which part of bow do you use and why?

which part of bow do you use and why?

I have been playing fiddle for almost a year now, and most of the big names seem to be playing at the tip or close to the tip of the bow, Burke and Liz Carroll.

Another point that I notice is many do not use wrist at all just the lower arm. What are the trends/opinions on these two aspects of playing?

Regards

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

I use the hair for rubbing the strings and the stick for holding on to it. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

I tend to play with the middle to the tip of the bow, when i try to play near the heel it tends to go a little wobbly. Should we use all of the bow or is it ok to mainly play near the tip?

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

I play at about two thirds of the way from the frog to the tip.

I never play at the actual tip. Why? Because my arm is too short to draw a 4/4 bow to the tip πŸ™‚

The movement comes from my forearm, the wrist just bends this way and that to keep things straight.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

I bought a whole bow, so I use the whole thing to get my money’s worth.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

When I started I held the bow at the frog. Over the last few years somehow I’ve progressed up the bow a bit and just using about a 1/4 of the tip of the bow. Why? I have no idea but it works for me.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

Mainly the middle for jigs and reels, nearer the bottom end for strathspeys, and as much as possible for slow airs. And I use my fingers rather than my wrist for moving it, and most importantly my index finger and thumb, and I hold it at the frog, though my hand does tend to sneak up the bow a bit sometimes. And why all of the above? I suppose it gives me the most scope for dynamics and using my fingers means I can play very fast if I want to, though I do not play too ‘loosely’.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

exactly what I was thinking Fanning…

but for faster stuff, towards the middle to tip

for strathspey stuff, the whole thing and then some

as well as for slower airs and legato playing

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

If Liz Carrol does it then you cant go wrong copying her! She is right up there with the best.πŸ™‚

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

Depends on the tune. I might use just the lower or middle third for a fast jig like Lark in the Morning, then the whole bow for something that IMO calls for a more expansive bowing, such as Maggie’s Pancakes or Da Silver Bow.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

For trad, i use the first 1/4 of the bow generally,[tip] but recomend developing the full bow. I combine wrist and fore arm.
For chords/ double stops and rhythmic stuff i use the middle and lower part of the bow.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

When swapping strings the wrist has to move less in the vertical plane if you are closer to the frog. This is good if you are a very good player, but means more accidentally crossed strings if you are not. It also demands a more agressive stance because the elbow is more bent and higher and needs more training to get there ie. more of a classical stance.

So the top of the bow is safer and easier with more feeling of control until you want to swap strings and most people live with this.

The major reason for using, or being able to use, the whole bow is it gives you a greater available range of expression. i was interested to see Martin Hayes in concert recently, and he played the majority of his music in the tiniest of bow movements at about the 2/3rds point. But when he wanted to he could and did use most of the bow.

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Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

The amount of bow one uses can also be hugely affected by amplification. Mr Hayes, for instance, was almost certainly using a pickup of some variety. Consequently, he did not have to use much bow to make a huge sound. The same might be said of others. And, I would argue that the more time you spend playing into a pickup, or loud mic, the less bow you will tend to use overall.

I have tendency to play torward the middle of the bow if I am in a loud setting, and more to the upper third when practicing or in a nice quiet session.

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Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

RE Liz Carroll:
From sitting face to face with her playing tunes last year, there is something else she is doing.. She’s using next to nothing of the length of the bow, but still gets such a huge sound out of it.. I don’t know how she does it- but like Jode says, players using amplification use less bow.. she plays like that.

In general, one has more control of the upper two thirds of the bow than at the frog end, so that’s where most people play, using the frog end occasionally. I was told not to think about it too much when I was being taught, it’d all come together right in the end, and it did πŸ™‚

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Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

You get a bigger tone if you play closer to the bridge (say a bow’s width) with more pressure. But it needs that much more control to get good tone quality and avoid squawks and squeaks. If you learn to do it you’ll find you can produce a brilliant (in the audio sense) carrying tone when needed.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

Ok I don’t play that much any more probably because to play a fiddle well you have to keep the bow square and practice lots.

I am really lazy and do not like the discipline.

But when I was trying to play well I tended to stay towards the middle of the Bow. That way I rarely dragged a Bow tip down the neck - low frog awkward to keep bow at 90 degrees - nor did I do well with the frog near the strings - bow swerving the other way and bow hair then near the bridge. Both OC are completely wrong ways of Bowing.

However I do notice players with great Bow control not using the extremes of the Bow so I guess my aims in practicing or playing were correct.

Also - and this really is important for a novice - playing slow tunes with as much of the Bow as you can - but keeping the Bow hair at 90 degrees to the strings as well as the hair midway between the fingerboard end and the bridge, is time well invested!

My 10 cents.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

Well, the point a bit above the middle of the bow where it takes the smallest movements to cross strings is the most common place to play in fiddling for a reason.

When doing a lot of fast string crossings—like in trad playing—that is the most efficient point on the bow for doing it. If you go too far towards the frog or tip, you’ll be working against the lever…

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

James Kelly recently came to little Rhode Island and did a workshop for us. What he said was that you really only want/need two to three inches of space to do anything you need in a tune; what happens is, you move your two-to-three inches around on the bow, so you’ll be playing up at the tip 2-3, then shift down near the frog 2-3, then be playing in the middle in 2-3 inches, etc…

Personally, though, I’m a tip man, and I hear Denis Murphy was too ; )

—DtM

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

Hey, Shylock, what kept you from answering my last e-mail?

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

Using the wrist is important,get the Matt Crannitch book and follow his advice,Practising long bows is really important[slowairs]even on occasions in reels to get oomph.
there is a style known as the long bow munster style[ P.o,Keefe Julia Clifford.
I would not copy LizCarroll,she holds the fiddle in away that works for her[as she has big hands], she props the fiddle up with her hand.
a person with normal hands, would not be able to get into third position,[Important if you want to play ScottSkinner tunes,or some of Sean Maguires repertoire].I would avoid using the heel of the bow,except for special effect.

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Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

I’ve been told I’m an inherent up bower, and I tend to use just the top half, but I try and use the whole thing, especially on slow tunes

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

An interesting subsidiary question - how many of us use a baroque bow? These behave differently to the modern bow and some players believe they are very suitable for playing ITM, and baroque music (obviously).
I’ve seen a lady in sessions in Bristol once or twice who uses a baroque bow. I don’t remember her name but I believe she plays in a band.

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

I do, Lazyhound.

Depends on the regional style, I think. Baroque bows are good for English, some Scottish and some Irish styles, but for some styles you need a longer bow - the essentially 19th century and more ‘classical’ Scottish East Coast style, for example (ducks behind parapet and decides never to come here again!).

With a baroque bow (gross oversimplification coming up) you need downward pressure, shorter bowstrokes and emphasis on the down bow ( I said it was a gross oversimplification!). If you’ve ever seen anyone playing a Welsh crwth you get the idea …

I’ve seen at least one post on here about using a 3/4 modern bow instead of a baroque bow. This won’t work - the construction of the bow is different, it behaves differently, everything feels different.

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Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

I’m with c.g. here: it surely all depends on the sound you are after and the regional style you are playing. I think even in Ireland there’s a lot of variation. I’m after a N. E. Scottish style, which is pretty demanding bow-wise. Here’s a video of Aberdeenshire player Paul Anderson using every inch:

http://boombox.ucs.ed.ac.uk/ramgen/fiddle/paul3lan.rm

Great sound (but what’s with that right shoulder?!).

Re: which part of bow do you use and why?

I own and sometimes use a "Baroque" bow. It is excellent for all musics except flying spiccato, for which the modern bow was made. You can sink into the string and sound better than with a modern bow.

My main bow is of similar Baroque pattern, but with cello frog and violin-length hair. Let the tool do the work. Is it heavy? I don’t know; I never pick it up.
It does give my violin a voice: my voice.

The ferrule on the frog is important to keep the hair in a ribbon. My Baroque bow hair easily becomes a roll of hair, and the sound suffers.

When I used to use a modern bow I played most tunes centered around about 1/3 from the tip. I noticed that this is not my voice.

You will discover that there are 3 main areas for the balance places: about 1/3 from the tip, the center of the hair length, and the middle by balance (about 1/3 from the frog).

At each place you can feel a bell-curve shape of usefulness for bows of different lengths, accents, smooth playing, etc.

The more I realize that release is the key to everything, the more I play around the middle by balance, about 1/3 of the way up from the frog. This allows fancy string-crossings with no weight or counterweight to practice against — it’s already balanced. And gives natural large volume with no effort.

Obviously, other parts of the bow are used also as is musical.

Altho I play this way with my bow for delicate fireplace music as well as for filling up the world outside, not everyone wants "my" sound.

Like it or not, your sound is your voice. Find what speaks for you, so you like it.
- vlnplyr