Writing about the baroque violin bow - its history, development and usage - is complicated. The bow is generally regarded as being of crucial importance; - from our earliest sources (Rognoni, 1620; The Viole da brazzo, especially the violin, is an instrument in itself crude and harsh, if it is not tempered and softened by gentle/delicate [soave] bowing”
) to our latest (Cambini, 1795; “The bow is the soul, the thought, the spirit of the violin"
), the bow is awarded special significance.
But frustratingly, there isn't a single simple historical line to follow. We have to consider the following issues;
- what is the bow like (length, shape, balance, material, construction etc)?
- how is it held?
- how is used (bowing technique, order of strokes) ?
Unfortunately, answers to these three questions are not so simple;- they depend on country and period, and additional complexities result from the interdependency of the three issues - for example the length and weight of the bow have implications for the bow-hold, which influences the bowing principles, which in turn influences or is influenced by the „sound-ideals“, for want of a better expression.
So - rather than getting too embroiled in a tangled up text, I've made a Timeline.
This gives you, hopefully in very clear graphic form, an overview of all the information that I know about the bow. In addition to the timeline itself, here are a couple of short essays aimed at putting all this information in context:
Development of the Bow
I hope that the Timeline is pretty self-explanatory, but here are some brief points:
Each element on the timeline is in colour-coded box, defining country as follows: Italy
Hover over any box, and it will expand, to better see and read it - really useful for those of a certain age!!
Click on any box, and it will link to a detailed discussion of the element in question. The main text is in this brown-ish colour. Now and again, in my commentary, you come across some writing in black, like this. This means you're now getting opinion - my opinion, which I hope is 'informed', but opinion nonetheless, a step removed from simple reporting of the historical information.
Using your browser's back button will take you back to where you were on the timeline. The other items in the menu do what they say!!
So -- To the Timeline
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