arco

arco

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. The viola is capable of great subtlety of dynamics and tone colour:
D4 C4 G4 A4 D5 E5

downbow

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.

 

 

 

 

 



upbow

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

(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.

 

 

 


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 battuto/tratto

'battuto' = hit with the wood of the bow
col legno battuto:
col legno battuto
Mahler, Symphony No. 4, 172-173:

'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

detache

détaché

Separated notes, played with separate bows.
détaché


legato

legato

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

 

tenuto

tenuto

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

 


portato

portato

"Carried notes (Fr. louré). Played in a single bow, but with slight breaks between notes.

staccato

staccato

Short notes, alternate bows.
staccato

wedge

spiccato

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.
spiccato:
spiccato

martele

martelé

Literally, "hammered" notes. Also indicated by accents. In a single bow, but very separated notes.

tremolo

tremolo

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.
Tremolo
Tremolo sul pont.



sul ponticello

Bowed near the bridge.
sul pont.

sul tasto

Bowed over the fingerboard.
sul tasto

jeté

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

ricochet

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

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.

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