Cello Bowing Technique – 5 Right Hand Bowing Techniques

If you want to master any cello bowing technique, you must dedicate yourself completely and never stop practicing since the nuances are sometimes so small, that one little mistake can ruin the entire piece. The techniques related to the left and right hand are separated mostly because the left hand determines the note and the right one is related to bowing. Some bowing tactics are more used than the others, but it’s important to know the difference and know how to use them.

1. Double stop

It is the act where the two separate strings are depressed by the fingers, and bowed or plucked simultaneously. Frances-Marie Uitti has also invented a two-bow system where one bow plays above the strings and another below. This cello bowing technique was invented by Carlo Farina, but it is not only connected to stringed instruments, but to melodic percussion instruments, as well.

2. Pizzicato

This technique requires plucking the strings of the violoncello. It is known from the 16th century and it can be applied on chords and single notes. On bowed string instrument, plucking is usually made with fingers since the goal is to produce different sound – short and percussive. Pizzicato is very popular part of many modern playing techniques. There are many pieces in classical music which are played entirely pizzicato, such as Bach’s “Magnificat”.

3. Spiccato

In this technique the the bow bounces lightly upon the string and the sound should be short and distinct, which is produced by elasticity of the string. The sound it produces can be better heard when playing professional cello live. Thanks to modern type of bow named Tourte bow, it is much easier to bring this sound into life. Its use increased significantly in the 20th century and that trend is probably going to continue.

4. Staccato

It includes a series of short strokes in the course of one whole stroke, and there are two major types of it, the strong and flying staccato. This cello bowing technique has some connections with other bowing techniques, but it’s completely opposite of legato. Lately, for the artist it’s important that the dot is placed below or above the note to express that t should be played this way.

5. Legato

In this case, the music notes are played in order to sound connected and smooth, which means there should be no intervening silence. When it comes to cello, the bow must make the notes sound harmonized with the silence that is usually barely perceptible. There is a legato “stroke by stroke” and legato “on one stroke” and they differ by the way the notes are played.

Every good cellist must know how to make the perfect combination of those techniques since there are many others that must be learned, as well. Learning a cello bowing technique must not be difficult with the right sense of sound. Everything can be learned through time, everything but the talent.

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