Introduction to Combined Bowings

Introduction to Combined Bowings

Combined bowings can easily be neglected, which is one reason why working through Sevcik’s Opus 3, Forty Variations, the Kreutzer Studies with variations, and a scale system such as Galamian’s, is so valuable.

Two notes slurred and two notes separate

Passages of two notes slurred and two notes separate at a fast tempo are common in the repertoire, for example in Mozart’s violin concertos. To improve clarity in the articulation, minimize the amount of bow on the slur and maximize the amount of bow on each détaché note. That is, give each down and up-bow a similar length.

Three notes slurred and three notes separate

Passages of three notes slurred and three notes separate at a fast tempo present another challenge (for example, Giga from Bach’s "Partita in D Minor"). Even with saving bow on the slur, we still need to make up ground on the separate bows. Think of the last upbow as pushing the bow back to the beginning point in order to regain lost ground (an example of travel bowing).

Slurs can be indicators of phrasing as well as bowing. In Bach’s Giga the bowing and phrasing work together, as the slurred notes have a natural diminuendo, while using more bow on the last up-bow creates a crescendo, which suits the phrasing.

Travel bowing

A group of notes where we aim to use unequal amounts of bow in order to travel through the bow. This is often needed to regain ground and move back to the lower half of the bow after a slurred group. The shape of a zigzag suggests this bowing.


Planning and Practice - Bow Planning in Bach A Minor
Scores - Bach D Minor Giga Excerpt - violin & viola
Resources - Repertoire & Bibliography

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