The violinist’s bestiary: characterizing bowing parameters of technical bow strokes
Matthias Demoucron

In violin playing, the properties of the sound are shaped continuously through the control of three main bowing parameters that are the bow force, the bow velocity, and the bow-bridge distance. The mastering of the range and the time evolution of these bowing parameters in different playing situations is one of the main challenges of the violinist's education and training. Furthermore, playing violin also requires the mastering of different bowing techniques like staccato, or spiccato, which are very dynamical and short bow strokes.
Technologies like motion capture and sensors allow measuring the effective bowing parameters used by the performer in real performances. These measurements can be analysed in order to characterize playing techniques and differences among musicians. In this paper, we will present measurements of control parameters for basic classes of bowing patterns (sautillé, spiccato, martelé, tremolo), whose performance is mainly based on reproduction of well-practiced motor behaviour, more than on conscious control in real-time. Because a proper performance of these bow strokes requires extensive practicing under a long period of time, they exhibit characteristic and reproducible bowing parameter patterns. The time evolution of the bowing parameters was modelled by analytical functions, which allowed to describe and characterize bow strokes by a limited set of control parameters.