Forever Rosin

April 25, 2015 at 07:57 PM · Thru the miracle of the internet and Vcom I have learned how to manipulate the sound of my violin ( which needs all the manipulation it can get ) with rosin application/type.

However, I have not been able to dismiss my rosin concerns.

How often is rosin needed? How do orchestra players manage to go for maybe most of an hour on little or no rosin. What does rosin consumption tell us about technique, etc. ?

I am haunted by an incident of many years ago when a touring Russian violinist was getting ready to go on stage and was heard to remark, "Damn! I forgot the rosin." Then (gasp!) he says "Oh, the hell with it.") Then, to make me feel really inferior, he goes onstage and rattles off such a string of double stops (presto) that I almost slid off the chair ! How did he do that with a non-aggressive bow ?

Replies (39)

April 25, 2015 at 09:37 PM · Instruments react differently to different types of rosin. The horsehair used matters, as well -- the quality you get from your local luthiers/bowmakers vary.

The longer it's been since the bow has been rehaired (or the more you've played), the more rosin it will need to keep good traction.

Ideally, the bow is rehaired sufficiently often to keep good traction with minimal rosin. Some players like a greater application of rosin; some players like less.

On fresh hair, one or two light swipes (rosin run the full length of the bow, once or twice, without rubbing) suits me fine for a full rehearsal or performance or practice session.

April 25, 2015 at 10:57 PM · I thought we just discussed/answered this?

Less is more.

But as to exactly how much is needed will depend somewhat on the rosin, the bow, the player, the environment, etc.

I rosin lightly - approximately every 2 weeks. I play 1-3 hours a day.

This seems to be in line with what other players have conveyed...

April 25, 2015 at 11:17 PM · I will try and find the reference article; but I read that CLEANING the horsehair regularly was important to maintaining the good adherence of rosin (rosin sticks to horsehair very well, it doesn't stick to old rosin very well). I believe the author said rehairing wasn't really needed if you cleaned the hair well.

April 26, 2015 at 12:07 AM · Rehairing is needed when too much hair has broken off. Cleaning the hair can revitalize it, so to speak.

April 26, 2015 at 01:12 AM · I recently re-haired after a year and nine months, not because of rosin problems or hair loss, but due to the hair being stretched out.

At one time I took my violin to be looked at because it had started sounding some where between a buzz saw and a resonator guitar. Too much rosin was the culprit.

Balance is key, reach out with your mind, learn to feel the force.

April 26, 2015 at 01:13 AM · N.A.

No, this question is much different that the previous post. Back then I was interested in tone quality versus rosin quantity and I'm satisfied with the answers.

However, it doesn't matter how well I can handle rosin coating if it only lasts a short time. ( 20 - 30 minutes ). My informal survey suggests that members here use a lot less rosin than I do.

This is important because excessive rosin is noisy AND the more rosin I use, the quicker it accumulates on the strings ( for more noise ).

I just have to try less rosin and see what happens and how I can fix it.

Patrick. Yes, you got the culprit OK. Same here, So far so good but now I need to make it last ( for at least 4 pages at a time! )

April 26, 2015 at 02:09 AM ·

April 26, 2015 at 09:19 AM · Seraphim, I have a book by Norman Pickering (The Vibrating String) which says just that.

April 26, 2015 at 10:29 AM · Greetings,

of the posts above, In my opinion, what Lydia does is the most normal approach. It's what I do as well. not rosin ing the bow for a couple of weeks would in most cases I thin, make the bow harder to control and cause the player to begin using excess pressure. I am fairly sure that in most cases using so little rosin would make the grip needed at the beginning of the note, especially in Maretele and colle very difficult. I am sue there are individual cases that use more or less which may also depend on atmospheric conditions. As a beginner I would advise light daily use and clean the strings off.



April 26, 2015 at 11:47 AM · I have only had one bow rehair during the last four years and that is probably a main contributor to my problems. I do alcohol cleaning once in a while but that doesn't really restore the hair to original condition. Still the best thing to do I guess.

April 26, 2015 at 11:53 AM · A bass-player friend uses ether to clean his bow-hair. Thick black hair, though.

April 26, 2015 at 12:06 PM · Dangerous stuff, ether. Very flammable. Being denser than air it sinks to the floor where it flows like water but invisibly. Not recommended for usage other than in working environments with a top level of fire safety control.

April 26, 2015 at 12:58 PM · Thanks Adrian, yes, here it is:

April 26, 2015 at 01:51 PM · The bare minimum is the correct amount. One or two strokes of the rosin per day for two hours of practise. My teacher uses even less. If you can see rosin on your violin under the strings then you are using too much.

What brand of rosin are you using ?

April 26, 2015 at 01:58 PM · Another rosin thread! Love it!

April 26, 2015 at 02:12 PM · Rosin is something we can all relate to!

Buri: Maybe it's a start by using too much...then perhaps not enough...and then you find just the right, I mean rosin application practice...

April 26, 2015 at 02:45 PM · Seraphim/Adrian The Pickering paper may be among the best discussions regarding the violin that I have read.

And Liz ... This (Pickering) paper explains a lot about why I don't take lessons. Call it psychoacoustics or subjectivity, I do not expect an orderly, structured, trip up the learning curve and I think that some things about the violin can be performed but not fully explained. Sure, there is a lot of order at the formal beginners level which is as it should be. I think that, later on, a forum becomes a wealth of information about violin/playing reality.

Brian Magic rosin dark and light. Student block. Hill light. A.B. rosin.

April 26, 2015 at 04:50 PM ·

April 26, 2015 at 06:20 PM · Partially true. I did not care for Suzuki. Just not a good match for me. My early hero was APPLEBAUM.

I know that methods serve an important purpose ..... to a point and then music education, self discipline and ambition take over.

( Yes, I would suggest that anyone dreaming of the concert stage should take lessons. A lot of lessons! )

And I think teachers should tolerate the existence of my "recreational violin" crowd. We are harmless and sometimes in tune.

As an example of the value of forums I today am swearing off rosin overdose !

April 26, 2015 at 08:13 PM · Hopefully your bow will not get the DT's.

April 26, 2015 at 09:18 PM · It's hard to tell about the consequences of cold turkey.

April 27, 2015 at 12:26 PM ·

April 27, 2015 at 04:40 PM · I suspected you had an above average education regarding violin topics and music and I'm sure your teacher had a lot to do with that!

Can you supply some (flattering) details about how I remind you of your teacher?

(PS If I were your teacher I would assign you to read the previously mentioned post:

Or have you read it already? This paper contains the correct answer to most amateur questions and I was studying it until the wee hours last night.)

April 27, 2015 at 05:14 PM ·

April 27, 2015 at 07:11 PM · Darlene, you indicated that the website www. "contains the correct answer to most amateur questions."

If that were true, would be out of business and Simon Fischer would never sell another book. Knowing that your rosin is melting at the contact point doesn't help you draw your bow any better. The claim that professionals play closer to the bridge and draw their bows more slowly is such a vague generalization that it's all but useless without close instruction on how to get there.

April 27, 2015 at 07:20 PM · Indeed,

the first time I saw Heifetz play I was gobsmacked by the sheer speed and amount of bow he used. Likewise Hirschhorn. The only real geenralization we can make in this area is that most of the time professionals use -more- bow. That bit extra makes the difference in sound. Throughout Basic and the rest Simon repeats something to the effect of `always use as much bow as possible.`



April 27, 2015 at 07:35 PM · "This paper contains the correct answer to most amateur questions and I was studying it until the wee hours last night."

Norman Pickering was a significant and important researcher, and the person who gave me the most help in delving into the analytical arena. However, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since he gave that presentation 20 years ago.

April 27, 2015 at 08:28 PM · Pickering seems to certainly have the credentials for this report and I am impressed that he is not limited to a violin background.

That encourages a welcome distance between traditional violin lore and objective research.

The report may be old but a Stradivarius is older! What changed ?

I did not see a reference about whole bows but I did see a mention of "slow" bows. I would expect some controversy in a report of this kind. There is actually an unrelated correction reported in the introduction of this paper.

April 27, 2015 at 09:19 PM · but traditional violin lore is based on objective research. Everyday we pick up the instrument and consider what we are doing.

April 27, 2015 at 10:07 PM · having finished being silly for he day ( or perhaps not) here are some idle thoughts. There are (were)different school sof violin playing that vary to some extent in the speed of bow they use. Those that used a somewhat slacker bow hair IE I

n the direction of eat Europe and Russia. The school of playing with very tight hair (Franco Belgian) and tilted tends to a slower bow speed. Kreisler used exceptionally tight bow hair and slower bow speeds.

These differences are less marked now. Modern players use more resilient strings, play nearer the bridge than players like Milstein who used gut which doesn't require as much pressure. My experience of listening to both is that the former is often more resonant and carries better in a lot of cases.

However, the crucial point is basically what is referred to as tonus. Ie the perfect relationship between bow speed, weight and sound point. That is what some , but not all by a huge margin do well.

Darlene , a while back we were discussing tone and I never followed it up. We were talking about fast bow strokes near the fingerboard and you said something to the effect that you didn't appreciate the loss of tone. Actually there is no loss of tone per se. Tone is a quality not a degree of power. One has to be able to produce a perfect tone wherever one plays in relation to the bridge. This is the range of colors available to us. One can hardly play French music bowing close to the bridge with a dark sound all the time.

I would add to this ramble that one of the most common things even players in the profession have failed to learn is how moving to the bridge automatically slows the bow down and that this is an aspect of bowing we must pay careful attention to. For example when spreading a chord the bow much change it's position quite dramatically to adjust to the correct speed and SP.

All this is why Simon Fischers tone exercises do have the potential to revolutionize anyone's sound simply because they force one to do it all. Fast slow, close and far , heavy and light and so on.


April 28, 2015 at 12:47 AM · Buri

Incidentally, should I be able to play softly at any sounding point or is that included in "doing it all ?"

April 28, 2015 at 01:04 AM · well, I believe you are quite capable of doing it all.

The thing is the actual experimentation is squire straightforward. Of the three factors it is best to keep one constant. So try using ten cm of bow at the point , middle and heel on all five sound points. Finish one before doingbanother. At sp 5 how fast does the bow have to move and how much weight do you need to get the maximum vibrating pure note. Move to sp four and the bow moves a microcosm more slowly with a tad more weight . Do this on all sips and find out what dynamics you can actually produce. Like wise with whole bows.



April 28, 2015 at 01:59 AM · Will certainly try now that my curiosity is tweaked!

April 28, 2015 at 01:23 PM · Buri

In my copy of Sevcik, Opus 1, Part 1, Simon Fischer remarks, "bow neither too near the bridge nor too near the fingerboard". That was in the year 2000. Did he simply change his mind or was the advise meant specifically for the book back then ?

( Fischer commented mostly about hand/finger details but not a word about tempo ? Is this book not a good choice for tempo studies ? )

April 29, 2015 at 05:01 PM · Darlene, at the risk of channeling my inner Bill Clinton, it depends what the definition of "too" is. Sound point is context-sensitive. Lane 3 is too close to the bridge for some stuff, too close to the fingerboard for others. What Fischer teaches is a *method* of exploring that within a general framework for tone generation.

Try to let your curiosity be piqued, not tweaked. :)

April 29, 2015 at 07:18 PM · ("Tweaking" was NOT my word! Vcom forced the choice, Long story)

I heard that the bowed section is divided very neatly and discretely in the latest Fischer Book. What is correct?

April 29, 2015 at 07:26 PM · Darlene,

to quote someone other than Simon for a change, Samuel Applebaum said `there is , in the end, only correct place between fingerboard and bridge to play any given passage of music.`

What Simon says looks simple but is actually precisely what he shows in his books. If you are a little bit away fromthe SP in either direction it will not be the best posisble sound which is our goal, orpart of it. In the case of sevickthe speed of the fingers is dictating the spped of the bow and the weight and sp is decided by that. So play your bar of notes at the tempo you wnat, with the amount of bow you intend to use on all five sound points and try to find the best possible sound in each case and see where it works.



April 29, 2015 at 08:30 PM · Watch where Heifetz places his bow, especially starting just before the four minute point. There appears to me to be a relationship between the string and the position (SP), amongst other choices.

This is a link to Heifetz playing the Bach Chaconne

April 29, 2015 at 09:14 PM · yes. that relationship always exists.

It is always a question of adjusting proportions. So in my previous quote I noted that the speed you what to practic eth elect hand fingers dictates the bow speed. In other words, of the three factors (weight, sp and speed) one is being kept a constant and the other two adhjusted. When approaching music one can take a phrase and play it on the 5th sp. Near the fingerboard. The Bowings will have to be fast an slight to get the bets possible sound. Move to sp four and the bow speed will slow fractionally and the weight increase slightly. To sp three and these favors increase again. You will have to start slowing the tempo as well. When you get right next to the bridge the tempo of the passage may be very slow but the sound should still be absuolutel pure and beautiful. Having gone through this process just play the passage a soho ugh you were performing it and the bow will automatically go to the best possible sp . This should be a fundamental practice ehabit.



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