I have a piece here that uses upside-down up-bows to indicate down-bow, which I have never seen before. Since I know other editions of the same opus, I know that they have the meaning of a normal down-bow. Does anyone know anything about this? Yesterday I confused this example with the post about Upside-down down-bows, but here it obviously is a different matter. Does it have to to with the engraving technique of a certain time or area, since this print is from Russia as stated below?

enter image description here

Sebastian Lee; Op. 30 - St. Petersburg: M. Bernard, n.d.(ca.1873).

3 Answers 3


He explains this right at the start of the book (First Edition, from IMSLP).

Tirez = pull, Poussez = push. In other words, ^ is a different notation for a down bow. enter image description here

  • RTFM FTW! :-) . Ain't it amazing what people miss? Dec 11, 2019 at 15:16
  • 2
    @CarlWitthoft yes exactly! Seems like this comment applies mostly to itself, though a question is not a manual. ;-) +1 for adding this snippet, but it does not really answer the question. I was rather gaining towards some background information about why this upside-down symbol was used in certain editions instead of the common down-bow symbol.
    – nath
    Dec 12, 2019 at 0:12

There's rarely a 'why' answer to this sort of question. You've now enriched your musical knowledge by knowing it happens. Yes, it could be confused with a marcato symbol. But the notation has been explained in this edition. Good.


The ^ symbol in music, for a violin, generally indicates a Marcato bow, where you push down on the string more or put more force. It's an accent, but instead of playing it like >, (where you emphasize the start of the note) it looks like ^ because you're pretty much emphasizing the entire note, not just the start. Think of it as a 50% sfz.

  • 1
    While this is correct in general, it doesn't describe the meaning of this symbol in this edition, where it indicates downbow.
    – phoog
    Jan 15, 2022 at 6:55

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