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Violin Bowing- A List of Go

Posted on October 2, 2013 by Amanda

With so many different types of bowing out there, one can be

easily confused by the variety- and the disagreement upon terms
and definitions. In an attempt to provide accurate information for
my students, I have compiled an expository list of bowing styles
and examples, aggregated from several sources and
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Some of these definitions may seem as though they’re impossibly by Tag
close- and you would be correct in your confusion, because they
accessories advanced
are less mutually exclusive than I would like. They are helpful,
however, because in each explanation and video demonstration, bowing fast playing
the heart of the bowing technique is shown. Even if the examples inspiration instruments
differ slightly from what I have shown in class, my students benefit intonation
from the context of a rich variety of experience, and I love being Kaw Valley
able to provide this wealth of knowledge to my students. Orchestra Project

There are a few different basic categories for bowing, and they orchestra karate
involve the length of the bow on the string, the separation of notes test
through use of the bow, and whether the approach and finishing of physics physiology positions
the note by the bow is on or off the string. practice
I. On-the-String Bow reading rhythm scales
starting out strings

Strokes technique vibrato

The first category of bowing
styles, which are the first strokes
we teach beginning students, are
Music Theory
referred to as detaché, legato, or Links
Paced Note
detaché– separate, broad bow strokes, but not staccato (or short) Naming Game
Music Theory
finger detaché– a detaché resulting from only using the fingers of practice
the right hand Music

accented grande detaché– a fast-moving bow, accented

detaché, and can be done in one of two methods: without any
“bite” (biting or gruff beginning of the note), or with a bite sound at
the beginning of the note. Instrument
Supplies &
legato– smooth stroke without any spacing between changes of Sheet Music
Beautiful Music
marcato– sharp stroke… literally, well-marked Violin Shop
JW Pepper
martele– detached and strongly accented bow stroke: Luck's Music
“hammered”; see also martellato Library
Musician's Friend
martellato– hammer-style bowing, detached stroke, usually upper Schott Music
half of bow

staccato– a short note, which can be produced with several kinds

of bow strokes, but indicates a note with required space between
its ending and the beginning of the next note

tremolo– moving the bow with great rapidity, repeating the same
note with rapid up and down bows stemming from the wrist

The first category also includes

the basic introduction of playing
multiple notes under one bow
stroke, the slur.
slur– two or more different notes played under a single bow
stroke, either up or down, with no articulation in between notes
apart from the left hand changing pitch and/or the bow moving to a
different string.

hooked bow– two or more notes under a slur, with each note’s
beginning resulting from a stopped bow stroke. The bow continues
in the same direction, but the notes are not part of the same
impulse of bow movement. The sounding of the string may or may
not be completely stopped by this pause of the bow.

louré (portato)– separating and swelling at the beginning of each

note in a series of notes taken in a slur; this differs from up-bow
and down-bow staccato in that each note’s re-articulation is gently
emphasized while continuing the bow in the same direction. This
also differs from hooked bow, as the bow stroke does not
completely stop, nor does the sounding of the string become
stifled from the bow motion interruption.

detaché porté– like a louré with heavy swelling on marked notes,

but without the continuation of bow in the same direction (Brahms
Sonata Opus 100) (see louré, just below)

detaché lancé– like a louré with no slurs, and the increased

speed of a martelé (Bach Partita No. 2 Chaconne (measure 169))

piqué– a collé bowing starting from the string (see collé bowing,
under “off-the-string bow strokes”), with fingers providing all of the
movement. This results in a very terse note, with a sharp
beginning and ending. Usually this is utilized when performing
“backwards” articulation, starting with an upbow, in an uneven

II. Off-the-string bow

All of these bow strokes involve
a form of staccato, as they place
different amounts of space
between notes and articulate
them differently than when the
bow is made to move in a strictly
horizontal plane. The

A. one note per bow stroke

spiccato– controlled bouncing or springing bow

simple brushed spiccato– rather large, heavy, and slow strokes

near the frog with no hand or finger movement

tapping stroke– light tapping motion, rotating back and forth

along the horizontal axis of the right arm on each down and up
bow stroke, using primarily the elbow and shoulder

bouncing ball– like slap stroke, but a more forceful, aggressive

spiccato with the bounce of ricochet, the motion of the hand and
arm the same as bouncing a ball.

sautillé– very fast spiccato, done usually with the hand, like a
finger detache, with the hair hardly leaving the string while the
wood bounces. It’s a relatively light and sensitive, slightly bouncing
stroke (Saint-Saens, Rondo Capriccioso, last allegro; Dont- Opus
35; No. 2) (on YouTube, Professor V presents 2 alternative
methods for sautille: Method 2, Method 3)

slap stroke– down or up bow, with a start from extreme off the
string to on the string action, without a resulting bounce. This must
be done either at the frog or the tip, and not anywhere in between.

saltato (saltando)– thrown staccato in the upper half of the bow,

thrown down onto the string

collé– “pinched” bowing at the frog done with fingers only, starting
from above the string, touching, and then lifting; often assigned by
teachers to help students cultivate finger flexibility while still
balancing the weight of the bow (here’s a great exercise to

B. Multiple notes per bow

(or bow strokes repeatedly moving in the same direction
while off the string)

upbow stacatto– stick down, third finger moving the bow at the
first finger pivot point, resulting in a clockwise motion of the hand

flying spicatto– like regular spiccato in that the bow bounces, but
the bow is drawn along the strings as it’s bounced in the same
direction while playing many fast notes for a virtuostic effect.
Neither the hair nor the stick actually leave the string, but are held
for a series of hard, fast strokes while pressure is maintained to
produce a staccato sound. (also called jeté lént)

standing spiccato– same as flying spiccato, except the bow

repeatedly hits the string in the same place of the bow. This is
done by the hand and fingers making little clockwise circles

jeté: a bouncing bow stroke involving two to six ricochets in a row,

where the bow is thrown and allowed to bounce at a naturally
decaying frequency

ricochet (saltato/ saltando)– a bouncing bow stroke in which the

bow is dropped or thrown on the string and allowed to rebound
and bounce again, several times, either in the same direction or
toward a different bow direction. This bow stroke is sometimes
considered less controlled than jeté.

– starts on the frog from an up bow, moving with the fingers and
arm, finishing in the air- but on a sustained pitch, without bounce

jeté vité– same as the jete lent in that there is no real bouncing,
but starts from the air and finishes in the air
son file- sustained tone
III. Multiple-String and
Special Effect Bowings
whipped stroke (fouette)– an up bow, forcibly thrown onto the
string as a special effect (Mendelssohn Concerto, Mvt 1 & 3)

saccadé– the sudden and forceful pressing down onto one string
so hard the bow comes into contact with two strings at once

bariolage– the quick alternation between a static note and

changing notes forming a melody above or below the static note,
with repeated string crossing

sul ponticello– bowing near the bridge, resulting in a glassy or

nasal tone

sul G– playing solely on the G string, with left hand adjusting

position to produce all notes

chanterelle– notes or passage exclusively on the E string

sul tasto (flautando)– playing lightly over the fingerboard,

resulting in a soft, whispery, hazy sound

flageolets– harmonics, produced with a light, quick stroke of the

left hand while bowing. This bowing must have good contact with
the string in order to produce the correct tone.

col legno– bow stick used to hit the strings

inversed position– instead of the bow hairs played closest to the

bridge, the stick is rotated to be closest to the bridge. This
technique eases the playing of several-note chords, and can give
a fuller sound while relaxing the right hand

pizzicato– it wouldn’t be a proper discourse on the performance of

the violin without this being mentioned, so I mention it to draw
attention to the several ways in which it can be performed: with the
finger at a 90-degree angle from the string, resulting in a marked
pluck, with a 90-degree angle plucked more forcibly as to make
the string slap onto the fingerboard, and with the finger at a 45-
degree angle from the string, allowing the flesh of the finger to
principally contact the string, making the note much more
nuanced. Another consideration is whether or not to anchor the
thumb underneath the fingerboard, or whether to pluck with the
index finger with the bow still held by the right hand, or to put the
bow on the stand. These issues can only be resolved by a
thorough study of the printed music!

left- hand pizzicato– the action of plucking a string with one of the
fingers of the left hand, usually either the index or 4th finger.

If you have a bowing technique to add, please contact me- I would

enjoy hearing from you! I understand your definition of a particular
technique may vary from what’s listed here, and while I will accept
amendments to what is posted, I believe this list to be a solid and
accurate starting point for a violinist or violist looking for good
definition and example of a specific technique. Please be
respectful and constructive in your comments, as this blog is
maintained as a positive, safe place to help other string players.

Violin Terms: Sheila’s Corner

Violin Online- Violin Basics- Violin Bow Strokes

YouTube: ProfessorV Channel

YouTube: Barnes & Mullins UK Channel

The Violin Site: Bow Arm Violin Exercises

Ivan Galamian: Basics and Methods of Violin Playing Laurie Niles’ Blog

Calvin Seib Bowing Techniques

Art & Music Studies: Advanced Bowings

YouTube: Red Desert Violin Channel

Clive, Owen. Classical and Romantic Performing Practice 1750-

1900. 2004, Oxford University Press.

Kjelland, James. Ochestral Bowing: Style and Function. 2003,

Alfred Music Publishing.

Stowell, Robin. The Early Violin and Viola, a Practical Guide.

2001, Cambridge University Press.

Kling, H. Prof. H. Kling’s Modern Orchestration and

Instrumentation. 1905, C. Fisher.

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