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

... the sources in detail ...


Riccardo Rognoni (Passaggi per potersi essercitare… 1592)

(Facsimile published by Arnaldo Forni Editore, 2002, with an excellent Preface and translations of both Riccardo and Francesco Rognoni by Bruce Dickey. You can find an online version of the complete facsimile on imslp, here )

The Rognonis were an important and highly respected family around the turn of the 16th to the 17th century. Riccardo (c. 1550 - c. 1620), is the first in this family about whom we have information. He was highly praised as viol player, and a posthumous report (Filippo Picinelli in 1670) writes that he was an “excellent player of the violin and of other instruments of string and wind, he was an Orfeo of his times."
"Since on string instruments it is difficult to pull and push the bow in beginning to play, you must always pull the bow if you play the Viola da Gamba, and also the Viola da Braccio; but short groppetti are made pushing and pulling as you wish, and also taking a new bow when you find quarters in the middle of eighths, or eighths in the middle of quarters, or you can make two notes in one bow, because you cannot make a long division if the bow does not go correctly, because on the Viola da Gamba the bow must be pushed on the eighths and quarters and on the viola da braccio it must be pulled on the eighths and quarters, meaning always for doing a long division, because above all the bowing must always be done correctly."
This is actually very confusing, but it is clearly important to Ricardo that you bow in the "right" direction. Given historical context, I think we can assume that Ricardo confuses up and down between the violin and gamba family (but see Bruce Dickey’s discussion) and heavily paraphrased he says: bow the "right way round"; that is, on the violin, use a down bow on the odd-numbered notes, and adjust when the pattern requires, either by slurring two notes or taking a new down.