Martele and tension

June 3, 2005 at 06:33 AM · I have a question regarding sustained martele. It is of my knowledge that this type of bowing should utilize the section of bow from tip to middle. That it is a hard, even stroke executed with a fast bow pull. I have never really had any issues with this type of bowing, but all of a sudden I am confused about it. In the Kreutzer nmbs. 6 and 7, the whole etude is to be played martalee. I start out fine, but somewhere around the middle, my right arm and hand tires. So I was examining why. My thumb was taught and there was little flexibiliyt. SO I tried being loose, but that made the stroke bizarre and improper. I came to a compromise that seemed to use less tension, but I wonder, where does that hard strong pull come from? I used a lot of elbow, but my fingers really are not needed for this, and the hand position is not required to change, as I stay at the tip. The kind of pressure or weight needed, though, taxes the whole apparatus. The second question, is this: is the bow required to stay on the string at all times? Or does it lift between notes at all? I found that between notes, with such an obvious start and finish to each note, there is a slight silent period. Should the bow rest on the string and the kinetic energy do a kind of turn around? (if that makes sense). Or can it come off the string for a turn of bow that is contolled in a different way, not using the string for direction? I found that the faster I played, the harder it was to keep the bow on the string between notes. Anyhow. Input would help.

Sals,

JW

Replies (4)

June 3, 2005 at 03:28 PM · Jennifer,

Martele is a quick, light stroke. Having said that, it must also be understood that in order to produce the articulation (catch) at the beginning of the stroke, a good deal of pressure is needed. The key to a good martele (in my opinion) is in the timing of the add/release/add pattern of the pressure.

Most of the work involved in a good martele occurs in the silence between strokes. The stop of the bow is crucial inasmuch as one cannot articulate clearly without the stop. The sequence (as I teach it) is as follows:

press.(yes, with your first finger in the bow grip supported by your arm weight) Then, the instant you move the bow quickly to the half, release the pressure. If the bow bounces, you have removed too much pressure for the speed of bow. If you hear a scratch (or any other kind of sound) you have either not released enough pressure or you have added pressure for the next stroke prematurely. If you hear too much of a "singing" sound, your bow speed is not fast enough.

It is probably best to listen for each stroke to produce a "ring", because if you have found the correct balance, the note will surely ring. It may sound strange for me to say this, but martele is closely related to pizzicato (ponder that).;-)

Also, If you find you are lifting the bow at the end of the stroke, you probably have too much tension in the arm at the end of the stroke. Martele should remain on the string, but allow the energy to dissipate naturally at the end of the stroke.

Also, martele is a stroke which can be mastered in both the upper half and the lower half of the bow. The principles are the same. The lower half motion is different, however. But that is another topic ;-)

By the way, martele becomes impractical after a certain tempo. It would naturally convert into either lance or detache beyond a certain tempo.

Enjoy Kreutzer!

Wow! That was a lot of info! Hope it helps! (I will waive my fee) ;-)

June 3, 2005 at 04:52 PM · Thank you very much, Russel! I am going to try to get my dilapidated grouchy printer to print that out and put it in my practice journal. First question...were you describing tip to middle? I know that is a dumb question, but I have ALWAYS gotten upper and lower mixed up. Another thing is so embarrassing. I think maybe I have been teaching what you just described as marcatto. And perhaps what I was describing in my post was me trying to play marcatto on a martale etude. And last, but not least, if I have been incorrect about those two, I must put my concept of detache into question. That just means that the strokes are detatched from one another, but retain their sound through the bowstroke? Oh, and the lines above the notes, thos are for the stroke where you pull fast bow, detatched, but with full sound not releasing directly after the articulation? To save time, because I'm sorry to ask so many detailed questions that might seem elementary and (blush blush) I can't believe I don't grasp properly at this point...is there a site where I can read about these? I have a page printed out for my students of all the different bowstrokes, which came from a musical dictionary...but appartanly I am not up to par. For example. For martale it said: a hammered, accented effect. and for Marcato: a sharp stroke, well marked. THat tells me nothing. Any resources you can think of? Free and online?

Thank you so much.

JW

June 3, 2005 at 06:52 PM · Hi Jennifer,

I think the key to a good and safe martele is to make sure you don't jerk the arm or suddenly stop and lock your joints. That could cause injury, you always want to I think have a certain follow through motion like in tennis where the bow never really stops completely. To answer your other question, the bow should stay on the string for martele.

June 3, 2005 at 07:49 PM · It's fun to google peoples' name and location here sometimes. I'm surprised a couple people from my home state are on staff there, one I knew well and the other I'd heard of, back in the day. It's like in politics when someone local is elected to high office; you're torn between local pride and fear for the country (Mark Twain?).

You kids these days have absolutely no excuse. Everything is being handed to you on a silver platter. :-)

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