I'm writing a piece in which I need string instruments to switch regularly between flautando and normal timbre. How do I denote this? Basically, I need a word which means "normal" with regard to where the bow falls.

3 Answers 3


Normale (norm.) or ordinario (ord.) are the standard methods for marking a return to regular articulation after using an alternative technique.


In doubt, you can always negate a specific playing instruction by mentioning it with a non prefix. In this case I'd probably write non flaut., if in your context ord. would not be clear enough.

Alternatively you could consider what particular sonic quality of “normal bowing” you want to contrast against flautando. Should it be the robust sound and attack? You might alternate between flautando and pesante. You want the opposite of the sweet airiness of a flautando? You could alternate between sul tasto and sul ponticello. Etc. etc..


In such cases, the notation arco is typically given to request that the performers play with standard technique.

So just as you specify flautando for some portions, simply specify arco for the other portions.

  • 3
    This is not the standard notation method, though most performers would probably understand what you're trying to say.
    – Peter
    Mar 11, 2019 at 22:02
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    I would stick with ord. Arco is pretty much reserved for not-pizzicato, and occasionally for not-colLegno. Mar 12, 2019 at 12:51
  • @Peter (and Carl): Thanks for the information! I'm not a string player, so I always assumed arco simply meant "normal." Today I learned!
    – Richard
    Mar 12, 2019 at 14:12
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    As a violin player I would say do not type arco when you are alreadu using the bow, arco is Italian for bow. The term ord. is the standard indicating a return to ordinary playing after playing a special effect. Mar 12, 2019 at 17:43

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