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vieuxtemps

Milstein's bow technique

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General rule of thumb: Those with Russian grips play with the hair at looser tension and with less tilt to the bow. This is because the bow-hold turns the arm in such a way that the hair is laid flat (and consequently needs to be looser).

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Aman,

If you go to the 16th class, I can say with 100% positivity you will learn the answers to your questions.

Later - J

[This message has been edited by JKF (edited 03-07-2001).]

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I witnessed Nathan Milstein every day during three two week long summer sessions in Zurich back in the 80's. I would often sit in the front row no more than 10 feet away from him. He played mostly with the bow tilted very slightly away from him, but he would change the angle to totally flat hair for the most powerful tone and he would roll it sometimes just using a portion of the hair.

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Thanks, everyone.

I guess I'm a little impatient, JKF. I'm worried too, because the opposite of my expectation usually happens.

I guessed that Milstein had flat hair because of my experiment. A Russian grip with flat hair produced a softer, warmer, Ysaye-Milsteinish sound as opposed to a modern Galamian grip (first finger not so extended, though) with a slanted hair. It was easy for me to get a more resonant sound with the modern style, but the tone was heavy in high overtones. With a few adjustments in technique and application, I think I got a more resonant sound out of the Russian-flat method on some tries. A teacher said the modern way was better than the Russian since it allowed the fingers to naturally move/flex for down-bow as well as up-bow. But then I thought: since when do down-bows need extra help to match up-bows?

An extended-forefinger Galamian grip made spiccato speak wonderfully for me, and the modern bow hold is good for developing flexibility. But I'm thinking of "defecting to Russia." My only concerns are making life a little difficult as far as technique goes, just as being restless made shifting sort of hard. Heifetz and lots of others were/are just fine without the rest, though in the old 1917-24 Heifetz recordings his spiccato sounds down-bow heavy. It was either Intro and Tarantella or the Carmen Fantasy (both Sarasate).

-Aman

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Dear Aman,

I know, I'm going too. But it is full hair, making full tone. Bowholds...well, it depends on the hand. I can tell you honestly that Mr. Galamian gave very good advice on the bow hold, and it allowed for a good deal of bowing finesse. This hold I referring to is not the one with the index finger high on the stick! Rather it is one he taught to many of his students, some years back around the time of Mr. Senofsky etc. But, I'd refer to experts on this one. Sometimes, change for change sake can create a mess. It's not a thing of copying, but rather one of doing things properly. Labels don't mean much to me.. Russian, Franco Belgian, etc etc. I was once told "if it works, use it. If it doesn't, fix it". Not much help, and I apologize, but that's how I learned. One reason I'd be very hesitant to advise anyone is that I was told by several teachers that my hold was awful. One thing teachers can do is help while you are working with them. They can see things that we miss, and work with you in achieving the desired results. At any rate, I'm excited to learn more at the class, especially since he studied with all of those great artists, being one himself.

Aman, I hope I get to see you :-). Might try to get to the Sunday performance too. Take care and best wishes.

-J-

[This message has been edited by JKF (edited 03-09-2001).]

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I used to have a Galamian bowgrip, but I changed it to a Russian.

Contrary to what your teacher says, vieuxtemps, I feel that the flexed fingers of the Russian bowgrip allow for more flexion-extension (not in the index finger, but in the other fingers) than the Galamian grip does.

If you're going to be restless, you must hold the violin without letting the scroll droop in order to shift without distorting the technique. Having a flat bowing also assists with shifting.

The 1917-1924 Heifetz recordings demonstrate a not insignificant sound distortion via the limits of the acoustic recording medium, and that is why the spiccato sounds so heavy.

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Personally, for chords and big sound, I use flatter hair.

In general, I tilt the stick a fair bit. A recent discovery with my new (expensive) bow: I can play most of the bow with thumb and first finger (not that I strive to play that way, but I *can*). I can do smooth bows and I don't lose the point of contact at the tip when I go from down bow to up bow. Of course, the rest of the fingers naturally pivot onto the stick when the last quarter of the bow is approched (near the frog).

Note that this would feel very weird for many peole (being able to bow with two fingers). Trust me that I can do it to good effect. And it is an excellent excercise for training the first finger to press into the stick (for "Russian" grip etc...).

What I'm trying to say is, I think what works tremendously varies from person to person.

[This message has been edited by Sean (edited 03-09-2001).]

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You might also consider that Milstein's favourite bow was the ‘Milstein’ François Tourte, made in Paris around 1812.
He was Auer school, the right shoulder was used more than the modern schools today, he also had large hands. 

 

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I believe the galamian hold is more versatile and less stressfull in general as it brings in more wrist and takes stress of the arm, so it is better for an Orchestra musician to avoid repetitive motion injuries.  A soloist csn use a Russian grip to goid effect because it is grest for projecting, it sets up for a lsrge tone.  But there are plenty of big tone soloists who use the Galamian Grip, Perlman, Zuckerman to name two.  A user of the Galamian grio can certainly roll the  bow flat, it certainly was one of the tone varianles I leatned go use.

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I think Galamian's grip is essentially the "Belgian" grip.  And I think Dr. S is right in everything he said.  

I love the "Russian" grip for the basic sound, but I think off-string bowing with control and finesse is difficult.  IMO this problem shows in Heifetz's Mozart.  I have tried many times to develop that hold but I only get so far before hitting a brick wall.

Galamian studied with Lucien Capet.  One of Capet's exercises is to rotate the bow along the axis–from tilted toward the scroll to back toward the bridge.  It is done with the fingers, not with changing the elevation of the arm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucien_Capet

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