A Conversation for Classical Violins

Ways of playing

Post 1


You said that there were three ways of playing.

I have seen a fourth method during a performance of The Planets (by Holst). At the start of the first movement, the violinists were slapping their bows down onto the strings.
What is this technique called? Isn't it likely to snap the bow?

Ways of playing

Post 2

Researcher 189341

Were their bows bouncing off the strings when they 'slapped' them down? If so, this is called riccochet.

the_violinist :D

Ways of playing

Post 3


Another method that should be added is tremelo - basically a succession of short bows to give a very interesting sound indeed (you have to hear it to describe it... as a violinist I find it works better at the point of the bowsmiley - smiley)

Ways of playing

Post 4

Mikeo the gregarious

When they "slap" their bows down, did you notice that the bows were turned forward, so that the wood of the bow hits the string? This is known as "col legno" (with the wood) - while it's not likely to snap the bow, it does break off the varnish from the bow, so violinists/violists/cellists/bassists often have a spare bow for this piece!

You can also spot this effect in a number of other pieces: Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" (5th movement), Saint-Saƫns' "Danse Macabre" and I think a piece by Ives (variations on the theme "God Save the Queen") also uses it. It's generally used when a sort of skeletal/death-like effect is desired - particularly appropriate for the first two examples I mentioned!


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