Playing techniques for Fortissimo and Fortississimo

November 10, 2018, 6:01 AM · I suffer from poor techniques when I'm playing the Violin in ff or fff. The bow either tend to finish off quickly, or else there is some sort of scratchy sounds often.

Can you suggest some basic techniques or any studies for developing the skills to play the areas in ff & fff in a better way?

Replies (7)

November 10, 2018, 6:31 AM · Do you have a teacher? If so, your teacher is in the best position to help. Otherwise, it sounds as if you are using either just bow speed or just pressure to achieve the ff or fff. You need to experiment on open strings with combinations of bow speed and pressure to see what works best for you. Also, when you want loud sounds, playing closer to the bridge can help. However, a teacher can help you most of all.
November 10, 2018, 6:42 AM · Thank you Sir, for the important information.

And yes Sir, I do have teacher. I'll try to experiment on the bow speed and just pressure.

November 10, 2018, 8:36 PM · It is also important to remember to moderate your forte, otherwise you have no way to raise the level. If there are faff and ffff markings your f must be barely above mf.
November 11, 2018, 2:19 AM · For me the hardest part is good bow control near the bridge. There is something called "one minute bow" which isn't especially for fortissimo but for bow control playing near the bridge - I integrated it into my daily warmup routine. And don't be shy, anybody sounds more or less awful in this exercise. (Maybe that's why Nate Cole recorded this YouTube video in the sauna...?)
November 11, 2018, 7:29 AM · You can get an additional (perceived) volume boost using the left hand, by ramping up vibrato ;)
Edited: November 11, 2018, 3:52 PM · There is a performing technique which could be used when you are required to play a sustained ff note or notes when soloing with an orchestra, for example. You start off the note with a sffz lasting a fraction of second and immediately reduce the volume to a manageable f for the sustain. As far as the audience is concerned it will seem that you are sustaining an ff.

The initial short sffz is achieved by a combination of bow pressure and high speed close to the bridge, the bow being stationary on the string with pressure applied at the start of the note. The bow speed would be reduced immediately after the sffz. It works better on the A and E rather than on the G.

Obviously, this technique needs good bow control to avoid a squawk or scratch at the start of the note, so perhaps it may be better to wait a while before learning it, depending on the teacher.

I use the technique occasionally when I'm playing in orchestra and it becomes apparent from the conductor's comments that a little more "oomph" is needed from the section!

November 12, 2018, 2:58 AM ·
I got some pretty good ideas from you. Thanks a lot, everyone!

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