Transition from spiccato to sautillé

Edited: November 7, 2022, 1:09 AM · The problem many players have is the gradual transition from the larger motion of spiccato to the smaller motion of sautillé. How do you teach it?

Replies (11)

Edited: November 7, 2022, 7:15 AM · I don't teach, but my son learned it by starting tremolo at the tip and gradually moving lower in the bow. It didn't work great and he didn't really master it until he had to while playing Wieniawski Concerto #2 (last mvmt).
November 7, 2022, 7:24 AM · With some students, I try starting from the string, and leaving the spiccato out of the equation first.

They start on the string with a very small detache stroke and continuous motion in a elliptical pattern, to establish the motion from the elbow/forearm. We try both clockwise and counter-clockwise to see what feels "natural" and then introduce the change in speed to discover where their bow has the best resiliency for the stroke.

Often, we discover that they need a better bow. ;)

November 7, 2022, 9:36 AM · A gradual transition as we speed up is tricky,since we must go from a "scooped", lifted détaché towards a near vertical basketball dribble.
The "scoop" must be shortened, maybe heightened, and the bowhold lightened.

But I am carefully avoiding making a video of this...

Edited: November 7, 2022, 9:49 AM · It's easier to transition from spiccato to sautillé when the student can do collé well. Then understanding the transition from moving forearm to just moving wrist, in conjunction with balance point and speed.

Most students who can't do these well because their fingers are more perpendicular to the stick. Russian bow hold can understand wrist movement right away due to their natural stick leaning fingers.

November 7, 2022, 10:14 AM · At what bpm do you think the transition from spiccato to sautille occurs?
Edited: November 7, 2022, 11:45 AM · That seems to depend partly on the bow.
November 7, 2022, 7:16 PM · I do not teach but here is how I was taught: My teacher demonstrated it to me and described it to me. then she asked me to try it. I never figured it out and her attempts to help me were all failing. It was the only such failure in my 5 years with her; she had never before had any problem getting me to "get" whatever she taught.

Then, years later, I took lessons with Elemer Glanz who was then assistant CM at the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra. In the second lesson he asked me to play something in sautillé. I tried and failed as usual. He observed me trying, walked around me ("keep playing"). Then he said: "Try and grasp the bow harder". I did and--Bingo--there was my first sustained sautillé.

Edited: November 7, 2022, 10:13 PM · I think the trick is to realize that sautille isn't anything like spiccato. Really, it's a fast detache, where we let the bow's bouncing take over.

Here are a couple steps that I follow (although obviously this changes depending on the person):

1) Make sure that the student can do a very even, fast (minimum 100 BPM, playing semiquavers) detache stroke somewhere between the 1/3 and 1/2 points of bow, using ONLY the wrist. If they can't, the metronome should be used to bring it up to speed over a period of weeks. Use only open strings for this.

2) After step #1, the bow may already be starting a sautille pattern. But if it's not, a trick I like to use is this: have them play the same speed of semiquavers (100 BPM), but instead of playing AAAA AAAA... like before, have them play DADA DADA. The bow will begin to bounce. Then move that motion up a bit, so it only hits the D string, despite the up/down motions.

3) It's worth mentioning that the student shouldn't be trying to make the bow bounce. In fact, it's important that they keep downward pressure when doing all of the above.

4) Once they understand a basic sautille stroke, then use something like 0000 0000 1111 1111 2222 2222 3333 3333 4444 4444....Then 0000 1111 2222 3333, then maybe 0011 2233 4433 2211 0000.... Then eventually scales and so on.

November 12, 2022, 8:17 AM · "..grip the bow harder.."
I do this, but "harder" than before is still not a stiff arm!
Edited: November 12, 2022, 9:18 AM · This whole discussion made no sense until Erik wrote. The two strokes are not similar at all and the bow hold for sautille is different. One moves the ring finger farther toward the mark on the middle of the frog so there is more of the finger over the edge of the bow. This gives better control for the very fast detache which is so fast that the bow bounces by itself, which is sautille. One is not trying to make the bow bounce, it does so by itself. I perfected sautille before spiccato because it doesn't require such fine motor control.
November 12, 2022, 8:19 PM · I teach sautille by asking students to play rapidly alternating open d and a string (start on downbow) on the string, with a good amount of weight. Work up to sautille speed, and ask them NOT to move their arm, but rather the rotation of the wrist only. Then I tell them to execute the exact same motion (pretend you are alternating strings), but actually stay on one string only. This usually does the trick.

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