue. I would say: don't even THINK about doing some sort of horizontal figure-eight at the bow change. The 'figure-eight is vertical (causing those up-or-down movements of the point of the bow), not horizontal.

I hope all that makes sense. As usual, it would take five seconds to demonstrate, but it takes all-too-many words to describe.

Best wishes,

Simon

November 30, 2011 at 03:09 PM · Getting back to Geoff's original remark that using quotes ("...") in the title seems to generate a bug, I think (subject to what the Editor may say) that this is related to a computer's operating system not allowing quotes (and a few other characters) in computer file titles and perhaps in some database fields. I use single apostrophes ('...') as a working alternative.

December 1, 2011 at 02:00 PM · Simon

Please accept my thanks for your typically clear and cogently reasoned response. Your commitment to spreading knowledge about this wonderful instrument is truly inspiring.

Fortunately, the action you describe seems to be what I have been doing intuitively, though it's good to have it confirmed that this is a sensible way to go.

But when you say "Of course in neither case does the bow hair actually touch the adjacent string" we are, in my case, speaking more of an aspiration than an attainment rather more often than I'd like!

On the question of horizontal curves, videos do seem to suggest that the masters sometimes use this for tonal effect. But at my stage I would surely be wise to accept your advice and focus on developing the simplest possible stroke.

December 2, 2011 at 01:32 AM · Thanks very much, Geoff.

The point of the bow certainly does swing horizontally slightly, during the bow change. It feels very awkward and unnatural if you try to restrain that. The wrist and the forearm play a part in causing the bow angle to change, and you certainly don't want to restrain it.

I must say I have never thought of making that movement a conscious part of changing bow. It just happens on its own when all the rest is right, so I have never really focused on it.

It is something else I was thinking of - certain students that I have seen who do a rather complicated figure-eight where the top of the eight is at the end of the up-bow and the bottom at the beginning of the down-bow (which causes the bow to swing a long way). I always assumed that they had heard about figure eights but had mistakenly gone horizontal with them instead of invisible vertical ones.

But I'm reminded of the great Alexander teacher Walter Carrington who, having listened to some violinists debating the benefits or otherwise of lifting or not lifting the left shoulder, said, 'But why do you have to think about raising or not raising the shoulder? Why can't you just keep it free?'

Isn't it the same with this straight-bow business? Just remain free, and concentrate on the musical expression that is in your musical imagination, and then listen, listen, listen, listen, listen, catch every sound that comes out of the instrument, and make sure that it matches your inner picture of what you are wanting to express or portray.

The tonal effects of deliberately not bowing straight with the bridge are part of the colour range, and without them everything would end up sounding the same. Just as if you were to play only on one soundpoint, or use only one speed and width of vibrato. Leaving rules aside, surely everything just all depends on what you are playing, who wrote it, where you are playing it, who with, and so on!

SF

December 2, 2011 at 11:01 AM · Simon

"Just remain free, and concentrate on the musical expression that is in your musical imagination, and then listen, listen, listen, listen, listen, catch every sound that comes out of the instrument, and make sure that it matches your inner picture of what you are wanting to express or portray."

Yes - this makes so much sense! Partly inspired by your good self, my primary focus in practice is to keep everything free, imagine the sound I'm aiming for, and begin to experiment. Once I catch myself doing something right, I'll try to repeat the action a few times so my body can gradually add it to its "tonal vocabulary".

If I'm understanding your intention, this is the main point of the tonal exercises you share on the DVDs - that if they are repeated daily the body will eventually learn to intuitively produce whatever tonal quality you picture internally?

My guess is that in performance the Perlmans of this world aren't thinking "time to move to sounding point 2 with a fast, light bow". I'm assuming that they focus on imagining the sound they want, and their superbly trained technic will produce it to order. Am I right in thinking that this is what you feel us mere mortals should be groping towards, through this imagine -> listen -> adjust learning cycle?

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