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Re: question on bowing

more on the ebow hammered dulcimer thing.  you hold the ebow at an angle so
that the string guide ridge on the bottom of the ebow that's closest to you
rests on the closest string of the pair of strrings (my hammered dulcimer
has 2 strings per course).  you have to hold it at an angle so that the
ebow is as close as possible to the other string of the pair without
touching it.  this takes quite a while to get the hang of it.  if you
aren't close enough, it's hard to get it vibrating.  if you are too close,
you get a buzz (which i sometimes uses for emotional effect).  on the
shorter strings I lightly pluck the string with my pinky to get it
vibrating and then the ebow takes over. on the longer strings i can get it
going with the ebow without the pluck, on the shorter ones, the pluck
helps. I start fairly close to the bridge and find I can control volume and
envelope by moving further from the bridge as the string is vibrating.  if
you start further from the bridge, you're more likely to get the buzz.
once the string is vibrating, little adjustments in angle and placement
yeild a good bit of control over the sound.
Since i often finer pick the strings with my right hand while playing a
melody with the ebow with my left, I generally use the left side of the
treble bridge for the ebow.  it will work on any of the strings and i have
used it with my right hand while using a hammer in the left.

it's one of the most emotional sounds i've been able to make on any
instrument.  i cried when i first discovered it because it was so emotional
sounding.  also quite ethereal, other wordly and somewhat electronic
sounding.  i enjoy making sounds with acoustic instruments that are hard to
figure out and that sound electronic.  it leaves everyone looking around to
see where it's coming from.  I remember in the mid 80's I brought Glen
Velez in to do some harmonic singing on a recording one of our songs, my
recording engineer was looking all over the studio, trying to figure out
where the sound was coming from.
Something very satisfying about getting new sounds from acoustic sources.
One of my neighbors is the new conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
another neighbor who is also a composer was going on and on to Maazel about
how he could make all these sounds on his computer  indicating he could
make sounds the orchestra  couldn't. Maazel looked right at the guy and
said "Give me a great orchestra and I can make any sound. period.  That
stuck with me.

I have also fooled with the bowed psaltery that Rick mentioned.  I made
some of them in the early 80's for a woman in my band, trapezoid, who
played it.  it's on a number of our albums from the 80's.  very haunting
and somewhat irritating.  used to call it the "bowed assaultry."

all of these sounds are great with looping, creating interesting textures
without having to resort to the easy way--the dreaded synth.

paul reisler

>can you be a bit more specific about the ebow on the hammered
>dulcimer?  Where abouts do you hold it in relation to the bridge(s)?
>can you use it on all of the registers?  interesting
>application...never thought of doing that one...till tonight, that
>is.  thanks.
>>i use an ebow on hammered dulcimer with loops.  it's quite an eerie 
>>i've used it on a few album recordings--Beth Nielsen-Chapman's Deeper 
>>(not out yet) and a couple from my band, Trapezoid, "Remembered Ways" and
>>"Long Time Down this Road."  since these are recordings and not live i
>>don't loop them.  i use the ebow quite a bit in loops in live shows.  i
>>also use the ebow on acoustic midi guitar which can be pretty wild
>>depending on the midi patch.  regualr bow would be problematic on both
>>instruments.  ebow works by creating a magnetic field that keeps the 
>>paul reisler

Paul Reisler
Trapezoid/Ki Theatre
PO Box 38
Washington, VA 22747
540.987.3166 fax