Lora Staples - beginning violin and fiddle expert

How to Play Brahms' Lullaby - Part 3

Going deeper with the Lullaby by Brahms - Bow Weight

In this third video, Lora continues talking about the famous Lullaby by Johannes Brahms, focusing on the concept of "bow weight."

Released on March 18, 2015

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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

Hi, I'm Laura Staples and I'm here today for Virtual Sheet Music and we're going to continue our talk about the Brahms Lullaby. This is Segment three. Segment one, we talked about components that make music and musicality and expressive playing and we singled out the component of your bow placement, otherwise known as the sounding point or the lane of the highway. In Video two, we singled out bow speed and I showed you some things you could work on to help the bow speed really shape the phrase of your music. So now we're going to complete the trinity of our three-ingredient tone pie and that is by discussing bow weight.

So, we already know that close to the bridge is heavier bow, farther from the bridge is lighter bow. So we already know that we're in a light bow zip code. So you're not going to ever use a whole bunch of powerful bow weight, but we are going to change our bow weight to also help shape the phrase. So, remember the half phrase, that [music] and how it's shaped with a climb and a descent and that target note is that high E, remember? So we're going to have our bow weight also assist us in shaping that phrase.

So let's play it first and see what observations we can come up with about what the bow weight wants to do to give us a beautiful sound. All right, here we go. I sang it too fast. [music] That's a bit better speed. It gives us time to think. Here we go. Lane four piano, light weight for starters. Okay, here we go. Ready, go. [music] All right, I don't really think there were any surprises there. When was the bow weight the heaviest in the phrase? It mirrored your bow speed. It got heavier and heavier as we climbed toward that E, that high point of the phrase. So it was a big crescendo, or a big what we call a hairpin, where we get louder and then we taper off. So the phrase is just one giant hairpin and that also represents our bow speed, getting more bow speed and less bow speed. And it also shapes our bow weight, more bow weight, less bow weight.

Now that's just so boring just to leave it at that. So let me show you one other subtle thing that's happening with your bow weight. We can play favorites with notes and we can tug on a certain note to give that note a little extra angst. See if you can tell what note I'm tugging on. There might be two. All right, here we go. I'll try to make it noticeable. [music] It's hard to convey through video. Let me try one more time. [music] Okay, I don't expect you to be able to hear what I'm doing, but there are certain notes where I feel like I'm pulling but with a little bit extra tension on the note and it's right here. [music] Right here. [music] And there [music] because it's just one last push. I can't explain why I'm choosing to do that. I think part of it is because I'm going from the A string to the D string and I want to give a little bit of guts to the D string note. But it's just also part of my musical instinct, which you will develop as you play around with these ingredients. Okay, so I am tugging a little bit extra on, I'll repeat myself [music] here [music] and there. [music]

All right so that's just a little bit more that you can play around with, with your bow weight besides the obvious climb to the E and the taper down from the E.

All right, so now you have the three ingredients and we've worked extensively on that first half phrase. You can continue plays clear through Bar 19 before it starts getting difficult. And we're actually going to have further videos on this piece to help you through the more difficult passages of this tune, because it's really worth learning. All right so I'll see you in the videos which follow.
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