Phoenix Bow Rehair

Why do I need more than one bow?

By on Oct 15, 2017 in All About Bows | 0 comments

Why do I need more than one bow?

If one looks at the inside of most all the orchestral string instrument cases (other than the double bass), they will find that there are places to secure more than one bow. Clearly, if this is an amenity that is offered in nearly all cases, there has been a need established by the consumer. Which, leads us to the question: why do I need to have more than one bow available to me to perform?

There is the most obvious reason, the bow having some kind of failure, that would keep it from be able to be functional, or some kind of accident that renders the bow no longer functional. In this instance, one is very happy that they have another bow in their case to call on in such an emergency. While this is not a regular occurrence, from one of your plugs coming out, to and eyelet screw becoming stripped, there are a litany of things that can occur to your bow rendering it non-functional for performance. (Some performers, live in such a fear of this happening, they will not even go out onto stage to perform, with only one bow available.) Should this occur, the first thing to do, is not “freak out”.  Collect whatever parts that may have come off, and put them in a secure location with your bow, grab your spare bow, then get yourself on stage.

The other reason that you might want to have more than one bow, is because every bow is different, and even the finest bows in the world will have its strengths and weaknesses, depending upon the music that is being performed. From Bach, to Mozart, Beethoven, and beyond, every composer has a different sound, and challenges that must be overcome to have the most authentic performance. For some it is a personal choice to use a period instrument, but there are orchestras, that will only play Baroque music using period instruments, and a baroque style bow, would then be required to perform. Going into the Classical era, a baroque style bow, would make the performance of Mozart very difficult, as does a very heavy bow of the modern era. Here, to facilitate the best performance, a lighter bow, with a good bounce, is generally found to be the most advantageous, as it will help to keep the music from being too heavy sounding, and as the music demands, permitting a nice relaxed spiccato bow stroke.

While this might be the bow of choice for Mozart, it might not have the right strengths, to be the best bow for playing the music of Beethoven. In the late Classical/Romantic era, the music of these composers, tends to require a bow that is a little heavier, and has more of a stiff/quick response to it, when performing spiccato passages, but also has the backbone to perform an accented double forte, without requiring the performer to work too hard for this to occur. Here too, especially for the double bass, it would be an advantage to have a longer bow, as to permit the holding of longer pitches, without having to change bow direction.

While there are many reasons to have multiple bows at one’s disposal, from saving one’s favorite stick form the damage of the dreaded col legno, insuring performance should your bow become non-functional, to having your favorite bow for playing Mozart, it is imperative that every serious student, and professional string player, should have a second bow (or more) that is comparable with your primary stick, so that you can always be prepared to perform.