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Cello Lessons: Variables of Sound: Bow Speed, Arm Weight & Bow Placement

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The primary variables in creating
all sorts of different sound
colors are our bow's speed,
our arm weight and our bow placement.
And that's referring particularly
to the distance from the bridge or
the fingerboard.
I want to use just
the melody of Happy Birthday
to demonstrate a few of these variables.
If we have the bow on
the edge of the fingerboard
we're going to have to
move the bow very fast.
Actually the closer we get to the bridge,
the slower the bow needs to move and
the more arm weight you need
in order to get a good sound.
All of these are variables
are very linked.
So, if the bow is placed [SOUND]
at the edge of the finger board,
it needs to be fast and
not with a lot of weight.
So, that would sound like this.
It's kinda like Marilyn Monroe
singing to Mr. President.
Just for what it's worth,
if I played with a lot
of weight in that bow
location actually,
it won't sound good at all.
[SOUND] I can't even play
only one string at a time.
But as I move the bow closer to
the bridge, let's say I move
[SOUND] to a sort of default middle
of the road place here [SOUND] I'll
have like a default middle of the road
amount of weight and speed as well.
This is sort of
our typical cello sound.
That's sort of how you might sound when
you're singing Happy Birthday for
a coworker that you kind of like.
You're giving a little bit of effort, but
you're not really expressing
yourself necessarily.
[SOUND] If we move the bow
very close to the bridge,
[SOUND] we're gonna need a lot of arm
weight in order to get a good sound.
It'll sound like this.
[SOUND] This how we get
actually a very loud sound is
by playing with the bow
closer to the bridge.
I'll play Happy Birthday this way, and
it'll be kind of like a, like a really,
really great Irish firefighter singing,
you know,
like the National Anthem or something.
Obviously I
was vibrating
a lot, we'll
get into that in
a separate lesson.
But, the closer we go to the bridge,
the slower the bow needs to go,
and the more arm weight you need
in order to activate the string.
Cuz the closer to the bridge,
the more tension there is at the string,
so you need more energy to activate it.
For what it's worth, if I play it very
close to the bridge without enough
arm weight, that would give us
a sound that's called ponticello.
It sounds like this.
I'm using too much speed and
not enough weight for
my bow placement to be by the bridge.
However, this is an awesome sound.
So this ponticello sound and
a lot of classical composers
have actually used this sound.
And also if you wanted to sound
like Jimi Hendrix, this is
where the direction you would go in
when you wanted to create like feedback.
And so on,
maybe another video on that one.
But while you're practicing scales or
working on your music,
these are the variables that I
want you to keep at the forefront
of your mind when you're
working on phrasing.
And also,
the thing I'll end with is that any given
phrase is going to have a shape to it.
It's going to evolve, and so
you're not necessarily gonna start and
end with the same bow speed,
placement, or arm weight.
And in fact, it's by constantly changing
these variables that your sound is going
to become very expressive.
So let me demonstrate Happy Birthday
one last time, and I'll try and
grow and fall and
change these variables as I play it.
Now, Happy Birthday
has a lot of shape,
a lot of expression,
a lot of phrasing, and
these are the variables
that I'm using in order
to achieve that.