Staccato vs Martelé Violin Bow Techniques | Violin Lounge TV #414

by | Apr 7, 2021 | Bowing Technique | 6 comments

Staccato is an articulation while martelé is a bowing technique

In this video I show you the differences and explain when to use what:

Staccato on the violin

Staccato is an articulation. It just means to play short and separated notes. There’s no special technique required, but it’s very good for your bow control to practice this.

In the Suzuki violin method this is taught early to beginners. It means just to stop the bow suddenly between notes at the bow change: no scooping, no accents.

Beginners struggle with staccato when they try to do extra stuff instead of just stopping the bow. Think simple!

You can add accents with index finger to your staccato if the music requires it. Make sure to do this only at the start of the note. Practice tapping the index finger of the bow to learn to move it separately from the other fingers, so you’re not making the accent with the whole hand.

Solid staccato

If you do multiple staccato notes on one bow stroke, you have a solid staccato.

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Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Martelé violin bow technique

Martelé means hammered in French and refers to the specific technique of catching the string and creating a strong accent at the beginning of each note.

Martelé doesn’t necessarily have a stop between the notes as the notes are separated by the accent.

In the video above I show how to catch the string and check yourself.

A great etude to practice martelé is Kreutzer no 7.

Upbow staccato

This is multiple martelé notes on one bow stroke.

Flying staccato

This is multiple spiccato notes on one bow stroke. You make use of the natural jumping of your bow and the bow can leave the string in this technique.

Notation in sheet music

Notation in sheet music can be very different: dots, accents, carrots or a combination. Accents usually mean martelé, but it also depends on the performance tradition and your personal taste.

Watch this video for notation of 24 different bow techniques in sheet music.

If you want to get to know those bow techniques, watch this video.

Share your biggest insight from this lesson in the comments below:


  1. Mahilde

    Hi Zlata, nice lesson!

    The way I learned it is: staccato is an articulation, and martele is a bowing technique. You say the same. Martele is one of the options to get the staccato effect. Staccato is also used in piano playing or flute playing, martele is typical for strings. So, the conductor says, hi, I want this frase staccato. And than the hoboist starts to play short notes but the concertmaster has to translate the message into a bowing technique for her section: ok, let us play this martele, or spiccato, or just a bit short at the frog, Or short at the tip, or whatsoever to get the effect the conductor is looking for. So there is always an extra translation step between what the conductor wants and what string players do. And of course this is also the case if the player plays her own music.

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Yes, exactly! Oh, conductors and concert masters can speak completely different languages, haha!

  2. Susan

    Good video. Had forgotten the difference between these bowstrokes!


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