Technics of Violin Playing

September 12, 2017 | Author: F.M.Naidoo | Category: Violin, String Instruments, Hand, Elbow, Interval (Music)
Share Embed Donate


Short Description

Descripción: A classic book on the techniques of violin playing...

Description

*TNR StkAD " LIBRARY,

No.T.

arriving at a correct

manner

of playing the violin."

(See Joachim's Letter in Preface).

"I

|,--*U!i

I,;??

(08

^H***"*-?

By

CARL COL 03S!LY

AUTHORISED EDITION

friALF-A-CROWN

.^"S

COLLEGE LRC

3 1404 00

hi 260

087 367 6

*C8S 1908

Courvoisier* Karl? 1846

The

"

*

"

pi

DATE DUE

= *-T%

*•

.

4..11.-,



ftfc

1

?nm

]lTM

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING

LAVKNDKK AND CO., GREEN fERRACE, ROSEBERY AVENUE, LONDON, EC. HtlNTKI)

3,

IiY

J.

H.

Digitized by the Internet Archive in

2012 with funding from

Brigham Young University-Idaho

http://archive.org/details/technicsofviolinOOcour

CARL COURVOISIEK.

THE

Technics of Violin Playing

CARL COURVOISIER

Y

AUTHORISED ENGLISH EDITION

C. fc

:

HL COURVOISIEK

"

THE ST RAD

"

LIBRARY,

No.

I.

THE

Technics of Violin Playing BY

CARL COURVOISIER

ONLY AUTHORISED ENGLISH EDITION

"THE STRAD

"

J.

Office,

LENG &

3,

SCmibon Gkeen Terrace, Rosebery Avenue, E.C.

CO.,

186,

|teto

Fleet Street, E.C.

Voxh

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, I908.

:

153-157,

Fifth Avenue.

TABLE OF CONTENTS. Preface Introductory..

..

..

..

..

Part

I

..

..

..

i

:

LEFT SIDE— TONE FORMATION. SECTION

I.

Attitude of the Player and Position of the Violin

SECTION Position of the

..

SECTION

. .

SECTION ..

..

..

..

..12

.

.

26

.

.

.

33

.

.

..

..

..

..

..

..

.

.

47

..

.

.

75

.

>

..42

VI.

..

Part

..

V.

..

SECTION Fingering

..

IV.

Attitude and Action of the Fingers

..

8

III.

Attitude and Action of the Thumb

..

.

II.

Arm and the Hand

SECTION

Intonation

.

II:

RIGHT SIDE— BOWING. SECTION

How

to Hold the

Bow

..

VII.

..

SECTION

..

..

VIII.



Position of the Bow on the Strings Attitude and Actions Equalisation and of the Right Hand and Arm Graduation of Tone-Power The Wrist-Action for Change of Strings .. .. .. .. .. ..80



SECTION Fundamental Kinds of Bowing



IX.

..

SECTION

..

..

..

..91

X.

Distribution of Bowing

..

..

..

..

..

..

101

Conclusion

..

..

..

..

..

..

104

..

..



PREFACE. The

author has submitted the contents of this work,

before publication in the present form, to Dr. Joachim, as he had done with his

brochure over twenty

first little

years ago, and has received the following amiable and

most gratifying reply

:

[Copy.]

My Dear Mr.

Courvoisier:



I

have read the book

on Violin Playing you have sent me, and have gratulate you sincerely on

have performed a most the best

way

the

difficult

manner task,

of arriving at a correct

in

i.e.,

to con-

which you to describe

manner

of playing

the violin. It

cannot but be welcome to thoughtful teachers,

reflect

work

on the method of our will

prove useful to

Believe me,

Most

my

art,

many

and

I

who

hope that your

students.

dear Mr. Courvoisier, to be

faithfully yours,

JOSEPH JOACHIM. Berlin,

November

3rd, 1894.

THE

Technics of Violin Playing. INTRODUCTORY.

IN a 1873 larger I

published a small pamphlet, and in 1878 one, on the subject indicated by the

title.

Both appeared in Germany. It was with great pleasure that I accepted an invitation from the Editor of The Strad to write again on violin playing, for, apart from the fact that the several English editions of my work, which have all appeared without my knowledge, are incomplete and faulty, I have now a good deal more to say than years ago. The present edition is a reprint from The Strad, with a few alterations and additions. I shall endeavour to exhaust the subject, if possible, and to furnish teachers and players with reliable information upon every detail about which they may be

in doubt.

I deal with generalities. Afterfollow the plan of describing first the action of the left hand, which prepares the tones, and then that of the right hand, which sounds them. I shall refer to the combined action of both sides when occasion arises.

In this

wards

I

first article

shall

B

2

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

I wish to be short and yet not dogmatic. I dislike rules laid before the student in a cut and dried form, " This is allowed and that is forbidden." telling him :

An

not a mechanic of such an inferior class that skill might be drilled into him without co-operation of his own intellect such skill on a musical instrument would be on a low level indeed. I wish, on the contrary, to persuade students that, while there may be several ways of treating each detail of violin technic, there is one which forethought and experience prove to be the most suitable and reliable. Therefore I shall not lay down any rules without giving my reasons for their artist is

;

formulation. I think it right to begin with this warning to the would-be student do not think violin playing to be as easy as it looks! There is no instrument more difficult to treat correctly and tastefully than a bow-instrument. The cause of this exceptional difficulty is obviously this, that the actions of the two hands, or rather of the entire two sides of the body, are so utterly unlike each other as to require the player's attention to be continually divided. very large amount of time and exercise must be spent, under the control of unflagging presence of mind, in order to obtain mastery over the combined action of :

A

both sides. This warning

addressed to those young people especially who are fond of the violin, but unwilling to go through hard work. To such as are not even fond of " Don't try to play it " the instrument I should say and parents or guardians who want to compel a child to study the violin in spite of its own disinclination, inflict cruelty on pupil and teacher alike, and waste their own money and the child's precious time. Another apparently formidable difficulty is the impossibility of seeing our finger-work properly during our own playing. The player of a keyboard instrument can have his eye on everyone of his actions, if he so pleases. And it is certainly desirable, for us violinists also, that our sense of touch should be drilled into skill with the is

:

!

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

3

we foresee that we must manage everything without that help. But this difficulty is much smaller than it seems at first to be, because we can indeed see a great deal of our doings, either with the help of a mirror when actually direct help of the eyesight, even though in

the end



playing, or even directly the latter, it is true, mostly I shall give advice on this when not actually playing. matter at the proper places. To speak of requirements, it should be clearly stated that a violinist must possess not only the normal, that is, the musical ear, but also a pre-disposition for skill, This expression usually termed "technical talent." might be understood to mean a special aptitude of the joints and muscles, in some individual, for the peculiar But there is no such special purposes in question. aptitude, unless the normal structure of our limbs be considered as a special gift, when compared with tightness of joints and weakness of muscles, or with actual deformity. Still it is true that a child who is rather slow and

movements, has

chance to play any musical instrument well. Further, I might say that youths with very large limbs would perhaps do better to choose the violoncello for their instrument instead of the

clumsy

in its

little

violin, or should at least take to the viola after learning the violin for a while. In passing, I wish to join in with those who hold that the violin is a very suitable instru-

ment

for ladies. " Technical talent," then, if it is something more than •ordinary bodily aptitude, is a mental quality, namely,

quickness of imagination concerning the best mechanical process for serving a musical purpose. Happy is the child whose gift in this direction is so pronounced as to work almost instinctively. But wise is the student who, having become aware that fiddling somehow " comes to him naturally " while he observes others struggling over

easy tasks

— — does not

easy, but sets his brain to work and develops his talents deliberately and steadily. He is on the way to mastery. Great performers are

take

it

B2

4

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

It makes invariably people of prominent intelligence. indeed a great difference as to time and trouble spent over our studies, whether we think out, at a rapid rate, every detail of action, and give our hands and fingers literally a dictation from the brain at the very first real attempt to do the thing or whether we try to accomplish it thoughtlessly, mechanically, with just a notion of the final result, namely, a certain musical effect upon the ear. Imagination is the only possible connection between the mechanical process and its expected audible result. If attention be paid to the latter only, and the limbs be left to do their work in a tentative way, we shall obtain our purpose with exceeding slowness, if at all. For we may form bad habits which directly prevent us from reaching the goal. There is also strong doubt whether we shall remember how we have managed the thing, if it turns out aright for the ear with a thoughtless attempt, while we are sure of remembering and correctly repeating a process which In the latter case success has been deliberately chosen. is often instantaneous, at least in many an easier detail. Consequently, with the thoughtful student, practising means only reassuring himself that he knows and remembers how to do the work. The thoughtless one, on the other side, has to go through so many fruitless attempts, that he may be fagged out at the point where the wiser man begins work. And yet this work is very considerable. Many repetitions of detail are required to make the sense of touch understand and do the brain's will. It is indeed not the brain, but the mechanism, which requires these And when all the details of a long and repetitions. difficult piece, such as a modern " concerto," are mastered, they are not yet strung together. Now, " to know " a piece of music means for the performer really "to know it by heart" not only in its text of notes on the paper or in its musical sound, but also in its execution. Here then we find again that the thoughtful student has an immense advantage over the thoughtless. While the



THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

5

latter struggles through the details over and over again, or perhaps not even picks the thing to pieces, but reads the whole a number of times, before the bright idea crosses his mind that he might try to play it from memory, the former begins with the intention of remembering every note and every detail of fingering and bowing. And experience shows that the faculty of recollection is very strongly pronounced in the sense of touch, as it is in all our senses. When well trained, we perform many an action by force of habit, thereby allowing our thoughts to occupy themselves more with the mental than with the mechanical side of our work. It is a fact that we are able to play quite correctly from memory a piece which we have not seen in print for years, while we would find it almost impossible to write it

down.

Some teachers forbid their pupils to play by heart. They are right when they mean to prevent them from playing a piece from memory to anybody, when they are not yet sure of it. But beyond that the restriction is unwise. Playing by heart need not, as some say, leave the faculty of music-reading undeveloped for reading, or rather playing at first sight, should in any case be practised beside the studying of pieces. On the contrary, even with a thorough knowledge of the elementary theory of music, playing at first sight is only possible when we know the technical capabilities of our instrument by heart, so that the reading eye meets with no detail the execution of which is a riddle to the reader. I have not yet touched on the purely mechanical exercise, for the purpose of obtaining or preserving suppleness of joints and strength of muscles. A great deal of this is of course required, but much of it can be done apart from the instrument, by gymnastics, either quite free, or with an appliance such as Brotherhood's " Technicon" which I strongly recommend.* ;

*

Apply

to Messrs.

Augener and Co.,

22,

Newgate

St.,

London, E.C.

— THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

6

The

specially violinistic requirements of

mechanism

are the following i. Strength of those muscles, situated in the neck, which bend the head forward (and slightly sideward), in order to press the violin against the collar-bone with the jaw. 2. Freedom of action in both arms, from the shoulderjoint down to the last finger-joint. (a) The faculty of 3. On the part of the left arm: turning the forearm (from the elbow-joint) well outward, in order to bring the base of the little finger as near as (b) Agility of the possible to the neck of the violin, thumb, especially in its root-joint, close by the wrist* (c) Strength of the flexor (bending) muscles for the two outer finger-joints, for the purpose of pressing the strings down on the board. These muscles are situated forward of the elbow, in the fore-arm. (d) Strength of the small muscles within the hand which move the fingers in their :

root-joints (knuckles).

On

the part of the right arm (a) The faculty of turning the fore-arm well inward, to procure a solid pressure, through the bow, on to the string, for accents or continuous loud tone, (b) Subtle feeling in the first finger, as the means of transferring that pressure into the stick of the bow. (c) Strength in the thumb, as the support against such pressure. (d) Strength in the little finger, for the purpose of balancing the weight of the bow. As the exertion during actual play is considerable, the student should guard against waste of strength in the mere carriage of the instrument and bow. I shall at the right place, in the following articles, mention those efforts that are necessary, and also those that are not. Over-exertion should certainly be avoided, firstly because it is injurious to health, and secondly because 4.

:

Nobody does good work when tired out. therefore, wise neither to practise any one detail for too long a time, nor to devote a number of consecutive hours to violin practice alone, but to stop as soon it

It

is fruitless. is,

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

7

we feel tired, and to insert another occupation (for example, theoretical studies) between the violin practices. must not overlook the fact that we may tire out our attention also. For most constitutions it is too hard to more practise than a few hours each day. Say that for a professional student three hours' thoughtful and vigorous practice should be sufficient, if there be some exercise in playing by sight or some ensemble playing To spend up to to be gone through on the same day. eight hours or more per day with the violin, during weeks and months, as some ardent workers have done, is really foolish An amateur should consider one hour daily as the very minimum of practice, and do more as soon as school is absolved. From all that has been said so far, the beginner should conclude that slow progress in violin-playing is the rule as

We

!

and rapid progress the exception. But let him take to heart every advice and criticism of his master, and he will make sure progress if at all gifted, and get on at a speed

his talent is evident. try to be as critical with himself as his teacher to be, and he will see the reason

fair

Let him

if

he finds why he

should not be permitted to do any guess-work, or to rush to difficult tasks. Thus he will avoid both negligence and impatience.

8

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

PART

I.



third finger stops D in both keys yet it feels low and high in B fiat, if you take the sensible advice But the three to shift the hand back for the flatter key.

The

in

:

A

all feel alike in both keys, because they simply shift with the hand. Observe that there is a small difference in the width of the measures, those for the flatter key being by a* wider than those for the sharper key. In the example above, the fourth finger stands a little farther from the first and second fingers in B flat than in A major, though it stops a tone noted

other fingers

fi

as

flat.

Fingers can even mislead each other in measuring.

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

51

Try this example with the measure of the minor second, nor striking than with wider intervals which is more Q. JOL ill

.^.

.^. fro"

-&-

-e?-

i

(&)!

_a_#^_C>

s £

_

e>F#^Hv^= fto=:^l

> see

G

major)

F

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

60

Again we may place C major into either column, and read the two sets of keys off in their usual order. In each position, there are two couples of scales in which only one finger stops differently on different strings, because the leading note does not appear on the string, nor the sub-dominant on the E string, so that the diminished fifth can appear only once in the whole

G

set of sixteen fingerstops. These scales are and A|?, in the first position and A|?, the second position, and so on.

A

;

A

B

G

and G\>, and B(? in

other major scales two fingers (never more) stop and these two are an octave apart, consequently they are neighbours in the fingergroup. Thus, in C major the first finger stops a diminished fifth B on the higher, and the second finger on the lower strings in major the second finger stops the diminished fifth Ctt on the higher, and the third finger on the lower strings, and the like. Exchange of one key for another (modulation) with stationary hand, shifts all the semitones by as many fingers as the tonics are distant from each other by diatonic steps. When the change is the very frequent one into the key of the dominant or sub-dominant, that is, a fifth up or down, we need only transpose our complete fingering by one string up or down. But, naturally, we thereby throw off the fingering of either the highest or the lowest string, and bring in a new one This is at once understood by at the opposite side. referring back to our formula of ten lines in figures. But we can manage an exchange of keys otherwise. simply shift the hand into the suitable position to apply the same fingering as in the former key, which is easy at least in the case that the two tonics are very near together. This proves that the accomplishment of transposing should present no difficulty to the violinist. The minor scale does not consist of two similar halves. Among the lower four tones the semitone is in the middle, which requires no new fingering to be learnt, but only the replacing of one fingering, known from major

In

all

differently,



;

D

We

—G

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

6l

scales, by another. But in the higher group of four notes, in the harmonic form, an augmented second should appear between two minor seconds. And in the melodic form, as the seventh and sixth degrees are lower in

descending than in ascending, the semitone, immediately on turning back from the octave, must be transferred from the highest to the lowest place in the group. If then two fingers must stop differently within the octave-range while in major scales none are changeable, the minor mode is so much more difficult than the major that it should not be touched before the student is well at home in the whole system of major fingerings for the This is the reason why I have relegated first positions. the minor mode to the second volume of my School.

The

difficulty

is

threefold.

First

:

the augmented

second requires an extension, uncomfortable even to the Second while one finger describes a longest fingers. diminished fifth, as it happens in major also, another describes an augmented fifth, which never occurs in major. Third the very same two fingers which at first had the minor second between them, must step extra far apart to form the augmented second. And though the melodic form avoids this awkward interval, it presents :

:

the other peculiar difficulty of shifting two fingers The number and kind of distogether in the group. placements is the same in both forms the lower of the two fingers steps backwards and forwards, and the higher one the reverse. These are the new fingerings required in the harmonic :

form

:

(e)

1.2— .3.4

(/)

2.3

(g)

34— -1-2,

n

»





I.2—3.4—.

(h)

4.1— .2.3,









1— .2.3— 4.



.4.1,

or on one string

1

— — 2.3

.4.

(o)

I

represent the augmented second by the sign for the

4

:

62

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

major, together with that for the minor second, though is really the chromatic semitone. As the augmented second is most easily spanned from the first to the second finger, less easily from the third to the fourth, and least from the second to the third finger, the order of difficulty among those fingerings is The fingering (g) I place last because of its (h), (/), (e). peculiarity of contracting the whole group of fingers to a diminished fourth, consequent upon the crossing over from one string to the other of the augmented second. The whole group measures a perfect fourth in (e) only, while in (/) and (h) it is an augmented fourth. The formulas for complete octave-ranges are the following

it

including fingering

(h)

.1

:

— 2.3

0—1.2— 3— (4)

if)'

1 i

—2.

3

—.4

2-34 (e):

I

.2

.

3-4

1—2.3—4 (g)-

1.2

1—2—3.4—

3-4 The reader may write out for himself the for melodic scales, placing the ascending and forms side by side. The list of all the minor scales in the first identical with that given for the major scales,

four plans descending position is for octave-

ranges or for the whole position, with these few excep-

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING. tions: replace the tonics and sharp; to and

D

out

C

A

63

G flat and D flat by G A flat add A sharp, and

sharp strike

flat.

The minor scales, as well as the major, can represented in one formula of ten lines as follows

all

Minor Harmonic. 9

o

a

1.2

.

3.4

T

E

or

F

or Ftt

G A$

A,

Eb

I—2.3—4 I

or



.

3



.

1.2-3.4

I *

2

.

I

i

.

3

-

4

.2—3 — 4 .

2

B

or

C

or CJJ

Bb

4

I—2—3.4

G~

or Aj?

2

J

DorDft

— .3-4

1—2.3 — 4

(A scending)

Jlfi M0/

— —4 1—2 — 4 1—2 .3 — 4 —2 — 3 — 4 1.2 — 3 4 1—2 — 3—4 — .3 — 4 -2

1

3

3



1



2

1 1

.

2—3—

1—2—3



4

4

!— 2 -3—4

Melodic

[Descending)

I

.2--3-- 4

.2 — 3—4 I—2.3—4 1—2.3—4 1-2 — 3.4 1—2 — 3.4 1

1

— —3— 1.2 — 3—4 — 3—4 2

1

.

2

I—2.3—4

(Keys the same as above.)

be

B

:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

64

on

In the following keys one finger keeps the same place all strings, in the first position 1st finger in

E

and

E[?

minor



2nd

,,



F



Fjj:

minor



3rd





G



G$

minor



4th



,,

A, A|? and

The

A$ minor

which gives the tonic on the D string. In the remaining keys not a single finger keeps its place throughout. It is the finger

happens in minor that fingers step forward and backward, or the reverse, w hile the scale proceeds in the same direction. Observe these details In the harmonic form the augmented second is reduced to a major second when you go beyond the octave, while in the melodic form, at It

invariably

r

:

the

same

place, the

same

retiring action of

two fingers

necessary as if you turned back from the octave. Further a diminished fourth appears regularly between the leading note and the third of the key above, which is the inversion of the augmented fifth previously formed And also this the diminished fifth by one finger. which in a major key falls between the leading note and the subdominant above it (with the tonic between them), comes within the octave-range of the minor tonic (in the relative minor key), between the sixth and second is

:

:

degrees.

Compare

downwards)

in

the

positions

B—F

of

(or

F—

C major and A

The

patterns for major chords) are these

minor. and minor

triads

:

(a)

1

.

.



3

(6)

2

.

.



4

(0

3







3

4







4



.

.

I



.

.

2

(0)

W

(0)

(0)

(common

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

65

The

finger in the middle stops high in major, but low minor chords. As the fifth in either is perfect, it should regularly be fixed, as a double-stop with the root, by the first finger, and also by the second finger whenever we must (or choose to) stop the third of the chord in

with the fourth finger. In a diminished or augmented triad the starting finger retires or

The third,

Thus,

advances respectively.

finger for the octave is the next above that for the and the next below that for the root and fifth.

major, the semitone peculiar to the scalefingering appears in the tonic triad also, only it is distributed on two strings, as a minor sixth. in

Major

(a)

(c)

triads

appear thus

— o—o.4 1 —o — 3.0 1

o.2 l.o

:

(b)

o

— 3—0o

2

o.

(0)— o—o.3 (0)

3—

The

— — —o —

2—0—4.

(J)

Write out the schemes augmented triads.

1

—o— 2.0 — 0.0—

for

minor, diminished and

following are the formulas for arpeggios over all in one position (first), in major, minor, diminished and augmented triads. As before with the scales, any four consecutive lines represent a definite chord. The small rings represent the scale-stops left four

out.

strings

o 444

4O o

44 o

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

66

Major Triads.

— 2.0 — o ——o.4 l—o— 3.0 O 2 O— o i

E

or Ej>

F

or

-j

F|

I

G

or G|>

A

or A|>

/

0.2

O

I.O

3

o— o.3— o

VI

4 O

— 2.0—4

1— o— o.4

l—o— 3.0

[

D

or D[j

)

Minor Triads.

Diminished Triads.

Augmented Triads.

(roots as above)

(roots as above)

o 1

— 2 — 0.4 — o — o— I.0—3—0 0.2 — o — o — 2.0 — 1—0.3—0 0—0— 3.o O — 2 — O.4 —o— — i

1.0—3—0

o

— 2 —o —

—o.4 o — 2.0 — o.2 — o — 1—0—3.0 o —o.3 — O — —O— 1

.0

l—o— 3—0

2

1.0

— o.4

l—o— 3—0

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

We

67

major the one finger stops differently the third on the lowest and the octave on which gives the highest string, and in minor that finger which gives the fifth on the lowest and the third on the highest Whenever the same finger is changeable in string. two different triads, these must be a relative major and minor; see here find that in

:

The

1st finger in

F&

Fft mij.,

D& E



G



Gb







A|„

A[?







B

Bb



„ 2nd





3rd



4th



Djf min.

Eb F|„ F3 G;:;„ G3 „

„ „ „

In the remaining major and minor triads no finger changes its height, though there may be two or more fingers changeable in the corresponding scale. All diminished triads show two changeable fingers, (in the first except those on FJJ or F, and on Git or compare the statement about the diminished position)

G

;

fifth in

major

scales.

All augmented triads show three changeable fingers, •except those on C or C flat (in the first position). The patterns for chords of the seventh are these (a)

1

(b)

2

(c)

(d)

3

4

... ... ... ...

3

4 (o) 1

2

... ... ... ...

1

2

3

4

... ... ... ...

(octave).

3

4 (o) 1

2

... ... ... ...

(4)

(1)

(2) (3)

(o)

(o)

that of the dominant seventh the finger retire to give the seventh, while in the chord on the seventh degree (leading note) in major keys, the same is the task of the starting finger. The latter chord in the minor key is that of the diminished it compels both fingers in use to retire from seventh Among the remaining their first to their second places. seventh, there are two which cause the one chords of the or the other finger to advance, and two which require no change of stop from either finger. If

the chord

for the third

is

must

;

F2

:

4 o 4

2

:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

68

The formulas for arpeggi in the chord of the dominant seventh, and in that of the diminished seventh are here given, to be understood as former formulas :

Chord of

Keys

A

o

or A|?

major

B

Dominant Seventh.

the

or B|>

1—0—3.0 o 1

C, Cjf or C|?

D

— 2.0 —

1—0.3—4

'

or D[>

E

or E[?

— —0.4 — 2 —o — -F or F# 1.0—3—0 —3— o — 2.0 — 4 [G or G|? 1—0.3—4 2

1

0.2

1— 0—3.0

J

Diminished Seventh.

Keys

F

o

or Fj£



1—o

minor

G

or Gtt

2

.

o-

-4

.

3-

-.4

I.0—3.0

O



I

O.4 .2.0 4

C

or Cft

Id

or

DJ

I.O—3—O

A, Ajt or At>

B

or B^'

— o hE o — 2.0 —

0.2

.3

.

1— 0.3— .4

or E|?

)

I.0—3.0 In these arpeggi every chord of the dominant seventii shows up the one or the two changes of stop peculiar to the major key to which it belongs. And every chord of the diminished seventh shows up all the main changes (three or four) peculiar to the minor key to which it

As these latter changes, intermixed with the spans for the augmented second (the inversion of the diminished seventh) follow each other very closely, there can be nothing more difficult to play in tune than this To some extent, however, we rather frequent chord. can escape the difficulty by choosing, for the first positions two) different position, three (for higher

belongs.

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

69

fingerings, irrespective of spelling on the paper, for use in the

temperament

^-J^-JL^

1

=^° fjr

#^~

fi>-

o

1 (etj)

(eft)

JOlI

&

-&>

o-

-1-$°^-

'for

*J2 =fta

"

.5. •«?

*

Q

(~)

-±*-uJ™ e— Bowing.

SECTION Ibow

to

1bolt>

VII.

tbe

Bow,

The

conditions which the hold of the bow should fulfil, are these 1. The hold should be safe, in the sense that the bow may not slip from the chosen grip, and should remain safe during all possible actions of the arm and the hand. 2. Yet the hold should be as loose as possible, in order to keep all joints of the thumb and the hand, especially the wrist, perfectly supple, and in order to avoid waste of strength; also in order that the bow may glide smoothly along, undisturbed by possible roughness of the string or of the hair, and even uninfluenced by the trembling of a nervous hand. 3. The attitude of the hand should be such as to allow the wrist to turn the bow over from one string to another by its most natural action, the bending up and down in its longest axis. 4. Sufficient pressure for strong tone should be ready for use, above the stick and to the left of the thumb. But this pressure must be of an elastic nature. 5.

It

should be easy to balance the bow's

iveight,

with

the purpose, either of preventing its falling over on to a farther string, or of lifting it off altogether. The normal hold, which satisfies all these claims, is described in this



:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

7^

Rule XXI. (a) Place the thumb well into the nut or heel, not merely in front of it. Its opening may be enlarged, if necessary, by removing the prominent corner of the wood. The soft side of the tip touches partly the stick and partly the wood of the nut, and that obliquely, while the nail rests against the metal ferrule of the hair, of course also obliquely. The reason for this oblique position is, that the tip of the thumb confronts those of the two inner fingers in a one-sided fashion and we mean to lay the latter flat against the ;

stick.

The outermost

joint of the thumb should keep loose, preserving its usual slight bend, as if inactive. (b) Opposite the thumb, lay the four fingers across the stick, neither crammed nor separate, two before or ahead of the thumb (to the left), and two behind it (to

the right).

Mark this well, that not the forefinger only should be ahead of the thumb, but the middle finger also. Should your thumb not like to keep this attitude, being bent into the hand so far as to reach with its tip behind that of the middle finger, tell it that it must stay. It can reach farther than that, and the discomfort it suffers is no more than the thumb of the pianist has to undergo in playing the scale of A or E major. Now take these hints as to details The middle finger is the main holder of the bow. It should bend its extreme member around the stick, so as to allow the latter to rest in its last joint. That brings its tip near enough to that of the thumb (though the two had better not meet) as to simply not leave space enough for the stick to drop out. The tip of the middle finger literally carries the bow, at least when the hand is held hanging from the wrist and the tip of the thumb prevents it from slipping off. Therein lies safety, and ;

yet no exertion whatever.

The

third finger assists the second, but, being shorter, across, to avoid wresting

must not reach equally far the hand towards the right. it

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

The

little

finger should just be able to lay

JJ its tip flat

and by moderate pressure to keep up the balance of the bow. It is advisable never to take the little finger off, though you can do without it, whenever the bows leans against a string with some part higher up than about one third of its length from the nut, which is (or should be) approximately the bow's

on the

stick,

balancing point.

The

forefinger, like the little one, has a special task It should lay its middle member across the to perform. stick, in order to communicate to the bow the pressure Avoid closing the tip of this finger against of the hand.

the stick, or you will press the bow towards the bridge instead of purely down on the string. The fingers (except the little one) should be kept They will naturally be loosely bent in all their joints. held thus, if you perceive with your feeling that the only effort in holding the bow is the very slight one made by the little finger to balance it. Beware of using too heavy a bow, which would render that effort too great or cause you to place the little finger farther out towards the screw. The bow should weigh rather less than two ounces. The means of pressing the bow against the string, to produce a loud tone, is the leaning over of the hand to the left. This is not done by the hand itself turning in the wrist, which is impossible, but by the fore-arm turning in the elbow-joint. When the hand thus presses over, the thumb, as the support, must make a countereffort; and this effort should be combined with the feeling rather of bending the thumb more strongly in its last joint, than of stretching it out. Any other effort is absolute waste. Besides, a tight grip interferes with the freedom of the wrist-action; so does the spreading of the fingers. When we hold the bow vertically, we see the first finger point downwards very slightly, but the thumb very strongly, its tip running towards that of the third finger. It is impossible for the thumb to stand at right

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

78

angles against the stick, if we mean to draw the bow down to its very point (or head). When we hold the bow horizontally before us, we see the back of the hand, and with it also the longest axis of the wrist, stands quite parallel to the stick, when we think of playing pianissimo, and therefore do not lean the hand over to the left. And when we mean to give pressure on the bow, by leaning over, we find the deviation of the wrist from that parallel position small enough to still warrant a free wrist-action even in forte playing. That action is straight up and down in pianissimo, but a little oblique through the wrist in forte. Which are the commonest faults in the holding of the

bow? Some

people write that the bow is held by the thumb and the two outer fingers; and many do it. Nonsense! The two inner fingers have nothing else to do but to hold the bow, while the outer ones have special functions. What is to become of these, if you bother them with holding

?

Many

place the second finger merely opposite the thumb, and not ahead of it but many more place barely the tip of the first finger ahead of the thumb. In these ;

concases the lever for hand-pressure is too short sequently they allow the middle joint of the first finger to slip beyond the stick, and thereby tilt the hand so strongly down to the left that the axis of the wrist stands more nearly at right angles than parallel with the bow. Hereby the pressure is made inelastic and rough and there is a strong temptation to raise the elbow and thus render it rougher still. And with such position there is no possibility of using anything like the easiest wristAs a rule, the wristaction for change of strings. action fails altogether, and some action from the elbow or shoulder-joint takes its place, which is clumsy, being a large action applied to a delicate purpose. Some place the tip of the thumb flat against the stick instead of obliquely. This also tilts the hand over leftwards the two last named faults go mostly together. ;

;

;

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

Some

79

place the tip of the middle finger only on the around it so they must grasp the bow it. It is true that a very large drop tightly, not to finger-tip runs the risk of stumbling over the string, when the stroke approaches the nut. But if such a finger-tip may not reach right round the stick, it can find some intermediate position which still permits it to carry the bow. Some push the tip of the thumb so far in between the stick and the hair, that they must press the last joint firmly in. Such an attitude, whether thus caused or not, takes all suppleness out of the other two thumbjoints also, as it bends them to their utmost. The opposite fault is that of placing the tip of the thumb so gingerly into the nut, that the last joint is compelled to stick out almost at right angles, if one wishes to enjoy the very desirable support of the nail by the ferrule. This attitude may give you a cramp in the ball of the thumb it certainly tires you out all up the fore-arm. Some place the thumb quite outside the nut, so that the nail leans against the hair instead of the ferrule, surely not a reliable support. Some don't try to get any such support. Observe that, if you were to exaggerate the leftward attitude of the violin, vou would have to alter the normal style of holding the bow, as otherwise you could not reach its point with your downstroke. stick, instead of

;

;

8o

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

SECTION position of tbe

Bow

VIII.

on tbe String.

Attitude and Actions of the Right Hand and Arm — Equalisation and Graduation of Tone-Power

The Wrist-Action



for change of Strings.

The bow is best placed on the string, on an average, at about one to one-and-a-half inches from the bridge, above the end of the sound-holes. This point of contact is, however, not stationary. For very delicate tone it may or should be farther away, even above the fingerboard, while it must be nearer the bridge to produce great strength of tone. On the thicker strings, especially on the D, it cannot approach the bridge as closely as on the thinner ones but the higher the fingers ascend on any string, the nearer can the bow come to the bridge, nearest of all, then, on the E string, fortissimo, and in In low positions, and almost on the highest positions. the bridge, a light touch produces a peculiarly flimsy, husky and whistling tone, which is sometimes demanded by composers, by writing " sid ponticello " (on the bridge). The point of contact, when once chosen, must of course be kept during any one stroke, or while the bow turns smoothly back otherwise scraping or interruption There are two possible causes for disis inevitable. locating the bow on the string. One is a sloping instead of horizontal position of the string, which allows the bow to slip sideways, when held (as it should be) very loosely. The other is some wrong movement of the arm. ;

;

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

8l

The most important requirement is that the bow should always keep at right angles with the string (parallel to the bridge), because the string must be moved into purely lateral vibrations, to give a good tone quality. A further requirement is that we should be able to produce the most delicate touch even with the heaviest For that purpose part of the bow, that close by the nut. we must place the bow on the string, not with the full breadth of the hair, but with its edge only, by leaning the away from

the bridge. In trying to fulfil the specified requirements, insist upon feeling your hand in one with the bow, and upon moving both together in a straight line, parallel to the As bridge, imagining the arm to be entirely absent. this cannot really be, command the arm, with the joints of the wrist, the elbow and the shoulder perfectly loose, not to guide the hand but to serve it, just as the left hand and arm serve the stopping fingers. In order to observe your own bowing, stand with your right side opposite a mirror turn half-way towards it, so that the violin, conveniently held, stands parallel to the glass, and the bridge appears as a mere vertical The bow also should line under the horizontal strings.

stick over,

;

then appear vertical. If you succeed in guiding the bow correctly, you may consider as a mere description of your actions, what I must here put down in the form of rules Rule XXII. The stroke with the whole length of the bow is worked partly from the elbow-joint (fore-arm :



stroke),

and partly from the shoulder- joint (back-arm

stroke).'

Roughly speaking, these two actions do not mix, but alternate.

In an average arm the fore-arm stroke commands nearly two thirds of the bow's length from the point inwards, while the back-arm stroke is required for hardly more than the one third by the nut. A very long arm may manage nearly the whole length from the elbow alone, when the violin is held in a direction moderately

G



THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

82 to the its

!

But, as an alternative, the long arm permits to hold the violin farther away towards the left

left.

owner

than a short-armed player could do, and then there will be hardly any difference as to the proportion of bowlength commanded by the two sections of the arm. Now, should the fore-arm move while the elbow remained fixed in one place, the hand would describe a curved instead of a straight line and the result would be the same, if the whole arm (stretched or bent) were to move purely in the shoulder-joint. It is consequently a mistake to say that the back-arm should stand perfectly still during the fore-arm stroke, or the reverse. ;

The fact is that Rule XXIII.

:

— The back-arm

must advance, not only

towards the end of the up-stroke, but also towards the end of the down-stroke. The fore-arm, on the other side, must continue slightly narrowing the angle in the elbow, after the main action of the up-stroke has been taken over by the back-arm. The elbow stands farthest back when the stroke passes through the " neutral pointy This name I give to that point at which the fore-arm and the hand run in one straight and horizontal line towards the bow, with the wrist not bent to either side. So, after all, the actions from the shoulder and elbowThe best view of it is this, joints do get partly mixed. that the joveavm should be the back-arm should not absolutely necessary. It

motor, and that into requisition unless to me that the reverse

the principal

come seems

very prevalent among violinists, unconsciously of course this is why I am so explicit on this point of great importance. Now about the wrist Rule XXIV. At the neutral point only can the When we pull wrist-joint disappear in a straight line. the bow down from that point, the hand must be bent towards the left, so that the wrist protrudes onwards. And when we push the bow up from the said point, the hand must appear bent towards the right, so that the

view

is

;



THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

83

wrist protrudes inwards on arrival at the nut, in the direction of the player's nose or chin, according to the string chosen. In saying this, I take it for granted that the hand keeps in one with the bow. Rule XXV. The fore-arm must, towards the end of the up-stroke, be lifted high enough to let the hand Jiang from the wrist (instead of standing out straight) and thus to turn the bow over on to the edge of the hair. The wrist will therefore appear raised or



u arched."

Some

writers say that

which keeps the bow

On

it

in line

is

this raising of the wrist

—how very intelligent

some say that the wrist should be through the down-stroke and perplexed readers often ask whether this should really be, as they simply cannot do it. Don't trouble, dear readers That is as insane a rule as could ever be framed by anyone who has neither a conception of mechanics nor eyes or feeling wherewith to make observations. On the contrary, the wrist cannot remain raised, and it should not if it could. It is true that for a long pianissimo stroke it appears desirable to keep the bow on the edge of the hair down to the point, and it may appear as if you had to keep the wrist arched all the way for the purpose. Try this unless your arm is very long, you will find that you have to spoil your reliable hold of the bow towards the end, and that you have trouble in restoring it, after turning back into the upstroke. Now watch with your eye whether your wrist really must remain arched to keep on to the edge of the hair it need not it sinks into a level with the hand and the fore-arm. For any other but pp touch, a plain fact disposes of the doubt whether the wrist may not even sink below that level. At the beginning of the downstroke the hand is above the elbow, but at the end it is below it how then can the wrist protrude upwards when the fore-arm runs down-h\\\ to the hand, if the latter keeps its own level with the bow ? And if we want G2 the other hand,

kept arched

all

;

;

;

;

84

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

strength at the end of the bow, how can we get it, if the forefinger does not press on the stick, but past it, as it surely will when the wrist is kept high ? If we further consider that with a very slight pressure, even quite near the ends of the bow, all the hair will touch the string also, that the contact had better be gradually fuller, the less the bow weighs on the string, there can be no objection against turning the bow gradually up on to the full surface of the hair during the down stroke, by allowing the wrist to sink slowly in. In the up stroke it must gradually rise again. are even justified in settling the bow with full breadth at every nut, for ff attack; it is better to press evenly with all the hair, than to force one edge strongly against the string and to allow the other edge to glide loosely along, mixing a husky whisper with the solid tone. Short-armed players will find that the sinking in of the wrist assists the bend of the hand to the left (inwards)

;.

We

which in itself is very limited. The combination of both bends is, of course, an oblique one, and directly opposite to the complex bend of the hand (downwards and to the right) at the nut.

Now, if it is quite beyond doubt that the attitude of the hand in the wrist changes continually, when the bow runs straight, is it not amazing that Spohr should, instead, have written in his Violin School (and that others should have copied it from him) that the means of keeping the bow straight is a change of attitude of the fingers on the bow, in the sense that, when the stroke approaches the nut, the first finger retires and the fourth advances on the stick, while, of course, the thumb also plays to and fro below it, and that at the other end the Such alterations of our grip mean reverse takes place Instead of being taught, they should be unsafety. warned against. If they happen, they are the outcome of a little move in the wrist, in the direction not against the stroke (as happens generally within the full-length stroke), but with it, for the purpose of smoothing the turn of the bow, which might appear stiff when worked purely !

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING,

85

from the elbow or shoulder. The said move is identical that which produces the wrist-stroke (see next section). Now, during this move, the bow would be thrown out of its direction (with the point running backwards behind the player's ear, on arrival at the nut) without a little connivance on the part of the fingers. with

But nothing more than suppleness of all their joints, especially those of the thumb and middle finger, is required. Dislocation of the forefinger would remove the pressure dislocation of the fourth finger would endanger the balance and both, combined with that of the thumb, would throw the bow out of its direction (in the opposite direction, point forward) and so cause a jerk and a scrape. If you strictly avoid those dislocations, but feel very supple, you will feel no change in the attitude of the hand towards the bow, though such change may be apparent to the eye. Another slight change of attitude is real, namely that of a gradually tightening contact between the forefinger and the stick in the down stroke, and the reverse in the up stroke, consequent upon your permitting the wrist to sink in, and to rise again on the backward way. This change is certainly welcome, as it serves the correct purpose of increasing the pressure on the how when Us own weight decreases, and thus producing equal tone power throughout the full-length stroke. If you want a decrescendo, you simply do not drop the wrist quite so low. About the pressure applied to the string, through the bow, the following must be said Some players are inclined (through natural delicacy) to feel as if the bow should really be carried along through the air, perchance just near enough the string to touch it. Others (the majority) have the instinctive desire to be noisy, and therefore exert all the muscles of their right arm to coerce the string into vibration. Both are wrong. On the one side, the weight of the bow itself, leaning against the string, is never too great for delicate tone, not even at the nut, if only the bow moves slowly enough. On the ;

;

:

;

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

86

other side, pressure alone does not produce vibration so it may only be applied in addition to the moving on of the bow, which is the real means of tone production. When the pressure is audible in the tone, its quality being squeezy, there is too much of it in proportion to the may even go farther and say speed of the stroke. As greater speed of the stroke is in itself a means, this of widening the vibrations, that is, of making the tone louder, let it be the principal means to that end let us not apply any pressure when increased speed can be applied, but only when the latter is not available Thus, or insufficient, as in long sustained forte strokes. and not otherwise, can we preserve a good tone-quality. This advice should especially be followed in very quick legato passages and in the shake. The muscles which work the leaning of Further the hand inwards, to produce pressure, are situated in the fore-arm itself, and possess sufficient strength and endurance. If then the back-arm has nothing directly to do with this work and need not even assist the forearm, it is wrong to lift the elbow, or (worse) to raise the such pressure shoulder, to get the pressure on the bow would surely be too great. If the weight of the arm has any influence on the tone-power, it will tell just as well when it hangs from the bow, so to speak, as if it were placed above it. That influence can be on the down stroke only, rendering it naturally louder than the up stroke therefore choose the down stroke for the first and other accented parts of the time-measure, and avoid it for the lighter moments as much as possible. Having considered severally the various influences on comparative strength of tone, we conclude that, when a strong crescendo is required, we should give it, if possible, If to the up stroke, but decresceudo to the down stroke. you combine increasing pressure and speed with the natural increase of weight of the bow itself in the up but if you stroke, your crescendo must be effective allow the natural decrease of weight in the down stroke ;

We

:

:

;

;

;

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

87

to work against your artificial means of increase, you take a great deal of wind out of your own sails. The reverse applies to decrescendo. What various Now comes an important question degrees of lateral elevation from the body does the elbow assume ? Find them out for yourself by placing the bow on the various strings alternately, with its point. As the arm is then entirely or nearly stretched out, it has no choice of attitude in each case. So there are four :

one for each string, and further three intermediate ones, one for each couple of strings in double sounds. The elbow will be very near the body, hanging about straight down, in the use of the E string but it must not touch the body or brush against it in string, the elbow moving. When the bow is on the will still be a little lower than the shoulder, unless the But, whatever the violin is too little inclined inwards. elevation may be, the following rule, deduced from previous explanations, is absolute

degrees of elevation,

G

Rule XXVI.

—The

:

elbow must always move plainly It in the direction of the bow-line, behind the hand. must not, in the up stroke, rise above the hand after the neutral point is passed. Nor need the elbow be pressed down in the course of a stroke on a lower (more distant) string, as some players will have it. What is the good of caricaturing a swan's neck with one's arm, in an affected attempt at elegance, if thereby we render an already complex action more complex still, and at the same time take all strength out of the middle portion of the stroke ? That pressing down of the elbow is the direct consequence of a vague wording of the same rule, which is very common " that the elbow should always keep as near as possible to the body." This wording suggests the wrong idea of one normal elevation of the elbow. Spohr adds that, when the elbow must be raised to bow on a more distant string, it should be lowered again as soon as possible Of course, we must not forget to reduce the elevation when coming back to a nearer string but that wording :

;



:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

88 sounds as string at

if it

were

faulty, in itself, to

bow on

a distant

all.

Two more

observations on the attitude of the

arm

and the hand i. If at the nut, for gentle tone, the hand hangs from the wrist (as described), being drawn down by its own weight together with that of the bow, we can let that weight tell on the string with full elasticity. Only a slight sinking of the wrist is then required, to change a most delicate touch into a somewhat heavier one. This proceeding is very suitable for refined accentuation, leaving the more vigorous measure of pressure to be used for stronger accents. Observe that any other attitude of the hand than that of loose suspension must be a fixture in the wrist, which means more or less of an interference

with

its flexibility.

direction of the bow would be parallel to the player's shoulder-front, if the violin were held straight forward. As it is not, the bow-line is oblique enough to place the hand, at the end of a down stroke on the string, right in front of the right shoulder and under the same condition on the string, right in front of the middle line of the body. Something more must also be said about the equalizaThe weight of the tion and graduation of tone power. bow tells least on the string, because its position there is not far from vertical as the bow leans over more to the left, on each successive string, it weighs on it more heavily. To balance this inequality, add a little more pressure, the nearer (higher) a string you are just using unless you find that your instrument appears equal in That may well be, strength without this means. because, the higher the pitch, the greater is the natural carrying power of the tone. Further, we have often to vary the tone power, not only in a single long stroke, but also in a regular or irregular series of strokes. The more regularly the bow moves to and fro, the easier it will be to simply treat forte zvith longer and piano with shorter strokes. Some people 2.

The

G

;

E

E

:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

89

always have "tone, tone!" and never apply what call " demi-jeu," thus never getting below mczzoforte, while others never rouse themselves to a quick full-length sweep of the bow, and so hardly get

will

the French

In the latter case, the fault generally rushing is shyness of the bow right up to the nut, due to a feeling of weakness in the little finger. Well, if your little finger cannot support the bow properly, that bow is too heavy. It is surely against your purpose to shorten your stroke by several inches, just when you might wish for more length than you can get. By the way, some pupils will invariably lift the bow off when admonished to push it quite up to the nut. That means cutting every melody up into little bits, perchance mostly in flat contradiction to its natural punctuation or " phrasing." As to accentuation, which is nothing else than graduation of tone-power, observe that, while for delicate accents a slight dip of the wrist, and for moderate ones some extra pressure of the hand suffices, strong accents require a sudden rush of the bow to avoid harsh tone-quality. A real fp may w ant the bow to sweep quickly on right to its middle or farther, and then to flow on quietly. And when a slur should end in a heavy accent, the stroke must begin slowly, with careful saving of space, and at last suddenly rush to the end. The former of these tasks falls best to the down-stroke and the latter to the up-stroke, like the regular dccrcsccndo and crescendo. Of course, you are at liberty to produce delicate accents also by a slight rush in the stroke. The wrist-action for changing the bow from one string to another wants some detailed description. The dropping of the hand takes the bow over to the nearer string, which happens to be that tuned to the higher pitch, and the raising of the hand leads to the farther, lower string. Some beginners are thereby very much puzzled don't doubt that contradiction of the low hand meaning high pitch, and the reverse, and you are all right. F'or the sake of punctual transition, the motion of the above mezzoforte.

7

;

!

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

90

wrist must be decisive. If it is quiet and gradual, how can you tell ivlien the bow will arrive on the other string ? Make your wrist beat its own time, just like the falling or rising fingers. But avoid such vehemence of action as would make the bow shake and tremble. For continual change of two strings, choose that elevation of the elbow which would suit the stroke on both strings together, so that the hair will lie full on the farther (thicker) string, but with the edge only on the nearer (thinner) one. Should you choose the elevation according to any one string among the two, you would either roll the bow over backwards on the far string, or overdo the bend of the hand on the nearer one. Close by the nut, the wrist-action is naturally so small, that its place can be taken by a little more or less pressure from the little finger. But the farther you move away from the nut, the wider must be the bend of the hand. Therefore, near the point of the bow is the place where you should principally practice the wrist-action, to feel eye

it

distinctly

;

and

to train

your feeling, have your

on the wrist

the point it is just possible to command three strings with pure wrist-action, the elevation of the elbow being that for the middle one of the three strings. But for arpeggio over all four strings some co-operation of the arm is not avoidable. Even when fore-arm or full-length strokes alternate on two or more strings, it is wise, for the sake of smoothness and accuracy, to work the transition with the hand first, and then let the arm quietly glide into its new position. Wrist-exercise should be done by the beginner, as soons as he knows the fore-arm stroke, with the smallest amount of bow-length and very gently, in order that neither a larger move of the arm nor the leaning over of the hand may interfere with the purpose. Some beginners attempt to press the bow over to another string, instead of tilting it over.

Even near

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

SECTION

91

IX.

fundamental Ikin&s oi Bowing. Apart from detailing the several actions in the joints of the right arm, as they appear when forming part of a full-length stroke, I have now to deal with " kinds of bowing " proper, that is, with such styles of using the bow as serve to produce a series of tones of equal duration and tone-power, but of various speed and expression. Which part of the bow to use, and in what manner, depends on two conditions firstly, whether the duration and strength of each tone in the series permits us to use the whole bow or only a part of it and secondly, whether the tones should follow each other closely and smoothly, or whether they should be detached. Let us then distinguish 1. Stroke with full length, (a) with a smooth turning at the ends, (b) detached (sometimes rushed through very :

;

:

briskly).

Enough has been said about the smooth turning. In contrast to it we must cultivate the distinct, or, according to circumstances, the biting attach. For this it is not sufficient to touch the string at the very moment when the tone should appear. The bow must be settled on the string and pressed against it before the intended appearance of the tone, so as to start it with an effect similar to that of a strong consonant in speech, k or

t

or p.

When,

after the attack, the

bow

is

to pro-

ceed at a moderate speed, to give a sustained tone

:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

•92

(however detached from the following tone), the amount of pressure applied to the attack need not be diminished or, to express it more clearly, we need not apply greater pressure to the attack than to the continuation of the tone, unless an accent at the beginning is indicated. There is no difficulty in producing a neat start or attack in pp as well as in any greater strength. But, when the bow is meant to rush through its full length, to produce an abrupt, powerful tone, like a cry or shout, the pressure of the attack suffices and must be withdrawn at once. The string is thereby enabled to swing out freely, which materially adds to the carrying power of the tone. If, on the contrary, the pressure remains, the stick w ill grind against the string, through the hair or beside it, in the middle portion of the bow, and at the end of the stroke the vibration will be choked, -and the tone will thus be turned into a nasty noise. In very vigorous passages the full-length stroke, like smaller strokes (see later), is sometimes not started while touching the string, but by beating the bow down upon it from the air. This is easy at the nut, while at the point we are in danger of going out of direction. So be cautious with up- strokes of this kind. In any case, don't form a habit of this attack must further distinguish as special kinds of bowing, to be used regularly 2. Fore-arm stroke, (a) turning back softly, (b) detached and 3. Back-arm stroke in the same way. All that has been said about the smooth or detached full-length stroke applies here again. But this must be said specially, concerning the detached fore-arm stroke with the bow settled on the string The Italian term for staccato, the French detache. When it goes to it is extreme shortness, so as to give the single tones no -duration at all, merely marking moments, the term is Another suitable marteilato (martelc) that is, hammered. ;

T

!

We

:

English term would be stitching. Its attack must be made w ith free hair, even in greatest strength. Therefore, besides giving the bow 7

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

93.

with the screw, do not begin the downstroke at the middle of the bow, but a little higher up, to avoid the contact between the stick and the string. In jorte you may rush through the whole remainder of the bow down to the point, close to which your up-stroke Decide before-hand how long a part will then start. Otherwise there is, in the of the bow you mean to use. feeling of your arm, no limit for the move, and your upAn effort is stroke especially will come to a vague end. required to render the up-stroke as loud as the downstroke, so you may expect to get tired very soon in the The hammered stroke region just before the elbow. can be graduated down to pp, when a very small part of the bow is required. This is best chosen near the point, but not necessarily quite close to it. For strong martellato, it is as essential as for quick detached full-length strokes, that the pressure of the attack should cease immediately after the start. You should feel like breaking the tone loose from the string. As, then, the stroke undoubtedly requires two "times" of action for every tone, namely the pressure for attack and the start, and as you have also to mind the stoppage, to gain time for a new attack, which makes three " times," it follows that the speed of true martellato in repetition is very limited. You can hardly furnish more than five or six stitches per second of time. can easily detach several tones in succession in one direction, up and down, at a moderate speed. But peculiarly charming is the effect produced by detaching a row of quick tones in the same direction. This is what violinists usually understand to be meant when the term " staccato " is used, though this Italian word simply means " detached." This quick staccato causes trouble to many a player, and when he succeeds in producing it, he generally finds it reliable in the upper third or half of the bow, and in the up-stroke only. The difficulty lies partly in the fact that each bow dictates its own speed to the player's hand, in consequence of a variety in weight and in readiness to rebound some bows will not sufficient tension

We

;

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

94 do

it

v/ith

at all. different

And bows

the

same player produces staccato

at a different speed.

When

once

the most reliable speed of a bow is found out, it can more easily be accelerated than slackened. The action of the hand and arm can best be described thus The bow is kept closely attached to the string. The place of a deliberate attack for each note, with intermittent pushes of the fore-arm, is taken by a mere swinging of the hand downwards to the left and upwards again (really a turning of the whole fore-arm from the elbow), which alternately presses the bow firmly against the string to stop it, and loosens it again, allowing it to proceed. Meanwhile the stroke-movement of the forearm is continuous but very slow. The space of bow allowed to each tone is thus extremely short and therefore staccato does not allow of very great tone-power. If care is not taken to attack the first note very crisply, the succeeding attacks will probably fail. The swing of the hand can easily be controlled as to the number of Stiffness of the wrist, or too tight stitches intended. grasp of the bow, directly prevents the effect. The natural preparation for " staccato " is " martellato." Whoever has not mastered the latter had better not yet try the former. The back-arm stroke with a soft turn is seldom used as a special kind of bowing, because it rests on the string with the heaviest part of the bow, and so endangers the clearness and fluency of the tone. Any smooth bowing on a smaller scale should in preference be fore-arm :

;

work.

The

detached back-arm stroke, kept touching the string, more rarely chosen. But an excellent means of producing short detached tones is is still

:

(4)

The

carried or thrown stroke

with the back-arm, from

the shoulder. This is a sudden short grazing or beating of the string, with the bow freely suspended in the air between the touches. This style of bowing also can vary from ff to pp, when we choose the point of contact close to the nut,

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING. and then

farther and farther

away from

it,

95

at the

same

time rendering the movement of the arm smaller and smaller. Close by the nut and strong, the stroke may called "chopping" be For pp we can pass from the region of the back-arm into that of the fore-arm. But above the middle of the bow, the throwing may degenerate into whipping. From the nut to about the middle, it is possible also to graze the string for some duration, instead of hitting it for a moment only, so as to sustain single tones a Both kinds little, or to slur two or three quick tones. That longer touch becomes of touch can be mixed. unreliable beyond the middle, because the bow, instead of immediately lying still and flowing on after falling on the string, rebounds several times. When this sort of dancing is desired, there is, of course, no choice but that of the upper part of the bow. For the thrown stroke especially, the wrist must be held quite loosely, the hand hanging from it. can even give delicate touches of the string from the wrist alone, dropping the hand a little and swinging it sideways at the same time, while the arm stands perfectly When, then, we increase the speed of this wriststill. action, we manage an imperceptible transition from the thrown stroke, or " spiccalo " from the shoulder (or elbow) into the quicker " spiccato " from the wrist, or "springing bow " (or later). Alike to the firm detached stroke, the thrown stroke can be repeated several times in the same direction, cither with the same part of the bow, by fetching the bow back, or by lifting off while simply continuing the main stroke compare the next section on this point. For very quick passages, especially more graceful than toneful ones, any kind of arm-action is too clumsy. There remains only (5) the wrist-stvoke (smooth or detached). The action of the hand in the wrist, for this purpose, must be strictly distinguished from that which serves to While the transfer the bow from one string to another.

We

;

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

96 latter is

up and down, rectangular to the direction of the now wanted must go sideways to and

stroke, the one

exactly in the direction of the stroke. Still, it is not (which action is not very free and easy), but slightly oblique, because the hand leans a little towards the left. To feel loose enough, carry the hand, as usual, hanging from the wrist. Some players will carry the hand stretched straight out others bend it more decidedly down than its own weight together with that of the bow gives cause for. In the first case the stretching sinews, in the other case the bending sinews of the hand (which like those of the fingers run through the wrist) are exerted, and thus the greatest possible legerity is not obtained. Some violinists lean the hand very much towards the left, so that the longest axis of the wrist is more nearly rectangular than parallel to the bow. It cannot be said that this is utterly wrong, if anyone derives greater legerity from it. But, apart from the danger of getting mixed in one's feeling about a real stroke or a change cf strings, both done by the wrist, that attitude can only be called for when the bow rebounds too wildly, or when the intention is to produce such tone-power as a wider swing of the hand alone cannot furnish. And with this very oblique attitude it is especially difficult to prevent the down-stroke from turning out louder than the up-stroke. Many lift the little finger off the bow, or even the third This again is not necessary only these finger also. fingers should not press on the bow, so as to resist its quick movement, possibly in an intermittent way. An essential requirement for this stroke, beside the looseness of the wrist, is that also of all the three joints of the thumb, because the joints have to play a little, while the tip must remain immovable in or against the nut. The joints of the fingers will also be felt to play about. The wrist-stroke can be produced at any place along the whole length of the bow, with the result of graduation from a good forte to pp. It is most easily found out Take the arm up and pull it together, close by the nut.

fro,

literally right across the wrist

;

;

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING. settling the

bow on any

string.

Then keep

it

97 perfectly

while the hand moves the bow softly to and fro, keeping the little finger well on the stick. Don't try to make the wrist-stroke long It is naturally very short. Have your eye well on the bow and on the hand, especially on the knuckle of the forefinger, at the same time, to find out the proper movement. After this, change to about the middle of the bow, to the spot where the stick comes nearest the hair, and you will observe that the stick swings down and up with every stroke. When then you swing the hand out more briskly, even the hair will spring off the string, and you have "spiccato" or "springing bow" done by the wrist, sounding exactly like the slower spiccato described previously, into which you can go over by slackening speed. The exact spot where the springing succeeds best, where consequently it can be produced with very It delicate tone, must be found out in each single bow. is therefore more correct to say that we permit the bow But even in to spring, than that we make it spring. springing the tone-power can be varied considerably by approaching the nut, or retiring to the middle of the bow or even beyond it, together with a longer or shorter Care must be taken that the swing of the hand. springing should never suddenly begin or cease against the player's will. The "springing bow" of course, delivers the tones decidedly detached, while the smooth wrist-stroke keeps between staccato and legato, distinctly articulating the single notes without actual separation. Call that still,

!

" non-legato " if you like. The wrist-stroke can be brought to such a speed that it becomes impossible to count the strokes. The effect of such bowing, especially in orchestral playing, is that of vehement trembling; so it is generally called " tremolando." It is mostly executed with the bow keeping in touch with the string, but sometimes springing. In the latter case the term "feathering " might be adequate. For not too quick and very toneful non-legato passages, I!

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

gS

such as are peculiar P. Rode, R. Kreutzer,

the

composition of a combination of the fore-arm and wrist-strokes, with the bow to

style

Viotti, etc.,

of

we can apply

clinging to the string.

Let us

call

it

(6)

the

detached stroke ("grand is really not detached, bowing to and fro.

long

detache " of the French) though

it

We

but sounds like any smooth explain it as a fore-arm stroke lengthened at either end by a swing of the hand, or as a wrist-stroke widened by a slight movement of the fore-arm. It is less tiring and sounds much better than the ordinary fore-arm Distinguish the two well. stroke of similar length. While in the normal fore-arm stroke, taken as a part of a full-length stroke, the hand bends in the wrist in an opposite direction to that in which the fore-arm naturally bends in the elbow, you mean now to bend them both in the same direction, and thus to sum up two small movements into a larger one. Don't exaggerate the length of this stroke, or you will be unable to preserve the straight line in bowing. With some carelessness the bow will also roll over, and it may easily touch adjoining strings. You will understand the value of this style of bowing, when you consider that real legato-bowing (slurring), however frequently the bow may turn, cannot attain to the same tone-power as this style of bowing to and fro that therefore the for each note of a quick passage

may

;

would surely be overpowered by a grand pianoforte and especially by an orchestra, if it ventured Trust that to slur everything that is not staccato. this long-detached stroke, like smoothly turning longer strokes, has the effect of legato for a distant hearer, though you treat it as non-legato. The "arpeggio," that is, the breaking up of chords into their single tones, can on the violin be treated legato, non-legato or staccato and even spiccato with two or three or four notes in one direction of stroke, when the notes are regularly distributed on several Naturally the strings, with a very charming effect. solo-violin

;

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

99

down-stroke takes the series of notes passing from the farther to the nearer strings, and the up-stroke the reverse series. Since there is a natural tendency in the down stroke to appear heavier than the up-stroke, while we should be prepared to produce accents in either direction, it is advisable to practise all kinds of bowing, applicable to notes of equal value, in triplet figures, which allot the accent to both directions alternately and also to sometimes reverse the bowing of even figures, using the up-stroke for every accent. Of the three forms of detaching notes of smaller value 1. Fore-arm staccato or martellato, ;

:

2.

Back-arm

spiccato,

and

Wrist-spiccato, the first is best suitable for very strong, or at least very solid utterance of well-measured passages, while the second suits airy, light expression at a moderate speed. When the latter grows very quick and at the same time heavy, degenerating into regular chopping, it is apt to run wild altogether, striking a wrong string or two strings The third form has to take the place of both together. the others, when the speed is too great for them. The proper treatment of the dotted note with its accessory note of smaller value, when not slurred, might also be called a special kind of bowing. It is a repeated attack in the same direction for that accessory note. The dotted note must for this purpose lose some particle of its duration, to give time for the new attack and, indeed, composers often write a rest instead of the lengthening dot like this 3.

;

:

HI

I

2J

instead of

Especially in quick tempo the hearer understands the little note to belong rhythmically and melodically to the following, not to the preceding dotted note therefore such spelling is undoubtedly correct. The player, then, ;

JJ2

:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

IOO

is bound to understand the figure, with his mechanical feeling, in the same sense as the author and the hearer.

For the dotted notes

mainly he changes the stroke

direction, preceding each by an attack in the opposite direction, to deliver the little note before each dotted

one r-

n

v

n

v

,—

v

v

while he does not detach the little note from the following dotted one. About the abbreviating sign of a dot over a note, I shall speak at the end of the next section. Now, the dotted note has the accent, and, therefore, however short the accented note may be rendered, greater length of bow must be given to it than to the Thus a fore-arm stroke may be required for little note. the dotted note, while a mere swing of the hand may At a very great speed it becomes deliver the little note. difficult to follow this plan of bowing so, long ago, violinists have hit upon returning to the simple bowing to and fro, but giving the accented note by the upstroke, close to the point of the bow. I cannot agree with this practice, because it is almost impossible to avoid accentuating the wrong note, even when the original dotted note lasts no longer than the other, in this ;

way:

L



^J

\

^

!

The avoidance

of wrong-

the very reason for bowing the figure in that special way described above.

accentuation

is

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

SECTION Distribution

of

IOI

X.

Bowing*

We

know that a stroke proceeding at even speed will produce even tone-power, provided that the varying weight of the bow be counterbalanced by varying pressure from the hand. Consequently, when even strength is wanted in bowing to and fro, on notes of equal or unequal value, we must follow this natural Rule XXVII. (a) Strokes of the same duration must have the same length, (b) Strokes of unequal duration must be handled

so as

to

let

their respective lengths

correspond with

their respective duration.

Thus, in a melody composed of whole, half and quarter notes (semibreves, minims and crotchets) which are neither slurred nor detached, but simply non-legato, we must give the whole length of bow to the whole This plan must note, half length to the half notes, etc. repeat itself on any smaller scale, that is when either the speed is too great to allow full-length even on the longest notes, or when the notes are of smaller value at the same speed. Thus in Allegro passages, the notes of which are of unequal value, or if of equal value, are to be partly slurred and partly bowed singly, a move of the fore-arm may be wanted for the greater values only, while a swing of the hand suffices for the single notes. If these natural rules are not observed, the absurdest mistakes in accentuation will surely happen. I will give a striking example When a phrase begins with a single crotchet or quaver before a bar, while the whole contents of the next measure are to be sustained in one stroke, is anything more required for that short preceding note than the last quarter or eighth of an up-stroke, :

:

:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

102

by the nut, or even less, because that note is not ? Unless we mean to scream out that note much louder than we can possibly render the accent after the bar, dare we rush the short note up through the whole length of the bow ? Wrong as this practice is, it is by no means uncommon. There is a way of correcting wrong distribution, or

close

accented

helping

out of uncertainty about the best distribution. It is the most recommended for the dotted rhythm in the preceding section a repeated attack in the same direction as before. Of course, it can never sound exactly like a smooth turn of the bow it means detaching. If we don't detach distinctly, we will slur two tones against the author's indication, or, if the second note happens to mean the same pitch as the first, we will even sustain one tone instead of articulating the same tone twice. But that detaching effect of the repeated attack is as a rule exactly what is required, especially when it is applied to the break between two phrases. The repetition of attack can be managed in three one's

self

:

;

ways i. By leaving the string and starting again at the former point of attack (either end, or any place within the bow), that is: i. by fetching the bow back, which causes rather a long interruption, and is therefore often out of place 2. by stopping on the way and starting again at the point reached, the plainest and safest form 3. by momentarily lifting the bow off while the stroke-movement of the arm goes smoothly on. This last form is difficult; but being the softest, it gives a charming effect to " cantabile " strains like this ;

;

:

2e*i-5^ee1I It is rather unsafe in the upper half of the bow, because the stick is inclined to rebound.

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING. Insist

upon

strict

observance of

all

IO3

bow-marks on

Otherwise the paper, on the part of a young pupil and clumsiyou will see him form a habit of indecision ness, which results in a feeble, toneless style of bowing, that exasperating habit of fiddling away with a maximum of six inches length in the middle of the bow, which is quite as unsatisfactory in tone results, as insufficient grip of the left fingers. I cannot here show all the usual or possible formulas of stroke distribution, for passages in triplets, groups of four, six, eight, nine notes, etc. But this I must mention, that, on one side, such distributions as involuntarily produce an accent on the beginning of the group, that is on a rhythmic pulse or beat, by bowing for example the first note down and the other two or three up, are as a rule right only they should not be chosen when that accent tells too heavily. On the other side, unless the composer has deliberately placed an accent on an intermediate note or on the last note in the group (in an humoristic or passionate mood) such distributions as place an accent on those light particles of the measure, or cut up the whole into jerky irregular bits, are invariably wrong. There is no sense in a rhythmical effect which leads the hearer to believe that we have got out of time, or that we are mixing up groups of two, three and four notes. are reproducing music when we play the fiddle anything that is musically incorrect or unintelligible, must never be made an object of technical exercise. If the idea of such tricks is that we should work the wrong accentuation out of such figures by persistent practising, it is an insane idea, because nobody will ever succeed we would only waste our time and patience it would, besides, be a thing that only a fool would consent to deal with, the introduction of fancy difficulties into a study which is already crammed full of natural difficulties As the distribution of strokes is closely connected with the graduation of tone-power, we must mind the exception also, which proves the rule The choice of !

;

We

;



— !

:

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

104

length for a set of strokes according to the duration of notes is wrong, when strokes of shorter duration are meant You have to sound fuller than strokes of longer duration. often enough to give a full length to a crotchet, but only half the bow to a minim which follows, because you are asked to deliver the crotchet forte but the minim piano.

I

wish

all violinists

Conclusion. would come

to

an understanding

bow-marks on the paper, on the following lines. The " slur " in violin music means legato, as in any other music for us then smooth flow of the bow in one direction, and smooth turning, if we cannot get all

as to

;

:

the notes into one bow-length. The dot over or under a note means a slight shortening of its duration, procuring a break or interruption. This sign, apart from its application to each single note of a series that should be detached (staccato), is also specially suitable as a mark for indicating the end of a phrase, by being placed over its last note, just as a comma would be placed after the last word of a sentence in written speech, when no sign for greater interruption is wanted. For the latter we have the rest signs in musical notation. The sign for extreme shortness of utterance, the vertical dash over a note, has been in general use formerly, and has wrongly been superseded by the mere dot. must restore this sign for use beside the dot, for reasons to be explained presently. So far no alteration is required, only greater accuracy in the use of signs. But of late years some new and combined signs have crept into use which call for investigation. One of these is a horizontal dash over a note, meaning the sustaining of the tone to its fullest duration/ On the pianoforte this is equivalent to a legato sign, but on the violin it is clearly the right form of demanding a smooth turn of the bow after the note in This sign is therefore valuable. I would question.

We

1

'

*

" Tenuto " stroke.

THE TECHNICS OF VIOLIN PLAYING.

IO5

place it deliberately everywhere over those single notes (in patterns of bowing which mix short slurs with single notes) which are by many writers actually furnished with dots (!) where there can be no question of staccato or spiccato. these dots ? to show inattentive readers once more that this note is not included in a slur ? Is it not sufficient to write the slurs as you mean them ? I shall presently show by example what I mean. Further there is a combination of the horizontal dash with the dot (jl), which cannot either be misunderstood. It asks us to sustain that note broadly, but still to allow a slight interruption before the next note. This style of utterance is called semi-staccato. When there is a series of notes to be treated in this way, the more usual sign is the slnv over dots (
View more...

Comments

Copyright © 2017 KUPDF Inc.
SUPPORT KUPDF