A Timeline history of the Violin Bow - from c. 1600 - 1800

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- click on a box to link to a detailed discussion of the topic

Valentin de Boulogne c.1626

Leyster 1630

Lely c.1640

Sorgh 1650?

Franceschini c. 1660

Corelli (?) c. 1670

Mieris 1681

Biber 1681

Piazzetta c. 1700

Pater c.1710

Corette, 1738

Veracini, 1744

L. Mozart 1756
1756 Leopold Mozart
Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule

"Every tone, even the strongest
attack, has a small, even if
barely audible, softness at
the beginning of the stroke"

Löhlein 1774

Campagnoli 1797
c. 1797 Bartolomeo Campagnoli
Metodo per violino

“The different combinations of [types of bowing]
impart to melody its expression and effect."

1592 Riccardo Rognoni
Passaggi per potersi essercitare…

"above all the bowing must always be done correctly.“

1619 Praetorius
Syntagma Musicum

"And because everybody knows about
these instruments, it is unnecessary to
point out or write anything more"

1620 Francesco Rognoni
Selva de varii Passaggi

"The viole da brazzo, especially the violin, is an
instrument in itself crude and harsh, if it is not
tempered and softened by delicate bowing."

1631 Pierre Trichet
Traité des Instruments de Musique

"strongly tensed and fitted with horse's hair"

1637 Marin Mersenne
Harmonie universelle

“one always plays a down bow for
the first note of the bar, but if it is composed
of an uneven number [of notes] ..., one plays an up
bow on the first note of the following bar"..."

1645 Gasparo Zanetti
Il Scolaro per imprarar a suonare di Violino
1658 Johann Andreas Herbst
Musica Moderna Prattica

"Notice that, at the beginning of
the music: the bow should be drawn
'towards' the right hand."

1664 John Playford
A Brief Introduction to the Skill of Musick

"the Bow is held in the right hand
... the Thumb being staid upon the hair at the Nut"

1677 Bartolomeo Bismantova
Compendio Musicale

„The whole art of playing the violin consists
in knowing how to manage the bow well"

1677 Johann Jacob Prinner
Musicalischer Schlissel

" the violin bow is drawn with the
right hand, but in different ways "

1688 Georg Falck
Idea boni cantoris

"...learn to grasp and hold the bow
correctly, ... quick little runs
should be played at the point"

1690's James Talbot's Manuscript

"Bow of fine speckled wood"

1693 John Lenton
The Gentleman's Diversion, or
the Violin Explained

“let your Bow be as long
as your Instrument, well
mounted and stiff Hair’d

1695 Daniel Merck
Compendium Musicae
Instrumentalis Chelicae

"...If one has not learnt the up and down
strokes correctly, this leads to an
unordered and absurd measure, from
which really big mistakes arise..."

1698 Georg Muffat
Florilegium Secundum

"... German violinists ... hold the bow
as the Lullists do, pressing the hair
with the thumb and resting the other
fingers on the stick of the bow"

1711 Monteclair, Michel Pignolet de
Méthode facile pour apprendre à jouer du violon

“The bow is held with the right hand, the
four fingers placed on the wood, and the
thumb under the nut which holds the hair"

ca. 1728 Roger North
... on Nicola Matteis and other topics

"he [Nicola Matteis] taught the English to hold
the bow by the wood onely and not to touch
the hair which was no small reformation."

1731 Peter Prelleur
The Modern Musik Master
(The Art of Playing on the Violin)

"It is difficult to lay down any certain Rules for the Use of the Bow ..."

1738 Michel Corrette
L’école d’Orphée

“These two methods of holding the
bow [thumb on the stick, thumb on
the hair] are equally good, it depends
on the master who teaches you."

1741 Benjamin Tate on Locatelli

"He Plays with a Short Bow [because] no
Fidler can Play any thing with a Long Bow,
that He can't Play with a short one."

before 1756? Giuseppe Tartini
Regole per le Arcate

"there are no definite rules for determining whether
one should begin with a down-bow or up-bow."

1760 Giuseppe Tartini
Letter to Signora Maddalena Lombardini

"Your first study, therefore, should
be the true manner of holding,
balancing and pressing the bow lightly,
but steadily, upon the strings

1761 L'Abbé le fils
Principes du Violon

“One can call the bow the soul of the
instrument which it touches, because it serves
to give the expression to the tones, to spin
them out, to swell them and to diminish them. "

c. 1765 Robert Crome
The Fiddle new model'd

"rather play with the small end of the bow"

1774 Georges Simon Löhlein
Anweisung zum Violinspielen

“...the further one moves the bow away
from the bridge the duller and more
muted the sound becomes."

1774 Théodore-Jean Tarade
Traité du violon

“The bow is the soul of the violin"

1776 Johann Friedrich Reichardt
Über die Pflichten des Ripien-Violinisten

“... the first duty of the violinist [is] to give the
upbow and the downbow equal weight"

1791 Francesco Galeazzi
Elementi Teorico-Pratica di Musica

"The expert handing of the bow
is much more difficult than that of the violin

1792 Johann Adam Hiller
Anweisung zum Violinspielen

“One must learn to place the bow so gently
on the strings, that the sound appears to
arise from a soft breathe and not a hefty blow"

c. 1795 Giuseppe Maria Cambini
Nouvelle méthode pour le violon

“The bow is the soul, the thought, the spirit of the violin"


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