Specific bowing question on Beethoven 8th sonata

November 21, 2020, 12:35 PM · Hi,
maybe some genius in this forum will be able top help me on this one:
Sonata 8, last movement, bars 110 through 113: In 110, and 112, the first two sixteenth notes are slurred. But how do I compensate the bowing, afterwards?? I cannot really play 111 with the "wrong" bowing, at least it doesn't sound clear enough, as I have to change strings, so often. So, I decided to just play two upbows directly after each slur. But if I am honest, I am a bit too slow with these upbows. :-( Or, they aren't articulated, enough.

As the whole thing is happening very fast, I just conceal the problem by means of the overflowingly joyful expression of this section, but it keeps bothering me that I am concealing something.

Any idea? If you have played the piece, how did you do these bars?
Any inspriration is welcome!

Replies (4)

Edited: November 21, 2020, 2:15 PM · I wouldn't dare to give advice to Emily but I honestly think this is to be taken as it goes, i.e., what Emily calls the "wrong" bowing. Is it really that bad?
Edited: November 21, 2020, 3:31 PM · Great question! This is actually quite complicated, and requires a technique that not many people talk about... It is for sure uncomfortable at first to play the bowings 'upside down' after the slur in bar 110. First we have to figure out why exactly it feels uncomfortable. You mentioned that you would have to change strings so often, but regardless of bowing, the amount of string changes should technically remain the same?

The actual reason is because going from down bow on the higher string to up bow on the lower string is the less natural option (specifically in bar 111 between notes 2+3, and 4+5. The elbow is still in 'higher string mode' and isn't ready to travel to the lower string. Therefore you need to use pronation to pre-empt this unnatural string crossing by keeping the elbow slightly higher than you normally would.

Here is an example of how to use this technique:

In other words, when you are playing the A string notes on down bow, your elbow will actually need to be in the D string position. Same goes for G and D string. You can see that in bars 110 + 111 her elbow is higher during the 'opposite bowing', but her elbow reverts to normal position at 112 +113.

Hope this helps!

November 22, 2020, 6:26 AM · Wow, I accidentally responded twice, then wanted to delete the double post, and deleted all of it- too bad!

Anyway, thanks for your responses and the video, greatly appreciated it!

What I meant by mentioning the string changes, is exactly as you described, in a way more accurate way!

I have found a solution myself, though, coming from a surprising side: I just returned from a friend who corrected the position of my bridge. I happen to have a violin that reacts EXTREMELY on the slightest changes, more so than any violin I had before or than the average violins of my colleagues do.
I felt that I had to work harder with both hands to articulate clearly, that’s turned out to be a sign for me that I had to check the violin.
And, miraculously, and very satisfyingly, as well, I discovered that I am indeed able to play the double up-bows fast AND clear enough!
Probably, I hadn’t seen a problem, there, when I decided on this bowing, but at the time, I had just returned from a trip to the maker of the instrument, so the violin had been perfect, at that time.
Too bad, but also highly interesting, that some parts of the music really depend on the state of the instrument, not only on the player.

November 23, 2020, 4:39 PM · The topic is partly philosophical: Does our western music notation show how to play it (mechanics), or how the composer wants it to sound, or a mix of both? The Tabulature guitar notation is an example of a mechanical, specific directions approach. Most composers are pianists and are either unaware or unconcerned about the technical problems they creating. I am thinking of Schumann, Brahms, and Beethoven. The slur mark for the string player is specific; it shows when to change bow direction. The slur mark for the pianist indicates phrases. My favorite example of that distinction is the Intro to the Brahms 1st symphony, 1st movement; the whole thing is connected by slurs and ties.
In a hall with any reverb a slur will sound very similar to a well executed sostenuto-detache. And a bounced double up bow (V-V) sounds like a bounced down-up.
I am looking at the Kreisler/Intl. edition. Ms. 110 has that two note slur which places the rest of 110 and 111 in backwards, awkward, against the grain bowing. Everywhere else, like ms. 102 and 13, that same melodic fragment has four slurred notes. At ms. 110 and 112 you can either slur 3 notes, or slur 2 notes followed by a bounced double up bow. At ms. 13 you can slur 5 notes, or slur 4 notes followed by a double up bow.
At any rate, the backwards string change, down on the upper string, up on the lower string, should be part of our technique. We encounter it frequently, in Bach, Beethoven, Mozart S. 39, Rossini's Wilhelm Tell Overture, and fiddle tunes (Ragtime Annie). James D. recommended having the bow arm high, at the level of the low string. What also works is to have the bow placed slightly below the balance point, so that gravity pulls it over when you relax the fourth finger.

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