Variation 23 – Active elbow stroke, Bach excerpt

ID 5406

Notice how we use the elbow to help our bow division. Every down bow starts at roughly the same place in the bow (around the balance point) and the up bows are leading musically towards the down bows which are on the beat.  Using the side of the hair helps further reduce friction on landing.

This stroke is a useful one in several of the variations. Having the upper arm balance the bow as it lands can help with smoothness and control. Much like a plane lands with its back wheels first, let the bow glide on to the string.

This stroke can also help with issues of uneven bow division which occurs  in many places in Bach, such as this gigue-style bowing from Bach’s A minor concerto, 3rd movement.  The ‘levering’ of the upper arm on the down bow helps slow down the speed of bow for the 2 notes slurred. Then the drop of the upper arm helps lift the single note so that it does not make an unmusical accent on the weak part of the beat.

When practising, try playing just one phrase, then pause to take time to think before repeating the phrase.

Bow division