violin online logo
Violin BasicsEarly Violin viola basics exercises christmas free music string class music store

Viola Online Bow Strokes

BOW STROKES: On the String*

  Collé Collé means glued. It is a very short stroke, and begins with the bow lightly contacting the string with a distinct and short, sharp pinch. The bow is then lifted to prepare for the next stroke. The resulting sound was described by Galamian as being similar to pizzicato with the bow. Although collé usually has no articulation markings, dots are sometimes used.
detache Détaché Détaché indicates smooth, separate bow strokes should be used for each note (it does not mean detached or disconnected). Notes are of equal value, and are produced with an even, seamless stroke with no variation in pressure.
detache lance Détaché lancé Détaché lancé is a variation of the détaché bow stroke. A slightly separated bow stroke is used to gently articulate the notes with an unaccented, distinct break between each note. It is often used in combination with the louré or porté stroke to perform several separated notes in the same bow.
legato Legato Legato indicates the notes should be smoothly connected, played either in one or several bows (slurs are often used with the legato bow stroke).
loure Louré Louré strokes are a short series of gently pulsed legato notes executed in one bow stroke (it is also known as portato). A slight swelling at the beginning of the note should be applied, followed by a gradual lightening of the sound. Strokes are distinctly separate, yet unaccented, and the expressive swell is produced by applying pressure and speed to the bow at the beginning of the note. Although a slur and horizontal dashes are generally used to indicate this effect, dots with slurs are occasionally used.
martele Martelé Martelé is a French term meaning hammered. Each note is percussive, and commences with a sharp accent or "pinch" at the beginning of the note, followed by a quick release. Before the bow is set in motion, the index finger applies this "pinch" or "bite" for articulation. Martelé may be notated in more than one way: with dots, hammer heads or accents.
stacatto Staccato Staccato indicates the bow should remain on the string to play shortened and detached notes, distinctly separate from successive notes. Staccato is sometimes used with slurs (slurred staccato) for a series of short, stopped notes played in the same up or down bow (many violists perform slurred staccato as a series of slurred martelé strokes).

*Articulation markings often mean different things. For example, a dot means shorten the note and can indicate bow strokes such as spiccato (off the string) and staccato (on the string). It is important to understand the context of the music and the purpose for the articulation in order to properly interpret the markings and corresponding bow strokes. It should also be noted that bowing terminology and markings are not always precise. Different bow strokes are often used in combination with other bow strokes to achieve the desired musical effect. Musicians sometimes disagree about how to interpret bowing terminology and markings, so use your best judgment, and enjoy the music!

BOW STROKES: Off the String

jete Jeté Jeté means "thrown" in French. In this bow stroke, the bow is thrown on the string, and then bounces for several notes in the same bow direction. The height and speed of the bounce are regulated through factors such as the amount of pressure used by the index finger, and where the bow is initially thrown or placed.
ricochet Ricochet Ricochet is a bow stroke where the bow is dropped on the string and rebounds (bounces) on the string for several notes in the same bow direction. The natural resiliency of the string helps the bow to bounce. As in the jeté bow stroke, the height and speed of the bounce are regulated through factors such as additional pressure used by the index finger, and where the bow is initially thrown or placed. Although ricochet and jeté are similar, some violists consider jeté to be more of a controlled bounce than ricochet (there are some violists who use these terms interchangeably).
sautille Sautillé Sautillé is a fast, bouncing or springing stroke in which the bow naturally bounces off of the string, producing a lighter, more rapid, and less percussive sound than spiccato. The natural resiliency of the bow is utilized to produce this light, fast stroke, and it is often played in the middle of the bow.
spiccato Spiccato Spiccato is an off-the-string, controlled bouncing bow stroke which produces a crisp sound and very short notes. It is the slowest of the bouncing strokes.