Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/277

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BOW.
265
BOWING.

combines all the qualities required to enable the player to follow out every conceivable nuance of tone and movement—lightness, firmness, and elasticity. The stick of the modern violin bow (Fig. 8) is made of Brazilian lance-wood (Duguetia quitarensis) or of Snake-wood (Brosimum aubletii); it is cut straight, following the grain of the wood, and afterwards slightly bent by exposure to heat. Although many trials have been made no wood has been found to possess the necessary qualities in the same degree as those mentioned.

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The nut (c, Fig. 9) is made either of ebony or tortoise-shell. For violin, tenor, and violoncello bows white horse-hair is used; for double-bass bows (which are made of beech wood) black.

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The hair (b) is inserted in the head (e) and the nut of the bow, and can be made tighter or looser by turning the screw (d). The hair from the tail of stallions is preferred, as being stronger, more even, and free from greasiness. The friction on the string is increased by the application of rosin. From 175 to 250 hairs are put into a violin bow. Tourte fixed the length of a violin-bow to 29–29½ inches, of a tenor bow to 29, and of a violoncello bow to 28½–28¾. The bows of Tourte's own make are still considered the best, and command a high price; though not a few modern bow-makers have turned out very good bows, which frequently go under his name.

[ P. D. ]

BOWING. This term is used in a twofold sense, corresponding to the German terms 'Bogenführung' and 'Strichart' respectively. In the first it designates in a general way the action of the bow on stringed instruments, and in that sense we speak of a style and method of bowing, or of the bowing of a player. In the second it means the particular manner in which a phrase or passage is to be executed, and the signs by which such a manner is usually marked; and in that sense we speak of the bowing of a phrase or passage.

1. Bowing (Bogenführung). While the left hand of the violin-player fixes the tone, and thereby does that which for the piano-player is already done by the mechanism of the instrument,—and while his correctness of intonation (supposing his ear to be accurate) depends on the proficiency of his left hand, as with the piano-player it depends on the tuner's proficiency,—it is the action of the violinist's right hand, his bowing, which, analogous to the pianist's touch, makes the sound spring into life; it is through the medium of the bow that the player realises his ideas and feelings. It is therefore evident that 'bowing' is one of the most important and difficult parts of the art of violin-playing, and that the excellence of a player, and even of a whole school of violin-playing, to a great extent depends on its method of bowing. The progress of the art of bowing closely followed the gradual perfection of the bow itself. As long as the stick of the bow was stiff and unpliable and the hair could not be made tighter or looser at pleasure, we can hardly speak of an art of bowing; for that art can only be practised with an elastic bow, which yields to the slightest pressure of the fingers. As long as the violin-player had merely to double the singers' part, no other nuances but piano and forte were required from him. These the stiff bow could produce, but nothing more. When at the beginning of the 18th century the violin began to emancipate itself from the position of a mere accompanyist, and entered on its glorious career of a solo-instrument, under such masters as Corelli and Vivaldi, it was only by the use of an elastic bow that it could acquire the faculty of producing various nuances and shades of tone. Tartini was the first to make the stick at all elastic, and must therefore be considered the next great advancer of the art of bowing. His work, 'L'Arte dell' Arco,' probably gives us a correct idea of the bowing of his time. A full broad tone, a variety of combinations of tied and detached notes, arpeggios with firm bow (no 'springing bow' as yet),—are the main features of his bowing. The full development, however, of all the powers of the violin was only possible with the modern bow, as first made by Tourte of Paris. The