Re: Bowing

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Posted by Rich Laird on October 02, 2001 at 18:14:22:

In Reply to: Re: Bowing posted by gael on October 02, 2001 at 12:50:15:

: : Besides the shape of the bows and the way they are held what are the advantages/disadvantages to the french bow and the german bow, if there are any?

: As a classical bass player, I would say that G.bow is perfectly suitable to
: German romantic repertoire from Brahms. The effort to play that repertoire with
: F.bow seems considerably bigger.
: On the other hand, F.bow is much more appropriate to classical lightness
: (spiccato like in Mozart, Cf. interpretations on authentical classical instruments). G.bow seems to produce only a heavy or a hard spiccato.

: F.bow allows you more detailed, precised, varied articulation,
: while G.bow facilitates the weight transmission and is also easier
: to play while sitting. I believe that personnal technique can compensate
: the practical differences.

: DB bow technique remains in general limited (nowadays, it should progress more).

: YouŽll find maybe more differences even between the different kinds
: of DB than in the bows. Which is actually not true, for you have so many different bows (IŽve seen F.bows of 115g, others of 175g !, different lengths,
: different patterns of frog...)

: The history of all these schools, the variety of sounds, are fascinating.
: Bassists should be more aware of the different schools within the violin
: family and also within the woodwinds (that history of French bassoon and
: German bassoon generated quite a lot of marvellous sounds).

: As there arenŽt strong norms, finding a good bow seems me especially complicated for a bass player.

I believe that personnal technique can compensate
: the practical differences.

You make some excellent points, Gael...very well said!

The thing I would emphasize for someone - like Jevon - who is trying to figure out which kind of bow to use is: "personnal technique can compensate the practical differences". I've met and heard really bitchin' players who use each type of bow. It ain't the bow - it's how you use it.

I also agree that French vs. German bow is just one of the variables that we deal with...different axes, different tensions, different bow weights - they all go into the mix. How do you know when you have a bow that is well-matched for your instrument?? It takes a truly accomplished player to even think about something like that.

Jevon...don't make your mind up right away...try different things (yeah, I know - bows are expensive...see what you can do.) It's one of those things....what kind of strings do you like? How high do you like your bridge? Your endpin? Sticky or powdery rosin? Black or white hair? As you embark on this bizarre adventure we call "learning the double bass" you will formulate a lot of ideas about all this stuff - and then change your mind. French vs. German bow is just another one of those things. Most people stick with one - I did - and I'm not convinced that's the right thing to do. Experiment - that's how you learn.

But you have to start with one...and stick with it for at least a while. My suggestion would be go with whatever your teacher uses - you will get the most from your teacher's own knowledge and experience that way.

Don't have a teacher? Big mistake!! But if you *really* want to go it alone - you might be better off with a German bow. I'm not saying it's easier - but without a teacher, you'll probably have better luck with German.

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