Behind the Curve: the evolution of the bow

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The evolution of the bow is inextricably tied up with the needs of the player, and the changing face of society. Paolo Sarri examines the development of the ‘ancient’ and ‘modern’ curves of the bow stick, dispelling a number of myths along the way

In its history, the violin bow has gone through a long and convoluted development which has been discussed and disputed over the years. As with all evolutionary processes, the gradual changes were driven by functionality and resources rather than aesthetic concerns; and the story depends greatly on the requirements of the players and the materials available as well as, later, the simplicity of the methods of building them. is article will examine, in particular, the development of the curve of the bow stick, which through the ages made a huge di erence to the lives of players and makers alike…

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