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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

November , 2021
Violin Bows

The bow is something indispensable to the violin instrument.
Somehow, the bow does not receive much attention, which is quite a mystery to me.
Because bows are great.
To be precise, great bows are truly wonderful. It is not easy to find great bows (like with Stradivarius violins), but once you get hold of one, you do not have to struggle with the so-called super expensive instruments.
Even if you are not satisfied with the sound of your violin, once you meet a wonderful bow, it can sound so good with just a single stroke, that it could be mistaken for a finest violin.

Bows as such, are quite expensive like the musical instruments. After all, they are so rare. If you look closely at a bow, you will notice that its narrow part is so delicate and can be easily damaged, therefore, accidents could happen by the slightest chances.
It may just look like a “plain wooden stick”, but the wood itself is so precious and is a material that no longer can be grown in this world today, just like those used on the instruments.
Furthermore, it’s the technique of shaving the wood into the shape of a bow, bending it to form its shape that makes the big difference.
There are old bows, just as old as the Stradivarius instruments.
Italy is the place for instruments but somehow, excellent bows are found in France.
The 2 great bow makers are François Tourte and Dominique Peccatte.
With instruments such as the Stradivarius, one cannot easily produce a satisfying sound immediately after picking it up, and it takes many years of playing on it. It took me around 7 years until I was able to play with confidence with my Duranty.
But that is not so with bows, in fact, it’s the opposite as bows are consumable items and if they’re used too much, they will be worn out. When they’re used too much, they sound like completely different bows. The sound changes and even the volume of the sound weakens and tires out.
Moreover, since they are consumable, they are disappearing rapidly from the world, and their value keeps increasing.
It means that unless a violinist gives it away, the precious bow will not reach the others.
Therefore, one needs to use it with care, giving appropriate rests, watching the condition closely.
Although it is possible to repair and restore old instruments, once a bow is broken (oh, it’s horrible, just thinking about it gives me cold sweat), it will never be able to produce the same kind of sound again.
Reparing will not quite work so it is true that one is likely to be nervous, handling it.
It is better to use several bows in turns, to protect them from wearing them out.

I have several bows and decide which one to use at concert venues. I need to try them out on the stage until I know which would be most suitable for that venue, on that day. It is interesting as bigger the hall is, you notice clearly which bow is in its best condition or not.
If the bow is not working at its best, or is not as good as it should be, I would use a different bow. It’s a bit like selecting and changing a baseball player in the games…

And today again, I will choose the best bow out of the several bows and play my Stradivarius.