Barriolage in bach partita no 3

Edited: September 2, 2018, 4:13 PM · I just started working in the bach partita no 3, and i just can't do the weird string crossings in bar 17. I can't do the barriolage and my notes are scrambled up every time I do it.

Any tips on how to learn this section?

Replies (6)

September 2, 2018, 4:23 PM · My guess is you are using too much bow and/or are too high in the bow (my money is on both). Use very little bow, stay in the middle, and give a "kick" to the upbow on the 2nd sixteenth note in each group. Also, practice very slowly and speed up gradually as you get comfortable with the string crossings (DO NOT USE MORE BOW JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE PLAYING SLOWLY).
September 2, 2018, 5:19 PM · thanks for the advice, you're correct! i realized i was using too much bow and i was a little too much in the upper half after reading your post
September 2, 2018, 9:10 PM · Hi Anthony,

Here's an in-depth discussion on the topic:

Eventually you'll want to be able to vary the length of the stroke for direction in this passage. But it's important to find your 'square elbow' for this stroke, which may or may not be in the middle of the bow. It takes least effort to swing evenly back and forth around your 90° angle, so for people with longer arms the bow placement will be closer to the tip from middle, for shorter arms, closer to the frog from middle. Also, if you use the so-called "Russian" grip, I think most people who use this hold find it easier to play any kind of detache in the upper half of the bow.

Edited: September 3, 2018, 10:14 AM · Practicing in various groupings and rhythms helps to straighten this section out. I think it's one of those "once you got it you got it" type techniques.
September 3, 2018, 10:25 AM · I checked the discussion Jeewon referenced, and wanted to add this suggestion because it comes up frequently in lessons and wasn't covered (I think):

For most passages involving rapid back-and-forth string crossings, I've found it helpful to closely examine exactly how far the bow/arm travel past the outer strings. For example:

Let's say, for simplicity, you just need to do a fast alternation between the D and A strings. What I've found with many students is that the bow travels wayyyyy past the D, and then wayyyyy past the A. It's inefficient.
All you have to do in this case is to JUST clear the A string, and JUST clear the D string. Anything more is a waste of motion that will slow you down.

The E Major Partita barriolage section would also benefit from this principle. Just ask yourself as you work it out: "am I using just enough motion, or more than necessary?"

This isn't always true. In the cadenza of the Mendelssohn concerto, I find I need a "kick" with the motion on the G string to keep the ricochet going. But in general, efficiency of motion is a good place to start on highly technical passages.

Edited: September 3, 2018, 4:51 PM · I have found that how to do this kind of thing can depend a lot on the characteristics of your bow. With the "right" bow (and fiddle) one can sometimes practically just "flap" the right wrist and forearm up and down (especially in the Mendelssohn cadenza). I have one bow that does that - that's why I bought it! Varying the hair tightness might help find the way bring your bow into the zone for playing this way.

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