The embellishment of baroque violin solos

Edited: April 29, 2020, 12:23 AM · I'm studying the Corelli Op.5 No.9 prelude with Geminiani's embellishments.

Some of these embellishments reverse the bowing direction of Corelli's unadorned melody, but my feeling is that I'd rather play embellishments with the same bowing as the melody.

What are your thoughts about that?

Replies (7)

April 28, 2020, 7:11 AM · I think it's really just depends whether you want to articulate the first note of the embellishment, and whether your bow distribution is good enough to get the rest of the job done without compromising your tone. Slurring into every embellishment might start to get old for the listener.
April 28, 2020, 1:49 PM · Geminiani deplored the "wretched" rule of the down bow, so there you go.

If you look at his Art of Playing the Violin, he gives bowing exercises starting everything up bow.

That being said, bow direction is not the same as a slur-gesture; if you interpret slurs strictly as bowings you'll get stuck. (Remember Barthold Kuijken's "The Notation is not the Music".)

May 1, 2020, 12:35 PM · I've always been confused by insistence on bow direction as a form of articulation. In some cases, like rapid staccato, it can be easier to do it up bow rather than down bow when first trying the technique.

But I have yet to encounter a bow articulation that could not be done equally well up bow or down bow with some practice.

Same applies to bow dynamics.

I've recorded myself playing the same piece, starting up bow and then starting down bow and if I shuffle the playback I cannot tell which is which.

May 10, 2020, 5:01 PM ·
May 10, 2020, 5:17 PM · Carmen, this is only true on the modern tourte model bow which we all use. In using a period baroque bow the up-bows in the upper half are very different than the down bows in the lower half. Uniformity is the modern aesthetic but not at all the baroque one.
May 10, 2020, 7:53 PM · Mark, thanks for the information on playing with a baroque style bow.
Edited: May 10, 2020, 11:38 PM · In general, take ornaments, turns, trills, on a slur, even when they are notated in "big notes". Bach is full of written out ornaments, and it is OK to add slurs.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

ARIA International Summer Academy

Meadowmount School of Music

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine