Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bowing Backwards

Though most professionals are familiar with this concept, I have found that many students get quite far along--all the way to highly advanced levels--without being introduced to the idea of putting in bowings backwards into your sheet music.

Generally, one can proceed from the beginning of the music, putting in bowings which make sense musically and technically, as one goes along. But there are instances where it is imperative that one arrive at a particular bowing at a particular place; and it seems that, despite repeated erasures, it just can't be worked out!

In this case, the best solution is simply to put the bowing you want, where you want it. After that, work backwards, doing whatever it takes to make it turn out correctly. Will you have to do two up-bows before that desired down-bow? If it makes no musical difference, then do it! Will you have to break up a slur, or extend a slur to make the bowing come out right? Go right ahead!

The thought process here is based on prioritizing. If you feel, for example, that you need a strong down-bow on a note marked sforzando, but worry that you have to break up a bowing before that in order to come out on a down-bow, then what you are really doing is compromising. You're weighing your priorities, and saying that it would be nice not to break up the previous bowing, but it is imperative that you end up on a down bow on that strongly accented note.

Sometimes it is easy to work in reverse!

Try it, and let me know what you think!