What does the following symbol mean?


  • 1
    I can barely read music, but I think that indicated a down-bow on a stringed instrument Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 16:31
  • 2
    Please add the instrument involved to your question. That will help for others who have the same question.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 16:33
  • This might be of interest, from a few years back: music.stackexchange.com/q/20154/9198 Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 13:17

1 Answer 1


This is a "down bow" symbol. It means that the note should be played by drawing the bow from the frog toward the tip.

Down bow symbol

An "up bow" — drawing the bow from tip toward the frog — is a "V"-shaped symbol.

Up bow symbol

IMAGES SOURCE: http://www.the-violin.com/up-and-down-bow

  • 8
    This notation, probably adapted from bowed instruments, is also used for the guitar, where ⃩ stands for down picking (towards treble strings), and V upstroke (towards bass strings). Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 17:14
  • It always puzzled me that V, a downward arrow should mean Up Bow, whilst the ∏ symbol which has a line at the top means Down Bow. Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 12:41
  • 4
    @BrianTHOMAS I've heard different theories about the reason. One was that they were originally letters, with n denoting nobilis and v vilis, which did actually not specify bowing direction as such but basically importance of notes – and at some point players would be playing all weak notes with an upbow so it because synonymous. Another explanation was that they're simply icons depicting the frog and tip of a bow. Anyway on viols, cellos and basses the terms “down” and ”up” don't really apply, they just spread over from the violins. Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 13:32
  • @leftaroundabout never really thought about the fact that you don't pick/bow up/down on a cello/bass... it's sideways.. sort of :) - the first theory sounds pretty plausible though, interesting info.
    – Charleh
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 14:07

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