Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 17 May 2021

Musical bow [harp bow] (Fr. arc musical, arc sonore; Ger. Musikbogen; It. arco sonore; Sp. arco musical)locked

  • David K. Rycroft


[harp bow] (Fr. arc musical, arc sonore; Ger. Musikbogen; It. arco sonore; Sp. arco musical)

A bow-shaped chordophone consisting solely of a flexible stave, curved by the tension of a string (or strings) stretched between its ends, any associated resonator being either unattached, or detachable without destroying the sound-producing apparatus ( see Khoikhoi music and South Africa, Republic of, fig. ). Hornbostel and Sachs classified both the musical bow and the ‘stick zither’ (which has a rigid stave) as types of bar zither ( see Chordophone ).

The musical bow, in various forms, is widely distributed in Africa, America, Oceania, parts of Asia and formerly to a small extent in Europe (East Prussia, the Netherlands, Italy, Latvia and Lithuania). It is frequently played recreationally as a solo instrument or (with a resonator) for song accompaniment, and in some areas is important in magic or religion. In the cave Les Trois Frères in south-western France a rock painting from c15,000 bce shows musical use of a bow in a religious ceremony....

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.

C. Sachs: The History of Musical Instruments (New York, 1940)
African Music
Galpin Society Journal
Journal of the International Folk Music Council