Differences between bows (tourte, peccate, sartory, lamy, etc...)
"I am a beginner on the violin, so I would like to know the difference between the bows of the type tourte, pecatte, sartory, lamy among others when playing the violin and what are their properties, positives and negatives and for which repertoire they fit best each one, for which violinistic personality each one fits (ex: aggressive playing, romantic playing, slow playing) and what else could I add I will be grateful!
(Note: I am from Brazil and my English is not fluent!)
That's a good question! I've actually never tried a Tourte so I can't give you a informed opinion on his bows. All of my friends who have tried F.X. Tourte's bows say a very similar thing about the bows of Tourte that they are able to 'vibrate', are very 'live', 'responsive,' and 'well-balanced.'
If you are interested because you want to purchase a bow and find many are described as being modeled after some famous bow maker's work - don't believe it.
If you are purchasing a "model" rather than the maker themselves, what an actual bow by the maker sounds and feels like will be irrelevant to you. Some contemporary bow makers do make faithful copies, and those copies can feel remarkably similar to the real thing, though.
They all have the feeling of money to me, I would like to have one!!
he's in Brazil, a genuine well made Pernambuco bow would be more available than a questionable imported CF bow.
I was glad to read the comments by Nate Robinson because he is a professional violinist of demonstrated skill (not to mention pedigree). I am noting that all of his comments centered on playability, not sound. I have played my own violin with bows made by Dominique Peccatte and Nikolai Kittel. I could feel some difference but could not hear any (neither when they were played by the owner of the bows who is a fine pro violinist). But it must be understood that my hearing is compromised (constant ringing). The bow against which these two priceless bows were compared was a "Cadenza 305" - a CF bow in the $500 range, which said pro recommends to all his best students (he is not my teacher).
There are huge tonal differences between bows, and I've sadly passed up some fine-playing sticks because the sound wasn't good on my violin.
Sigh - Lydia, I want to be you when I grow up! :)
You too can go violin and bow shopping. :-)
I agree that there are big differences in tone, especially clarity. The issue when trying bows is that we tend to gravitate towards what we're already used to in feel. It can take a big leap of faith (especially when big $$s are involved) to go with a better-sounding bow that feels radically different than our own. Some of the bows I've tried include:
Hmm. Maybe I've just had good luck living in areas with a lot of shops carrying high-end stuff (plus visiting the occassional show with more inventory). Other than Pecatte, of the makers that Scott has cited, I've tried a good dozen or more of each of their bows.
I am shopping, alas my wallet is not as robust as a Vuillaume will allow ;) One day, one day... If I get the violin that I am strongly, strongly considering, I will likely get a new bow to go with it at some point.
My Charles Peccatte is ,for want of a better description like India rubber.It's very dense but still soft and flexible to a degree.I started my career with a Sartory(one of his earlier ones from the turn of the century)but had a bow "shoot out" with a Prosper Colas from the late 1800's.The Colas won so the Sartory had to go.Both bows can be a bit "overbearing" when accompanying or playing Mozart,Haydn etc. so the answer was a Jean Joseph Martin from 1875 or thereabouts.It's more deft like and very elegant.I wouldn't use it for Brahms or Tchaikovsky.We just played Mozart 36 with David Danzmayr and it was so lovely to sit with a colleague using a beautiful gold mounted Voirin and me with the Martin.
I'm not sure if this helps at all, but I have a pernambuco R. Weichold Tourte copy from the 40s, and I think it's beautiful.
There's a difference between a Tourte "model" bow and a Tourte "copy", especially a bench copy. Bows that are "modeled" on a maker frequently don't feel anything like that maker's bows.
Richard Weichold lived from 1823 to 1902. It's not likely he was making bows in the 1940s - especially not in Dresden (which was bombed into virtual oblivion during WW-II - check out the movie "The Pianist"), where his shop had been located. His bows stamped "R. Weichold, Dresden" on one side and "Imitation du Tourte" on the other are reputed to be his best. They seem to sell these days for around $3,000, somewhat less at auction (sometimes depends on who's bidding and the bow's characteristics).
Andrew thank you!! I was going off of what my luthier told me. It does have the stamps, as you've described. Wow! I paid $250 for it! Looks like I really lucked out!
Part of the purpose of my previous post here was to introduce the idea that when a string player says a bow is "too heavy" or "too light" they probably don't know what they are talking about. You really cannot detect the 5% difference in the weight of an object that weighs between 2 ounces (violin bow) and 2.9 ounces (cello bow, but you can definitely detect the difference in the balance of a bow depending on where that 5% is (tip or frog). If it is at the tip, the bow feels heavy and "plays heavy." If it is at the frog, the bow feels light and "plays light."
Interesting, I hadn't thought you could adjust the weight of it with different materials.
Here's a very interesting video discussion by Charles Irving I found. In this video, he discusses and shows the differences between the Tourte and Sartory model. Well worth a watch!
no difference - they are all beyond my reach!
Thanks Nate - that video was very interesting...
I'm tempted to say "bah humbug" but I'm sure we're all very sincere in our opinions. It's the lack of objective evidence that brings out the Scrooge in me.
Well done video.Thanks Nate.I do remember that exHubermann Tourte just hugging the string and pulling out the darkest"gutsy" but rich sound out of my fiddle.What a genius luthier..
Objective evidence for bows is pretty clear. The wood can be tested for its tonal properties, and there are measurable differences in the strength and flexibility of the wood, as you can see from that video.
Nate, Thanks for posting that. I wonder what he does to select his bow blanks other than to listen to them. I would think measuring the density of the wood might be important to selecting the final dimensions - unless the density takes care of all of that - but then why the Lucci Meter?
I have no difficulty accepting that bows are physically different from one another. The objective evidence that's lacking is that any bow produces a sound which is in some degree particular to that bow, reproducible across violins and in the hands of different players, and independent of other factors such as the hair and the rosin. Unfortunately I don't think it would be possible to conduct a controlled trial which would satisfy any moderately skeptical scientist
I don't think anyone expects it to Steve! As I see it its more about synchronicity - do the violin and bow resonate together or not. Even with two violins and a reasonable selection of bows you can demonstrate that quite readily - that some bows sound better than others and its not the same bows. The trickier question is whether its possible to 'tune' the bow to the violin.
I seem to recall that when Benoit Rolland makes a bow on commission, that's what he does -- chooses wood for the bow that's a tonal match to the violin.
Lydia - that would be a step in the right direction but it's clear why the experiment has never been performed. The player would have to be "blind" to the maker and characteristics of the bow so as not to introduce any subconscious bias. They'd also somehow have to maintain constancy in the speed and pressure of their arm and the action of their left hand. But you'd argue (and I'd agree) that the same bow speed and pressure aren't likely to elicit the optimal sound the bow is capable of in every case.
In my experience with testing such things, whether it's adjustment, different strings, etc., the lower the quality of instrument used the smaller the differences, to the point where changes don't exist at all for many people's treasured equipment. That helps create the illusion that differences are subjective, especially when the participants have not been carefully selected for the specific task of being able to know the difference between different sounds (just being a "violinist", talented or not, is not a qualification!)
Michael - "subjective" doesn't mean "non-existent" or "imaginary", but phenomena that can only be described in terms of subjective experience rather than objective measurement. Sound itself is a purely subjective phenomenon; we (I and probably most of humanity, although I can't be sure about that) are able to discriminate the instruments of a whole orchestra in the waveform of air pressure against time. No experiment has yet come close to separating the individual sources of a recording of even three or four instruments, but I can although I admit I couldn't tell a Tourte from a Tubbs.
Steve, I'm guessing that you're not one of the people who can hear differences between bows, or you'd never have written "the same bow speed and pressure aren't likely to elicit the optimal sound the bow is capable of in every case" (and possibly not that entire first paragraph).
Lydia - you're quite right about my deficient powers of discrimination, but you quite fail to understand my point. I am not saying that differences between the sounds emitted by bows don't exist or denying that some people can hear them. It is fundamental in science that in order to objectively prove the existence of an effect (that different bows give rise to different sounds), you have to ensure that other potentially confounding factors (e.g. bow speed and pressure) are held constant. Otherwise how would you know that any differences you measure or hear aren't due to the player rather than the bow?
Not to split to many hairs, but Steve you said "Sound itself is a purely subjective phenomenon" and I don't agree. Yes, our responses to sounds are subjective, but the sounds themselves are not. We can measure the differences in violins quite easily, although to your point, for someone to say "these measurements = projection in the concert hall" is a bit of a stretch. Measuring the sound of bows is clearly difficult - I have not seen any such thing. But as pointed out in the thread, experienced players usually can tell differences right away, aside from "playability". Bow wood has different densities, the graduations are different, the camber. So it is not too surprising that different bows should sound differently.
Steve, you seem to be conceptualizing the tonal differences between bows more like the tonal differences in violins, where the way that a player produces sound has a huge impact on how the instrument sounds.
Karl - glad you brought that up - gives me another chance to try to get across what to me is an important conceptual difference! Vibrations in the air are objectively provable phenomena but "sound" is the particular sensation that's only experienced by those organisms with receptors to detect those vibrations. We can measure vibrations in the the air but not the sound of them, as I struggled to say with my point about being able to hear an entire orchestra in a single waveform of air pressure against time. What we call "light" is a tiny section of the electromagnetic spectrum that happens to stimulate receptors in our eyes. There's nothing else special about it. We have machines to measure electromagnetic waves, but none of them predict the fact that we can detect certain frequencies but not others. Everything we may say about our experience of sound and light is subjective, but that's not to say we can't devise methods to prove by objective means that we can detect subtle differences in our subjective sensations - hence double-blind listening trials.
The differences can be heard by third parties, too. Other people listened as I was picking from my finalists.
Shows the problems we get when we let people with tin ears participate in the debate!! (not you Lydia)
Steve, one problem we get into when taking measurements of sound is this:
This is making me want to find a spectrographic app that will record.
Lydia, there are a number of freeware programs which will do that, more or less.
Steve, I don't need to own a Strad, del Gesu or Vuillaume nor do I have to be a good violinist to really suffer from this phenomenon. Mine is not an outstanding instrument, but a good solid mid level, previously owned by a conservatory professor who used it mainly for teaching and sometimes loaned it to talented students who couldn't afford a good instrument but needed one for a performance. Good enough for most section players, but maybe not the right thing for a CM solo. Personally I'd prefer it to be different, but it's a matter of fact that my violin can't stand 90% of the bows I ever offered it. Especially CF bows, but also mostly all stiffer or lighter ones. It prefers rather heavier, soft sticks - and by far not all of them. Not especially the kind of bows which make learning advanced bowing techniques as easy as possible for a bloody late starter...
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