Martelé: Essential foundations for a top-quality bow technique

Rictor noren c.svens skriveris

Rictor Noren offers grounding, exercises and repertoire suggestions to help you work on your martelé stroke

This article appeared in the August 2016 issue of The Strad

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The first thing to understand with the martelé bow stroke is that it is not about the absence of tension: it’s about the release of tension at regular intervals. The moment the tension is released, the instrument resonates. The martelé stroke always starts with a click and ends with a ring. Most people get the click easily; they figure out what sort of resistance that takes. What they often don’t understand is how to release the tension in the hand and pectoral muscles to make the sound ring. I’m always telling my students to relax, relax, relax – it’s what we teachers do. But it’s only part of the story: if you were 100 per cent relaxed, you’d be in a coma! There is no such thing as completely tension-free playing. We have to understand how much to release at what point, and that is why this is one of the most difficult bow strokes to master. We have to understand…

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