THE ORCHESTRA: A USER'S MANUAL

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Introduction Orchestration Orchestration Resources Historical Andrew Hugill
  Philharmonia

CELLO


Section: Strings
Transposing? No

Construction
Range
Bowing
Plucking
Left Hand
Mute/Harmonics
Chords
Extended
Player's Tips and Tricks

Links

 

Bowing

NAME
DESCRIPTION
NOTATION
LISTEN/VIEW
COMMENTS
arco
bowed (as opposed to plucked)
arco

Here is a selection of normal bowed notes marked with 'hairpins', to give an idea of the range of bowing pressures available. The cello is capable of great subtlety of dynamics and tone colour:

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

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.
down bow
bow travels from frog to point

down bows and up bows

There is no need to indicate bowing unless a specific pattern of up and down bows is required.
up bow
bow travels from point to frog

down bows and up bows

 

There is no need to indicate bowing unless a specific pattern of up and down bows is required.

(middle bow)
   
Not normally indicated
au talon
bowed at the frog
au talon
(Germ. Frosch
It. tallone)

au talon
Works best loud. Aggressive.
punta d'arco
bowed at the point
punta d'arco
(Fr. pointe
Germ. Spitze)
punta d'arco Good for quiet notes, but also spiky sounds.
col legno
with the wood of the bow
col legno battuto (for striking the string)
col legno tratto
(for bowing the string)
(Fr. bois de l'archet
Germ. die Bogenstange)

col legno
col legno tratto

col legno tratto
col legno battuto

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. Battuto is best used quietly to minimise bow damage.
sul ponticello
bow near the bridge
sul pont

sul pont

To return to normal bowing after a sul pont passage, write ord or normale
sul tasto
bow over the fingerboard
sul tasto
sul tasto To return to normal bowing after a sul tasto passage, write ord or normale
détaché
separated notes
détaché Separate bows
legato
smooth, slurred notes
legato  
tenuto
full note values
  Alternate bows, full length
portato
"carried" notes

Fr. louré
portato
portato with staccato markings, rather than tenuto
In a single bow, but with slight breaks between notes
staccato
short notes
staccato Alternate bows
spiccato
very short notes
spiccato "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.
martelé
"hammered" notes
martelé
accents
The accents might have staccato dots too, since this is really an extension of staccato playing, producing a very heavy sound on the bass
jeté
"thrown" bow
jeté
  A controlled bouncing on the string
ricochet
ricochet bow
ric
(sometimes with multiple dots over the note)
  An uncontrolled bouncing on the string
tremolo
rapid up-down bows
tremolo 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 G
played on the G string
sul G
sul A, D, G or C Played on a single string until otherwise indicated, thus sul G, sul D, sul A, sul E. Lends a particular colour to the timbre.