G string contact
I am working on Ravel Tzigane, and am finding that I have to work super hard to get that strong, punchy G string sound that the opening requires. Maybe it's just me, but I feel that, with sufficient arm weight, I shouldn't have to press downwards to simply ensure that the bow maintains sufficient contact with the string. My open G has the tendency to sound slightly airy unless I take special care to ensure contact. In other words, my bow doesn't easily dig into the G string. I have my elbow at the necessary height, but feel like my arm weight is not enough. The forcing of the bow into the string is hurting my playing, as I am so busy focusing on my concentration of sound that it is hard to make it sound spontaneous and free.
To be clear, this is not a volume issue but a sound concentration one. I don't think my technique is totally to blame, as I have tried the opening of the Tzigane on a friend's violin and marveled at how little effort I had to input to get the desired sound. Still I'm curious to hear if anyone on here has had a similar problem and how they addressed it with their current tools (i.e. no switching instruments). Thanks!
Your string may be too high off the finger board. I had this issue on a previous instrument
My son had a similar issue with Tzigane -- especially in the middle of the first page where it goes super high (he also has a wide C# wolf there). His violin's weakness is definitely the G string. He also had trouble concentrating sound on the octaves when the melody comes back in. Then again, he's also 14 and his bow arm just isn't that developed, so that didn't help either.
Try a gut G, maybe of a lighter or medium gauge. There are a million ways to modify the setup to enhance the G string (lighter tailpiece, removing material from the bridge, moving the soundpost), but that is the simplest way.
What strings are you using? Bridge and soundpost position may factor in responsiveness. Perhaps it’s time for a sound adjustment.
Can't really tell how you are transferring weight onto the G-string without seeing you, but some students do have difficulty because they tend to lift weight as they raise the upper arm to reach G level. Must remember to keep weight onto the bow even as you raise your arm.
I can confirm that in my experience a gut-core G (I use Pirastro Eudoxa or the less expensive but equally good IMO Chorda) will result in a reduction in a wolf note in the second octave, as will the positioning, type and weight of the chin rest. I have found a center-mounted rest is better in this regard, and how tightly it is fixed - too tight is the equivalent of a heavier rest. No two violins are the same so an opportunity for inexpensive experimentation here.
OP, a "stong and punchy" sound on the G string does indeed require more work. No fiddle will do that without a great deal of cooperation from the player. :-)
Hey thanks for the comments so far! My issue isn't really the attack (I know someone mentioned colle), but rather keeping the intensity of the sound as I hold the note. I find that, unless I apply extra force, the bow does not stay super into the string (even with full weight), and the sound lacks some amount of fullness or depth that makes it "cut". David, I agree that the attack should require energy, but I don't feel I should ever have to force the sound during a held note, as this is (more often than not) can result in uneven tone and a less than ideal sound.
If you've got the 'pinch' part of the stroke down, then focus on the 'ride.' Note the difference in contact point needed to pinch well (softer sound point) and ride well (bit closer to bridge.) You need to control your crooked bowing so that you're at the optimal sound point for every part of each stroke.
One more thing - my son had to bow the G string starting at a considerable angle at the frog to get into the string. I would always yell at him about it, but it was the only way to get the "ride" started with the sound he wanted.
Evan, you mentioned in the OP:
Evah pirazzi gold strings are some of the best strings I’ve tried. Unfortunately the G string can be troublesome for some violins, mine included. It gave my violin a terrible wolf high the g string and as a whole was pretty unresponsive. I had trouble getting into the string when trying to play faster rep. Once I switched strings the wolf was gone and the response was back.
Echoing Susan, I had a piece (Mozart 5) where there is a chord leading up to the return of the main theme, and it's open E at the top. I had to cut that chord at a steep bow angle to keep it from whistling and squeaking every time. It worked great, even though I'm sure it looked really weird. But the issue went away when I changed to a different E string.
Are you starting with down-bow at the tip?
The SIMPLE answer is to adjust your right arm level very high so the bow hair almost touches the left violin bout. If you are drawing a down bow from the frog, make sure you continue to RAISE your elbow level continuously so the bow hair continues to be near the left bout. Forget all the BS about "the weight of the arm." What you need is LEVERAGE on the G string.
Thanks Bruce! That was definitely a super helpful piece of advice and lines up with what my teacher has been telling me (i.e. using gravity to my advantage). I'm sorry to hear that people don't listen to your advice, as I often find your comments very informative.
Hey Christian - it's not about being able to play the opening line. I'm a highly advanced player and am certainly able to do it. My concerns are much more subtle, and maybe I don't adequately convey that in the post. It's about doing it comfortably where I feel I'm not having to work super hard to draw the sound from my instrument. It may in fact be my fiddle, which does lack a bit of depth. Given that, I'm trying to figure out how to play as into the string as possible. But having played a friend's instrument, I at least can see that I shouldn't have to consciously try to push this concept to its limit to get my desired sound. Still, that is where I am, as I still have to perform and take auditions on my current instrument.
Sorry Christian. You do not have the credentials to criticize my comments. You just do not understand what I am talking about. Oh, and by the way you could come and have a private lesson with me if you wish to know more. It is $175. Dr. Berg
Dr. Berg, I have no credentials except a lifetime of finding solutions (even for those who
Press harder. Play closer to the bridge. And vibrate in a manner that meshes with the first two.
I can’t believe I am the only person to recognize that Evan played this passage to his own satisfaction on a friend’s instrument!!!!
Hi Jerry - thanks for noticing that. I changed my G string from a Thomastik TI (very very bassy but a bit grainy at times) to a Vision, a string I used to use but was too bright with my old setup. This has solved quite a few problems for me (i.e. opened up my A string, gave my E string a bright edge without being too bright, and the string itself (the vision) is both clearer and smoother). My violin does lack a bit of depth for my taste (to be fair, I bought it almost 6 years ago, when it was far above my level of playing) and perhaps, in my quest to compensate, I chose a string (the TI) that is overly muddy and punchy without having enough of that satisfying G string core. Truth is, a lack of depth cannot be made up for by changing strings and I should not have tried. With the Vision, I have more leeway to explore and get a sound close to what I envision (though I don't think my instrument can quite achieve the exact sound I'm looking for). Still, this is helping me to make the most of my current tools.
To be clear:
Bruce Berg wrote:
Too imply dr berg that your credentials imply you understand the only way to play the violin well is to me quite absurd. Kavakos makes a spectacular sound with a very low elbow.
Everybody has their difficult moments. Certainly on an online forum, it is better to simply not react in such cases. I support Bruce and want to thank him for his valuable contributions on the forum which I hope will continue for a long time.
I've been wanting to respond to this thread for a while, but could not find a good "hook" to enter on especially after Evan overruled changing violins or bows. Different strings or different rosin can affect the area troubling him, so I have decided to take the STRING approach because I think it is more expensive and more complicated.
I suggest thinking about Bruce's advice from the perspective of a physics problem. Imagine you are rolling a cylinder, like a log. We apply a bit of rotational force -- essentially torque -- to the string in order to set it in motion. If you are spinning an object, and you try to do so by applying an impulse directly perpendicular to it, you will get less momentum than if you were doing so to its "left" side, assuming that the impulse is applied to spin it clockwise.
Disclaimer: I've never played this and wouldn't be able to. Certainly won't attempt to disagree with Scott and Dr. Berg.
If you consider what Bruce said, and Lydia's thoughts and holding your violin in cello position play your G string with the bow hair as close to the bass-side C-bout as you are able, you will be able to demonstrate that it works and changes the tone. You will be able to watch the string, see how it vibrates differently than if you bowed across the top of the string and hear the difference.
Lydia and Andrew,
I'm not sure you can realistically guarantee that you can solve any student's technical or musical troubles, but you definitely can say for certain that you'd never get my business with your attitude.
I dunno. A guarantee on a one-off lesson lowers the risk of spending that kind of money. :-)
@Lydia - I'm not sure rolling a log is a good analogy. A log lying on the floor has friction with the floor and because of gravity acting on your body it's easier to pull something up than to pull sideways. In the latter case, you may lose balance or slide. These effects are not relevant in case of a violin string that is attached to a violin that you're holding; you could play it just as well in zero gravity.
May I point out that Bruce, (or rather Dr.Berg!) has made his fingerings for major concertos available for free... typing the music out in Finale, which in itself deserves a medal!
The "log" image reminds me that the bow also introduces a rotational motion of the string, responsible for certain distortions not mentioned in my old high-school physics manual.
Yes--my teacher and I really like Dr. Berg's edits to the Bruch concerto. I've been working through his version. I appreciate that he made them available.
"I guarantee a solution to any technical (or musical) problems in my lessons. "
I can think of people I would be willing to pay $250 per hour to learn from, but they would be very few and far between.
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