Circular bowing

How would I notate circular bowing on a cello in Dorico?

What do you mean by this?

This I think:


With a text expression? Or will the cellist do it anyway if the sustained note is too long?

They will.

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If the intent is as per Jesper’s video then no. This is not seamless bow changes, it is the transition from sul pont to sul tasto and back again repeatedly.

It will need a specific instruction. I’ve never been asked to do this and am unaware of a standard notation.

One of these?


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The video you posted seemed to show how it’s notated.
Screenshot 2024-05-23 at 8.30.36 AM

Missed that, my second symbol above is listed under playing techniques->Unpitched Percussion. You just have to move it in Engraving mode.


Tim Davies explains the usage in one of his scores here:
Error Code 7 - A Deep Dive: Part 1 - deBreved - Tim Davies Website.

He simply goes with a text indication, which is preferable to any invented symbol, in my opinion.

Mind you, he’s writing with a very specific studio situation in mind. For a general purpose score, a succinct – but clear – explanation should be included, at the first instance or in the piece’s legend (I’d probably do both).


I agree. It is unusual. Only a symbol will not be enough. I would use text indication or a symbol and a footnote explaining the meaning. As an upright classical bass player (arco), I never used this before.

You need to put it in the performance notes.
Putting it on first instance is also doable, but can screw up the readiability, depending how detailed you want it to be.

(Amateur) Cellist here, but very interested in extended playing techniques. I’ve dealt with circular bowing before and these two symbols are the most common for that technique. But as others have said, it’s not very commonplace and there is no notational standard for it (some will use squiggles, other use circles) – so I advise to explain whichever symbol you prefer. Also worth noting that not all experienced string players will be familiar with ‘circular bowing’ even if spelled out, especially if their background is more classical repertoire – so it may require some additional explanation of the actual technique on the first page. However if your players are very familiar with contemporary and experimental literature, it would still be good to include a brief explanation but after that the glyph should suffice.

That said I have in fact previously created this as a playing technique in Dorico to use with libraries that have circular bowing samples. Project attached here (saved in the recent Dorico 5) -

circbowing.dorico (429.7 KB)

(you should be able to use library manager to import the playing techniques AND playback technique, where you could then save it as a default using the star)

I have two versions which I can select from the popover, either circular bowing (glyph):

Screenshot 2024-05-23 at 2.08.31 PM

or circular bowing (text);

Screenshot 2024-05-23 at 1.57.25 PM

I even went so far to create a custom continuation line for the glyph version, it can be accessed by first adding the technique from the popover as above, and then use alt/opt+shift+right arrow to create a continuation line and drag it out however long you wish:

As I understand it circular bowing is sometimes seen as a temporary technique like staccato where it’s only played where marked, otherwise the player will return to a standard arco bowing (hence the continuation line)… but I feel it’s too unstandardized and open to interpretation as it is, and I don’t really use the continuation line because it’s kinda goofy looking and distracting. So now I just do the glyph with sim. for a cleaner look -

and again explain the intention of that in the forward of the piece.

If you are unable to open my project file, basically all the playing techniques were created first using the glyph editor… and then also create a playback technique with the same name if you have a virtual library which can produce these for you. Hope that helps.


Thank you! It is all very helpful