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

... the sources in detail ...


Robert Crome
The Fiddle remodel'd or a useful Introduction for the VIOLIN (London, ?1765)

You can find an online version of the complete facsimile on imslp (click here).

Robert Crome's treatise is perhaps not the most profound - he starts charmingly by stating: "The Fiddle is a difficult instrument to learn because there are no fix'd Places to stop the fingers on". The book then proceeds by way of rather tedious dialogues to go through, rather tediously, the basics. Then somewhat tediously we find the same minuet in pretty much every key with a rather tedious explanation of where to put each finger. You get the idea.
He says of the bow:
"hold your Bow with your right Hand near the Nut, with your Fingers and Thumb without touching the Hair, and when you draw the Bow downward and upwards; take care you don't let your Bow Hand come too near the Fiddle, but rather play with the small end of the Bow, unless it be to lengthen out a long Note.
Later on page 45 we find;
It is generally understood in Bowing to play the first Note in every Bar with a down Bow, but in all movements the Bow Hand shou'd move down and up as regular as possible, till you have command with the Bow Hand, as it wou'd check the Arm very much as first to draw two down or two up Bows together, but when you have acquir'd command of the Bow, you may do as you please. I will now give you the common Directions for Bowing which are as follows it is difficult to lay down any certain Rules for the use of the Bow, by reason the Directions of divers Masters, and the Methods of Practitioners are very different, nevertheless it may not be improper to exhibit some remarkable observations on this subject in Common Time, at the beginning of many Lessons you will find an odd Note, excluded from the others by the first Bar, which must be struck with an up Bow, then next within the Bar, is to be struck with a down Bow, and when ever an equal Number of Notes are contain'd in a Bar, draw one Bow down and the other up continually, but if any odd Number are found there in, then 'tis requisite that some two of them be play'd with two down, or two up Bows, both together, in Triple Time when three Crotchets are included in a Bar, the first must be struck with a down Bow, and the two last with two up Bows, or otherwise you may play off the first with a down Bow, the second with an up Bow, and the third with a down Bow, but you will soon perceive the first Direction to be the best.

He also says that if all this adjusting (two ups in a row) is too difficult, one can always slur notes. All told, the main value of this is to show that the principle of bowing a down bow on each barline is still, at least in certain circles (certain levels of ability?), alive and strong.