Amazing Bowing Techniques of Nicolo Paganini​

The greatness of Niccolò Paganini has several aspects. One of them is the posture Niccolò adopted while performing. More specifically, he used bowings that were considered unconventional at his time. One general and important aspect relies on the use of the bow: Paganini would mostly use the part of the bow from the tip down to the middle. The lower part of the bow was used, instead, mostly when playing legato passages or chords. On top of this technical aspects, what still remain incredible is the effortlessness that Paganini showed while performing his music mastering these skills.

“Legato” bowing is the guideline for all violinist as tool for the ultimate expression. Paganini adopted this bowing not only for the sole purpose of musicality, but, differently than the other violinists, he also used it to accomplish virtuosic passages.
“Saltato” bowing is a specific bowing found uniquely in the fifth of Niccolò’s Capricci. It is one of the greatest innovations of Paganini and its difficulty is represented by performing it on two strings. Also, to complicate things is the speed required for the performance.
“Staccato” versus “Flying staccato” versus “Ricochet”. With the “Staccato”, the speed of the performance if fast, the sound is loud, and the passage is usually played up-bow. With the “Fling staccato”, the music goes to an even faster speed, but the sound is much lighter. This effect is achieved by throwing the bow on the strings, letting it move at will. With the “Ricochet”, we indicate the lightest of the staccato techniques. Even though it can be performed either up-bow or down-bow, it is usually played down-bow.
“Sautillé” versus “Spiccato”. These are two different types of rebounding of the bow. With the former, the performance speed ranges from somewhat fast to the fastest possible, the bow continues to bounce, and it often accompanies music with double and triple stops of notes in succession. With the “Spiccato”, the music performance is at a medium or low speed, the bouncing of the bow is controlled by the violinist, and there is skipping of strings and double stops.

“Paganini’s bowing”. This is a pure invention of Niccolò. It consists in a precise articulation pattern: on a passage of consecutive sixteenth notes, the repetitive bowing consists of a spiccato note followed by two slurred notes. This is an innovative bowing of the highest difficulty, that will produce astonishing musical impression.