Tone Quality on Spicatto

March 13, 2021, 6:49 PM · I’m finishing up Mozart 4 and having a recital on it soon, and one thing I’m really struggling on is making a decent tone on my spicatto, especially really high on the E string. Any suggestions?

Replies (5)

March 13, 2021, 8:36 PM · Greetings,
if the problem is very slight discoordination between left and right try practicing pizzicato. (Simon Fischer)
also check out Nathan Coles YouTube videos on developing spicata.
Also, make sure you have isolated exactly where the problem notes are. Don’t just run through the passage mindlessly hoping that the sound will improve.
Repeat speak Catto on one note until it is beautiful then the next and the next.while putting it together.
Practice the passage with each note played three times.
Also, you may need a slight pronation of the forum on the downs Picato and supination of the four arm on the up bow. this movement is microscopic and can’t really be seen but if the flavour of it isn’t there the spicata will be less than perfect.


March 14, 2021, 11:10 AM · I would guess that the problem is with your sounding point. Experiment with playing single notes closer or farther from the bridge.
Edited: March 14, 2021, 12:50 PM · In addition to "sounding point" on the strings I would also consider:
1. balance point of your bow
2. tightness of your bow
3. your choice of rosin
4. part of the bow you are using on the strings
5. next to LAST RESORT: your choice of strings
6. LAST RESORT: your fiddle

If all else fails, seek a way to produce the spicatto sound another way. You would not be the first.

March 14, 2021, 12:01 PM · How about not playing spiccato high on the E? There is a physical reason why spiccato sounds better in a lower range: The sound dies faster the higher up you climb. Such that in 6th position on the E spiccato sounds choppier than on the A in first position, not to mention the G (the point of spiccato is to let the tone die naturally rather than stopping it in its tracks by stopping the bow).

I am saying this because of a rather unrelated example (so take it for what it is worth): There is a recording of Brahms's horn trio with Perlman playing the violin. The last movement is in 6/8 and its themes are basically horn fanfares. The violin has to play them in some sort of "staccato" as defined above. Generally people use spiccato as does Perlman in this recording. There are two passages high up on the E and Perlman plays them spiccato too. They don't sound well; the spiccato is too choppy and the notes seem shorter than the ones in "normal" range. The melody is obscured too. I much prefer to play them detache; less choppy than usual in such high elevations.

Now if Perlman can't make it sound right why should we normal mortals even try?

March 14, 2021, 5:17 PM · Try using more bow with the hair just a little looser.

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

Juilliard Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies
Juilliard Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

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

Dominant Pro Strings

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