This hinged bow makes a solo violin sound like a full string quartet

26 February 2020, 10:17 | Updated: 29 February 2020, 16:00

This Australian bow-maker has developed a hinged bow
This Australian bow-maker has developed a hinged bow. Picture: YouTube/Charles McCarthy

By Helena Asprou

Ever wanted to play several string instruments at once? Well, now you (kind of) can...

An Australian bow-maker has developed a hinged bow, allowing solo violinists to play several strings at once.

Also known as the Polycorde Bow, it comes some 500 years after the first violin was made in Italy during the 16th century.

Since a violin bridge is curved, violinists can usually adjust the angle of a regular bow to play either single notes on one string or two strings at once.

Now, Charlie McCarthy’s new, curved bow enables solo string players to more easily play four-note chords – or five, if you’re playing a five-string instrument like McCarthy is (watch video below).

Read more: Calculator virtuoso plays surprisingly melodic rendition of Mozart’s Turkish March >

Introducing Charlie's new bow - The Polycorde (many strings)

After McCarthy came up with the idea, he hired master bow-maker, Philip Smith of Hobart, Tasmania, to help him develop his design.

And this was made possible by introducing a lever, which can be flipped to slacken the bow – allowing players to drape it across several strings at once.

A violinist can then select how many strings they want to play from note to note by adjusting the bow tensioner with their thumb, to avoid dissonance.

In a video demonstration (watch below), McCarthy loops the Temperance Reel and uses his Polycorde Bow to provide shuffle rhythm and chordal harmony.

Using the Polycorde Bow as a rhythm fiddle supporting a melody player

Musicians can buy a handmade Polycorde Bow for AU$2,200 (around £1,117), complete with regular, coruss, black or salt and pepper bowhairs.

Designs for the viola, cello and double bass are currently in development.