What comes first, the chicken or the egg?
If we change bow and also change note on the same string, which comes first: the bow change, or the left finger? I've listened to many recordings (including non professionals) on Youtube using the 0.25 speed function and it seems that human coordination is far too advanced for this setting, since everything sounds perfectly synchronized. Isn't it incredible that we can play a scale up and down with separate bows, and our hands perfectly align? I'm quite interested to know though, if we could tell which hand tends to act first at 0.1 or 0.05 speed... Obviously this is not an important question practically speaking, since even at 0.25 speed the human ear is unable to detect any lack of synchronization. We all seem to be doing fine just putting both hands together at the same time and hoping it works...
The left hand has to anticipate, but it's no different on wind instruments - the fingers have to anticipate the tonguing.
Poor right-handers like myself must must include this prescience deliberately in our slow practice.
I agree Gordon, that the LH should always be anticipating. But in this case I'm talking about which hand ultimately actually makes the first action, regardless of our mental/physical preparation. In other words... assuming a state of absolute perfection does not exist, one of the following 2 scenarios MUST occur:
Clearly at the conjunction they are simultaneous: the left hand anticipates in order not to lag.
I believe, Gordon, that the right hand also makes preparatory movements before the bow actually does change directions. It is really quite complicated.
To get babes. Straightforward evolutionary criterion.
The Left Shoulder(elbow swings forward, G to E string cross) moves first then finger, and then the Right elbow lowers first then bow. That's how I teach it. Left-Shoulders lead, fingers follow, Right- elbows lead ,bow follows, and then the bow stroke is always last in the sequence.
How many angels can you fit on the end of a bow tip?
When designing my fingerings, I do a lot of prepared fingerings, maybe more than most. It prevents the left hand from being a little too late. The audience doesn't see it, but in expert playing the right and left sides are a little out of synch. The brain does not like to do this, so we train it in practicing. Pianists don't do this. Harpists do this for everything!; imagine a reverse action harpsichord that sounds when you release the key instead of striking the key.
Fingers before bow. And if you are doing a gliss or some special effect, that is an intentional thing. As longtime teacher I can say it does not help to put both bow and fingers together at the same time and hope it works. The finger has to be in place beforehand. If you get a vague perception that someone's playing is sloppy, this is very often the result of the bow being ahead of the fingers.
Thanks for your answers, but unfortunately Christian seems to be the only one who understands what I'm actually trying to explore here.
I'm with Christian: during the bow's 0 velocity nanosecond is when the finger gets in place, so the finger has to be before the bow (but not so much before that the bow is still in the position of the previous note). I remember this vaguely from high school physics because of the amusement park field trip - think the top of the roller coaster hill between the ascent and the descent or when the swinging boat (pendulum) reaches the max point of its swing.
I think the right hand and fingers could require more distance to travel than the left hand and fingers; hence, it probably makes sense to have the left hand fingers in place before the right hand and fingers have changed to ensure the new note sounds on time. Plus the left hand fingers could be bit more hesitant to move to the right place (note) if the passage being played is an unfamiliar one.
I may be totally beyond my skis, but I imagine that the bow moving too fast with the left finger moving would disturb the actual sound being made (in reference to what is close enough to 0 motion).
I like Charles Cook's inclusion of the shoulders.
James, I'll take a stab at dealing with the theoretical end of it.
Clearly, this is not something a player thinks about unless having trouble synchronizing left finger motions with bow motions.
David makes the good point (even if it wasn't his intended point) that there is no such thing as an "immediate" bow change, Heifetz notwithstanding. Even when one is drawing a slur, my guess is that there is not an "immediate" change in the frequency of the note. The finger must make partial and then full contact, and the new resonance must be established. If these two imperfections are well coordinated then both are mutually minimized.
I would be curious, Paul, to determine whether the practice of adding a bow accent in order to make a trill speak better is an acoustic phenomenon, or is a physiological/psychological phenomenon of coupling a motion bilaterally.
First of all, a chicken is an egg's way of making more eggs.
For Fiocco Allegro mordents (and Weber Country Dance), I tell students that fast initial bow speed helps to encourage the LH to also be fast. I never really thought about if that's the real reason or if I just give it as a reasonable explanation. Maybe the "grab" of the string to start the note also helps the string "speak" better? (Country Dance mordents are approached from off the string though so the bow is in motion via the landing, which is another variable.)
"I tell students that fast initial bow speed helps to encourage the LH to also be fast." (Which supports what Christian wrote a couple of posts before that.) Yes, I thought of that too, and it seems very reasonable -- but is it also a kind of crutch? Curiously I still find it useful for mordents. And I also find that trills consume bow much faster than single notes.
"The change in resonance frequency would probably be a pretty fast time-scale if the intrinsic slowness of the finger could be eliminated, but still the frequency-change time should be non-zero."
"kind of a crutch" - possibly but it's early on in their development of that kind of LH speed and there is time later to decouple the bilateral synchronization that was used to get this going. (For grace notes and trills, which precede mordents in skill progression, they already had to work on letting RH be "slower-moving" than LH.) I wonder if trills consume more bow because more bow speed is needed to "speak" each note during a "slur" vs. when sustaining a note that already started?
Trying to put some back-of-the-envelope figures on David's lucid explanation: Take a tone at 1000 Hertz, about in the middle of the violin range. 1000 cycles per second would then mean that one cycle lasts 1 millisecond. Assuming 5 cycles to "establish a solid vibration regime": 5 milliseconds.
'This would mean that the synchronization of left and right hand (the effect, not the movement of fingers) has to be better than about 10 milliseconds.'
Well, it's got to be egg. At least if the luthier who made your violin uses egg white in his ground recipe.
Thank you for further expanding on the notion, Albrecht.
But we still detect wrong or out-of-tune notes in a "blur", even if we cannot pinpoint them (assuming the blur is diatonic or at least familiar.
Chicken and eggs exist only in your mind.
The ideal omelette may only exist in Plato's mind, but the real one I've got on my plate ain't so bad.
Go vegan, my friend.