Practice combination of conctact point + bow pressure + bow speed?

December 31, 2017, 8:57 AM · Hi all,

important for a beautiful tone production (not thin, not scratching etc.) is theoretically an ideal combination of bow /string contact point (between bridge and fingerboard, recently learned that there are 5 possible contact points possible), bow pressure and bow speed.. the 3 variables are dependent on each other (maybe also depending on each of the 4 strings with different characters and even (higher / lower positions..) so a quite complex thing to study!

I haven't seen so far any good teaching concept how to practice (test, experiment, feel etc.) this, especially the correct combination of the three variables per string...

How do you practice it? Do you know pieces & daily excercises? How to check if it is correct?


Replies (11)

Edited: December 31, 2017, 9:27 AM · The "5 contact points" are only selections from a continuum of possible "sounding points." By selecting "the 5" you will get some idea of what they sound like on your instrument and the extremes of bow speed and"pressure" each can take.

For started you could test the 5 points bowing the open strings and then do the same for a 5 note whole-bow scale pattern on each string at each sounding point. You will see how you might have to bow the open strings differently to maintain a consistent sound level - or perhaps to change sounding points to do that. Then try 2-octave scales to hear how changing strings affects the sound at each sounding point and finally how to change sounding points to maintain consistent sound over the scale. Then try slurred scales perhaps starting with one bow per string.

HINT: Angling the bow will change the sounding point - watch what happens when you do it!

Do all of this without vibrato to eliminate other variables.

Anyhow, if I understand what you are asking - this is my reply.

December 31, 2017, 9:54 AM · I can only say that using gut strings makes me much more aware of:
the contact points (slightly nearer the bridge is usually better),
bow pressure (not too much otherwise the tone gets stifled),
bow speed (a bit faster), and
angle of bow to the axis of the string (too much away from 90 = poor tone).

The above aren't inscribed in stone; there is some wriggle room depending on circumstances.

I check by careful listening. Gut and sloppy don't go together!

Edited: December 31, 2017, 11:58 AM · Bow angle (amount of hair used) and arm angle are other variables. I think we experiment with bowing either using some pre-established rules we learned in lessons or trying everything and thinking outside the box. Some pre-established rules I can think of in no particular order are:
1. if you're not using enough bow speed and using a lot of weight/pressure, your sound can become choked
2. flat bow hair, more weight, nre bow speed and playing closer to the bridge = more sound, the opposite for less sound
3. straight bow (parallel to bridge) 4. forearm should be roughly level with the wrist
4. a thin, weak sound is often due to a crooked bow and lack of weight, other variables may play an effect too
5. more bow speed generally means more resonance
6. playing at the frog generally yields more sound than playing at the tip due to a bow weight difference
There's more...
In conclusion, we e&eriment, listen, and decide for ourselves what combination of variables yields the best sound.
Edited: December 31, 2017, 2:20 PM · As others have mentioned, there really isn't so much a "right and wrong" way to combine these variables, but rather depending on the musical passage in question a range of choices, where some may sound better or worse depending on what tone color or dynamic level is desired.
If you are an intermediate level player (or a teacher), you might check out the "Sound Innovations" method books. These are the only method books I have seen that actually explain these variables and provide specific exercises and excerpts to practice using them. I would recommend books 3 and 4, as the first 1/2 of each book is devoted to bow technique and primary to exploring these variables (there is some introduction of them in books 1 and 2, but for the most part those are just pretty standard beginning string orchestra method books).
January 3, 2018, 8:25 AM · Simon Fischer's "Tone" book covers the ground very suucinstly.
January 3, 2018, 10:18 AM · Is there a book now? I can't find it. (I'm familiar with the DVDs.)
Edited: January 3, 2018, 11:49 AM · His recent books are available on his website. "Tone" is a slim volume.
January 3, 2018, 11:34 AM · The tone book is good. Really, all of his books are great:)
January 3, 2018, 2:34 PM · Break them up and practice in parts. Just like everything else. Gradually put them together.
January 4, 2018, 1:54 AM · Julia, this is in the book Basics (by Simon Fischer) along with many other essentials. Yes there is also a separate booklet by Fischer "Tone: Experimenting with Proportions" but I wouldn't call that succinct, it is mainly an elaboration and fully written-out sets of what is already presented succinctly in the Basics book, which you need anyway.
January 4, 2018, 6:03 AM · Yes, but you can tuck Tone into the music pocket of you case without busting the zip!

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Yamaha YEV Series Violin
Yamaha YEV Series Violin

Dimitri Musafia
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Metzler Violin Shop

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Pluhar Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings Ltd

Violin Lab

Violin Pros

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop