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.
C3-B2-D3 E3-G3-F3 A3-Bb3-D4 C4-E4-F4


Down bow

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.

Down bows and up bows:






Up bow

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.

Down bows and up bows:







(Middle bow)

Middle of the bow, or the balancing point, is not normally indicated.














au talon

au talon (Germ. Frosch. It. tallone) = bowed at the frog. Works best loud.
au talon:





punta d'arco

punta d'arco (Fr. pointe. Germ. Spitze) = bowed at the point. Good for delicate effects.

punta d'arco:



col legno

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

'battuto' = hit with the wood of the bow
col legno battuto
col legno battuto
col legno battuto
col legno battuto

'tratto' = drag wood of the bow across the string(s). Use with extreme caution! Players do not like to damage valuable bows.
col legno tratto:
col legno tratto



Separated notes, played with separate bows.






Smoth, slurred notes played in a single bow, without breaks.







Full note values, played with alternate bows, full length.








"Carried notes (Fr. louré). Played in a single bow, but with slight breaks between notes.
portato with staccato (rather than tenuto) markings:




Short notes, alternate bows.
staccato staccato:



Very short notes, sometimes notated as staccato with the word 'spicc.' Played ="off-the-string", 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, "hammered" notes. Also indicated by accents. In a single bow, but very separated notes. martelé:



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 bows.

sul ponticello

Bowed near the bridge.
sul ponticello:
sul pont.

sul tasto

Bowed over the fingerboard.
sul tasto:


"Thrown" bow, producing a controlled bouncing on the string.


Usually abbreviated to ric. An uncontrolled bouncing on the string. Sometimes notated with multiple dots over the note.

sul G

Played on a single string until otherwise indicated, thus sul C, sul G, sul D, sul A. Lends a particular colour to the timbre.
sul A, D or G:

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