The forerunner of the present
day violin was the 15th century Viol, an instrument shaped and
held between the legs like today's cello, but smaller.
The sound was produced by the friction created when rough hair
(from a horse's tail) strung on a curved stick, similar to a
bow for shooting arrows, was drawn across the string.
Normally a small, delicate sound was emitted, but if too much
pressure was applied, instead of increasing the volume, the
hair would touch two and three strings at the same time.
In order to have more strength
applied to one of the strings alone, to afford more dynamic
contrasts, from piano to forte, the original arc of the wood
gradually became more straight.
In a search for strength and also
sensitivity, some bows began to appear in 1750 with a slight
negative camber, opposite to the arc. In 1760
Francois Tourte, a Frenchman, developed a bow with the very
pronounced camber (curve) as we know it today. The present
violin bow has basically not changed since the Tourte bow.
THE SOUNDING POINT
The Sounding Point
refers to the point
on the string between the bridge and the fingerboard
where the bow contacts the string. (Galamian)
If we divide that
space between the bridge
and the fingerboard into four parts, we can imagine
that space to be a 4-lane highway.
1st lane: closest
to the bridge - is the truck lane - the slowest
2nd lane: the 2nd closest to the bridge - is for passenger
cars - normal speed and weight
3rd lane: the 3rd closest to the bridge is for
sports cars - faster and lighter
4th lane: the furthest from the bridge (over the
fingerboard) is for racing cars - the fastest and lightest
The 1st lane is seldom
The 2nd lane is most often used.
The 3rd lane is for a lighter color.
The 4th lane can be used for some impressionist colors
in works such as the Ravel and Debussy Sonatas.
Most artists are continuously moving from one sounding
point to another as they produce different colors.
The idea of a 4-lane highway
is useful in explaining the basic colors and sounding
points to young students.
1. THE SIMPLE DÉTACHÉ:
There is no variation in pressure. Examples: Fiocco
- Allegro; Paganini Caprice No. 16; Bach - Partita
in E, Praeludium; Viotti - Concerto No. 22, 1st movement
(the 16th note passages).
Basic Détaché Video
2. THE ACCENTED GRAND DÉTACHÉ:
Large, long, fast strokes give much energy and sound.
Example: Kreisler-Tartini, Praeludium and Allegro, Theme,
1st 23 measures; Beethoven concerto, measures 124-142.
Accented Grand Détaché
3. THE (Sieb) FINGER
DÉTACHÉ: This technique is
produced solely with the fingers and the hand, working
from a relaxed and flexible wrist. It provides
a very efficient, small détaché for extremely fast and
light détaché and Sautillé passages. Examples:
Paganini, Moto Perpetuo, Saint-Saëns
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso - Allegro, last page,
Kreutzer No. 2.
4. THE LOURÉ:
A détaché stroke applied to one or a group of tied notes,
where each note starts softly, grows and diminishes
in soft waves. It is produced by alternating right hand
pressures, mainly by the right hand index finger.
Example: Bach - 2nd Partita, Allemanda.
To Practice This Stroke
Take a pen or pencil and position your right hand up
to your shoulder as if throwing a dart. Usually
one throws with the first two fingers and the thumb.
- Try the same
thing adding the ring finger.
- Now try the same thing adding also the little finger.
The motion of "winding up" and simulating the throwing
action a few times will give you the same movement as
- Now place the bow,
stick down, hair side up, on your right shoulder, holding
the bow exactly as you held the pen. Making the same
motion as in No. 3 above will give you the finger motion
- If you can make a circle
with the left thumb and left index finger, the two fingernails
now form a "bridge" where you can place the bow stick.
This "bridge" will be placed between the wood and the
hair. While holding this "bridge" at the approximate
height and place where the bow usually plays on the
strings, practice the same finger movement as above.
You can learn the violin stroke by taking lessons
or you can try this home technique.
5. SAUTILLÉ: This stroke
is basically a (Sieb) Finger
almost no pressure. This allows the bow stick to vibrate
and to jump in the manner of a very small spiccato.
Use only the fingers and hand, no arm. Examples:
- Rondo Capriccioso, last allegro; Paganini - Moto Perpetuo,
Dont - Opus 35, No. 2.
6. THE ACCENTED
DÉTACHÉ: This is the same as #1, but with an accent.
Examples include the following: (no bite) Mozart
- D Major Concerto, measures 11, 12, 13 of the first
solo; Kreisler - Praeludium and Allegro
Accented Détaché (No Bite)
Concerto # 3, 1st Movement;
Franck - Sonata, 4th
Accented Détaché (With Bite)
7. THE DÉTACHÉ PORTÉ:
The same as #1, but with slight, heavy swelling
on the marked notes. Examples: Brahms - Sonata
Opus 100, 1st movement; Prokofiev - Concerto No.
2, 1st movement (measures 138-139).
8. THE DÉTACHÉ
LANCÉ: This is similar to #4 but uses speed
almost like a
martelé instead of
the heavy swelling. Examples:
Bach Partita No.
1 in b minor, third double of Corrente. This is
a combination of # 6, The Accented Détaché, and
#7, the Détaché Porte; Bach - Partita No. 2, Chaconne
(measure 169); Bach - Sonata No. 1 in g Minor,
Fugue (measure 47) is a combination of #4
porté and #6 lancé.
Bach - Sonata No. 1 in g minor, 10 measures Fugue
from measures 44;
1st movement, opening solo ( 2 measures).
9. THE SLAP STROKE:
This is a down or up bow at the frog, or sometimes
at the tip, with a marked, quick vertical slap with
the bow. Examples: Saint-Saëns,
Concerto, No. 3, b minor,
3rd movement with bite and slap; Lalo
- Symphonie Espagnol, opening 1st movement; Brahms
- Concerto, 1st movement (opening solo, 12th and
13th notes and the opening solo (measures 74 and
1st solo); Wieniawski
- Concerto in d minor, 1st movement (high B flat).
The Slap Stroke must
be done either at the frog or the extreme tip.
Anywhere else will result in rapid bouncing as in
10. THE WHIPPED
STROKE or FOUETTÉ: This is usually an up bow, lifted
slightly and with a quick movement near the point,
giving a quick accent. Examples: Mendelssohn
- Concerto, 1st movement; Beethoven - Concerto in
D, Finale (measures 68-69); (with bite and slap);
Wieniawski - Concerto in D Minor, 3rd movement (measures
THE ACCENTED GRANDE DÉTACHÉ a) this stroke is fast with
no bite or b) fast with bite (see collé and
martelé). Examples: a) Pugnani - Kreisler - Prelude
and Allegro; Mozart - Concert in D, 1st solo; b)
Brahms- Concert in D. 1st solo; Tartini - Devil's
Trill Sonata, 2nd movement (measures 21-23 after
double bar, accented trills).
Accented Grande Detache
12. THE PORTATO
or LOURÉ: This stroke must be done either
at the frog or the extreme tip. Anywhere else
will result in rapid bouncing as in a ricochet.
This is a very slight articulation of two or more
notes in the same bow.
It is made with the
movement of the fingers, often only the index finger
of the bow arm. Executed on one note, it produces
very subtle waves in the sound.
Bach - Partita in d minor, 1st movement Allemanda;
Beethoven - Sonata No. 5, 1st and 4th movements.
The Inversed Position
is a turning of the bow so that instead of the hair
being closer to the player, the wood is closer -
because the bow is tilted towards the player's face.
unusual for violinists and violists, but the
normal position for cellists, lets the relaxed
right wrist drop to its limit.
are the advantages?
The right hand is more relaxed. The result is
a larger, fuller and more beautiful sound.
Later I found that with this technique, executed
not at the frog but perhaps 5 or 6 inches farther
towards the middle of the bow and over the fingerboard
where the curve of the strings is less pronounced
and the string tension is less, I could play
simultaneously 3 and even 4 note chords in Bach
solo Sonatas without the usual technique of
breaking them 2 notes by 2.
The same attempt
with a normal bow angle and a strong index
finger , pressing
to squeeze the 4 strings, or even 3 strings
simultaneously, simply produces scratches.
For example, this
method applies to playing the Bach G Minor Fugue,
Chaconne 1st variation. Note, much of the viola
repertoire is much easier with this technique.
1. THE SIMPLE
MARTELÉ: This is a fast stroke of even pressure
that starts fast and ends abruptly and silently,
producing an even note with no perceptible ending.
Examples: Bach - Partita in E Major, 1st
two measures of the Praeludium; Brahms - Concerto,
1st movement; Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata, 3rd
The Viotti Stroke:
Viotti - Concerto No. 22, 1st Movement.
2. THE PINCHED
or ACCENTED MARTELÉ: This is the same
as The Viotti Stroke, but with a “bite” (collé) at beginning of stroke.
THE COLLÉ (Galamian)
is a very short "biting" (pinching the string
with little bow and much pressure, perhaps not
more than 1 or 2 centimeters in length. The
right hand makes an accent with almost no bow
It is usually done at the frog, but it can be
employed at different places of the bow movement,
almost creating a "bow pizzicato." It is usually
done at the frog, but it can be employed at
different places on the bow.
Brahms - Concerto, 1st movement (measure 3 of
1st solo); Kreutzer - Etude #7; Rode - Caprice
#11 (measure 5); Vieuxtemps - Concerto in a
Minute, 1st movement.
or Accented Martelé
3. THE SUSTAINED
MARTELÉ: This is simply a sustained note that
has a martelé start. Examples: Brahms
- Concerto, 3rd movement at letter B (measures
THE STACCATO: This is a
succession of 2
or more very biting strokes in the same
bow, done without stopping or releasing the
pressure between each note. It is essentially
one of the only non-musical, non-expressive
insensitive strokes in
violin bow technique, used as a virtuoso
show trick. It is accomplished with much pressure
and tension in the right hand
and with the hair
in a flat position to get the maximum contact
on the string.
Examples: Kreutzer Etude No 4.; Paganini
- Caprice No. 10.; Sibelius, Concerto, 3rd movement.
THE JETÉ LENT:
starts near the frog and is done by moving the
and the arm rapidly in an up bow direction,
starting from the string
and finishing in the air. It is not
a spiccato (bouncing stroke). Example:
Mozart - Concert in D Major, 3rd movement, opening
6. THE JETÉ
is the same as the JETÉ
LENT, except this stroke starts from
Often it is done in sequences of
two or more notes. Examples:
Rondo Capriccioso, Allegro.
were first described by the noted German pedagogue
THE FLYING STACCATO:
This bowing is usually
6 or more up or down, staccato strokes in the
same bow. The right arm is tensed so as to produce
a fast, hard series of strokes, maintaining,
in most cases, the pressure on the bow.
Neither hair nor wood leave the string.
Examples: Wieniawski - Concerto in d minor,
1st movement; Polonaise in A Major; Sibelius
- Concert 3rd Movement; Dinicu, Hora Staccato.
SIMPLE BRUSHED SPICCATO: These
are rather large, heavy and slow strokes
near the frog with no hand or finger
movement. This can also be done adding hand
and finger motion for another effect. Examples:
Prokofiev - Concerto No. 2, 3rd movement,
Simple Brushed Spiccato
tapping motion, rotating back
and forth along the longitudinal axis of
the right arm on each down and up bow stroke
of the bow. Example: Debussy - Sonata 2nd
movement, 6 measures before #1.
3. THE FLYING
is simply many notes, based on the
VITE strokes in the same bow. Examples:
- Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso; Mendelssohn
- Concerto, 3rd Movement, theme measures
This is also the
same as No. 3 above, except that the bow repeatedly
hits the string in the same place of the bow.
This is done by the hand and fingers of the
right arm making little clockwise circles, thereby
requiring the bow to "stand" in the same place.
Example: Mendelssohn Concerto, 3rd movement,
BALL: The motion
of the hand and arm are the same
as bouncing, tapping a ball, and the wrist
action is similar to the Slap Stroke, resulting
in a more forceful and aggressive spiccato.
Example: Paganini - Caprice #5 in a minor;
- Havanaise, Allegro; Tchaikovsky Valse
- Scherzo, measures 44 - 48.
( See Sautillé under Détaché). This is basically
détaché that is not forcibly kept
on the string. It is usually done in a quick
to very fast tempo.
The hair hardly
leaves the string while the wood bounces.
It is a relatively light and sensitive,
slightly bouncing stroke. Examples: Mozart
Haffner Serenade, Rondo;
- Rondo Capriccioso, Piu Allegro.
With one tap of the bow on the string (as
in # 2), the bow can bounce from 2 to perhaps
as many as 20 times, slowly or quickly,
depending on how much pressure is exerted
by the right index finger. It can be executed
on one or more strings. Examples:
1 string: Bazzini Ronde des Lutins; Tchaikovsky
Valse Scherzo; 4 strings; Paganini - Caprice
#1; Mendelssohn - Concerto, 1st movement,
PIZZICATO is done normally with the
right index finger. Different effects
can be made depending on the angle of
the pulling motion and the speed of the
movement. There are two basic ways
of making a pizzicato.
angle between finger and string: using
the top part of the finger provides a
precise and hard sound.
angle between the finger and the string:
using the fleshy part of the finger
provides a softer and smoother sounds -
more appropriate for chords.