Were you taught a difference between spiccato and sautille?

September 27, 2016 at 04:32 AM · Hi everyone, I recently put up a new video on YouTube on learning different speeds of spiccato. One of the questions that came up, as it often does, is: what is the difference between spiccato and sautille?

In fact, the video begins with a slow off-the-string stroke gradually turning into a very fast one, and back again. Is it spiccato, sautille, or both?

So I'm curious how many of you were taught a real difference? How many of you think of them as different strokes, or play them differently?

My answer would be that I didn't learn them separately; I'm not aware of different techniques to play fast off-the-string vs slow; I notice a gradual transition from more arm to less arm as the stroke gets very fast. So I've never found it useful to describe two strokes separately or to teach them differently. How about you?

And the link to the video for those interested:

Spiccato at any speed (opens in a new window)

Replies (15)

September 27, 2016 at 04:59 AM · I have been taught spiccato as something you do actively while sautillé is something that should happen by itself if you play fast on a certain place of the bow and with the right lightness.

September 27, 2016 at 06:05 AM · Yep!

September 27, 2016 at 06:10 AM · Interesting! I learned them as separate strokes:

Spiccato as a separated, bouncing, stroke where the player both drops *and* lifts the bow.

Sautille as a separated stroke where the stick bounces, but the bow hair does not, relying on the resilience of the stick for articulation.

To me, they sound very different. However, I don't really think about which stroke I'm using in terms of the technique, rather it's the speed of a passage and the kind of sound that needs to be achieved that dictates how the stroke comes out. I think there is a transition point where a spiccato eventually goes fast enough that it cannot be lifted/dropped and thus the bounce is then transferred over to the flexing of the stick and the stroke becomes sautille.

My longtime mentor, Bill Fitzpatrick, did a very informative video on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zTdChdbLqk

September 27, 2016 at 10:33 AM · Here is a link to a very interesting (1 hour) talk on many aspects of violin playing, including bows and fiddles, and Paganini. It is worth watching for an hour.



September 27, 2016 at 11:32 AM · What Gene wrote is pretty much how I was taught.

September 27, 2016 at 02:03 PM · Yup, I was taught the same as Gene, although on a super-cheap half-sized bow, where the real answer is "nothing bounces properly". I effectively had slow and fast spiccato until I got a bow good enough to do a sautille.

September 27, 2016 at 02:59 PM · Hi,

The difference between spiccato and sautillé as taught in French, in the traditional Franco-Belgian tradition understanding, is that spiccato is an off the string stroke where the bow hair leaves the string between strokes, whereas with the sautillé, the stick of the bow bounces, but the hair doesn't leave the string. Hence, spiccato is considered a stroke that is used with slower note values than the sautillé, as the sautillé is more easily accomplished with more rapid notes. At least, that is the difference as I understood, and understand it.


P.S. EDIT: I missed Gene's post above, but it seems of similar understanding.

September 27, 2016 at 06:58 PM · Related to this, I'm curious to hear from the pros as to at what tempo do you find spiccato 16th notes to be impractical and find it necessary to do more of a sautillé stroke (on this Nathan seems to be right that the strokes are related as the one will have to turn into the other once the tempo gets fast enough)? This will obviously vary from player to player, but I'm interested in what you find an acceptable standard to be for ones fastest spiccato before switching to sautillé is acceptable.

September 27, 2016 at 07:46 PM · I don't remember how I learned it; I think I figured it out for myself. My approach is similar to Christian's. I view sautille physically, more as an outgrowth of the detache, even though sound-wise it more resembles spicatto.

If we put the bow to the string at its balance point, angle the hand more or less at right angles to the string, rather than slanted, hold the bow somewhat loosely and play fairly rapidly, a sautille should emerge, where the bow springs but doesn't leave the string. That said, with a fairly good mastery of spicatto, we can get to sautille from that direction as well - i.e. by using shorter strokes, moving faster and keeping the bow more on and at its balance point. But I usually come at it from a detache direction.

According to Dounis/Leland as I recall, the cut-off point between spicatto and suatille tempo-wise is about 100 to the 1/4 note when playing 1/16ths. I keep the movement for sautille mostly in the hand and fingers.

September 27, 2016 at 10:20 PM · Thank you for that wonderful video. I've been wanting to add new bow articulations beyond the basic detache and legato movements. Using your exercise had me playing a somewhat recognizable spiccato in short order.

What would you recommend for the next bow technique after detache and legato?

September 28, 2016 at 01:08 AM · Lots of kids' method books and repertoire books have sautille pieces coming pretty early like Jenkinson's "Elves Dance" and Bohm's Perpetuo Mobile. What Raphael said rings true for me, I was taught that whenever having trouble with sautille, to approach the passage starting from detache.

September 30, 2016 at 01:20 PM ·

September 30, 2016 at 01:26 PM · This is something I've been working on and I asked my teacher about it yesterday. She said Sautille is used for faster passages, usually where notes are doubled (i.e., playing each note twice) and it employs a completely different technique. Spiccato uses flat wrist and elbow; whereas, Sautille is done with wrist up and elbow down. There isn't necessarily much difference in sound. I regularly record myself during practice so I can critique my playing. This is a recording from this morning working on spiccato -- I would welcome any constructive feedback.

September 30, 2016 at 03:13 PM · The hardest speed for my students (as we do acceleration spiccato scales) is six to a beat, with the metronome on 60. At that speed, it's truly a hybrid of spiccato and sautille. That said, I think if you can master the "in between" stroke then you have a lot more leeway to put a little spiccato in your sautille or a little sautille in your spiccato...

Hey you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!

September 30, 2016 at 04:08 PM · I think the boundary might be somewhat bow-dependent. My previous bow was very light (56g) and very readily bounced off the string, so it was just kind of spiccato by default. My current bow does a completely effortless sautille once the speed gets fast enough, though, so I'm trying to get used to simply letting the bow do its thing whenever possible.

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