A discussion of the bow:
A general feature of bass bowing is that the bow is much shorter than other stringed instrument bows, so there tend to be more changes in bow direction during musical phrases.
arco = bowed (as opposed to plucked). It is assumed that a passage
is bowed unless marked otherwise. However, once a 'pizz'
indication has been given, 'arco' must be indicated for
the next bowed passage. Where unusual bowing techniques are used, 'ord'
or 'norm' will return the player to normal bowing. Here is a selection
of normal bowed notes marked with 'hairpins', to give an idea of the
range of bowing pressures available:
C2 - B1 G2 - F2 A2 - Bb2 D3 - C3 E3 - F3
Bow travels from frog to point. Strong, and therefore used often on downbeats. There is no need to indicate bowing unless a specific pattern of up and down bows is required.
Bow travels from point to frog. Weaker sound than down bow, and therefore used often on upbeats. There is no need to indicate bowing unless a specific pattern of up and down bows is required.
Rapid up-down bows. A
measured tremolo subdivides the beat accurately according to the number
of bars through the note stem. An unmeasured tremolo (usually indicated
with the word trem) is a very rapid alternation of up and down
Tremolo sul pont.
au talon (Germ. Frosch. It. tallone) =
bowed at the frog. Works best loud.
punta d'arco (Fr. pointe. Germ. Spitze) = bowed at the point. Good for delicate effects.
col legno (Fr. bois de l'archet Germ. die Bogenstange) = with the wood (but see the next entry). When only col legno is indicated, players often use tratto but engaging an amount of the hair of the bow. It is best to specify the method.col legno:
col legno battuto/tratto
Full note values, played with alternate bows, full length.
Very short notes, sometimes notated as staccato with the word 'spicc.'
i.e. bounced bow. A spiccato played in a single down bow is
called saltando, and in a single up-bow is called volante.
Literally, "measured" notes. Notated with a verbal instruction. An "in the string" sound, performed either in a single bow or in alternate bows.
"hammered" notes. Indicated by accents. In a single
bow, but very separated notes. The accents might have staccato dots too, since this is really an extension of staccato playing, producing a very heavy sound on the bass.
"Thrown" bow, producing a controlled bouncing on the string.
Played on a single string until otherwise indicated, thus sul E, sul A, sul D, sul G. Lends a particular colour to the timbre.
The Orchestra: A User's Manual is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8,000 and 16,000 unique visits per month from all over the world. See the testimonials. Thanks to all the donations, I have been able to create this responsive re-design. But the movies and sound clips recorded in 2004 do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. I estimate this will cost around £30,000. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: a.hugill [at] bathspa.ac.uk