How to Play Bariolage Perfectly?

January 20, 2015 at 02:16 AM · i'm working on Bach's Partita no.3 and i always feel that i want to give up everytime i read the bariolage part. can you help me to get the right techinique on bariolage? thank you :)


Replies (21)

January 20, 2015 at 02:42 AM · Greetings,

there are more complex technical explanations but I think the basic problem here is that the left hand interferes with the righ. So when you practice , just do open strings , also with many different rythms. And practice the left hand as a separate exercise. As with all double stops you need to practice fingering both lines but playing only one. Tgis sequence of double stops is a kind of substitution exercise use wer one repats the same note with different fingers. So I take the first two 'a' which I play with a second finger and then a third finger on the nex t one. I will practice playing repeat a using a kind of 23232323232 trill making sure I have the exact same pitch on both fingers. Then the sane with g sharp and so on.

Only when the double stopping is flawless and feels truly easy should one really begin to work on putting left and right hand together. When you do get to this stage then it is once again a question of using as many different rhythms as possible and gradually speeding up.

In general I think people p

ay this section rather miserably simply be aus ether haven't broken it down into simple enough parts that program the brain adequately.



January 20, 2015 at 02:55 PM · Hi shasha, in addition to Buri's great suggestions you can try the following bow exercises. You should already be able to play a fluid, even detache of all lengths at all parts of the bow.

Get used to crossing between two double stops: A-E, then D-A. Depending on the length of your forearm, it's possible to leave the elbow on the middle string and swing your forearm between the two double stop levels. But for the 3 level string cross, allow your elbow to cross between the two double stop levels. It's not absolutely necessary, but you can start with a triple stop detache over the fingerboard (as best you can) and gradually rock between the two double stops levels. The important thing is to accurately hit each double stop level with your elbow.

Play two strokes (down and up) on A-E level, then two on D-A level. Use this pattern to time shifts, once you've tuned the double stops accurately. Accent the down bows, especially on the shifts ('accent' the left hand with abrupt lifts and quick 'staccato' shifts, a quick release of pressure + slide, but no excess downward pressure, timed with each down bow on A-E.) Also, play just D-A to focus on the moving fingers with detache.


(first play on open strings, then double stops as written; accent the double stops)

a) A-E down, D-A up

b) D-A up, A down, A-E up, A down

c) A down, A-E up, A down, D-A up

d) D-A up, A down, E up, A down.

e) A-E down, E up, D-A down, D up.

f) Finally A, E, A, D starting down bow

More exercises for other patterns:

1) D-A down, A-E up

2) D-A down, A up, A-E down, A up.

3) D-A down, A up, E down, A up.

4) A-E down, A up, D-A down, A up.

5) A-E down, A up, D down, A up.

6) A-E up, A down, D-A up, A down.

7) A-E up, A down, D up, A down.

8) A down, D-A up, A down, A-E up.

9) A, E, A, D starting up bow

etc. ... combine patterns which help with the final motion in the passage you're working on.

Above you were only focusing on string crosses. For a more fluid bariolage, add a circular motion to your detache. Start by playing a double stop detache on two strings and gradually rock the bow so you're playing smooth two string crosses. Allow your wrist to be flexible so that your hand lags behind your forearm. For example, on A and E strings: extend your wrist, thereby raising the base knuckles above the forearm, as you play down bow on the A string. Or, you can think of it as dipping your wrist below your base knuckles. Effectively you're crossing strings with your forearm while your hand is still playing on the A string. As your hand crosses to E string, your forearm rises crossing back to A string level. The elbow remains on the double stop level. The hand (fingertips) draws ellipses in a clockwise rotation between the two strings. This is the easy string cross pattern, down bow on a lower string (A string) followed by up bow on a higher string (E string.) You should be able to switch between a more linear detache and this elliptical detache on one string also, for transitions from a single string to a string cross passage.

Next play the difficult, backwards string cross. Playing downbow on a higher string, say A, followed by an up bow on a lower string, D, is awkward and takes getting used to. It's the opposite of the easy string cross above. As you play A you raise your wrist to get the forearm to D string level. As your hand crosses to D your forearm sinks back to A level. You're drawing counterclockwise ellipses with your hand.

You can try drawing these ellipses in the air to get used to the coordination. Notice in the difficult cross you have to actively raise the forearm (fight against gravity) to prepare for the lower string. Also, for continuous string crossing, it's easier to involve the wrist with a more 'square' bow hold, i.e. a German hold, not much lean in the fingers (forearm neutral,) base knuckles more parallel to the stick of the bow (for which you can either move the contact of the first finger toward the tip, and/or let the pinky slide over the stick as in a cello bow hold.)

In the final step, you combine the elliptical string crosses between two strings with the double stop level elbow cross. Start on A string with your elbow on A-E level. Start with the hand slightly raised (wrist slightly dipped) to play the A string, draw a clockwise ellipse to the E string by dropping the hand to touch the E string. The next elbow cross is a big one. As you play up bow on E string with the dipped hand your elbow crosses to the D-A double stop level, but as your elbow passes the A string level, you play the next down bow. You can stop your elbow on the A level at first, but to achieve a fluid 3 string cross motion it's important to keep crossing with the elbow as you play the A to make one smooth cross to the final D-A level. Finish with your forearm by drawing a counterclockwise ellipse and raising your hand to the D string level. As soon as your bow touches the D string your elbow starts crossing back to the A-E level, catching the next A string down bow on the way across.

At first practice very slowly with exaggerated ellipses. As you start adding rhythms (short-long; long-short) the string crosses are not smooth ellipses, they're jagged and sudden, but rhythms always help time and coordinate. As you get faster, if you leave your wrist flexible, you'll feel the weight of the bow pull on your fingers as you bow the ellipses. Of course you don't need the ellipses to bow this passage well, just the timing. But for the most efficient and fluid stroke, allow the ellipses to happen, no matter how small (otherwise your elbow will need to cross to three string levels, which can get unwieldy, but manageable for some, usually players with longer arms.)

Also play with added accents on a) the 1st sixteenth of each four b) 2nd sixteenth c) 3rd sixteenth d) 4th sixteenth e) 1st and 3rd f) 2nd and 4th. Play slurred patterns to help train smooth gradual string crosses: a) slur two and two b) slur the 2nd sixteenth to 3rd, continuing with two and two c) 3 slurred and 1 separate d) 1 separate and 3 slurred e) 4 slurs f) slur 2 then the next 4, etc.. Repeat everything on the lower three strings. The lower strings will feel like more work at first if you're not used to crossing repeatedly to the G string. You might experiment with a greater tilt angle (by lowering right side of fiddle relative to left side) for such passages. Good luck!

January 21, 2015 at 10:46 AM · Greetings,

Hi Jeewon. thank you for your marvelous and highly detailed explanation

I found one thing that made me do a double take I would like to clarify.

`For example, on A and E strings: extend your wrist, thereby raising it above the forearm, as you play down bow on the A string. Or, you can think of it as dipping your wrist below your fingers. `

In my limited interpretation the second sentence is absolutely clear but the first seems to suggest that the hand is in the dropped from the wrist position with the back of the wrist higher than the knuckle joint. I wonder if it helps to say `extend your =hand=,thereby raising it (the base knuckles) above the forearm.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seemed to me that this wording might be a little confusing for some readers.



January 21, 2015 at 12:21 PM · Thanks Buri, you're absolutely right. And thanks for taking the time to read it thoroughly. I've made the change along with a few other edits. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions.

January 21, 2015 at 04:51 PM · one thing that i still keep asking to myself is "which part of the right arm that supposed to work in bariolage? the upper arm or lower?"

thank you very much, buri and jeewon!

those detailed explanations really help. i'll try to do all those "practicing way" suggestions :)

January 21, 2015 at 05:29 PM · In difficult string crossing passages like this put the bow on the string and move the whole arm up and down vertically, but not horizontally. In other words you should not hear any sound. Once you get the motion down add a small amount of bow. This exercise isolates the vertical motion of the bowstroke and also insures that the player maintains good contact with the strings.

start with open strings and make sure that you play on the left hand side of the E string and the right hand side of the D string. This minimizes the vertical motion.

January 22, 2015 at 09:36 PM · Gosh! Such wonderful and thorough responses to this question!

I would suggest one other idea:

Practice it first in martele, but allow the end of the martele stroke to come to its conclusion on the "new" string. During this exercise, the left hand has placed the notes already (prior to the martele stroke beginning, or during the stop between bows).

Then, practice a series of very exaggerated (triple dotted) dotted rhythms in the middle of the bow.

Then, practice in broad detache in a slow tempo, gradually speeding it up. As you get faster, make sure all the string crossings happen at the MIDDLE of the bow.

If you follow this advice exactly, I suspect you will see success. Would you let me know?

January 22, 2015 at 10:15 PM · Lots of good ideas already, to which I will add the following, which should help towards mastery of these passages and will strengthen control of string crossing technique even for those who don’t find these passages especially difficult:

1.Practice slowly, gradually working your way up to tempo. And there is a lot of leeway here as to what “in tempo” is.

2.Practice at the frog, middle and tip. For performance, I would recommend the “sweet spot” between the middle and tip.

3.Try starting up-bow.

4.Practice legato – at first, 4 notes to a bow, slowly, eventually 3 groups of 4 notes to a bow.

5.Continue legato, but now in both dotted and reverse-dotted rhythm. This is good with separate bows, too.

6.4 notes to a bow in portato. First make an accent on the 1st note of each group, then on the 2nd, then on the 3rd and finally on the 4th note.

7.First 2 notes slurred, next 2 notes separate.

8.First 2 notes separate, next 2 notes slurred.

9.First 3 notes slurred, last separate.

10.First note separate, last 3 slurred.

11.First note separate, the middle 2 notes slurred, last note separate.

Have fun!

January 22, 2015 at 10:35 PM · Make a note to lift elbow up a bit(bring arm height to A string position) for the first bar.

Wrist control(up and down movement) is very important to this passage. When playing close to the middle of the stick use less wrist movement, and when playing closer to the tip, more wrist movement is require.

Imaging also helps, you can imagine a birds flapping wing, but think of the arm moving the wrist and not the wrist requiring its muscles for movement.

When playing Forte and fast, play closer to the middle, and when playing softer and slower play closer to the tip.

Don't look at the stick when practicing this, best blind.

January 22, 2015 at 11:04 PM · Greetings,

David, thanks for your great practice sequence. I wonder if you wouldn't mind commenting a little more on this point?

'Then, practice in broad detache in a slow tempo, gradually speeding it up. As you get faster, make sure all the string crossings happen at the MIDDLE of the bow.'

When you say broad detache which part of the b ow do you recommend starting and finishing in initially?

Also, you put some emphasis on the 'middle' of the bow for the string crossing. The string crossing is only a micro second before the change of bow direction I suppose. So are you saying that the passage is essentially played in the middle at speed ?

Sorry if this is a stupid question. Haven't had enough coffee yet.

This discussion would be so much easier if we all just sent in a video:)



January 23, 2015 at 12:12 AM · Buri: YES on the coffee! :-)

To elaborate on the point you mention--- the idea of "broad detache" means whole bows. As the tempo increases, bow is subtracted from both the tip and the frog in increasing measure (along with the hastening tempo. By the time the performance tempo is reached,the passage is at the middle of the bow.

The point is that the bow is essentially a lever. If the string crossings are performed too high in the bow, the arm and frog move in too large an arc. If the string crossings are performed too close to the frog, the tip swings widely in the air. At the middle, the arc on both ends of the bow is more equalized-- so then, more efficient.Of course, this can be varied slightly for dynamic effect as the passage concludes. The usual diminuendo can then move slightly above the middle.

I brew mine with freshly ground coffee beans, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon and a small bit of vanilla extract before brewing. :-)

January 23, 2015 at 12:43 AM · Ever tried cardamon?

January 23, 2015 at 02:35 AM · Paul, yes! It is excellent! So is orange peel. Once I ran out of coffee beans--- it didn't matter. I put in all the other stuff and it tasted great! ;-)

January 23, 2015 at 02:40 AM · Greetings,

many thanks David. All these years I though broad detache was Latin for my ex-wife.

It's an interesting point though. Players with a higher 'square' may well be trying to play this passage in a less than efficient part of the bow.



January 27, 2015 at 12:04 AM · Dear David,

I followed your practice method doing it twice a day for around ten minutes each time.

I found it to be extremely focused and effective so I intend to use it with my students.

I actually have a slight problem that I love the sound of that passage martele so much I just keep playing it over and over and spacing out. Somewhat like my cat who is allergic to catnip but adores it One sniff and he falls on his back and his eyes roll all over the place.



January 27, 2015 at 02:50 AM · Ha! Glad it is working for you! Practicing with those "catnip" brownies again? ;-)

January 27, 2015 at 03:20 AM · Greetings

I believe both martele and catnip brownies are legal in your neck of the woods now.. That's progress.

(or not)



January 28, 2015 at 03:24 PM · The governor of Texas recently by executive order banned the practice of martelé because it doesn't bring the arm far enough to the right for his taste and keeps swinging back to the middle. Members of the Dallas, Houston, and other orchestras have protested this move, but the governor is threatening to bring a bill to the legislature to eliminate spiccato because of its tendency to be in the middle.

January 28, 2015 at 04:34 PM · Presumably the bowing-at-the-pointy-end style of many fiddle players in Irish and similar folk fiddle traditions will now meet with enthusiastic legislative approval in Texas. Perhaps even compulsory for all.

January 28, 2015 at 07:08 PM · Greetings,

I think orchestra; players are going to have problems with the `right to bare arms,` quite soon...



January 29, 2015 at 12:39 PM · thank you for all these great responses! i thank God for all of you :)

by the way, i'm agree with Buri. this discussion might be clearer if some videos of your practicing ways are included.

once again, thank you very much :)

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