February 24, 2008, 1:03 AM ·
For Jazzy — (and perhaps a couple others:-)

Ricochet – The throw or drop of the bow setting off a series of two or more successive notes as the bow naturally rebounds and hits the string again. Often followed by a change of bow to clarify the musical arrival point or with a modification of bow speed, faster or slower , to add excitement and flare or relaxation and calm, respectively. It relates to Spiccato volante and Staccato volante at higher speed and even to the Jeté, which has the characteristic of added brilliance and flare. The flat hair will give the crispest response.

(Excerpted from Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master… and
Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…)

Okay —

This will work for developing Ricochet and Spiccato: (also, refer again to the descriptions of the various Spiccato styles/types in the “Sautillé & Spiccato” blog.

In all of the following there must be total relaxation, freedom and ease of control while maintaining flawless form and posture — the bow is going to do the work!


Simply have the bow poised above one string; let it *fall to the string and catch it on the recoil/rebound. Do this in various parts of the bow, from the lower quarter to the extreme tip. Use flat hair, and later add the side of the hair to observe and learn the incredible difference of response — still NO direction of the bow stroke.

*Drop by releasing the 4th finger’s counterbalance duties or a slight rotation of the forearm from the elbow without raising or lowering the upper-arm — these can also be combined — and you can also raise and lower the right arm from the shoulder without the previous. Any and all combinations should be explored, analyzed and learned from if you want to truly excel in this craft and art.

Do not change points of contact or placement of bow until satisfied with the results.


Now add a rhythmic grouping, i.e., first: 2 drops, then 3, then 4, etc. Use a pulse pattern of duple and/or triple sequences of drops — give direction of the pulse via a slight accent to an arrival beat and/or with a crescendo or diminuendo (think William Tell Overture, Beethoven 5th opening or a piece you are presently working on).

Again, vary location and placement of the bow. Study, study, study.


Add string crossings — still NO bow direction…patience:-) — just go for impeccable clarity of the drop and control of timing. Do these in patterns such as 2-As and 1-D, etc. You should be fully concentrating on the rise and fall of the upper right arm remembering that the bow-tip lowers over the violin as you go toward the lower stings via raising the arm from the shoulder with an arc-like motion. The reverse is true as the arc returns in the right arm’s descent for the higher strings. Also note modification of the bow’s weight due to the altering of the bow’s angle and gravity. DO NOT ROTATE THE FOREARM AT THIS TIME.


You get to draw the bow strokes……………… starting with micro-measurements even these must be slight comma shapes with an orbital path, as if starting to travel around the violin scroll and/or your left hand, with its precise return in reverse — a movie backwards. This is paramount in order to maintain complete ease in the joints with fluidity of motion.

The tone must be clean and clear with resonance. If the sound cracks, balks and collapses use the same quantity of bow, hair, weight and height of drop, gradually moving near the bridge until you hit the sweet spot — perfect! If it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard, raspy and scraping you are too close to the bridge — back off!;-)

Again, vary location and placement of the bow. Study, study, study.

As you increase speed come closer to the string and do not whack the string unless called for in the interpretation.


You can add as much bow as you wish and have a great time experimenting — dynamics, dramatic to delicate, huge thrusts of the bow and small subtle nuances, et al.


I have included the Spiccato section from the previous blog as the various types can open up your artistic imagination with the Ricochet. Note also the Practice Tips afterwards.

Spiccato – An enunciated, springing, jumping bow with evenly proportioned action and a clear ringing tone – play each note on a separate bow stroke. More individual then Sautillé , it will take on many characters of interpretation depending upon the point of contact, speed, weight, amount of hair and placement of the bow. From the air (1, 3, 4 & 5) and from the string (2).

1. Spiccato dramatico/Dramatic Spiccato – A more aggressive and excited style of stroke that lends greater individual identity to each note, predominantly done in the lower quarter of the bow using various degrees of Collé for added inflections.

2. Spiccato lirico/Lyric Spiccato – Consists of a brushed and broadened lengthening of the bow-hair contact with the string, tilting toward the fingerboard to the side of the hair, thereby achieved with greater horizontal action and less vertical height. (Lower in the bow.)

3. Spiccato secco/Crisp Spiccato – A dryer, crisper stoke, it has a greater vertical drop and rebound with less horizontal draw of the bow. (Higher in the bow.)

4. Spiccato sulla corda/On the string Spiccato – At higher speeds the Spiccato will be on the string. The stick will maintain a bouncing, springing action – vertical articulation – but the hair will not actually leave the string. As in Sautillé, it is often best in higher speeds when the thumb, 1st finger and 3rd finger are proactively used; the 2nd finger simply releases away from the stick (do not lift as this action is tense and inhibiting); and the 4th finger is also released, hovering over the bow in a natural and relaxed curve.

5. Spiccato volante/Flying Spiccato – A stroke related to Staccato volante but of greater height above the string and individuality of strokes with notes. Also generally done in the upper portion of the bow with the added ability to remain in place or even recover territory traveling towards, or fully to, the heel or tip as needed via the Retake .

NOTE: These types, 1 – 5, often are mixed within the same passage and/or alternate with another bow stroke style to convey the desired effect.

Practice Tips:

1. Drop the bow vertically to the string at various points along the bow – note how it bounces – then catch or control the next drop, gradually adding the direction of the down and up bows.

a. Flatter hair bounces with a crisp, very distinct response and angled hair has a gentle, less distinct articulation.

b. Use the Crescent Bow , even in these small strokes, as this will prevent the usual stiffening of the wrist and elbow.

c. Use a small Thumb/fingers Stroke , adding greater arm motion as required.

d. In faster passages use less bow and keep closer to the string.

2. Set the bow on the string, at first in the middle. Use flat hair , weight the stick down so that the bow touches the hair (not the string) and then suddenly draw the stroke (down or up) and spring up and off the string. Maintain the Spiccato action. Apply points 1a – d above.

3. When done correctly, the bow does 90% of the work.

4. Do not tighten the bow hand/wrist/elbow/shoulder.

NOTE: Accented triplets are very good for developing evenness and control.

Excerpted from Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master… and
Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…

The various parts of the arm and hand always work in concert together.

Hope this helps —


February 24, 2008 at 11:35 PM · Thank you so much! You make so much sense.

I will go to the practice room as soon as I finish writing my blog.

February 25, 2008 at 12:05 AM · Jazz,

I am glad it helps, BUT:-), you SHOULD practice before bogging:-)))

February 25, 2008 at 12:21 AM · True, but the computer was there and the practice room is across campus....


February 25, 2008 at 12:27 AM · Practice in your head:-)

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