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What is Collegno?

Collegno is an Italian word that means “with wood”. It’s a technique that often used with violin and other bowed stringed instruments. Collegno has been used as an effect for a long time in orchestral music but it’s probably more prevalent in modern classical music.

The variety of emotions that can be conveyed with collegno is really infinite and it can be used from everything from painting a picture of nature to creating a scary effect in a modern movie. Collegno is used by bouncing the bow the same way you would with any other spicatto technique. Here are some Quick Tips when using the collegno technique.

  1. Try to bounce in the middle of the fingerboard and bridge because if the bow is too close to the bridge, you have more of a chance of harming your bow and it would not sound as good.
  2. Try to maintain your bow hold to some extent and just turn your bow away from you so the frog will be facing directly away from you. This way, you can transition quickly from normal bowing to the collegno style of bowing. Often in orchestra music, you’ll have to transition back and forth quite quickly. Of course, if you do not have to, you can just hold the bow like a club and it’ll work just fine.
  3. To adjust the volume of your collegno, you can either bounce the up and down with no horizontal motion to get a very quite short sound, or you can add a little horizontal motion that will give you more sound and more pitch than effect.