A Fancy Bow Stroke: Mastering the 3+1 Ricochet

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American String Teacher

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Many violinists spend their entire careers avoiding intricate strokes such as the 3+1 ricochet, which consists of three bounces on a down-bow followed by one on an up-bow in a repeating loop. Much like the up-bow and down-bow staccato or even the left-hand pizzicato, it appears only in a limited number of virtuosic pieces. This stroke is very impressive for the audience—in a way, it appears magical—and indeed, it can seem intricate and evasive. Nevertheless, the 3+1 ricochet absolutely can be learned. Exploring the action of the bow and discovering new kinesthetic feelings will help make this stroke seem almost effortless. The bow springs independently and the player simply needs to stay out of the way. When everything is working successfully, the fancy 3+1 ricochet becomes a paradox in that the performer receives all the credit for the fancy work of the bow.