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more of these different forms of bowing in a regularly recurring series. What has now to be
studied is the art of adapting the bow, on the instant, as it were, to the ever-varying require-
ments of playing ; for it is only in exercises of the more formal order that the bowing moves
in a regular pattern.

To any one who takes sufficient interest in violin-playing to give more than a passing thought
to such phases of a good violinist's technique as would be likely to impress themselves on the
attention of the average concert-goer, the variety of effects obtained by the use of different
styles of bowing, and more especially the ease and certainty with which the bow, passing from
one note or group of notes, appears to lie, and that with no other motion beyond what was
required for the production of the preceding note, in exactly the right position for the succeed-
ing one, must appear little short of marvellous ; and, with knowledge, the marvel increases
rather than diminishes ; for a very brief study of violin-playing will convince any one that, of
itself, this thing is neither so easy nor so simple as it looks. To the tyro a violin-bow is about
the most awkward thing in the world. Either he finds that he has still four slurred semiquavers
to play with his down-bow, and only the ivory mount to play them with, or, from too lavish use
of the bow, he has gone to the opposite and equally iniquitous extreme of over-economy, and
between one bow and the next there remains an obstinate four or five inches of unused bow
hair which has to be got out of the road somehow, and which the student, true to that principle
of young beginners, of always doing things the wrong way in an emergency, proceeds to switch
out of the way with an ungainly motion of the shoulder, as if Providence had omitted to endow
him with an elbow-joint. In endeavouring to acquire a correct method of bowing, more
especially when doing so without the aid of a teacher, the student must be prepared to encounter
certain difficulties : these difficulties are inevitable, although by no means insurmountable.

Bowing, apart from its share in the mere production of a succession of notes, falls to be
considered under two heads first, as relating to the form and construction of whatever
composition is to be played ; second, as a means employed by a composer for the realisation
of some particular effect. This latter aspect of bowing requires comparatively little attention,
inasmuch wherever a composer makes definite use of some special form of bowing, he is,
of necessity, compelled to set forth his desires in a clear and explicit fashion. It is to the
first kind of bowing, that general system which is to be applied to all music not specially
marked, and upon which, indeed, any specially-indicated bowings are to be merely grafted,
that most attention should be given ; and with this general system of bowing the important
subjects of Phrasing and Reading are almost inextricably mixed up.



The whole fabric of musical science depends upon certain conceptions of Rhythm or Time ;
and all our ideas of Time are based upon the regular recurrence of beats or accents down
beats and up-beats, or strong accents and weak ones. Now, the down-bows and up-bows of
the violinist correspond, in a way, to the strong and weak accents of music at large. Naturally
there is more force and weight in a down-bow than in an up-bow, although the inequality
between the two bowings is rendered less perceptible by the slightly firmer pressure which
should be employed in the upward motion of the bow ; still, the down-bow is the more powerful,
and, unless there are express directions to the contrary, the strong bow should come on the
strong accent, and the weak bow on the weak accent, the bow-accents thus moving parallel
with the rhythm-accents. This is the general rule in bowing, and it is for this reason that, where
a composition, or a portion of a composition, commences with an incomplete bar so


it is customary to begin with an up-bow.
notes tied

Where the incomplete bar consists of two or more


the up-bow is also used. If the notes are detached ones, as in the following


n A



a down-bow must be used to commence with. With three detached notes in the imperfect bar,
or a combination of slurred and detached notes equivalent to three bowings


n A


-*- -*- -

an up-bow is used for the first notes, or slurred group of notes. Thus it will be seen that what-
ever notes come before the first complete bar, they must be bowed so that the complete bar
commences with a down-bow. The whole thing may be put in the shape of a rule as follows :
An initial imperfect bar containing an odd number of single notes, or groups of notes to be played
with one bcnv, commences with an up-bow. An initial imperfect bar containing an even number of
single notes, or groups of notes to be played with one bow, commences with a down-bow. This
rule must be followed in all cases where there is no express direction to the contrary.

Another most important point in connection with bowing is, that the student must cultivate a
faculty of looking a little ahead of the notes he is actually playing, so that he may be fully aware,
while engaged with the notes of one bar, what demands those of the following two or three bars,


or even lines, will make upon his bow, and thus be able to pass from bar to bar with no breaks
in the smooth flow of the music, and no ungainly, and totally unnecessary, motions of the

After the first difficulties of producing notes with a fairly good quality of tone have been
mastered, the next thing is to be able to vary the volume of these notes at will, without, at the
same time, allowing any deteriorations of their quality. Music is full of most subtle, and ever-
varying, gradations of tones ; and it is necessary that a violinist should be able to reproduce
these gradations exactly, without apparent effort, and at all times with the purest tone that he
can command. This is a subject closely connected with bowing; for all these gradations of
tone are effected almost solely by means of the bow.

The two extremes of forte and piano in violin-playing are produced respectively by the
firm decided application of the full span of the bow-hair to the strings, and the use of but a
small portion of the hair. Midway between these extremes lies what might be called the
normal style of bowing. In this normal bowing the bow, resting on the string, is allowed to
lean a little away from the player, so that from about a half to two-thirds of the bow-hair is
employed. This style of using the bow will do very well for all ordinary occasions; where a
greater volume of tone is desired the breadth of the hair in use may be increased : if it is
desired to diminish the tone, a proportionate narrowing of the bow-hair will produce the desired
effect. A careful study of the way in which the bow is placed on the strings in Plate II. should
furnish a tolerably clear idea of the angle at which it should rest. The position of the bow
between bridge and finger-board in this plate is not to be taken as a guide, and is not intended
as such. At all times the bow should be at a distance of about an inch from the bridge. The
old-fashioned theory was that forte passages should be played near the bridge, and//a0 passages
nearer to the finger-board. This device of moving the bow closer to the finger-board certainly
produces a fading away of the tone; but the tone close to the finger-board is much less
resonant ; and even in pianissimo passages the tone of the violin should be always perfectly clear.
The mention of the clearness of tone, absolutely imperative in all kinds of violin-playing, suggests
another point which should be remembered, viz., that the violin has its limitations, and that,
in order to secure the best and most artistic results, these limitations must be scrupulously
respected. Thus a violin may not sound as loud as its possessor would like ; whether this is a
misfortune or not depends entirely on circumstances ; but only ill can result from any attempt
to force the tone by tearing or scraping at the strings with the bow. Every violin has its own
distinct individuality, and it is for a violin-player to humour that individuality, for bullying is of
no avail. To every direction in music there is a sort of unwritten codicil, which might be expressed
in the words " good tone being always observed ; " so that fortissimo is not the loudest tone
the violinist can produce from his instrument by fair means or foul, but the strongest tone
which lies within the natural resources of the violin. Anything beyond this is unnatural ; and
anything which is unnatural is bad.

The last point which shall be considered at this stage in connection with bowing is this
that what might be called the mechanism of bowing must never become apparent to the ear of
the listener, that is, that the motion of the bow must never impart an accent to music beyond
any marked by the composer, or rendered inevitable by the construction of the piece, as in the
case of beginning with an incomplete bar, playing detached notes, or the like. The violin is
to be regarded as a voice ; and, bearing in mind this essentially vocal character of the violin, it
is no more desirable to hear how the notes are produced than it would be to be compelled to
watch the workings of the vocal organs of a singer. In order that the student may be assisted
towards the attainment of a smooth, firm, logical style of playing, a few old melodies are here
appended by way of exercise. These old songs are to be played, not in a dull up-bow and
down-bow manner, but as though they were being sung by the violin. All the marks of bowing,
phrasing, fingering, &c., are to be rigidly observed ; for these marks have been put in to make
the singing of these melodies on the violin at once as easy and as effective as possible.







riiard. ....


-P 0-

Slowly and tenderly.


n A


, v


xV .


. ^ A

h ^~

J 9m3i

rT~^- r -


=g?r-*-Tq* N '

\ (M)

^N ^f-

J 4

c 1

-V .-



poco ritara.

^g : EE^EJE

- 1=* - -r , t .




Andante mesto.

A * o

ESI d =! "^^

!-=fr=J ^=|

=i=T=l S-fj I -

-*- '


The exercises in this Section have been selected and arranged with a view to giving the
student as thorough a knowledge as possible of every note lying within the compass of the first
position. In order that the student may gain a clear understanding of the nature of intervals,
tones, and semitones, the plan has been adopted of presenting the same exercises in different keys,
by which means it is hoped that some of the difficulties surrounding the attainment of correct
intonation may be materially diminished. With the constant employment of chromatically


altered notes, the student cannot fail to obtain a much more practical idea of the relative values
of whole tones and semitones ; and it is in the recognition of the difference between whole and
half tones that the first great difficulty of the intending violin-player lies.

The melodies included in this section are intended as exercises in the practical application
of the various things learnt through the practice of the preceding exercises, and the study of the
explanation appended to them. As has already been said, the violin is to be regarded as essen-
tially vocal in its character, and these melodies are intended to strengthen this conception in the
mind of the pupil. They are to be played exactly as they would be sung.

Finally : as regards practice. In a work of this nature no very definite rule can be laid
down, for in actual teaching it is constantly found that no two pupils are ever alike in capacity,
application, or in any particular whatever. Consequently to prescribe a set scheme of work in
this place, which might meet every requirement of some one individual, might easily render
it very unsuitable for ninety-nine others. As a general rule the student should, at this stage,
endeavour to secure half an hour's practice every day. Half an hour a day will be enough for
the first few weeks, after that the time may be increased to an hour. The essential thing is that
the practice should be, above all things, regular; a steady half hour's work every day is better, and
effects more good, than two hours at irregular intervals. Each difficulty must be studied care-
fully and thoroughly as it presents itself, and the first word and the last with the student should
be patience ; for it is the slow, patient, methodical worker who makes the most rapid progress,
and, more important still, gains the greatest amount of real, solid, practical knowledge.



IN the exercises already given, the student has been familiarised with all the tones and semi-
tones lying between (a) , j the lowest note on the violin, and jffv = J made with


the fourth finger on the first, or E string. All these notes lie easily under the fingers when
the hand is held in the position shown in the illustrations in the preceding volume. The
violin, however, possesses a compass extending to more than an octave above the highest note
as yet employed :





To make use of these notes the left hand must necessarily be brought nearer and nearer to the
bridge ; and these changes in the position of the left hand with respect to the neck of the
violin have been reduced to a definite system under the title of Positions. It is not known
who was the first to make use of the upper register of the violin, possibly Monteverde was
one of the earliest composers to write passages extending beyond the first, or normal position;
but according to Sir John Hawkins, the use of Positions^ or " shifts," as they were called until a


comparatively recent period, was unknown in this country until the middle of the seventeenth
century, when it was introduced from abroad by one Thomas Baltazar, a native of Lubeck, who
came to England in 1658. Before the arrival of Baltazar, who appears to have been a dis-
tinguished virtuoso, the violin enjoyed little consideration in England, being regarded as good
for little else than the performance of dance-tunes. Even after the time of Baltazar (he died in
1663) the use of Positions appears to have been almost unknown in England, and this is
proved by a tract entitled "The Gentleman's Diversion; or, The Violin Explained," written by
John Lenton, a member of the private band of William III. a most curious publication. In this
book, in which, by the way, the learner is expressly cautioned against holding the violin under

the Mn, there is not the slightest mention of any note higher than C

and a

second edition, published in 1702, under the title "The Useful Instructor on the Violin," con-
tinues as blandly oblivious as ever of the upper notes of the violin, and this at a time when
Corelli had firmly established his reputation.

The way in which the violin should be held has already been explained ; and what applies
to the first Position applies with equal force to the others.

It has been said that the attainment of the upper notes on the violin has been reduced to a
system in the shape of a series of Positions ; and the following tables will show what these
Positions are :


Fourth String.

Third String.

Second String.

First String.

n '

1 1






M f ~f~

f- 1





r \



i [ 1 1 1 _




-J f

* f



-T 1 EE

2 3 i

Fourth String. Third String. Second String. First String.



Fourth String.

Third String. Second String.

1 I

First String.

i*- r~r

r i '


1234 1234




Fourth String. Third String.

First String.

Second String. .



D ' ' ' |

U m ( -p-i f- f- P-

^b ] 1 -j ^ * i* , r

1 ' '

t)* 1 * 1234 134 123




Fourth String. Third String. Second String.

First String.


Fourth String. Third String. ^^^ Strin &


First String.

^1284 1234 1234 1234

It will be seen from the above that every Position is practically fingered exactly the same as
the First, excluding the use of open notes, and that thus the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and
Sixth Positions are merely transpositions of the First.

Having now some general idea of the nature of Positions, so far as may be gained from a
perusal of them set out in tabular form as above, the student must next set about taking up
the study of each of these Positions separately, before proceeding, later, to their practical

The Second Position.

Formerly Positions were divided into " whole positions," and " half positions." What is now
styled the Second Position was then known as a " half position ; " the modern Third Position
being reckoned the " whole position." This system had many disadvantages, and besides being
somewhat confusing, tended to minimise the importance of the intermediate positions (second,
fourth, &c.) in comparison with the so-called "main" or "whole" positions (first, third, &c.).
One of the results of this discrimination between whole and half positions is that, outside the
First Position, it has become customary to regard the Third Position as of the greatest import-
ance ; and in too many cases the pupil is carried from the First Position at once to the Third,
with but a passing glance, as it were, at the Second. This is done with the intention, very
laudable in itself, of making things as interesting as possible ; but in too many cases this is
mistaken kindness; for it is not often that a pupil goes back from the Third Position to make
a thorough study of the Second ; even the most irksome progress is less tedious than retracing
one's steps ; and thus many amateurs continue with an imperfect command of the finger-board,
for the simple reason that the imperfection was allowed to pass at a time when, with a little
trouble, it might easily have been repaired. At the risk of making this Section a little dry and
uninteresting, therefore, a somewhat greater amount of attention than is usual will be devoted
to this too-much neglected Second Position.


A n


31 413 231

341 23

231241342312 411 214


A -

332221123 i

3 t 1X-N

2_ , . J -

24 41

*~ 3^~N 1,

2 ^ "*" * A JE 1 r

<K ^- ' ~~.m ^ f

r 1* * 1* f




FSr^^ ^

3 r &j

-1 U

=T i UU


4 234.4


3 2 ^ 1

4 232





This exercise has been fingered throughout, with the object of making the first step towards
the acquirement of a thorough knowledge of the Second Position as easy as possible. As regards
the construction of the exercise, there are no new difficulties to be encountered ; the signifi-
cance of the dots over the notes has already been explained, as also the way in which the notes
should be detached into groups in performance exactly as they are written. In the second
bar, the slurred notes

are, of course, played in the same bow, the two tied notes being made with a longish down-
bow, and the succeeding B and C, with short strokes with the upper portion of the bow, so
that the bow is in the correct position for the long up-bow on the slurred G and A. In the
tenth and eleventh bars there is another species of slur, or combination of slurs rather, which
requires attention

The exercise is in ^- time four three-note groups to the bar; but the phrasing employed
here indicates that the melody is to be carried across the weak accents of the bar, and the small
slur implies that the two notes which it connects are sustained in one sound ; the larger slur
means that the E is to be played in the same bow with the D. The above bars, therefore, are
to sound as though they were written thus


Y\ \ '

I ( f-

i* i

1 1* ; >






VJ 1




L r

For the rest, the single notes throughout the exercises are to be played with short and decided,
but not too heavy, strokes with the middle portion of the bow. These are all the difficulties, so
far as the actual form of the exercises is concerned. The great point now to be considered is
the fingering of the exercises. Fig. III. shows the correct method of holding the violin in the

First Position, where the first finger is (or should be) immediately over the note A

on the fourth string. Fig. VI. shows the hand in the Third Position, where the first finger is


immediately over the note C (m "~ r ~ on the fourth string. It will be observed that, in

every respect, the left hand is held in exactly the same manner in the Tliird Position as in the
First ; it has been merely slid along the neck of the violin, so that the notes in the Third
Position lie under the fingers. What the student has now to do is to place his or her hand
in the Second Position, so that, the hand being held with perfect ease and freedom, it will be

possible to produce the series of notes

in tune, and without

ist finger, and. 3rd. 4th.
any cramping, straining, or other awkwardness ; for, unless the notes in the Second Position



can be produced with the same absence of restraint as those in the First^ there is something
wrong somewhere; and it would be a good plan if the student, before commencing this
exercise, would play over the scales of Bb major and Bt{ minor in the list of major and minor
scales given in the preceding volume, fingering them alternately in the First and Second
Positions. When, by this means, as certain familiarity with the Position has been gained, the
exercises may then be taken in hand.

The next exercise is more difficult, but it is a most valuable one ; and if its difficulties are
only grappled with in a systematic fashion, they should present no great obstacles to the
persevering student ; and once they are disposed of, the playing of this exercise any way well
may reasonably be regarded as quite a respectable achievement.


rT S^~

} 24243



431343 432 413


1 4 3 1 3 1

242124 2313 213132321432 124324 3

2~~3^ 43214

34243 2

3 324243324


432143 324243 324

2 4243 432143 4 3 2

411223 343214


343214 3^i 3 214 343214

3434 1 2




As it stands, this exercise is undoubtedly far from easy, and the student should set about
learning it in the following manner. The exercise should first of all be played thus

with short, detached strokes, no notice whatever being taken of the slurs. By this means the
student will gain a general knowledge of the exercise in as easy a manner as possible. Even
in this simplified form, however, it will be found that the change in the fingering, from that of
the First Position, for example, having to make the F on the fifth line with the fourth finger on
the second string, instead of on the first string and with the first finger, and so on, will be
found somewhat confusing at first. From this will arise the risk of both faulty intonation and
feeble tone, and the best plan for avoiding these evils will be to practise the exercise bit by bit,
taking, say, four bars, or even two bars at a time, and mastering those particular two or four
bars, as the case may be, before another passage of like duration is attempted, and so on, until
every difficulty in the exercise has been conquered ; and if any one bar appears more difficult
than its fellows, then the student should simply give it all the more attention, playing it ten,
twelve, or twenty times in succession, but getting it right eventually, no matter how often it has
to be played fir?t. Tnis method of practice may doubtless appear tedious to some, but in the
long run it is by far the most expeditious j and a very little experience will be sufficient to

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Online LibraryJohn GreigThe musical educator; a library of musical instruction by eminent specialists (Volume 2) → online text (page 5 of 20)