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Philippe Quint Discusses The Perfect Up-Bow Staccato

"What is the secret to perfect up-bow staccato?" We threw the question over to Russian-American virtuoso Philippe Quint.

One of the most challenging bow techniques, staccato, is commonly considered to be an innate ability that one either has or doesn't have. It definitely comes in handy when repertoire calls for it, and VC reader Vlad was curious about methods to develop the perfect up-bow staccato. 

How do you achieve the perfect up-bow staccato? Please leave a comment below, we are keen to know your thoughts.

Philippe Quint violinist

Photo credit: Evgeny Evtuhov

Philippe Quint Provides a Guide on How to Perfect Up-Bow Staccato

Dear Vlad,

Thanks for your question.

Staccato is one of those bow strokes that some people believe must come naturally, others feel it is better not to perform works that incorporate it, and the rest may just replace it with spiccato or come up with any other viable solution.

But I am a firm believer that staccato can be developed like any other bowing or stroke, as it is not in your hand - but in your brain. Once the brain figures out the proper movement the hand will follow.

For me, the quick strategy guide, would look something like this:

1. Press with the index finger to create an accent
2. Relax
3. Don't use too much bow, as at fast speed you won't be, and each bow responds differently so finding the right sounding point is important
4. Concentrate on the clarity of the sound
5. Experiment with the tilt of the bow
6. Start from no more then 3- 4 notes per bow and then slowly add more
7. Metronome practice with different speeds

A tiny bit of tension will of course be necessary in order to create the initial accent but it’s imperative the hand and arm must remain relaxed between the notes – as any sort of tension will be counterproductive.

If properly developed in slow-fast speeds the reflex will be developed in your brain and you should be able to even vary what staccato you want to use i.e. flying, on the string relaxed, up and down bow, etc.

And, keep in mind - life without staccato is just as good. Music making is not about this funky stroke : )

Hope this helps, Vlad?

Take care,

Philippe

 

Do you have a burning questions for one of the pros? Simply email: [email protected]

 

Multi Grammy Award nominee violinist Philippe Quint is high in demand and makes regular appearances with major orchestras such as London Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Quint is a frequent guest at the most prestigious festivals including Verbier, Aspen, Colmar, Hollywood Bowl and Dresden Festspiele. His live performances and interviews have been broadcast on CBS, CNN, ABC, BBC, NBC, Reuters, Bloomberg TV. The last 2 seasons saw Mr. Quint produce two critically acclaimed multimedia shows ” Charlie Chaplin’s Smile” and Astor Piazzolla’s “Between Angels and Demons”. His award winning discography includes 17 critically acclaimed releases on several major labels including Warner Classics, Naxos and Avanti Classics.


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