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The player and the bowed string: Coordination and control of bowing in violin and viola performance
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH, Music Acoustics. (Music acoustics)
2009 (English)In: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, ISSN 0001-4966, Vol. 126, no 5, 2709-2720 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

An experiment was conducted with four violin and viola players, measuring their bowing in performance using a combination of motion capture and sensors. The measurements allowed for a detailed analysis of the main bowing parameters bow velocity, bow force and bow-bridge distance, as well as the bow angles skewness and tilt. An analysis of bowing strategies in détaché playing of notes of three durations (0.2, 2, 4 seconds) at three dynamic levels (pp, mf, f) on all four strings is presented, focusing on the "steady" part of the notes. The results revealed clear trends in the coordinated variations of the bowing parameters depending of the constraints of the task, reflecting a common behavior as well as individual strategies. Furthermore, there were clear indications of that the players adapted the bowing parameters to the physical properties of the string and the instrument, respecting the limits of the playable control parameter space. A detailed analysis of the bow angles skewness and tilt showed that skewness played an important role in controlling bow-bridge distance, particularly in crescendo and diminuendo notes, and that tilt was used to control the gradation of bow force.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 126, no 5, 2709-2720 p.
Keyword [en]
bowed string, violin playing, motion capture, bowing parameters
National Category
Musicology Other Physics Topics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9825DOI: 10.1121/1.3203209ISI: 000271507000065PubMedID: ID: 19894847Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-70449449194OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-9825DiVA: diva2:133370
Note
QC 20100809Available from: 2009-01-09 Created: 2009-01-09 Last updated: 2010-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Mechanics and acoustics of violin bowing: Freedom, constraints and control in performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mechanics and acoustics of violin bowing: Freedom, constraints and control in performance
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis addresses sound production in bowed-string instruments from two perspectives: the physics of the bowed string, and bow control in performance. Violin performance is characterized by an intimate connection between the player and the instrument, allowing for a continuous control of the sound via the main bowing parameters (bow velocity, bow force and bow-bridge distance), but imposing constraints as well. In the four included studies the focus is gradually shifted from the physics of bow-string interaction to the control exerted by the player. In the first two studies the available bowing parameter space was explored using a bowing machine, by systematically probing combinations of bow velocity, bow force and bow-bridge distance. This allowed for an empirical evaluation of the maximum and minimum bow force required for the production of a regular string tone, characterized by Helmholtz motion. Comparison of the found bow-force limits with theoretical predictions by Schelleng revealed a number of striking discrepancies, in particular regarding minimum bow force. The observations, in combination with bowed-string simulations, provided new insights in the mechanism of breakdown of Helmholtz motion at low bow forces. In the second study the influence of the main bowing parameters on aspects of sound quality was analyzed in detail. It was found that bow force was totally dominating the control of the spectral centroid, which is related to the perceived brightness of the tone. Pitch flattening could be clearly observed when approaching the upper bow-force limit, confirming its role as a practical limit in performance. The last two studies were focused on the measurement of bowing gestures in violin and viola performance. A method was developed for accurate and complete measurement of the main bowing parameters, as well as the bow angles skewness, inclination and tilt. The setup was used in a large performance study. The analyses revealed clear strategies in the use of the main bowing parameters, which could be related to the constraints imposed by the upper and lower bow-force limits and pitch flattening. Further, it was shown that two bow angles (skewness and tilt) were systematically used for controlling dynamic level; skewness played an important role in changing bow-bridge distance in crescendo and diminuendo notes, and tilt was used to control the gradation of bow force. Visualizations and animations of the collected bowing gestures revealed significant features of sophisticated bow control in complex bowing patterns.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2009. xvii, 76 p.
Series
Trita-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2008:20
Keyword
bow-string interaction, bowed string, violin playing, motion capture, bowing parameters, performance control
National Category
Other Physics Topics Musicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9826 (URN)978-91-7415-208-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-01-30, KTHB Salongen, Osquars backe 31, Stockholm, 10:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100809Available from: 2009-01-12 Created: 2009-01-09 Last updated: 2010-08-09Bibliographically approved

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