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Balance point of bow


luthierwannabe
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Okay, I'll bite.

 

Some years ago I thought to try holding the bow above the frog, as with [sigh] so many of the O/T and [another sigh] even some pretty good Irish fiddlers I've seen & played with over the years:  The bow would not bounce.

 

Satisfied my curiosity.

Thank you! :)  Any more observations out there?

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Sigh..another broad and rather irritating generalization. I have associated with dozens, if not hundreds of fiddlers over the years, and almost NONE of them hold the bow "three inches up the stick".

Just happens that I just watched the  Celtic Woman Christmas show on PBS... and looks like Mairead does the "3" up the stick" trick!.. 

http://www.maireadnesbitt.com/photo/bandw4.html

Cheers, Mat

PS... here is some info on her violin & the strings she uses...  http://www.celticwomanforum.com/index.php?action=pages;sa=9

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Thank you! :)  Any more observations out there?

 

The bow loses a hell of a lot of power which means as it's gripping with less weight, long bow techniques sort of get all misshaped. It's kind of impossible to transition smoothly and you basically nuke bowing at the frog. Basically, feels like a very light caveman like club or more colorfully, a hand lantern that's without functioning batteries -_-

 

 

The only time I allow excessive north of the frog positionings on the bow grips is when students are first exposed to long bowing techniques as a way of familiarizing them with the use of the entire bow/allow them to see what the benefit of a long bow stroke is and feels like. That's it, if they have weak pinkies then their homework is open string practice with normal grips from the tip to the frog and back with focus on smooth bowing and correct hand posture and pinky"tension". After 10 hours of practice they come back and complain about how it's hard as nails to get to the frog and back without stopping and that they can't do it smoothly and that they sound horrible and complain complain complain when all I hear is fast improvement which only lacks the use of colle XD

 

To me, excessively high bow grips - people who's teachers never mastered the frog end of their bows or were to lazy to transmit the knowhow...

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The point of my Previous comment was not to say fiddling cannot be executed, even very well holding the bow that way, but just to make it clear that not all fiddle players are hicks and hacks that have no sense of bow control. Ironically, my wife plays up the bow a bit, and has had classical training.

If one is accomplished enough, there are many different bow holds that will work.

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I think it's worth mentioning that the refinement of particular mind-bogglingly complicated bowing techniques is one of the most important elements in regional Scottish and Irish styles. To assume that someone who only uses the upper half of the bow is necessarily doing something primitive would be a big mistake!

Many of the greatest Irish fiddlers have never played off the string in their lives, and never will. Control of the whole bow and of the balance point is kind of irrelevant to their technique, so why deal with all that weight when it doesn't help?

Since "chopping" became the next big thing in trad circles, everything has changed - that requires the use of the bottom quarter of the bow, and necessitates a more conventional bow hold.

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I wonder if some of the disagreement here might be caused by folks meaning different things when they say "balance".   It seems like some are talking about a static point like the center of gravity, and others are talking about some dynamic point, more akin to a center of percussion. 

 

Mac

Yes, I my first thought was center of percussion as well. Hang a bow by the frog, where the thumbnail is usually placed. Allow the bowhair to strike a fixed bar. Observe the rebound. See this.

 

BTW, when you are thumping a plate to hear M5, I believe the loudest point is found by thumping at the COP. Not positive about this, but pretty sure.

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Fiddler45, thanks for the thanks!

I've spent a lot of time in classical circles and the trad scene, and even more in a sort of uneasy crossover world ...

In the main, classical players find trad players' intonation to be excruciating.

Trad players find classical players' stiff bowing and inability to slur to be equally excruciating.

I think each should find joy in the other's difference!

As for Mairead, I won't hear a word against her - I just wish she'd keep still. 

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I think it's worth mentioning that the refinement of particular mind-bogglingly complicated bowing techniques is one of the most important elements in regional Scottish and Irish styles. To assume that someone who only uses the upper half of the bow is necessarily doing something primitive would be a big mistake!

Many of the greatest Irish fiddlers have never played off the string in their lives, and never will. Control of the whole bow and of the balance point is kind of irrelevant to their technique, so why deal with all that weight when it doesn't help?

Since "chopping" became the next big thing in trad circles, everything has changed - that requires the use of the bottom quarter of the bow, and necessitates a more conventional bow hold.

 

Very true and I meant no disrespect towards fiddlers and traditional players with my words (seriously not my intention)!!! The fiddlers I've heard and worked with in the past did have "normal" grips with faultless control of their bows, the grip, albeit slightly higher than I'm used to (nothing against it) isn't that alien to me as a classically trained musician, I was poking fun at the Celtic woman music video and not generalizing as I personally can't stand those sorts of musical theater programs.... The reference to the usage of the bow is simply because I have seen more students and even professional players not be able to execute such techniques simply due to lack of instruction, it's one of those things that seriously pisses me off because even if you never actually use such chopped positions or venture into repertoires which rarely use it, it is so much better to know and dominate it than to be left hanging simply because of a teacher's lack of instruction regarding the technique -_-

 

I might just be used to only the Iberian celtic fiddler techniques and the "Rebeca" player's movements and stylings but something tells me that "normal" fiddling (regardless of nationality) doesn't exactly look like anything the Celtic bouncing bunny rabbit does on stage.... One thing is Lindsey stirling like moves where she does fall out of tune because she's doing splits and pirroetes, back arches, semi flips etc etc and is playing live (I admire her courage) another is to be running and hopping all over the stage with SUPER dramatic flowing movements and odd grips while the track plays the song for you.... Personally, I think this sort of spectacle ends up painting traditional players and their technique in a bit of a disrespectful manner but that's just my opinion, if the big names in celtic music would actually play live with their normal techniques I personally would be much more inclined to watch. 

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The video posted above isn't mimed.

I think she would play more meaningfully with a bit less cavorting and emoting, I find it cringingly embarrassing to watch, but she's a very good player in that genre and I am a snob. For me the big names in Celtic music are not the sort of people you'd see on "Celtic Woman".

 

This thread has started me thinking about the essential differences between chromatic music and drone-based music. In particular, most Scottish and Irish dance music has its origin in piping. The primary feature of pipe music is that it's uninterrupted, secondly it has no dynamics, so it relies on ornamentation and repetition of motifs to generate rhythmic excitement. The fiddle music that's derived from pipe music is also uninterrupted, hence the absence of any off the string playing, and volume tends to be constant. The bow performs a completely different function in this style of music - where you hold it (and how) is largely irrelevant. 

 

Intonation is also a very different concept in the context of pipe music. While the instruments of a modern orchestra have all been refined to the point where they are capable of perfect combined "classical" intonation, bagpipe intonation is dynamic. The whole instrument oscillates slightly over time (while phasing with itself), and more importantly, the scale can be different on the way up and on the way down. Uilleann pipes are very extreme in this respect. I used to play for a while with Martin Furey - he had a set of pipes with an ancient chanter with a very strong character (the third was flat on the way up and very flat on the way down). All the tunes I learned with him have quirks of intonation because of those pipes. I never thought that was "out of tune", rather that one had to have many possible intonations in one's head in order to capture the character of the music.

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The video posted above isn't mimed.

I think she would play more meaningfully with a bit less cavorting and emoting, I find it cringingly embarrassing to watch, but she's a very good player in that genre and I am a snob.

 

Seriously!? Her bowing doesn't match the music and not once do you hear a single tremor or bow noise/background noise while she hops and runs.... Mr. Martin are you absolutely sure she isn't miming, she sound exactly like the CD lol?! I don't think your a snob, knowledgable and with personal taste and opinion but you seem accessible and very down to Earth (to me at least).

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I see what you mean ...

Well, it's pretty much impossible to mime if there isn't a click track, particularly if you're starting the piece. The only other possible scenario would be if there was a double ie. someone else sitting at the side of the stage watching Mairead and really playing. In other words she's not miming, she's just not plugged in and someone else is playing to her "performance". They would have to be phenomenally skilful, to the point where you'd hope they had better things to do than dep for a "Celtic Woman".

And this would only work if the show was pre-recorded and edited, which means the "live audience" would have to be in on the deception. The whole thing would be ineffably sad. I can't believe so many people could collectively stoop so low :unsure:

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People will no doubt take exception, but this isn't a concert, it's an entertainment and, in my opinion, more of a purely commercial venture, so - anything goes?

Pity you don't find concerts entertaining :lol:   Why doesn't somebody who Twitters tweet her and ask about the matter?  it's how she communicates.https://twitter.com/MaireadNesbitt

 

For future reference when these knotty problems arise http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordian_Knot

 

"Sire, you weren't supposed to do it that way........."

 

"Get knotted, Aristotle!"  ;)

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I see now that this is mentioned on the previous page by two posters. 

 

There is another point that can be measured.  It is like the "sweet spot" on a ball bat and is called the radius of gyration. 

 

If you let the bow swing from the throat of the frog as a pendulum you can determine what ideal pendulum has that rate of oscillation.  That is,  support the throat from a matchstick or such and measure the pendulum frequency.  Then find the length of a pure pendulum (just a mass on a thread) which has the same frequency of oscillation.  This is how the bow would oscillate if all the mass were at one point, and that point is not the same as the center of gravity or balance point.

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