How To Make Your Bowing Jazzy, Swingy and with a Bite?

by | Dec 6, 2013 | Bowing Technique | 5 comments

Learn some jazz bow technique!

How to bow in such a way that your bowing sounds jazzy, your sound swings and every bow stroke is with a bite?

Today we are going to talk about playing jazzy, because lots of classicly trained violinists play pop music or jazz music like they are playing a classical piece. That is because we learned to play a bit like [plays a little], but if you play something like this [plays some more] you use a different kind of bowing otherwise it sounds a bit like this [plays again] and it doesn’t really swing. So, how do you play jazzy on the violin? With a swing and how do you make those notes with a bite? I will give you some tips about it.

1. Bow with a bite

Bowing with a bite goes a bit like this. You have to practice on it actually because it is so different from what you have learned. Don’t try to do it too classical, too neat. Just press your bow and release it. Press it, and release it. A lot of people have difficulty and do something like this [plays] that is a common mistake to do. But that doesn’t sound good. You really have to press it, maybe like you would shoot an arrow. That is the kind of thought you have to have. So you press it and after that you bow the tone. First press it in the string and then release it. And in the first time you will probably touch a few other strings by accident but you are practicing, we all don’t want to know how sausage is made and we also don’t want to know how beautiful music is made in the process. Up bow is more difficult than down bow. With down bow we just use the weight of our arm to go down but up bow, just press to the strings, same way actually but people find it a bit more difficult. So really have that bite. You can better have it a few times that it goes like this [plays some] but from this you can make it a bit more clean than that you do it from being very carefully.

2. Be creative with ritms

I will let you know how to do that. If you are seeing like equal notes in jazz, then be creative with that ritm [plays something]. Don’t play all the notes the same [plays], but try something like this [plays]. So just, most of the time when you see two of the same notes at a time then the first one is a little bit longer and the second one is a little bit shorter. Then most of the time if you got three notes, it is not like this [plays], but it [plays]. So it is like the first note is longer, the second note is shorter. You can also do like [plays]. So just play around with it and never do the same trick every time you see something like that. Just do different tricks in different places. It will be nicer to hear and it will be more creative and it will be less predictable.

So I hope I have helped you if you are improvising or if you are playing a jazzy like song and you would like to add some swingy, bity, jazzy sound to it. I hope you enjoyed this video.

Please let me know if you have other tips, I am not a jazz violinist so please let me know and share them below in the comments! 

Is this video useful to you? Please let me know in the comments!



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  1. Sherrie

    Hey can you give an example playing swing jazz tunes like “Sheik of Araby”, “five foot two,eyes of blue” or “Avalon”? The three notes in english…..were you meaning triplets?

    • Violinist Zlata

      Yes, triplets is the word… I learned all my music theory in Dutch and German, so sometimes it’s hard to find the correct terms.

  2. Marina Francis

    I have been trying to play violin through ages but the truth is nobody ever will listen it is that horrible can you please help Your tips are very help full

  3. Marina Francis

    Thankyou for the tips want to learn more


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