Bow (music)

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The Bow used in music moves across a stringed instrument, creating sound. Bows are typically used on stringed instruments such as the violin.


The stringed instrument developed before the bow. Before the bow was developed, all string instruments were plucked. There is no clear evidence of exactly where and when the bow was converted into a musical apperateous, but records suggest the first bows where used approximately 1000 years ago in central Asia by nomadic tribes. All elements existed to develop the bow; the warriors already used bow and arrows, which could have been converted to musical bows. Horsehair and rosen were plenty, and the tribes where known to play music. However the bow developed, it quickly spread across Asia and Europe.

Modern bows were first develop in the 1800s by Francois Tourte in France. Tourte bows are often called the Stradivari of bows.


Bows consist of a stick with a number of hairs streched between the top and bottom. Bows are made of a variety of material; the best bows are made of pernambuco wood and strung with horsehair. Other types of wood can be used, and modern synthetic bows made from carbon fiber or fiberglass also exist. While fiberglass bows are considered to be lower quality, carbon fiber bows have recently gained a reputation for quality. The frog, which adjusts and hold the bow hairs, is typically made of ebony, but other materials can be used. Bows are different size for each stringed instrument; a violin bow is smaller than a viola bow, which is smaller than a cello bow.

Bows have also been known as fiddlesticks