Composers often indicate a gradual transition from one region to another, with no break to lift the bow and set it nearer the bridge or over the fingerboard, as the case may be. Smooth transitions are best done by changing the angle of the bow on the string:

In Practice: Try these easy musical examples to learn how this works.  Click on the video icons for quick demonstrations.

To transition toward the bridge:

  1. On a down-bow, angle the tip down towards the ponticello region. |
  2. On an up-bow, point the tip up, so that the frog is in line with the ponticello region. |

To transition away from the bridge:

  1. On a down-bow, angle the tip up toward the ordinario region. |
  2. On an up-bow, point the tip down, so that the frog is in alignment with the ordinario region. |

TIP: The severity of the bow angle determines the quickness of the transition.  For quicker transitions, angle the bow more.  For slower transitions, angle the bow less.


All the following exercises work with a simple G-major scale.  Each one requires transitions in and out of the ponticello region at specified times and durations.  Try each one starting both down-bow and up-bow.

Half Note Scales

Exercise 1: Transitions over 2 beats
Exercise 2: Transitions over 1 beat
Quarter Note scales

Exercise 3: Transitions on Beat 2

Exercise 4: Transitions on Beat 3

Exercise 5: Transitions on Beat 3 & 4

Exercise 6: Transitions over the whole bar

Transitions over multiple bowstrokes

Gradual transitions over two or more bows are more complicated because the bow angle must change with each bow stroke.

Quarter-note groupings:

Exercise 7: In measure 2, the bow angle would be tip-down for the downbow and tip-up for the upbow.  The reverse is true for the 4th bar.

Exercise 8: Likewise, in this exercise the bow angle will change with each of the slurs under the transition line.

Many notes under each bow:

Exercise 9:

Exercise 10:
Read on to learn about extreme versions of ponticello and tasto: To the Extremes.


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