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June

Any Way To Indicate Bow Changes Other Than A New Note?

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Long held notes for a string player, in a solo or small-chamber context: 

Is there any way to indicate "this point is where you change bow direction" OTHER than ending the existing note and starting a new note?  I find players interpret a new note to mean I want some audible accent on that note -- that I want it clearly rearticulated -- even if I have a verbal indication in their part that they should make the smoothest bow changes possible.

In my current piece I can't just say something like "bow changes as necessary, as smooth as possible" because I do have specific places where I want the bow changes to happen.  This is even more of an issue in a piece with sustained double stops -- they'll need to change more frequently AND the changes can't be as smooth as with a single note (meaning it's even more important that they not have that instinct to accent any changes).

What do you think -- should I just combine new notes and a really clear verbal request to change smoothly?

(Assume I won't get to coach any of the players in person, and the players are excellent/pro level.)
 

Edited by June

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As a string player, if I'm playing a solo or in a quartet (or any chamber group), there is definitely going to be an audible bow change for long notes...no way to avoid it, though you can learn to minimize it (but that depends more on the player). If its a singe long note (over multiple measures) you can put up and down bow signs in parenthesis at places where you think bow changes might be needed.

 

I don't see anything wrong with writing your instructions, I just usually write "stagger bow", but your instruction is more detailed, so it'll be more appreciated.

 

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Players often get a bit snippy if you dictate this sort of thing unless there is a really good reason.  It feels a bit patronizing, unless this work is intended for beginning level student players.  

 

If the note is eight-billion measures long, they know they need a bow change.  And they can figure out the most discrete place to make that change, or stagger changes with their stand mate depending on how many players there are.  You can mark the note following the really long note with an up bow or a down bow symbol so that they know where they'll need to end up.  

 

If you mark a very long note as multiple notes, yes, they will assume what you want is multiple distinct notes, so don't do that unless you want all players changing bow direction together in time.  (Although, you could mark in bow changes and put a "molto molto suprememontissimo legato" marking on the passage, or some such, if it makes sense to have everyone change together, and you just want to avoid the sound of an accent on the change.)

 

(:

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I think I didn't express this clearly enough.  I'm talking about a single solo player in a small-chamber context (say, this string player plus two or three other instruments).  I'm asking for suggestions about marking specifically *where* the changes should happen (because this is a piece where I want not bow changes ad lib, but rather changes at specific points relative to what other instruments are doing).  

Upbow and downbow symbols are one possibility, but those suggest I care whether each given segment is bowed upbow or downbow (I don't care at all, but more importantly, I don't want to give the player the impression that the starts of the ones marked downbow should be more emphasized).

Edited by June

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Ah!  Hmmm… down bow just tends to sound a bit more prominent on the attack, because of the nature of down bowing, even if someone isn't intentionally playing an accent.  I'd suggest you mark individual notes to indicate where the bowing changes, but put a general "legato" marking over the whole passage so they know to avoid an accented sound as much as possible.  

 

Is the point that they are providing background to a more prominent melody on another instrument?  You could also mark the violin line with "oboe predominating" or something like that to clue them in that they need to avoid drawing attention to themselves.  Ultimately, the composition as a whole will suggest the proper flavor to the musicians.  A good player will nuance their performance according to what's going on in the piece as a whole.  You may not need to worry about spelling out every little thing.  

 

Any string players out there want to chime in with a better marking than just "legato"?  That would make sense to me, but I haven't played violin in years.  (:

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You can connect tied notes whereas each new note has the appropriate up/down bow markings where you want them. Augment this with specific language as to how you want the change to sound. Pronounced or subdued.

Edited by Ken320

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I think I didn't express this clearly enough.  I'm talking about a single solo player in a small-chamber context (say, this string player plus two or three other instruments).  I'm asking for suggestions about marking specifically *where* the changes should happen (because this is a piece where I want not bow changes ad lib, but rather changes at specific points relative to what other instruments are doing).  

Upbow and downbow symbols are one possibility, but those suggest I care whether each given segment is bowed upbow or downbow (I don't care at all, but more importantly, I don't want to give the player the impression that the starts of the ones marked downbow should be more emphasized).

 

So let me get this straight (I maybe making things more complicated, lol)...you want to indicate WHERE to change bows, but you don't care WHAT direction the bow is? As I mentioned earlier, if you want to indicate where to change bows, put the up and down bow signs in parenthesis where you want the player to change the bow....or if you're worried about the whole up/down bow thing (which you shouldn't worry about), just make up a sign/mark to indicate bow changes and leave the rest up to the player.

 

Can you maybe post an example or an excerpt of your piece where this occurs?

Edited by danishali903

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bowing.png

You can notate these symbols in any place you like, and you can be as much specific you want, even changes in the same note.

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Break the long note into tied notes, and then utilize slurs to indicate bowing.

 

I.E. If the bow change happens in the middle of a whole note, use two tied half notes with a slur ending on the first note and a new one starting on the second.

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I like Ken320's suggestion of using ties between the rearticulated notes. 

 

(Again, my question is about how to indicate specific timing of bow changes *in a way the player is LEAST likely to interpret as meaning I want any extra emphasis -- any more emphasis than has to happen physically -- on any rearticulated note.*)

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