Chargement en cours

An error has occurred. Please

Violinist James Ehnes demonstrates how to play col legno

Robert Rowat

As James Ehnes explains in his latest how-to video, col legno means "with the wood" and refers to the use of the back of the bow — the wooden part — to play the violin.

When played off the string, it creates an earthy, twangy sound. Occasionally a composer will ask the violinist to play col legno tratto, wherein the violinist actually passes the back of the bow over the strings to produce a softer, whooshier sound.

Watch Ehnes demonstrate col legno and share a potentially money-saving pro tip in the video below.