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The Various Bow Grips

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#1 HVS


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Posted 28 November 2001 - 04:25 AM

I have heard that there are three major types of bow grips: a Franco - Belgian grip, a German grip, and a Russian grip. Can someone explain what each of these grips are and the advantages / disadvantages to each of them? Frankly, I have no idea why my bow grip is and I would like to know.

Secondly, recent threads have talked about Galamian bowing and the figure 8 that he emphasized. What exactly is this, and how is this different from other forms of bowing?


#2 vieuxtemps



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Posted 28 November 2001 - 03:59 PM

Vol. 1 of Flesch's "The Art of Violin" describes the bow holds you mentioned. The main difference is where your first finger touches the stick; that influences how you tilt your hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow, how you use the fingers, what kind of sounds/dynamics are easier to make, how you control the bow, etc. (Always the little things!)

German: the stick touches the forefinger at the nail joint. The hand doesn't lean (pronate) much. In Baillot's method from the mid 1800's, he shows a drawing of a hand parallel to the stick being correct, and a pronated hand (like you'll see today, and yesterday, and many decades before yesterday) being incorrect. Franco-Belgian: stick touches between the 1st and 2nd joints of the forefinger. Szeryng, Grumiaux, Francescatti, and Gitlis share the sound I imagine as coming from a Franco-Belgian grip. Ysaye was THE Franco-Belgian virtuoso at the turn of the century, but in the picture I have of him his hand doesn't tilt as much as the others. It could have been for the occasion (musical context--different bow holds for different sounds/situations), or maybe he didn't pronate as much as we're used to seeing. Russian: stick rests in the 2nd joint of the forefinger, making your right hand lean like Heifetz's and Elman's. To my eyes and ears, Rosand looks and sounds like he's of the Russian persuasion. Kogan and Oistrakh's version(s) aren't as pronounced as Heifetz and Elman's. To me, Milstein's right hand sound is a Franco-Belgianized Heifetz. Or we could simplify things and say it sounds like Milstein.

There are others, but those were the main ones in Flesch's day. I think Galamian's is supposed to be a hybrid: hold like Russian (he was Moscow trained for high school), but extend the forefinger so it contacts like Franco-Belgian (he did some time in the Capet studio in Paris when he was about 20 or so). The Oistrakh bow hold (Soviet?) doesn't lean as much as the Russian, though the bow looks to rest in the crook of the 2nd joint, and the pinky can still come off the stick like Perlman and Ysaye. Many start with a certain school or teacher's bow hold of choice and then stray off into something else (compare Perlman then and now).

Fool around a bit, get a feel for the handling and a sense of the sound. There are old posts you can dig up for this topic, plus a good description of the Galamian figure-8 by lwl (under "elliptical bowing").

There are old violinist pictures on the Internet. Henry Roth's book is also a good source, as is the "The Way They Play" series by Applebaum and company if your local library has it. Videos help even more, and they're fun to watch/hear. I have a bunch of pictures from the Internet (don't worry, they're G-rated ), but I may not have time to put them on my webpage until Dec 10 or January 13.


#3 bob kogut

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 04:06 PM

Do any formally trained classical violinists hold the bow with the thumbrestingon the slide/ferrule,as oppsed to between the frog and stick?
I have noticed numerous world class fiddlers with this bow grip.

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