Rosin and Bow Issues
I Have been playing violin for a long time, and I have always had issues playing mezzo piano or piano sections- my tone becomes scratchy and not very clear. Though this problem in noticeable when I play quiet, I also notice it in higher positions loud or soft. I have tried Larica gold 2 rosin and melos light rosin. The melos felt very gritty and the larica felt plain scratchy. Though I have been unhappy with these rosins, I do like loud attacks that I could do with them. Do you think that my issue is not trying enough rosins, or is it my bow?
If the issue is rosin, what rosin is most known for smoothness and very high quality? I am not that particular about price. I live in Montana, so it is not humid at all. I am currently working on college auditions with Bach partita 3 and the first movement of the Bruch violin concerto.
1. If you are facing problems with tone and response in piano dynamics and high positions, this is a typical result of using high tension strings (higher tension than your instrument is designed for). You don't need to change the brand. Just try a lower tension version of strings.
To endorse one of the findings on Warchal’s webpage, Vienna’s Best is very forgiving of the k-k-k kind of breakup you may be hearing.
Also try using less rosin, applied more frequently. I generally prefer just enough rosin to get the grip that I want for an hour or two, and then I reapply one more swipe. I really want powder to be minimized and no grit in my sound.
Aidan, it sounds to me like you need to experiment more with the "sounding point" position of the bow upon the string, and learn to optimize that (as well as the bow speed and pressure) for loud and soft, brilliant and velvety, and other tonal effect you may want to produce. This is most likely not a hardware or product issue, although that cannot be totally ruled out.
In line with what David said, do you have a teacher? If you do, have him/her watch you play and check for technical issues. S/he can also have a look at the rosin issue and give you some sense of whether you are using too much/not enough.
This is great timing, as I have brought up a similar question to my teacher and tried to blame my bow. It is all too easy to blame our equipment - and my teacher demonstrated what they are looking for from my sound with my bow, and their other bows - and, well, if my teacher can do it all with my bow then I have no excuse. The problem with the sound/tone resides within me and me alone at this point.
Bohdan has identified important factors - one other is rosin accumulation on the bow. For the past 20 years or so I have checking the rosin on my bow by swiping it on my trousers (I always wear dark trousers). When the accumulation is too great I clean the rosin off the bow hairs.
And it might be the strings or the violin. A really good, and probably expensive, violin will have the marvelous quality of being able to play piano with good tone quality, fast response time, and still project to the back wall of the hall. Strings; the unfortunate trend over the last few decades has been to use increasingly bright, loud, heavy gauge strings. Remember that it is the fundamental of a tone that carries, projects to the audience, not the surface white noise.
Recently, after using Jade L’Opera rosin for about a year, I searched for something that would be less scratchy on my regular Vision strings. I bought the Vision violin rosin and was instantly impressed. I believe it is softer than Jade, and it has good grip and far less scratchy noise. It might be worth a try.
Before going too crazy and critiquing your technique, it's important to make sure your equipment is in proper working order. That said, try playing without canting the bow so much, so the hair is sitting flatter on the strings. Strings, bridge, post, that your bow is rehaired properly. Crossed hairs can be a huge factor. I have an article and video posted here about checking for crossed hairs: https://adbowsllc.com/2018/07/02/checking-for-crossed-hairs/
Ok, thanks for the responses. I will try these things and ideas and get back to you soon.
Mr. Warchal, thank you for posting that great comparison of rosins. I had already tried the Andrea Solo rosin and agreed with your assessment of it, so I figured I could agree with your assessment of the others as well. Because of your description of the Andrea A Piacere I purchased some and I love it! My Codabow Joule makes my violin sing prettier than ever with it! And my Incredibow sounds better than ever! Thank you!
Nice. Also, my bow hasn't been re haired in a year. What is optimal hair change if I am playing 2 or 3 or 4 hours a day? Also I do have crosshairs on my bow.
Also is it good to start with rosin that is made specifically for a type of strings? I use vision.
If you are playing on average 2-3 hours a day, I recommend rehairing 4-8 months depending on repertoire and time of year. This article I did explains more in detail: https://adbowsllc.com/2018/04/11/how-often-to-rehair-a-bow/
Thanks. I think an important thing I learned is that I had way too much rosin on the bow.
Johann, I am sorry to confuse you, but considering your original post , the problem may be also very opposite. Many players still do not know that having not enough rosin on the bow hair makes the sound harsh (and the response poor of course). The point is that a rosin buildup that does accumulate on strings may cause the problem. You need to clean them regularly, but never use alcohol or any other liquid. Should this not help, your string tension is definitely too high (considering your instruments needs).
@A.-C. Re: Tilt of the bow. I have always thought that having the hair flat on the string muffles the sound somewhat, chokes some overtones but does not stop the hiss. Having the bow tilted compresses the hair into a narrower band, finds the optimum point of contact, giving a clearer, louder sound.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.