Trillo (‘tr’ on the score)

As Leopold Auer said “…trill is one of the virtuoso’s most striking accomplishment.” Because people can understand the technical potency of violinists by listening them while they are producing trills. Of course, not everybody achieves the trill technique with ideal quality, because of their less fortunate fingers (in terms of technical potency). For instance, Wilhelmj (one of the greatest violinists) had neither good trill nor good staccato. (Auer) However, he proved himself with his powerful and high tone quality.

Auer pointed out very important information about the production of trills. According to him , the violinists are divided into two categories referring to precipitate, (inborn) talented fingers and, less fortunate and technically weak fingers (which is related with Wilhelmj example).

Sarasate, Wieniawsky, and Joachim were the best examples of the first category. Auer made unquestionable  compliments to their precipitate and very great length in trill production, which formed a brilliant factor in their technical equipment. (Auer)

Joachim, on the other hand, shone principally in precipitate trill. For example, he proved his imitable mastery with Tartini’s (Allegro) sonata known as ‘the Devil’s Trill’ in short trill type. (Auer)

Trills are consisted of two different accomplishments; short and long trills. In addition, trill is found throughout the period of 18th century music (and before 18th century) in keyboard works. ‘The method of performance is variable a member of works’ (Trill) In other words the players make their interpretations according to (carefully) measured rhythms (in the first place). However another evidence demonstrates that, the performers can comfortably make their own interpretations within the trill’s period of use: “The precise speed of the alternation of notes is often left to the performer’s discretion…” (Trill)

Besides that, as we learned from our masters, trill of late Baroque usually begins on the upper-note. However, the usage of trill (Baroque) which I learned from my instructor, does not (usually) obey this rule unless the notes before trills are placed above.

This may be extended into an appogiatura. It will be noted that the upper note start gives this trill harmonic coloring, quite unlike that of the modern type.” (Trill) Furthermore, trill method of late Baroque can also be seen in the music of Classical period  but in written-out manner. In other words, the composer would rather to notate the suffix (turn) in full size or just as grace notes. The period of 1830s  hosts the present methods of trill starting on the main note.

Trills as other techniques, are sometimes overrated while being produced by the performer. Auer comes up with brilliant solution against this problem. First of all he says trill is just the ‘ornament’ that is why, the melodic design’ should not be sacrificed for the sake of the ornament. Secondly, he suggests that, it is necessary to complete the trill with the same note which the trill begins, and violinist must observe the accent that indicates the note to which one should return. (Auer)

In conclusion, I would like to remind you of one of the greatest masters of violin history. You all know whom I am talking about; Paganini himself. He composed many works including (almost) all types of trill varieties. Whether the authors or authorities can accept this fact and intend to write his name down to the paper or not, he should be remembered in all examples (variations/kinds) of violin technique including trill, since he deserves it unquestionably.


  1. Auer, Leopold, ‘Violin Playing as I Teach it’, Frederick A. Stokes Company, 2009,  27.11.2012
  2. McVeigh, Simon and David Milsom . “trill.” The Oxford Companion to Music. Ed. Alison Latham. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. <;.

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