Fast Detache

June 29, 2019, 11:32 AM · How does one achieve a fast but controlled detache? When I try fast detache, my bow strokes become shorter and shorter and my arm begins tensing up (the left hand fingers and bow are coordinated though). I have tried practicing slowly and gradually speeding it up, but my arm just can’t seem to feel relaxed or in control. Thanks

Replies (18)

Edited: June 29, 2019, 12:11 PM · Gradually speeding up may bring too much muscle into each note.

How about slowly but with short, flicked strokes: speeding up by shortening the gaps..

And be sure the left hand leads the action!

June 29, 2019, 12:14 PM · "my arms tense" That indicates that you are probably using the beginner's style of bowing; arm motion only. As the speed increases the the wrist and fingers gradually take over, the arm moves less. This requires a light, flexible bow hold. Too many players have a locked bow grip. Beware of the straight 4th finger; that locks up rest of the hand.
Edited: June 29, 2019, 12:27 PM · Adrian-thanks for the advice. I’ll try that soon.
Joel- I do have a curved pinky and I use wrist and finger motion. I feel like the problem is that my arm is not relaxed enough even if it is only performing short strokes.

June 29, 2019, 12:29 PM · Only the wrist. Only the wrist!
I had a teacher who taught me to only use the arm in my stroke. When I moved on to a better teacher, she actually smacked my arm with a ruler every time I didn't use my wrist.

Practise it like this: use the arm only to position the bow over the correct string. Try using just your wrist to make very short "staccato" notes. Pause between each note and use literally the least amount of bow possible. Then when you take the passage up to tempo it should come naturally from the wrist.

June 29, 2019, 12:41 PM · I have tried only using the wrist but the wrist motion seems too short, and make the notes seem a bit choppy. That is why I tried using the arm along with the wrist.
June 29, 2019, 12:48 PM · Don't worry about your tone. I gave you a drill to introduce the wrist into your stroke. When you go full speed it will become something like 80% wrist motion and 20% arm motion (depending on the volume and speed) and should be a very fluid motion.
June 29, 2019, 12:53 PM · Alright, I’ll try the exercise when I get home from vacation tomorrow and see how it feels. Thanks
June 29, 2019, 1:59 PM · -continued- Actually, it is a combined arm and wrist/finger motion. The arm is not completely stationary. The fingers finesse, control the change of direction.
June 29, 2019, 8:33 PM · I’m assuming your playing violin. If playing viola the principle is completely different so in the unlikely case this is true, Remember that much more arm is needed and really only a flexible wrist is needed but not a solely wrist motion.
June 30, 2019, 6:37 PM · You'll have arm tension if you use either ONLY arm or NO arm in your motion. The way to get there is gradually. If you are close to beginner level, the Perpetual Motion piece in Suzuki Book 1 will be fine for improving your detache stroke. Advanced students in the Suzuki program often return to this piece when they have new bow strokes that they want to groove.
July 1, 2019, 3:07 AM · OP, at what approximate metronome speed would you say that the issue begins? (Use open A string to determine this, to take out the fingers as a variable, even if you don't think it's a variable).

And at what point in the bow are you playing when you begin having the tension issue? Middle? Upper half? Maybe slightly above balance point?

July 1, 2019, 11:14 AM · Paul- I don’t think I’m around the beginner level (I’m currently about to begin the first movement of the Lalo symphonie espagnol) but I’ll try it

Erik- I do not know exactly the metronome marking but the problem comes during long stretches of detache but my arm begins to feel a bit of tension when I sustain fast detache for a longer period of time rather than when I just bow at fast speeds.

July 1, 2019, 4:55 PM · I'm kind of confused at this point, OP. What exactly do you think "detache" means?

It seems that you're simply implying that your arm gets tired after a long bout of intense bowing, and then it tenses up, most likely as a way of trying to compensate for the tired muscles with fresher ones.

But everyone experiences this. Intense bowing will make your arm tired until you develop better endurance.


Can you give a specific example of the passage in your music where you experience this, at least?

You said that you tried practicing slowly and gradually speeding it up, but you don't seem to know at *which* speed the trouble starts? This makes me feel like you're not really putting in genuine effort into discovering *what* the problem truly is. Either that, or the speed itself was never the problem, but it was simply the act of doing an intense movement for a long period of time.

If you want useful, specific answers, you need to provide useful, specific information.

So far, your question is similar to asking "When I run really fast, I get tired. Why?"

How long are you running? At what speed? On what track?


If you don't provide specifics (some of which you will need to *seek out* in order to know), the best answers you receive will be very general and vague, such as "use the arm and the wrist" and "try to stay relaxed."

So, here we go:

1) Where is the problem appearing in your repertoire? You don't have to give *every* example, just one is fine.

2) Where are you playing in the bow? Upper half, middle, etc...? And if you *don't know*, THAT is a big part of the problem. My guess is you're playing the detache too close to the frog, which forces upper arm/shoulder movement instead of more efficient forearm+wrist movement.

3) At what *rough* metronome speed are we talking? "Fast" means different things to different people. Your idea of fast probably isn't my idea of fast. Do you mean 16ths at 1/4= 100? Or 16ths at 1/4=200?


If you can answer those questions to the best of your ability, then we'll be on the road to discovering an actual solution.

Edited: July 2, 2019, 9:52 AM · Mostly I practise the descending G major 2-octave scale, as descending seems harder than ascending in terms of détaché LH/RH synch.
Edited: July 2, 2019, 11:46 AM · The left hand has to lead the dance; and
we have to lift the fingers as fast as we drop them; and
we must turn the hand (and maybe forearm) as we cross the strings., so the fingers drop onto (rather than grope towards) the notes.
July 2, 2019, 12:44 PM · continued-- Sometimes when we see the word "detache" we make the mistake of trying to separate the notes in some version of staccato, which involves extra motions and time. Fr. Detache vs Eng. Detached is one of many false cognates. What is intended, my opinion, is: Indifferent, Ordinary. I call it plain-vanilla bowing, back and forth, on the string.

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