Down bow Staccato - how to?

September 17, 2018, 11:03 PM · So, I'm finally getting some staccato, but seems I've only got it on up bow. Seems to be happening more with the fingers and a slight wrist movement.

Down bow is not working like that, or not working much at all. Any pointers?

Something tells me it's the angle of the bow on the string that I can do on up bow, but I don't have that same angle coming down, and it's harder to dig in or get that bite or catch.

Replies (17)

Edited: September 18, 2018, 8:47 AM · Down bow is a pulling motion, opposite to the pushing/ twitching of up bow staccato. You use the weight of the stick and the force of your index finger to get the "pop". Experiment for a while and you'll figure it out.

Just remember to keep a loose hand!

September 18, 2018, 9:22 AM ·

Heifetz: Watch his right hand.

Edited: September 18, 2018, 9:25 AM · Thanks to both of you. I suspect my mind will get confused at keeping a loose hand and applying pressure with the index at the same time. It will just have do an end run around the logical brain and go direct to lizard brain. Eventually.
September 18, 2018, 10:49 AM · David you also have to learn how to play with your fingers only. you need the flexibility and control in the fingers. this needs time and practice.
September 18, 2018, 11:03 AM · Yes, that would be a change from my ham-fisted fiddling (sounds like a good cd name, "Ham-Fisted Fiddling" by the Pig Knucklers.)
September 18, 2018, 11:49 AM · I have one thing to add regarding the Heifetz video: also note that he was using inside hair of the bow when he did the down bow staccato.
September 18, 2018, 12:41 PM · I only use just enough finger pressure to stick to, not press on, the string; then a smooth arm motion with a hand-vibrato movement.

In The Way They Play, Oistrakh says he couldn't do it well, so he never used it. Soloist's privilege!

September 18, 2018, 2:17 PM · The easiest way to do down-bow staccato is to use up-bow staccato.
September 18, 2018, 3:35 PM · There are people who make a living at it playing Hora Staccato without a single up-bow or down-bow flying staccato:


September 18, 2018, 5:23 PM · There are very few people in this world with a truly wonderful, fast, audible staccato.
September 18, 2018, 5:39 PM · Thanks Cotton. This gives me the excuse to give up (which is what I want to do) and just replace it with pizzicato. ;-)
September 18, 2018, 7:03 PM · What I meant to say is that there are very few people who put in the work to achieve such a staccato...

I'm in the process of perfecting mine, and it's a real slow crawl up to that presto. It would be easier to just use sautillé, but I'm not one to give up!

September 18, 2018, 7:18 PM · I'll keep trying. My teacher is not giving me detailed enough instructions on this. Maybe she can't. Maybe each person has to work out for themselves how to get it done. I see videos of a few different ways online.
Edited: September 19, 2018, 8:51 AM · Love the Heifetz video, but really is there any musical reason for up-bow or down-bow staccato? Isn't this just a parlor trick?

Even left-hand pizz sometimes has actual application in music. But this, I'm not sure what the value is unless you're trying to impress people with pure technique.

I have heard that Aaron Rosand used to tell his students that he had never bothered learning even up-bow staccato because it meant nothing to the sound -- conventional staccato is going to sound better and give you more control anyway, so just use that and save your practice time for more fruitful pursuits.

September 19, 2018, 9:11 AM · Adrian a bit confused by your quote about Oistrakh as I remember a meeting between Menuhin and Oistrakh where Menuhin complimented Oistrakh about his command of the down-bow staccato, upon Oistrakh replied something polite like "if you would practice on it for a few months you would definitely also be able to do that". Or do I remember this wrongly?
September 19, 2018, 11:43 AM · I've possibly confused the issue. Regarding up bow and down bow staccato, I'm not trying to do purely one or the other in a sequence. It's just that, in playing in both directions, my up bow direction seems to be working a lot better than down bow. Sorry for any confusion. Newbie here.
September 20, 2018, 7:35 AM · no problem David, we had fun with your question anyway :-) and, yes, it is easier to get that bite upbow than downbow. anyway as I wrote it's all in the fingers, plus practicing slowly to acquire the feeling and technique.

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