bow (bō) [key], implement used in playing stringed instruments. Its name originated from the fact that in its early form it resembled an archer's bow, but by the 17th cent. the European bow had gradually become flat. The violin bow received its definitive form during the period from 1775 to 1781 at the hands of François Tourte (1747–1835). He made the bow of brazilwood (Pernambuco wood), gave it a slightly concave curvature, and invented the device by which the horsehairs are held in place and tightened. The cello and the double bass are played with a bow that is shorter, broader, and heavier than the violin bow.
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