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Tom said: “Maybe one of the more seasoned veterans on this site could comment on the whole bowing thing. The down bow is supposed to be a naturally louder sound to emphasize a beat, but to me up or down sound pretty much the same???”

Hi Tom, Jason has a great video on accenting certain beats within the hoe down rhythm that may help with this: Module 1.3, Bonus lesson, Shortnin Bread. It was this lesson, early on, that made me promise myself that I would watch every video for every lesson I take, and watch until the end. To me, Jason’s videos are like a box of Cracker Jacks; there’s always a prize to be found.

Disclaimer: I’m not calling myself a seasoned veteran. I did have an incredible violin teacher for several years as a kid, a stickler for proper bowing technique, and I’ll try to share what I learned.

Personally, I wouldn’t say that the down bow is supposed to be a naturally louder sound. Rather, I would think of it as naturally having more force, which I think has to do with the ergonomics of the muscles involved. It’s very obvious on a guitar where the downstroke on a strum or a downpick really drives the rhythm. I think it’s more subtle on a violin, but ergonomically it’s just easier to play more forcefully on a down bow. However, so much of violin playing is really about controlling the bow.

I don’t feel that just using a down bow alone is enough to to get the emphasis on the fist beat that you mention. There’s an element of impetus in the bow stroke, as well. Hopefully Jason will pop in here with words of wisdom. I’m not going to have the audacity to start talking technique here, but when I play I think that the extra emphasis comes from my wrist and fingers.

Traditional violin lessons involve very precise determinations of up bows and down bows. Some of this has to do with emphasis, rhythm, and phrasing, and I think some of it is also a bit of choreography in ensembles. The rule of thumb for guitar playing is pretty much Down Beat = Down Stroke.

I think fiddling fiddles with those guidelines. Jason says somewhere that he doesn’t belabor the up bow, down bow issues. It makes sense when he talks of the hoe down pattern and how it alternates between beginning on a down bow and then next time an up bow, simply because it is a three stroke pattern. Extra impetus in the bow stroke would have to come in play to carry the rhythm, not just bow direction alone. As we all strive to improvise runs and melodies on the fly someday, I think it would be impossible to adhere to many of the strict traditional rules of bow direction that would apply to a planned, scripted piece.

By the way, there are some bowing techniques where the goal is to make bow shifts seamless and nearly undetected, with even playing on either stroke.

I hope some of this is helpful.