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Bow balance, choking up and bowrocking

Posted by bj on Monday, August 15, 2011

I've really been trying to get the most bang out of the least movement. There are times when I'm sawstroking that I doubt I use more than a half inch of bow per stroke!

I've moved the action into the lower third of the bow, closer to the frog, and choked up my grip for fast tunes that require a lot of fast sawstroke, bowrocking, and precise timing. I've experienced speed improvements, and timing improvements by doing that, but it's also harder to keep even tone since the bow wants to be jumpier there. So the hair's gone a bit slacker to counteract for that. Less jump, but I'm still working on improving the tone.

But then again, maybe it's just not what I'm used to hearing, and that's just a difference I'll have to get used to. In the video of Alan Block I posted, he doesn't seem bothered by thin tone with a choked up hold!

8 comments on “Bow balance, choking up and bowrocking”

OTJunky Says:
Monday, August 15, 2011 @7:02:29 PM

"Bothered by thin tone"... :-)

Guess you have a big decision to make - whether you want play Appalachian dance music or Western Swing...


eerohero Says:
Monday, August 15, 2011 @7:40:17 PM

What about developing a very own style ? that seems to work anytime for any performer in the world. Originality pays off.

bj Says:
Monday, August 15, 2011 @7:57:28 PM

OTJ, the decision is already made. But you knew that . . .

Eero, that's the process I'm going through, in my own way. I've realized I wanna play with a whole lotta sawstroke and bowrocking to get the sound I'm after. Now I'm trying to do it as efficiently as possible so that the timing and noting is spot on even when I'm playing fast.

fishinmusician Says:
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @9:31:41 AM

bj, I'm on a similar journey. I've been fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time observing (and sometimes jamming with) Chirps Smith. He's strictly a TUF guy, generally plays between the middle of the bow and the frog, and the bow hair almost touches the stick when playing in the middle of the bow. IMHO, he's one of the best dance fiddlers around. Again, a lot of precise sawstroking and bowrocking, and a whole lot of rhythm. Chirps and Bruce Molsky led an incredible jam several weeks ago at the Sugar Maple Festival near Madison, WI, that I was able to record. Enough stuff to keep me busy for the next year:) Trying to follow Chirp's technique seems to be (slowly) working for me with some really nice "Aha" moments.

bj Says:
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @10:52:57 AM

I'll have to give that a try. I do sometimes use TUF, but mostly for waltzes since the tone is so much nicer. I never did get good at using it for fast schtuff. I ended up dropping the bow a LOT!

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @11:28:04 AM

Cool tune. Very nice.

fishinmusician Says:
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @1:05:34 PM

One other thing I forgot to mention...and probably the most important. Chirps told me that he always uses some degree of of index finger pressure on the stick, moderating or increasing it as the tune, tempo, pulse, etc. requires, but without being scratchy from too much pressure. He thinks this is very important. Before I started concentrating on the "feel" of the index finger on the stick, I also dropped the bow a whole lot. Even started using "Gorilla Snot" from Guitar Center! But now, I don't need to use this product, and it all seems very natural with no dropping of the bow. The upward pressure of the curved thumb under the frog seems to help with the downward pressure of the extended index finger, curved slightly around and on the stick. However, to each his or her own bowhold.....there's more than one way to skin a cat.

eerohero Says:
Thursday, August 18, 2011 @1:56:51 PM

Ever tried "Yellow Barber" this Way ?

of course, you have to wind up G to A

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