Spiccato (off the string)



Spiccato are two antonyms of legato, in terms of their usages. Especially spiccato, has complex, independent and seperated way of playing. Spiccato should be played off the string with strictly spring bowing stroke.

This term is sometimes counted as the synonymous of Sautillé (Spiccato). Spiccato, on the other hand, has various way to be produced. For example, spiccato sautille is the combination of detache and spiccato techniques. It is usually played in the middle (and a little closer to nut) of the bow. For the record, one can begin to study of playing the Sautille in detache on the first hand, but when s/he manages to learn the work, then tempo of passages can be increased; it is automatically turned into spiccato sautille by certain and proper rapidity. It is generally produced from the wrist only. According to Auer, after the wrist has gained  a certain amount of agility, capability and exercises on two string (G-D) may be begun (Auer).

Then one repeats the same exercise on other strings (A-E). The Sautille stroke is not  difficult technique compared with staccato playing. However, there are some challenges which occur during the playing. Auer gives very beneficial advices for violinists:

“In order to secure the spiccato, all that is necessary is to relax the pressure of fingers on the bow, while going on with the same movement of the wrist used for the short detached stroke already mentioned. The bow will bound of its own accord if violent movements of the hand are avoided.” (Auer)

Besides that, it should be produced in very short bow (in the middle), in order to control and master a bow, while producing sautille. In addition; performer should be aware of how to use the bow, while playing it. One other important suggestion made by Auer, three quarter of breadth of the bow-hair should be held by the performer (without changing position of wrist) to give greater body to the tone. (Auer)

Moreover, the hand should remain quiet, and keep to its usual position. And the performer must try to play sautille in same place, which is pointed between bridge, and fingerboard, in order that the whistling, feeble and less quality tone may be avioded.

On the other hand, there are some other spiccato variations such as leggiero spiccato, ‘normal’ spiccato.

Lets talk about leggiero spiccato. This term academically does not emerge (usually) but it is also the kind of spiccato stroke. And spiccato leggiero –as its name- should be produced more gracefully than spiccato sautille but in the same manner.

Spiccato (classic manner) stroke is such technique that should be played upper part of the bow, with high quality manner. In other words, the performer challenges with more difficulties related to tone quality than other spiccato kinds. Of course; it is played the way slower than sautille and leggiero.


  1. Auer, Leopold, ‘Violin Playing as I Teach it’, Frederick A. Stokes Company, 2009 http://petrucci.mus.auth.gr/imglnks/usimg/7/7d/IMSLP29626-PMLP66515-Auer_Violin_Playng.pdf,  30.10.2012
  2. David D. Boyden and Peter Walls. “Spiccato.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.<http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/26404&gt;.

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