Joseph Mendoes - cello expert

Sautillé on the Cello

Learn how to approach sautillé on the cello

In this video, Prof. Mendoes shows you how to approach sautillé on the cello.

Released on August 3, 2016

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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, this is Joseph Mendoes with another video for I first of all probably have to start with some sort of apology. I'm not sure if it's showing up on the video or not but the lighting is a little bit darker than it normally is. There's actually a very large wildfire it's not threatening our home or anything, but it is quite close and the smoke is pretty much covering almost the entire sky. So it's a little darker than normal. So I hope all of you will still be able to see me and understand the visuals.

But anyway today I would like to talk just a little bit about the Sautillé stroke. I had a specific request from a comment that someone left on a different video about that stroke. Now what the stroke is, is first of all we have to distinguish between Sautillé and Spiccato. Spiccato is a very kind of clear off the string stroke and usually it's quite a bit slower than Sautillé. So for example a Spiccato stroke [music] will be like that. I think the fastest [music] that we can just Spiccato, I hope you can see on the video that the bow is coming clearly off the string. That's one of the features of Spiccato, and that's what makes it different than Sautillé.

Sautillé is also generally a much faster stroke. Well not much faster but definitely faster. And it's where the bow itself is actually the thing that's kind of jumping. The hair stays in contact with the string. [music] And you can kind of see that after a little amount of time, you start to hear a little bit of a bounce in the stroke. And that's the feature of Sautillé. Now the difference between the two is big. I'm going to focus just on Sautillé right now though.

So to get the Sautillé stroke there's lots of things that need to be happening correctly. And that's I think why a lot of people struggle with this stroke. First of all you cannot be stiff or locked up really in your right hand to do a good Sautillé. If you're very stiff and locked up, [music] then you'll never get that bow to... you can play fast but you'll never get the bow to jump in that way. [music] It'll always be a little bit more of a scrub, like a really fast, super fast Détaché instead of that true Sautillé kind of sound. So a lot of that then has to do with how free you are here. You need to get really really free here. Now how to get free there, it's difficult because you really have to make sure that you're... the ratio between strength and flexibility in your bow hold is correct. That's the first thing that you have to check. If you're squeezing the bow too tight or actually holding it too loose, it's somewhere between that you want to get. Then, for example, if you're holding it too loose, [music] you won't be able to play that fast. Everything will seem kind of floppy and not controlled. If it's too tight, again we get that, [music] we get that kind of scrub really fast Martelé... sorry, Détaché. We don't really get that Sautillé, that bouncing of the stick itself. So that's really kind of the first thing.

There's of course equipment things, you just saw me tighten my bow. How tight you have your bow is really important too. I see from a lot of students actually that they don't spend a lot of time on this kind of very basic thing to make sure that your bow is tight enough. You want to make sure that your bow has of course a nice, kind of gentle inward curve. Now this will change depending upon your stick. Some sticks are very strong, they can have a lot more of this curve. Some sticks are... like my stick is very strong. So it doesn't need a lot. You see that there is still quite a bit of inward curve. There's other sticks that are very soft. So when you press down this way it goes down to the bottom a little bit too easily. So you have to make sure that you tighten your bow the right amount for the kind of stick that you have and play around with it. You might find a magic spot where maybe you're doing everything else right, but you haven't quite been able to figure out how to get that Sautillé bounce like that. And that just one little tweak in your equipment can help. And then of course rosining your bow as well, make sure that there's actually rosin on your bow. That's something again that a lot of people forget.

Okay, so the next thing with the Sautillé. We have equipment, make sure that your bow is tightened correctly, and that you have rosin. And also that in your bow hold, the ratio of strength to flexibility is correct. Now the other thing that's gonna make Sautillé difficult is if you have this very common problem in your bow hold where your fingers are kind of slopping backwards like this. You can kind of see that the bow hold is kind of supinated. You have to have some degree of pronation. Now some players are gonna have a little bit less. For example Rostropovich, he had a lot less. He had a terrific Sautillé. But there was still a little bit, at least a little bit of pronation, okay?

With other players such as Emanuel Feuermann, you can see him in old videos, he was very pronated on the stick. Again another player with a fabulous Sautillé. That's the thing that all the players have in common. Is that they all have a little bit, to some degree, for example Pierre Fournier is another one where there is not a lot of pronation but there's a little bit. I myself am a little more pronated probably, but you need some of that. Now what that does is it makes sure that you're able to transfer power into the stick and then into the string correctly. If you can't do that, Sautillé is going to be very, very, very difficult. So that's another part to the Sautillé. [music]

Now you can probably see all the motion that is happening here as well. [music] That there's a lot of finger motion, there's wrist motion, everything has to be able to move here. And again I know it looks like I'm very loose, but that's actually not what's going on. I'm not tight either, but I really feel like I'm actively controlling each stroke here and each note. [music] The other thing is you have to be really aware of where the bow is on the string because that's gonna change the responsiveness. So for example. all the way up here the string is much softer than it is all the way up here. You can just kind of put your finger and just kind of press down and just kind of feel the difference. So that difference exists from here to here as well. So you really want to make sure that you're finding the right spot [music] so that Sautillé really bounces like that.

Now as far as good pieces to study, there's quite a few. If I remember correctly, I can't remember which one it is unfortunately, but there is a Dotzauer... Now I forgot which number it is, that's okay, you can look it up. There's a Dotzauer that has basically just kind of a long string of running notes like this. You can also take a lot of them that have just straight sixteenth notes, and if they have slurs over them, you can just get rid of the slurs and just practice it in a very fast Sautillé style to help you get the stroke. A great piece is the Van Goens "Scherzo," "Scherzo" by Daniel Van Goens. I'm not sure actually if that's on the website but that's a great piece. And of course a really famous one is a second movement of the Elgar Cello Concerto. So those are great things to study as well, not just for, obviously your Sautillé but for your left hand.

I thinks that's everything I wanted to cover with Sautillé. But just to reiterate one more time, that difference. That's critical to understand the difference between Sautillé and Spiccato. Spiccato is [music] this kind of clear bouncing where the bow is really jumping off of the string [music]. And you can see the air between the hair and the string. Sautillé is [music] again generally faster [music] and it's the stick itself that's jumping and creating the impression that I'm leaving the string but I'm actually not.

I hope that answers your question, whoever you are that asked that question. And I hope it helps other people as well. Yeah, so please leave your comments, not on YouTube. Can't read those, well I can read them but I can do nothing about them. But I can definitely do a lot about the ones on the website. Just a reminder I am offering online cello lessons through my new website, So if you can just visit that website and send me a little message there. The website at some point in the next couple months will be revamped. I'm not totally happy with the design, probably many of you aren't either. But, yeah so if you want some individual lessons that can be arranged. There's also other services that I can do such as I can make a video reply to your question for a fee of course. So please feel free to ask me whatever questions you have about those services through my website there. So yeah, so I think that's it.

So once again this has been Joseph Mendoes for
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User Comments and Questions

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Espresivo Marcato * VSM MEMBER * on September 7, 2016 @1:55 pm PST
Is it possible to touch on the difference of sautelle and tremolo on the cello?
Joseph - host, on September 14, 2016 @11:08 am PST
Sure! Sautille is measured, tremolo is unmeasured. The stroke is essentially the same.
Espresivo Marcato * VSM MEMBER * on September 14, 2016 @4:21 pm PST
Thank you, that makes sense!
Neil Dickson on August 6, 2016 @6:32 am PST
Is saltando done much on cello? I've finished transcribing Wieniawski's 2nd violin concerto for cello, but I'm still cleaning up the orchestral score. Going through the 3rd mov't, the original has a section marked saltando, but I couldn't seem to get a bounce that's both fast enough and consistent enough, so I've been doing sautillé instead. The sautillé seems fine, and apparently violinists do it that way too, but it occurred to me that I've never actually played saltando before, so I was wondering if it just usually isn't done on cello.
Joseph - host, on September 14, 2016 @11:12 am PST
So sorry for missing this one!

Saltando occurs in the Dvorak Concerto in the first mvt right after the second theme, but some cellists don't play it that way.

The vast majority of violinists do it that way sautille, they also almost always play sautille in the fifth caprice of Paganini. The reason why that stroke is tough on the cello is because of the slower response on the string. Have you tried playing closer to the fingerboard? The response is much quicker there and it may help your saltando to sparkle!

Briana * VSM MEMBER * on August 3, 2016 @7:23 am PST
Terrific as always. Thank you!
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