On the String

Introduction (Holding the bow)

L’abbe le fils calls the bow as ‘the soul of the instrument in touches, as it is used to give expression to the sounds…(Stowell 1985,57) In my opinion, it is certainly correct, because without the bow, the picture or the music is not completed. Even if someone claims that s/he can play the violin without the bow, but s/he merely play it with one technique pizzicato. In addition; it can be unaesthetical and the crowd (or audience) would get bored after a certain time. Because the violin is not the guitar…

On the other hand, most of the violinist believe in the fact that, elbow should be inclined towards E string area, in order to prevent arm being raised steeply higher for execution of G String…

Besides; “L’abbe le fils confirms that ‘the elbow should always be detached from the body’, Campagnoli further prescribes two rules:

1-        The arm which supports the bow must neither be held too high nor too low, but remained in a natural position.

2-        The thumb, the hand, the elbow, and the entire portion of the arm which sustains the bow, must be kept quite on a level or in other words, at the same height. (Stowell 1985, 57)

Indeed; this fact of holding both violin and bow should absolutely be in natural way. However rules-lover Europeans always used to put boundaries for the position of the bow too… For example; “Spohr confirms that the wrist must …be raised but the elbow lowered and kept as near as possible to the body[1]” (Stowell 1985, 58)

However; modern techniques, referring to elbow, position make a contradiction against spohr’s method or recommendation. Since, 19th and further centuries elbow position is closer to the body compared with Spohr’s and 18th centuries’ elbow position. Paganini, however, held the bow in very unorthodox way, because of his extra ordinary physique. Guhr says that ‘his arm lies quite close to his body and is hardly ever moved.’ (Stowell 1985, 58). As a result of his holding position; his wrist can easily be moved and the flexible movement of the bow raised the rapidity of his play.

For instance; I would like to share one memoir with your highness, which is related with last concert in Bilkent Concert Hall. The soloist of this concert (Braunstein) had typical violin holding technique as Oistrakh’s method and had his right hand (control of bowing) which was concretely different than learned method. The usage of bow (by himself) was closer to Paganini’s method, referring to the fact that, elbow is placed nearer to the body than 18th & 19th century’s bowing technique…

Staccato (in general)

String playing has lots of combinations, in terms of technical varieties. Spiccato and Staccato are only two technique in enormous string literature (especially violin playing). However, these techniques may be the most important figures in string playing. Because; they are the representitors of two group of playing; referring to techniques ‘on’ the string and ‘off’ the string…

Staccato, which I intended to discuss in this essay, are very hard technique which requires strong stamina, strength and delicacy… The term maybe the antonym of legato, but it must be played between, staccato and legato. Of course, the player should play the note with strong articulation. And the notes should be detached from one another, that is why, authorities describe the staccato as ‘non legato’… Besides, in late Beethoven pieces, not legato term usages or staccato marks, often occur after legato passages. Maybe, the composer intended to use strong indications against other slurred passages. (Staccato)

Staccato of before 19th century usages, has two distinctive types of staccato execution (Staccato). One of them was normal staccato marks (with dot) and other marks under slur indicating portato –which means more merciful and sensitive type of playing. This ‘Strich’ should be played with proper vibrato, and with high qualified bowing usages-

However, notational distinction sometimes intended to ‘there can be no doubt how composers envisaged’ and the player or performer ‘employed’, make continous ‘spectrum of subtly varied staccato execution’ instead of playing two different types. (Staccato)

Furthermore; there is another term of staccato, assumably occur in second half of 19th century; named as ‘flying staccato’. Its functions work as spiccato but in the same wedge. Further informations about staccato, will be included in second part of this essay, which will be written under the title of ‘How to play staccato’…

[1] His techniques obey the 18th century’s rules


1.    Stowell Robin, ‘Violin Technique and Perfomance  Practice in Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth  Centuries’, Cambridge musical Texts&Monographs. Cambridge University Press, 1985. p. 57-58


 2.   Geoffrey Chew and Clive Brown. “Staccato.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 17 Oct. 2012.<http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/26498&gt;.


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