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I play viola and I started wondering what differences there are between placing the thumb on the bow by the frog, or placing the thumb on/near the pad in the middle of the bow, and if one method is better than the other.


I performed a sound analysis of all 4 strings while using both holding methods, trying my best to keep each recording's volume level as even possible: not too heavy and not too light.

Here are my results.

(assuming that the lightest string is #1 and the heaviest string is #4)

For the position with the thumb on the pad between the bow: Strings 1 and 2 had the best amplification of their resonances, while string 3 and 4 turned out to have less amplification than the other method.

For the position with the thumb on the frog: Strings 3 and 4 had the best/fullest amplification of their resonances, while strings 1 and 2 had a much flatter and rougher sound than the other method.

However each method both produced a clear instrument sound without a huge fundamental difference between either.


So for the conclusions.

Ideally, the best method for holding your bow, is by holding it at the pad. This allows for the upper strings to resonate the best, and you can still play the lower strings properly by adding more pressure.

For the other method, given that the bow still produces the distinct instrument sound without a lose of quality, the method by holding the frog will give you a more of a rural sound, and works well with the lower notes of the instrument.
 

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This is an interesting post, though I am not a violist.

And so I wonder what violinists have found? My violin teacher, a baroque specialist & also a folk fiddler, holds his bow with his hand on the stick of the bow rather than the frog, but I prefer to be nearer the frog end myself, as I can control my bow better. The sound I make, good or bad, is very hit and miss, & my teacher always sounds fab, but that may have little to do with the way he holds his bow. :)
 

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Remember, you always have to check the sound, no matter how you hold it. The best way is to check sound of famous violinists and violists (also cellists are good for viola players, they have more common way of using bow with us than most of the violinists) and try to imitate it. There is actually no "best way" to hold your bow as there are no two exactly same hands of two different players :)
 

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I would like to put another query on this thread about bowing. When I returned to the violin almost 2 years ago, I was bowing with the flat of the bow. But both the teachers I have had since then play with the bow tilted away from the player, so I adopted that. However, the only time I performed in public my nerves caused 'bow shake'. It wasn't something I could control - I didn't feel all that nervous, but the tremors came from inside me and passed down my arm. It was mortifying.

The time approacheth that I'll be playing again (with Taggart on keyboard) & I'm dreading a repeat. I'm wondering if going back to playing with the flat of the bow would be beneficial in this respect - or in any other respect. What do you violinists think? Apparently some great violinists of the past played with flat bow hair, so why do most violinists today tilt their bow?

:tiphat: Thanks for any answers to this query; and a belated thank you to :angel: Eisa Viol that I am using this thread; it seemed silly to create a new one and then maybe not attract any posts. :eek:
 

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Her choice.

Notice the absence of parasitic movements when she plays at the frog. She's a heir from Eugène Ysaÿe. This allows to avoid noises at direction changes.

She inclines the bow. This doesn't play as loud as if flat, and it lets the hairs break more often. So it's considered a fault - but most violinists do it, including among the best ones.
 
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