How slur/legato score notation should be played on a violin: with hammer and pull-offs or the other way? What to do if it can`t be put on a one string? How to play legato in JS Bach Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor? Thx.

1 Answer 1


The slur lines when used in violin music and transcriptions indicate that the bow is moved continuously in the same direction for the duration of the slur. The fingered notes are placed in time, without changing the bow direction for each note.

If you are changing strings during a slur, the bow still continues in the same direction while changing the string. If the notes would cause jumping over a string while slurred, then a different fingering position may be applied to keep the notes continuous on one string.

Hammer-ons and pull-offs may be used as ornamentation and are not indicated by the slur lines. Bowed hammer-ons and pull-offs may be used in a fast single note "trill" or flip, such as in some Scottish Fiddling and traditional Greek tunes, and may be indicated with a short grace note or notes. Unbowed left hand pizzicato pull-offs may be marked with a plus sign (+) over the note, occasionally with a grace note indicating the fingered note.

In the Partita, if the arrangement includes slurs with Tenuto or staccato on the notes under the slur, then the bow is stopped slightly between the notes before continuing in the same direction.

  • thank you, and then how Hammer-ons and pull-offs are showed in violin scores? How to discern them with legato and slur notation?
    – player777
    Apr 20, 2018 at 11:36
  • For fiddle tunes, I've seen the letters H and P or HO and PO above the notes. Often grace notes and turn symbols are used and you have to infer that it is hammer on or pull off by the style of music. I don't recall a specific marking for the technique in violin score, but there may be one. Apr 20, 2018 at 23:37
  • Looking through some of my fiddle books, the mordent sign is used for a hammer-on in one case, and 32nd note grace notes (as used in bagpipe music) in another. Apr 21, 2018 at 0:14

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