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To bow, or not to bow

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Name: Alexandra López Arca Main Subject: Classical Violin Research supervisor: Liesbeth Ackermans Title of Research: To bow, or not to bow. Modern bow vs. baroque bow: comparisons and inspirations Research Questions: To what extent do the shape and construction of the bow affect the violinist’s sound and to what extent do her/his use of the bow and musical choices influence the sound? What can a modern violinist learn from experimenting with a baroque bow? What are aspects of the evolution of the violin bow, its use and the evolution of right hand technique from the 18th century until now that are essential to be aware of when playing with both modern and baroque bow? Summary of Results: The bow is the soul of the violin. Playing with different bows alters our sound. Their shape and construction affect the articulation that we naturally get with them. This fact tells us a lot about the music for which they were built, and we can learn from it in a natural way. But when a violinist is only familiarised with a modern bow, the learning process with an old bow can hardly take place. It is better to know what the characteristics of each bow are and experimenting with them in order to get used to them. After having this experience, different attacks, articulations and nuances will emerge and facilitate the music for which every bow was thought. It is interesting to see how the sources from those times show us the musical value of the different possibilities of the old bow. Nevertheless, if the musical idea the violinist has in mind does not match the old bow’s natural behavior and the indications made for its use, using it would not bring any advantage. After an overview of the evolution of the bow and its relation with the right hand technique, I will explore the possibility of combining a modern instrument with an old bow as well as the benefits of using it for playing, especially when used following the indications the sources of that period reveal. Biography: Born in Santiago de Compostela, she finished her bachelor’s degree at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya before moving to The Hague, where she studies with Vera Beths. Since her years in Barcelona, she has developed a special interest for early music performance practice, stimulated by her lessons with Alba Roca and Lorenzo Coppola, and with Walter Reiter in the Royal Conservatoire.

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