JAVS Fall 2023

secondary motion of the right hand and fingers creates the small circles needed to transfer the bouncing from the bow’s hair to its stick. Under neutral conditions, where the music stays the same tempo and dynamic with repeated notes, a string player can safely do these three strokes at the bow’s balance point. We often practice these strokes in a scale or etude setting to build consistency. In repertoire, however, the music dictates the need for these strokes in a progression through the acceleration of tempo, changing dynamics, and the configuration of disjunct/conjunct notes on our fingerboards. Next, we will discover some guidelines for performing bouncing stroke in passages with changing musical conditions. Patricia McCarty authored a wonderful article about this topic her 2001 article titled, “Developing Spiccato for All Occasions.” The following excerpt offers some wonderful practice tips on the subject: When a player encounters difficulty translating a basic “utility” spiccato which has been working well in early Kreutzer etudes (at both loud and soft dynamic levels) to the more difficult orchestra excerpts such as the Mendelssohn Midsummer Night’s Dream Scherzo, it is time to seek experience in more varied musical contexts. The vertical and horizontal components of the stroke, as well as whether it is to be done by the forearm, wrist, or only the most minute movements of the hand-all these factors are determined by the tempo, dynamic, register (high or low string), and sound demanded by the composer’s style. Mixed rhythms and gradual or sudden dynamic changes require that the player be ready to adapt his physical movements accordingly. 3 When executing a bouncing stroke, always start from the string for clarity. The bounce starts on the second stroke. The first stroke is about placing the bow in the right spot to bounce it at the right speed. This guideline pertains to brush and spiccato strokes. Remember this when dealing with a passage where the speed accelerates or decelerates. The speed of the music dictates the bow placement (in relation to the stick of the bow) and the height of the bow’s bounce. The faster the tempo, the lower the bounce of the bow. Also, the contact point must be higher up in the bow to properly execute the stroke.

For sautillé strokes, place the bow at its balance point first while keeping the wrist neutral and relaxed as it makes small circles to allow the fingers’ secondary motion to complete the strokes that make the stick of the bow bounce. Repeated note sautillé can reliably be done at the bow’s balance point. Disjunct passages that require sautillé and have multiple string crossings that cannot be eliminated through position work (i.e., third movement of the Schumann’s Marchenbilder ) must be executed between the balance point and midpoint of the bow to accommodate the quick pivots needed to move from string to string. The character of the music and its volume dictates where we place the bow in relation to the instrument’s bridge. The closer to the bridge the louder, the farther from the bridge the quieter. This tip is true for all three strokes. Morphing from brush to spiccato requires shortening the contact point between the bow and the string at the bottom of the stroke. Brush strokes stay in contact with the string longer than spiccato strokes: a brush stroke’s contact point may range from a half centimeter to a half inch, while a spiccato stroke’s contact point can be measured in millimeters. To illustrate this point, a viola audition excerpt from Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, Eroica , is analyzed below.

Excerpt #1

Analysis of Excerpt #1 This excerpt from the third movement of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony employs a brush stroke in mm. 1-28. In terms of our basketball analogy, the hand-to-hand dribbling wrist motion is used to produce these “U-shaped” brush

Journal of the American Viola Society / Vol. 39, No. 2, Fall 2023


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