Exploring Music's Complexities

The Importance of Violin Bowing

What is Violin Bowing

Violin bowing is the term used to describe the way in which a musical phrase or passage is to be executed or the signs by which the phrase or passage is usually marked.   Appropriate violin bowing is absolutely necessary if the musical phrase or passage is to be rendered correctly and truthfully. The player’s right arm, hand, and bow produce tone quality, rhythm, dynamics, articulation and certain changes in timbre.   This makes the violin bowing technique of the violinist’s choice, one of the important and difficult parts to a violin performance (1).

The Bow

Over the years the bow has undergone a number of changes. Credit is given to the Tourte family for the modern bow. Today, fine bows are made in much the same, if not exactly the same, manner as they once were by the craftsmen who designed them in France over 150 years ago (1).

Six steps are needed to construct a quality bow. The process begins with carving and planning of Pemnambuco wood for the stick. Next, the frog is constructed. After the frog is done it is fitted to the stick and the stick brought into its final dimension. This is when the stick may be finished. Lapping and hairing is the last step (2).

Violin Bowing Techniques

As noted above, bowing is said to be one of the most important and difficult tasks associated with violin playing. Much depends on the violinist’s choice of technique. If the violinist wishes to produce louder notes he or she increase the pressure on the strings. This is done by the index finger of the right hand. Greater bow speed may also increase the volume. Timber is influenced where the bow intersects the string. Playing close to the bridge may produce a more intense sound (2).  If the violinist is playing in an orchestra or is a member of a chamber-music performance uniformity of bowing to ensure a well-balanced unanimous effect.

For a list of methods of “attack” used by the violinist refer to “Violin technique (3).

References

  1. A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Bowing.  https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/
  2. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Violin-Bow.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violin_technique

 

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