Bow Direction (Up and Down)

Description: In this module, we'll learn about the bow direction, and understand the technique and symbols of the Up and Down bows.

Experience Level: Beginner

Duration: approx. 10 minutes

Instructions: Read the materials then answer the questions.

Up and Down bow: The Basics

Bow direction

When playing the violin using the bow, we are always moving the bow either from the left to the right, or from the right to the left.

INTRODUCTORY VIDEO GOES HERE!

When do you play up, when do you play down?

When using the bow, we have to be playing up or down bow at any given moment, in order to create a sound.

Because there is only a finite amount of bow, we have to regularly change between the up bow and the down bow.

Symbols

When we are using sheet music, we need a quick way to know whether to play an up bow or a down bow.

 

When to use up and down bows

What comes up must come down

[SECTION EXPLAINING THAT UP FOLLOWS DOWN, DOWN FOLLOWS UP]

When using the bow, we have to be playing up or down bow at any given moment, in order to create a sound.

Because there is only a finite amount of bow, we have to regularly change between the up bow and the down bow.

Up-beats

[INSERT SECTION HERE ABOUT WHEN TO USE AN UP BOW FOR AN UP BEAT]

'Rule of Down Bow' 

[HEAVY vs LIGHT - ]

check these sources:

  • http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/beginners-guide-baroque-violin/
  • http://chase.leeds.ac.uk/article/bowing-and-fingering-instructions-in-string-music-during-the-18th-and-early-19th-centuries-duncan-druce-clive-brown/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baroque_violin

SLURS

[INSERT SECTION HERE: just mention slurs briefly - cover in more detail in a different module later]

FAQ

Q: Does an up bow have to start at the top end of the bow? / Does a down bow have to start at the bottom end of the bow?
A:
 NO! Definitely not. Depending on the music, you might have to start an up or a down bow in almost any part of the bow. The terms 'up bow' and 'down bow' only refer to the direction of the bow. They do not refer to where in the bow the movement starts.

Q: Does an Up bow always go UP in the air?
A: Depending on how you stand / how you use your body, you might find that on the lower strings of the violin (particularly the G string), the bow direction is not always physically going upwards. This is because the height of the arm on the G string can create an angle where the bow direction is moving on a downwards trajectory even during an up bow. Therefore, it is much easier to think of Up bow as moving to the left, and Down bow as moving to the right. This way you will avoid confusion.

Exercise: Play Up and Down bows on different strings

Now it's time to try the up and down bow for yourself!

Here's a selection of string names and bowing instructions. Try and move through the list as fast as you can!

  • Play a down bow on the D string
  • Play an up bow on the A string
  • Play a down bow on the G string
  • Play a down bow on the E string
  • Play an up bow on the D string
  • Play a down bow on the A string
  • Play an up bow on the G string
  • Play an up bow on the E string

How fast can you respond to the instructions?

Now try some Up and Down bows yourself. Better still, get a friend to give you a random selection, and see how quickly you can prepare for the next bow!

What is an up bow?

  • An up bow is a bow movement to the LEFT
  • An up bow is a bow movement to the RIGHT

What is a down bow?

  • A down bow is a bow movement to the LEFT
  • A down bow is a bow movement to the RIGHT

Which way round?

Match the correct description to the correct name...
  • Up bow
    The bow moves to the left
  • Down bow
    The bow moves to the right

Identify the Symbol

In this section, we're going to test your memory to be sure that you remember the symbol for each bow direction!
  • Down Bow
  • Up Bow