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The bowed instrument musical technique known as bariolage involves quick alternation between a static note and changing notes, that form a melody either above or below the static note. This technique is common to Baroque violin music, where the static note is usually an open string note. Bariolage with the open string creates a highly resonant sound.

In the following example, from a violin sonata by Handel,[1] the second measure is to be played with bariolage. The repeated A is played on the open A string, alternating with Fs and Es fingered on the adjacent D string.

The notes on the D string (E and F natural) would be fingered as normal (first finger and low second), but the fingerings given above the second measure would be [2040 1040 2040 1040], indicating the switch (bariolage) from open A string to the stopped 4th finger on the D string, also playing the note A.


Another well-known example of bariolage is in Bach's Preludio to the E major Partita No. 3 for solo violin, where three strings are involved in the maneuver (one open string and two fingered notes).

Unison bariolage[edit]

Bariolage can also mean a repeated alternation between the same note on different strings, usually an open string and the same note fingered on the adjacent lower string. Joseph Haydn used this effect in the minuet of his Symphony No. 28, in the finale of the "Farewell" Symphony, No. 45, and throughout the finale of his String Quartet Op. 50, No. 6. It is the unison bariolage passages that give this quartet its nickname The Frog.


  1. ^ The Schirmer edition identifies the sonata, in F major, as "12th of the 15 Sonate ad Camera". The quotation comes from the second movement.