Can A Violin Be Played with a Bow?

by neonmusic

25th March, 2019

When you play the guitar, you strum on the strings in order to produce a sound. You can strum the violin strings, too. But you need to use a bow so that you can successfully create the right melodies and rhythms. You call that “strumming” technique pizzicato when playing violin and other stringed instruments.

Different Terms Used in Playing the Violin

The abbreviation for pizzicato is “pizz”, but violinists don’t often use this word for some reasons. Some use “fiddling” to refer to violin playing, especially for self-taught violinists that play solely folk music. When you play your instrument with a bow, you can call it bowing. And there are different bowing techniques for a specific genre of music.

There are various adjective phrases used to describe the act of bowing. However, the general term used by professional violin players is arco, an Italian word which means bow. Some of the most common arco articulations are legato, sul ponticello, down stroke, and up stroke.

When someone mentions that he’s playing the violin, you immediately assume that he is using a bow. This might be the usual image that people imagine since violins are also considered bowed instruments. They are entirely plucked, and a violinist set his bow in his lap all throughout the performance.

Most Common Violin Techniques

Earlier, sul ponticello was already mentioned so let’s talk about that violin technique. In this playing technique, the violin bow is positioned between the fingerboard and the bridge. When you move the bow closer to the bridge, it will change how the strings vibrate.

Instead of producing a full tune, you get high harmonics. As a result, you create a raspy tone with a strange element. You can control the harmonics when you change the bow pressure against the string.

Another technique is the spiccato stroke or bouncing the bow. This is where the bow detaches the string after every bow stroke. Spiccato is used in between the bow stroke where the weight is even on the contact point’s sides. That way, you can control the bow more easily.

Wrapping It Up

Depending on your skills and training, you can play your violin with a bow. In fact, there are various methods that violinists use in order to create unique sounds they want using their instruments. Other than these techniques, there are more ways to play violin with a bow. All you need is to take lessons and learn from a professional teacher.

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