Understanding the Baroque Violin Bow
If you are a music aficionado, you might have come across the terms baroque period and baroque violin bow. The baroque period in music spans roughly from 1600 to 1750, and it coincided with a lot of experimentation and innovation in the violin world. That period gave birth to a specific type of violin bow known as the Baroque violin bow.
What is a Baroque Violin Bow?
The baroque violin bow is a type of bow that was specifically designed to be used with the baroque violin. The violin bow was typically made with more significant curves than the standard bows we use in contemporary violin music. The bow was also shorter length-wise, and it featured a decorative end – or head – made out of ivory, silver, or tortoiseshell.
How Different was the Baroque Violin Bow from its Contemporary Counterpart?
The baroque violin bow was considerably different from the bow used in contemporary violin music. The bow was made with materials that were readily available during the baroque period – such as snakewood, a strong and durable type of wood that is native to South America. The bow was also held differently, with the stick resting on the player’s first finger rather than the second (as is the case with contemporary bows).
What Techniques are Used in Playing the Violin with Baroque Bow?
Playing the violin with the baroque bow requires a set of techniques that differ from those used in contemporary violin music. With the baroque bow, players rely on short bows and added articulations such as varied texture, dynamic accents, and rhythmic nuances to convey the lyrical content of the music properly. Players use varying amounts of pressure on the bow, depending on the type of piece they are playing.
Where Can I Experience the Baroque Violin Bow?
If you are curious about the baroque period and want to experience the sound of the baroque violin bow, you should consider attending a performance featuring baroque music. Several orchestras specialize in baroque music – such as the Boston Early Music Festival, the Handel and Haydn Society, and the New York Baroque Incorporated. Attending a performance hosted by one of these organizations is an excellent way to experience the magic of the baroque violin bow.