Can you explain how you would bow these?

June 30, 2020, 8:42 AM · Hi

I found this in a Glazunov piece, and just wondered how you execute these examples.

https://www.flickr.com/gp/189034432@N05/619tH2

In Ex1 and Ex1b I assume that the 3 notes are under a single bow stroke, with the 3rd note just cut short? Or, is it that the first 2 notes are under a single bow, and the 3rd note is under a change of bow directions, in which case why are the 3 notes under a slur?

In Ex 2 and Ex 2b we have a tied note, with a slur on the 2nd note. Does it indicate a change of direction on that 2nd note -ie the start of the slur. What is the difference between Ex2b and Ex 3?

This I don't understand - in Ex 4 what to the slurs mean, and why are they there? I've never seen this on a score before.

thanks!

Rob

Replies (8)

June 30, 2020, 11:00 AM · In my "old days" I interpreted all slurs as bowing indications. But I grew to appreciate that piano music is also slurred and there is really no such thing as a slur on such a percussive instrument. So now I interpret slurs as phrasing indicators and will bow them as I want to phrase them.

A "compound" slur, as indicated in all your examples, tells me the composer probably wants a certain continuity in phrasing to produce a specific acoustic relationship between the notes. If a player can achieve that with separate bows I see no problem with that. The dotted notes at the end of some of the examples might have some ambiguity - are they just short notes or are they short AND separated?

Ultimately it is the player who determines what the music sounds like and audience and critics who determine its acceptability. My 2 cents.

June 30, 2020, 2:58 PM · I think your 2 cents Andrew is more like several dollars. Spot on.
July 1, 2020, 4:50 AM · Don't put too much thought into those examples -- they're examples of inconsistent and incorrect notation.

The two slurs in example 1 and 1a should only have been one single slur, example 1 a single slur from the Gb to the F. Example 1a a single slur from the 3rd-space C to the second high C.

In examples 2 and 2a both of those slurs should have started with the 1st of the tied notes instead of the second of the tied notes.

Example 3 is the correct way to have notated 2b.

Example 4 should have been one slur from the Eb to the D.

These bad examples (example 3 is the only correct one) are things that have sprung up with the advent of notation software that can be operated by anybody, including those who haven't studied notation as an art separate from the music itself.

In the days when all publications were engraved by professional engravers who understood all the proper conventions of notation there were enough errors introduced into pieces, although most of them were likely introduced by barely legible manuscripts from which they had to work. But now that anybody can buy Sibelius, Finale, Dorico or simply download and begin using Musescore for free, and anybody can publish their own editions of public domain music, the world is full of notation garbage like this.

The real downside of all this is that seeing different articulations like this for similar passages makes a dedicated student/performer ask the sorts of questions that Rob has raised, wasting valuable practice time trying to figure out if these need to be interpreted differently because of the different notation.

No, they don't -- play them as you would all slurs. If you play all slurs as indicating the notes should be on the same bowstroke, then do the same here even if the slurs are different in different locations on the page.

Regarding the staccato dot at the end of some slurs -- coming from a brass/woodwind background, staccato dots affect the END of the note they are over, not the start. So it's quite possible to do a traditional smooth slur to a note with a staccato dot, which simply tells the player to cut that last note short after you've started it. It does not mean to separate that staccato note from the previous note.

July 1, 2020, 8:25 AM · thanks for clearing this up!

This was actually from the original Glazunov score, which I was looking at, that made me confused. The score was not from Sibelius or Finale. I had the opportunity to get some pieces played and recorded, and so my scores needed to be very playable at sight - in other words, nothing ambiguous.

July 1, 2020, 10:41 AM · Andrew Victor, I found a thread from 2015 where you said you were using a Viola bow on the Violin? Is that still the case? I'm thinking of doing the same.
Edited: July 1, 2020, 2:46 PM · Jeffrey - not any longer. Now I use viola bows on violas and violin bows on violins.

However, if what I was doing then works for you, the music you are playing, do it. At the time I used the viola bow on violin I needed the heavier, thicker bow because of an essential tremor problem. The bow resonance has an effect such that a good bow (the "right" bow) for each instrument will make better sound and just handle better - but it is up to the player to decide.

Edited: July 1, 2020, 6:24 PM · "Regarding the staccato dot at the end of some slurs -- coming from a brass/woodwind background, staccato dots affect the END of the note they are over, not the start. So it's quite possible to do a traditional smooth slur to a note with a staccato dot, which simply tells the player to cut that last note short after you've started it. It does not mean to separate that staccato note from the previous note. "

that's not how staccatos under a slur are usually interpreted by string players. In the OP's ex1 and ex1b, the first two notes would be slurred smoothly and the third note "hooked" in, with a separation before it - same idea as a dotted eighth / sixteenth with a dot over the 16th. In Brahms, dots under slurs are separated slightly / portato'd without being short. Agreed that the other examples are bad notation.

July 1, 2020, 6:44 PM · Thanks Andrew, It's an electric Violin so I don't think all of the nuances would matter in my case anyway. I'm into avant garde, progressive rock/metal and experimental neo classical


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