Bach (Gounod) Ave Maria

January 5, 2021, 7:08 PM · Hi all, just hoping for some thoughts and/or advice on how to play the first three measures of this beautiful piece. The sheet music I am working with has a single slur for all three measures. I have researched the tempo and the range seems to be 72 - 82 bpm. I would love to play this on the slower side, but I am struggling to produce a nice tone with a sufficiently slow bow.

Any words of wisdom on how to handle this slow bowing?

Replies (8)

Edited: January 6, 2021, 7:16 AM · Break up the long slur. :-)

Editing after Adrian’s post below: are you possibly working from a piano part instead of an arrangement specifically for violin? Because in that case the “bowing” marking is likely intended to indicate legato only. You can’t equate piano markings with slurs.

Even if it is a violin arrangement, change bow wherever you need to in order to make the phrase.

January 6, 2021, 2:30 AM · The same slur arc is used by composers and arrangers to indicate smooth playing, (and to join two identical notes,) and by violinists to indicate bowings.
January 6, 2021, 8:16 AM · Breaking up the slur makes sense. I viewed a few YouTube videos and everyone played the whole notes separately.
Edited: January 6, 2021, 9:09 PM · The YouTube with Hadelich is a good one because he takes the first repeat down an octave which is a nice trick that is common with slow salon pieces (check out Rachmaninoff Vocalise for a good example). The YouTube of the Ave Maria with Anne Akiko Meyers is one that I also like very much -- her tempo is just a little faster than Hadelich's. Hadelich has a thoughtful innovation with the G harmonics at the end also -- at least I have never heard that done before.

It's also instructive to see what violists and cellists have done with this piece.

Everyone finds it harder to maintain a rich, even tone and vibrato when the tempo is slower and the notes are longer. You really need to apply the basic principles of tone production here. There are no tricks or short cuts. You have to experiment with sound point, bow speed, and downward pressure to get the tone you want for the given dynamics and the note value and the bow distribution that will work for you. It's also harder to find the phrasing nuances that will hold your audience's interest when it's slower. That's why you do pieces like this -- to work on those aspects of your playing. You have to enjoy the process as well as the product. Watch Hadelich and see when his bow is close to the bridge and when it's not. Your violin, bow, and technique are not what he has, but the general trend should be much the same.

January 7, 2021, 5:26 PM · Paul, his is one video I didn’t watch, but I will. Thanks for your reply.
January 7, 2021, 5:58 PM · Yes, playing it in two different octaves makes the most sense. Otherwise, it is monotonous. For a really different take, try the Yo-Yo Ma/Bobby McFerrin duo. Not what you might expect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxFvfOYINvU
January 7, 2021, 5:58 PM · Yes, playing it in two different octaves makes the most sense. Otherwise, it is monotonous. For a really different take, try the Yo-Yo Ma/Bobby McFerrin duo. Not what you might expect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxFvfOYINvU
Edited: January 7, 2021, 6:16 PM · Yes, playing it in two different octaves makes the most sense. Otherwise, it is monotonous on the violin. For a really different take, try the Yo-Yo Ma/Bobby McFerrin duo. Not what you might expect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxFvfOYINvU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVLE91tEUqU


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