Dividing the Bow

Prominent among the educational writers on the subject of violin playing is Paul Stoeving, who has become much better known to Americans in the past few years during which time he has been living in New York. In an appendix to a handy little book on The Art of Violin Bowing he has discussed the matter of dividing the bow stroke according to the demands of the passage to be played. He advises the player, after the most suitable style of bowing for the particular purpose has been determined upon to consider how it can be connected smoothly and easily with that which precedes and follows.

"The point of the bow," he says, "may have been employed, and next needed is the middle or nut, or vice versa. See how, without break or doing violence to the logical order of the piece, the change might be effected; if either suddenly, perhaps by means of one single, quick stroke, or by a gradual working down (or up) to the part of bow next employed.

"Settle definitely the question whether a passage or phrase of any kind shall begin with the down or the up) stroke.

"While it is undoubtedly true that the accented note of a measure is best given with the down bow, and an up measure with the up bow, it would be a mistake to adhere to this general principle too strictly, as innumerable instances in violin compositions prove the advantage (from a technical point of view) of doing the reverse.

"Look, therefore, to the continuance and the finish of a passage, and consider all pros and cons before deciding; the start, with a down or an up stroke, may in itself be perfectly good, but the finish resulting from it may not be, and for the sake of the finish the start is altered.

"Use the same forethought and good judgment in choosing the right amount of bow for any purpose, be it a single note, a run, or a portion of a passage or melody.

"Where consistent with the nature and speed of a phrase seize every opportunity of employing a fair amount of bow, for this favors tone production and gives keen, broad outlines to a rendition.

"In crescendos allow for the greater speed of the stroke and increased pressure on the stick, also an increased amount of bow.

"Do not cram into a small portion of the bow that which is much better executed with the whole or three-fourths of the bow; or employ, by preference or habit, one part to the exclusion of another."

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