When I was a teenager, I started to be part of a Tango orchestra. During that time I used to play with a French bow, but then when I started my bachelor’s degree I switched to using German bow. This means that when I first started to play tango music, I used a french bow and played classical music with german bow. I soon heard from all of the tango players that I should play with a french bow and I confirmed this when I looked on the internet and saw that every video of tango music I watched had players who played with a french bow (this does not apply to bassists playing solo pieces). Additionally, I looked up methods to play tango music, and all of them explained how to play this music using a French bow. Although I started to play tango with a German bow, I realized that it is not the same and I can say that it is more difficult. However, playing tango with a German bow is still possible. After all the entire classical repertoire can be played with a German bow, or with a French bow. The bow is first a matter of preference and pragmatically, depending on where one lives and works in the world, it could be more advantageous to play tango with a German bow. It is for this reason that I want to research how to approach tango music for double bass using a German bow and technique.


The role of double bass in tango is characterized by having a lot of rhythmic and percussive effects. These effects have been developed by different double bass players as a way to put their own style to the performance. Yet this has always been developed with the French bow in mind. This was due to European migration, especially Italians who came to Argentina (Rio la Plata) at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. These double bass players inherited the technique most used in Italy, which used the French bow. And although many aspects of tango have changed, such as the strings because they were first made of gut or the orchestration that has added new instruments or mixed new sounds, I still find it curious that the bow is the only thing that has remained the same since tango music was originally conceived. This makes me question whether not using a German bow is simply because players from this region of South America wanted to preserve the tradition and were being purists about their choice of bow.


My point of view is that you can play tango with a German bow, but you have to change things because of how you hold the bow. Now I am working with “The bass in tango”1 by Ignacio Varchausky, which is a method of tango and in this book every playing techniques is explained; moreover, each effect, such as how one moves one’s wrist, the fingers or how one puts the bow on the strings. but always from french bow perspective. So I am trying to translate this information to German bow and I already found some differences, as if you want to play the praton 3.3.2 with a bow, if you play it with a French bow you can attack from the air and then with a lot of weight and short bow, but if you play it with German bow you have to use more bow, more speed and less weight. Also, when you want to do a “strapatta”, it consists of hitting the strings with the bow, so with a french bow you can do it with the wood or with the hair, but with german bow you have to do it in between, because, thanks to the construction of the bow it jumps more than french bow so if you do it with the hair the strings will sound and the percussive effect will not be achieved and if you try it with the wood the way you have to catch the bow to do it is awkward and unnatural.