6. Jeté/Ricochet

Many terms refer to “bounced” bowing, where the bow hair is bounced onto the string, including the Italian terms balzato, or saltando. For the purposes of this Catalogue, the French terms jeté[1] or ricochet[2] referring to a “throwing” or dropping of the bow onto the string and the consequent “rebound” bounces that occur immediately afterward, will be discussed. The number of rebounds or bounces can be controlled to produce a short series of fast staccato notes.

There are several examples of what may be interpreted as ricochet from repertoire of the 17th century, including in Biber’s Sonata I from his 1681 collection (Biber, 1681, p. 2) and in Walther’s Sonata VIII in his Hortulus Chelicus collection of 1688 (Walther, 1688, p. 37). There is a later example in Pisendel’s Sonata for solo violin in A minor of ca.1720–30 (Pisendel, n.d., p. 1). It seems logical that as the use of bows with hammer-headed points and concave sticks increased into the Classical period, the use of bounced bowings likewise increased. The heavier point of the hammer-headed bow makes bounced bowings easier to execute on both down and up strokes. Notable usage appears in the virtuosic 19th-century repertoire for the violin including in Paganini’s 24 Caprices,[3] among many other examples.


Jeté/Ricochet on the baroque violin:

Jeté or ricochet works well with the 17th-century-style short bow. While not heavy, and not weighted at the point, this bow is designed for clear, “stabbing” articulation. It is therefore easy to maintain clarity for several bounced notes on a downward stroke. This is also helped by the tension of the hair in the upper half of the short bow, and by the close proximity of the hair to the pointed end of the stick.


The following is an example of a G major scale played in jeté with a 17th-century-style short bow.

Video example 6.1 – G major scale jeté with 17th-century-style short bow


My high-baroque bow still has a convex-shaped stick, even more so than the straighter, more rigid short bow in my collection. This bow is designed for the increasingly sustained playing that was developing in composition over the late Baroque era and into the Classical era, but had not yet evolved to have the hammer head and concave shape of the classical bow. The fluted stick of this bow gives the stick great flexibility and elasticity, which makes controlling a bounced bowing effect more difficult than with the rigid 17th-century-style short bow.


The following is an example of a G major scale played in jeté with a high baroque bow.

Video example 6.2 – G major scale jeté with high baroque bow


My classical bow has the hammer-headed point and concave stick typical of the modern violin bow. Therefore, it functions in a similar way to the modern violin bow when used for jeté or ricochet bowings.


The following is an example of a G major scale played in jeté with a classical bow.

Video example 6.3 – G major scale jeté with classical bow


Suggested notation:

Staccato markings over or under a slur, as in Figure 6.1 below.

Figure 6.1 – example of a possible notation for a jeté passage


[1] For further discussion of this technique, see David, Lalage and Peter (2001).

[2] For further discussion of this technique, see Milsom (2001).

[3] For instance, in the Caprice No. 9 (Paganini, 1820/1973, p. 19).