Definitions of Musical Terms for Strings

Terms and Techniques concerning the bow

Terms and Techniques concerning the violin or viola


With the Bow


Plucking the Strings


Very Smooth

Spiccato (example. 1)

Bouncing the Bow on the Strings


On the string, with a crisp attack, and a definite ending to the note


Smooth bow strokes

Staccato (ex. 1)

Very short and off the stringb

Accent (ex. 1)

Emphasizing, with bow pressure, the beginning of a note.

Marcato (ex. 1)

Emphasized, marked bowing

Tremolo (ex. 1)

Rapid, small bow strokes to produce a "trembling" effect

Sul Tasto

Played with bow slightly over the fingerboard


Played with bow close to bridge


Allowing th ebow to bounce freely off the string

Col Legno

Using the wood of the bow against the strings


Sliding from one note to another.

Slurs (ex. 1)

Two or more notes played with one bow

Hooked (ex. 1)

Two or more notes played with one bow, but with a break in the sound


Con Sordino

With the mute

Senza Sordino

Without the mute

Double Stops/etc.

Playing two or more string simuleaneously

8va (ex. 1)

Music is played one octave higher than written

8vb (ex. 1)

Music is played one octave lower than written


A very slight change of pitch caused by rocking the finger and/or hand slightly above and below the note's pitch.


A fast alternation between two notes.


Parts of the Bow


At the point of the bow


In the middle of the bow


At the frog of the bow

Up bow (ex. 1)

Starting a bow from the tip, or towards the frog

down bow (ex. 1)

Starting a bow from the frog, or towards the tip


Navigating Music using repeats, etc.

Repeats (ex. 2)

double bar lines indicating a section is repeated

Fine (ex. 1)

The end of a piece or movement

DS al Coda (ex. 3)

A direction meaning "go back to the sign

Coda (ex. 3)

The tail, or end of a piece


Attack, or start at once

Segno ( ex. 3)

A sign to indicate a section of music

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3