The best way to play staccatissimo?

July 14, 2017, 6:29 PM · So I have a piece that calls for staccatissimo playing. I want the notes to sound as clear and separate as possible WITHOUT the God-awful crunching sound.
What is the best way to accomplish this?

Replies (13)

July 14, 2017, 9:03 PM · What is the piece? Or at least, what is the tempo and dynamic at the relevant part?

My first guess is that you habitually press too hard. Use the weight of your arm, not pressure. And maybe try a faster bow stroke.

July 14, 2017, 9:41 PM · Staccatissimo is just a direction that means "very separated", and not a bow stroke. It's hard to give more specific advice unless one knows the context of the piece and tempo. I'm guessing you might be asking for a martele bow stroke? Hard to tell but you are probably pressing too hard and not releasing after the initial catch of the bow. Same thought as Mary Ellen's suggestions.
July 15, 2017, 4:30 AM · Oh, thanks!
Context: It's m. 16-58 of the overture to "The Magic Flute". (Not even going to try to spell the original German. Plus, I can't do umlauts.)
Edited: July 15, 2017, 10:56 AM · A staccato note, like most others, needs to release at the end.
I like to practice what I call "pizzicato with the bow-hair"; then when playing faster, the bow no longer leaves the string, but still lightens. (Borrowed from Lucien Capet).
July 15, 2017, 12:53 PM · Ha, so it's Magic Flute overture! It's probably better for you to consult with your teacher on spiccato and sautillet bow strokes. Not sure where you got the staccatissimo from, it's not Mozart's for sure.
July 15, 2017, 4:59 PM · Oh OK, the copy of the excerpt I got very clearly has staccatissimo markings, so now I'm kinda confused...
July 15, 2017, 6:19 PM · Depending on the piece, either an extremely short stroke-release as others suggested, or spiccato.
Edited: July 15, 2017, 8:28 PM · Mozart Magic Flute overture is spiccato. Start from the string and then come off, very small strokes, you do not need to see daylight between the bow and the string.

I'm shuddering a little bit thinking of Magic Flute done staccatissimo. Yikes.

July 16, 2017, 2:29 PM · "I'm shuddering a little bit thinking of Magic Flute done staccatissimo. Yikes."
My exact thought.
July 18, 2017, 1:20 PM · As a slight digression, you can insert judicious bits of HTML into postings here to get special effects like this. If you know the HTML element names of special characters, you can insert them. For instance, lower-case O with an umlaut is written "ö" (note the ampersand on the front and the semicolon on the back). And presto: Die Zauberflöte!
July 20, 2017, 3:12 AM · Staccatissimo? I wonder if the OP is refering to the little dart-like sign that can replace the usual dot?
July 20, 2017, 7:48 AM · Be sure that's what your conductor wants. Modern bows didn't even exist in Mozart's time. A gentle rounded spiccato or even a baroque stroke near the tip would be common ways of playing the 8th note passages in that overture today.

Any marking of staccatissimo is probably the work of some 19th or early 20th century editor -- not Mozart.

On the other hand, if it's what your conductor wants, the effect he is probably after is a hard percussive spiccato which, at that speed, probably needs to be a sautille (meaning the bow does the dancing only semi-controlled by you.) If you haven't learned how to play sautille, look up Youtube explanations... it will take some time to learn.

July 20, 2017, 7:51 AM · Oh also, you don't want a "godawful crunching sound" but a percussive staccato is one of those things that can sound scratchy to you, but the scratchiness doesn't carry so a listener 30 feet away just hears a nice clear articulation. Heifetz played a very aggressive staccato and if you'd been right beside him it would have sounded scratchy, but to his audience it sounded divine.

I'm not endorsing that for this passage though. A percussive high spiccato or staccato isn't really considered state of the art for Mozart these days.

Our Kokopelli
Please support
your donation
or sponsorship campaign. is made possible by...

Shar Music

Yamaha V3 Series Violin

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Metzler Violin Shop

Gliga Violins

Corilon Violins

Anderson Musical Instrument Insurance

Bobelock Cases


Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Pro-Am Strings

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop