Dragonetti style bow

On December 29, 2014

If we recognize Dragonetti’s virtuoso activity to be the most interesting aspect of his career, the importance of his work, from the educational point of view, is not the less.

Even if we cannot consider him to have created a real school as such, contributed significantly to the stabilization of tuning in fourths, he did introduce a new bow technique with which he could play an innovative and percussive staccato never heard before.

His newly designed and adopted bow, called ” alla Dragonetti”, was characterized by a stick with a very accentuated convex curvature and its grip necessitated the palm of the hand facing upwards.


Original bow belonged to Dragonetti, now in the S.marco’s basilica museum

The grip used by Dragonetti, with the palm upward, originated long before the nineteenth century (as you can see in this seventeenth century’s iconography by painter Pieter Lastman), is still used today in several European and non – European countries, with different variations in relation to the geographical area.


Pieter Lastaman (David musician) ———————————– Bow grip “alla Dragonetti”

In the bow grip “alla Dragonetti”, the pinkie was placed over the hair in correspondence of the heel, due the excessive curvature of the stick.

Even if this type of bow has had historical importance, it should however be considered a transition bow.

Over the years, the curvature tended to be decreased, becoming slightly concave as in the bows used in our days.


In this video, I performed Domenico Dragonetti’s waltz  n. 1, using a particularly accurate copy of his bow made by the bowmaker Edward J Shillitoe .

It is right to emphasize that Dragonetti’s compositions, “Solos” and “Waltzer”, contributed significantly to the stabilization of tuning in fourth.

The exploring a wide range of tonality, have certainly highlighted the inadequacy of other tuning systems, such as the Viennese (a-d-f#-a), in the use of tonal centers that do not allow the use of open strings.


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