Rules Of Bowing
I know this is a very basic question, but I need help with it anyway. First, most of my training has been rather informal with a guy who is more of a fiddler. Now I am taking lessons from a Classically trained teacher and we began in Suzuki Book 2. So far, there seems to be a rule that, unless there is a V above the first note of a measure, each measure begins with a down bow. But I am working, on my own, with some Violin/Piano Hymn arrangements in the book “Worship The King.” On some of the songs, it seems that the only way to follow that rule, it would require a lot of hook bows. So what are the rules about knowing if every measure must begin with a hook now? Does a song in 3/4 time follow the down bow on every first note of the measure rule?
From my understanding, and what my teacher has said, "the rule of down bow" applies only when the beat is strong
In your case, with playing
There are no absolute rules on the down & up of bowing, only the general principle already mentioned that the strong notes get the down bow, so the first beat of the measure gets a down bow more often than up. In 3/4 time (like a waltz) with straight quarter notes you have the choice of down-up-up, or, down-up-down, then up-down-up in the next measure. You are allowed to design your own bowings, only a few composers knew enough to indicate bowings (Stravinsky, Bartok...) Historical note, I read somewhere that our bowing symbols are abbreviations from the French words noble (strong) and Vile (weak).
You are way overthinking this. :-)
Laziness and old age have led me to this in bowing practice:
When asked about his thoughts on bowing, Stephane Grappelli replied,
continued,-- and a trick I learned from a Scottish fiddler. After you have worked out your personal bowings for a solo piece, do at least one practice session doing the whole thing in reverse bowings. Three good things can happen: You might discover something that works better. You learn that if you your bowing directions get switched in a performance, you will survive, you will be OK until the next rest. A backwards, non-traditional bowing frequently sounds better, because you are working harder.
Don't you need to follow rules when you are training.? Isn't that how you acquire the skills to break them.? Instead of just doing hook strokes all the time, try some retake bowings..?
Henry has got a point. Some times downbows will need an accent for whatever reason and its easier to do that at the frog than at the point so retakes may be necessary
Re: Rules of Bowing ~
Very long printed slurs are for phrasing, not bowing!
But you might find the occasional slur works better than an up up before some strong beats, especially in slow navigational hymns. Like with fiddling, you don't want do the same bowing in every bar, though.
There may be no "rules", but there certainly are best practices, which seems to be more related to where you want to be on your bow and how you will get there. Playing at the tip, the frog, or the bouncey middle points are required for specific techniques and/or dynamics. Up or Down bows decisions are made to get you where you need to be to apply the desired technique/dynamic. Whereas a down bow on the down beat is a defacto default bowing, it is not a hard and fast rule by any mean, other factors dictate which direction you should bow at any given time.
If you listen to Oistrakh or Heifetz, well, good luck determining whether they're playing upbow or downbow! You make it work according to your own scheme. If you have a teacher you can get some advice. Otherwise I suggest don't take any prisoners and just try to sound good.
When I used the term “hook bowing,” I think I may have used the wrong term. What I meant was “bow circle” where you play a down bow, lift the bow off the strings, reposition the bow and then play another down bow. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. You guys are so kind to help out an old guy who is trying to learn to play late in life.
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