Joseph Mendoes - cello expert

Accents on the cello

Learn how to improve your up-bow accents

In this video, Prof. Mendoes talks about accents. He focuses mostly up-bow accents that are often weak and harder to master.

Released on September 6, 2017

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello everyone, this is Joseph Mendoes with a video for So today I'd like to talk about your ability to accent down-bows and up-bows and why maybe you're struggling with those up-bows and why those up-bows sound weak on accents compared to down-bows. So in order to talk about this, we're going to be using the "Dotzauer Number 5" "Dotzauer Etude Number 5" from the "113 Studies," or something like that. So first thing to do is to just take a quick look at that study, the "Dotzauer Number 5" and start off by just putting accents on every six notes, so like this.

So you can hear those accents on every six notes and each of those accents is on a down-bow. Now, it shouldn't be too much of a problem to get those accents to sound equal with one another because they're all...all the bow directions are going the same, right, for each accent. Now if we add in another accent on every third note, so we'll have two accents per measure I believe, then things get a little bit trickier because we have to make sure that the accents sound equal, that the up-bows don't sound less powerful than the down-bows. So it would need to sound something like this.

So you can hear that there's a lot of power in each accent there and there's no lessening up, no diminishing of power on the up-bows. So how am I doing this? Well, the most important thing is to make sure...because everyone does really nice accents on down-bows, it's a pretty rare thing to find someone who can't make an accent, a strong sound, on a down-bow.

What we really need to do is learn how to make these strong accents on the up-bow, right, that's the problem. And the way we're going to do this is by making sure that we're pronated on these up-bows. So if your bow hold is maybe a little bit more like this, where you're a little bit more deep, a little bit more back in the hand and then the fingers are kind of starting to slope back a little bit like that. If you're doing that, it's going to be pretty tough for you to get those up-bows to be as powerful, you're going to have to kind of use the shoulder, like that. And it's difficult to get that nice bite that we're used to getting on the down-bow. So instead, this is what I advocate, is that after you play that down-bow, you make sure then that your fingers are leaning towards the tip, right? You want to make sure they're leaning, you can see how my fingers are leaning there. They're leaning that way, you should be able to lean into that string pretty well in order to make that same powerful accent at the beginning of that note. So...

So you should be able to then get those up-bows and down-bows to sound very, very similar to one another, which... I mean, maybe you're wondering why this is important. I mean, it's one of those cello techniques that we hear about, right? The down-bows and up-bows need to sound equal, they need to sound similar and that's because, you know, music... When a composer writes something, even someone who's really familiar with the cello and with string instruments, you know, these kinds of technical things about the cello, that up-bows are weaker than down-bows, very often they're not entering the composer's head, right? The composer is hearing a melody or some theme or something like that, played with some emotional quality, nobility or sadness or something like that. And if we have some technical issue like that, that maybe we'll get in the way of communicating the particular emotion that the composer had in mind, then that's something we need to solve.

So all the fundamentals, all the things I've talked about in the videos, they all basically are about that. Trying to get a kind of a technique then that allows you to really express a wide range of emotions, and to be able to then use those in such a way so that when you're playing the works, either that you've written or by other composers, that you're then able to accurately transmit those feelings and emotions to your audience, that's the whole point of this anyway. So that's why we talk about dry, boring things like up-bows, and down-bows, and equal accents, and all this kind of stuff.

Anyway, so that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed the video, please leave comments down below. I will do my best to answer them as promptly as I can. Also a reminder that I do teach online lessons and I currently still have a little bit of room in my studio. I've got, I think, three or four slots left that I can fill up here, things have filled up quite quickly, I've been pleasantly surprised. So anyway if you are interested please let me know and we'll fit you in and I'll give you all the information about that.

So once again leave comments down below on the VSM website, not on YouTube, on YouTube I won't see those comments or I won't reply to them because I can't. So V.S.M. are the ones that I can reply to, so please leave them there. Once again, this has been Joseph Mendoes for
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