Violin Sounds: Bowing(Arco) vs. Plucking(Pizzicato)

The big two

Next in our journey, we come to the basics of sound and the violin. Specifically, the two main ways we make sound on the instrument. In simple terms, we bow the strings, and we pluck the strings. We covered this in another article but here I focus specifically on just bowing and plucking for the beginner’s course so we can systematically learn and more easily understand.

Bowing/Arco

This is the main way that violinists produce sound on the violin. Very basically, we apply the rosin onto the bow hair and this produces the necessary friction to cause the strings to vibrate when we draw the bow across the strings. The movement of the bow back and forth across the string causes the string the literally fluctuate back and forth at a rate that is barely visible to our eyes at times. These vibrations of the strings, coupled with the resonating chamber of the violin, produce the sound that you hear.

In another article we will further discuss the correct posture and way to bow.

Plucking/Pizzicato

This is the secondary way we make sound on the violin. We literally take one of our fingers, most often our first finger, and pluck the string(s) of the violin. This can be a fun technique that changes up the sound of your performance.

Additionally, it’s the easiest way to make sound on the violin. Once you pluck the strings, you produce vibrations that resonate through the chamber of the violin. Many educational methods take advantage of this ease of sound creation and start off beginners with this manner of sound production. It works very well to get you started. However, bowing is the more used and more difficult way to make sound, so I make sure my students start learning how to bow from day 1.

Final thoughts

This was just a short explanation on the ways in which we make sound on the violin. Once you understand the principles, let’s hop on over to our next article on the list and continue our learning!

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