Friday, July 29, 2011

The First French Bow

Perhaps the most unusual and remarked-about thing about Il Devastatore, of course, is the fact that it is of the Violin, or French Style, which was practically unknown among Bassists until Bottesini popularized it mid-century. Even Dragonetti used a primitive "fist-grip" German bow, and by most accounts did not even know about the innovation that would soon sweep the more enlightened parts of Europe.

It may be that Il Devastatore was an experiment on the part of the mysterious Statini of Piemonte, who, perhaps being an intuitive musician, sensed the superior balance and arm control of the violin-style bow and wondered if such advantages could be provided for bassists. Another possibility is that the French bow was first developed in the Alpine vales of Italy and France and existed as a little-known bass folk tradition well before Statini or Bottesini came on the scene. Many scholars have assumed that Bottesini had Il Devastatore custom made; may the present research show that theory, as attractive as it is, the door.

Whatever the case, however, Bottesini takes full credit for making the French bow the standard for the artist-virtuoso of the double bass.

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