The Editing Process

Bowings – but more especially fingerings – are very personal, very subjective. But the criteria for determining what are “good” or “bad” choices are not only influenced by our own unique individual characteristics (hand size, temperament, mood etc) but also will vary according to the acoustic, the characteristics of our instrument and bow, what the other musicians are doing, the musical context, stylistic and interpretative factors etc. Therefore, any one musical passage can easily have many different possible “best” fingerings and bowings, according to the unique configuration of these personal and external variables. This makes editing a part (putting in fingerings and bowings) a very delicate and controversial task.

Some editorial choices regarding bowings, fingerings and articulations are absolutely certain …. but most are not. This is why, with respect to the “Edited Versions” published on this website:


Where possible, the composer’s original slurs are left in the “Edited Version” and, when we break a slur into different bows, the bowing signs are simply written above or below the original slur marks. This can be a little confusing, but is hopefully worth it because it keeps (shows) the composers’ original intention. If we don’t know that the composer originally wrote four notes slurred, we could be tempted to play the two-notes-slurred version of the following example with a separation and/or diminuendo between the two bows, especially if we are playing music from the Classical Period. Therefore the third notation method is preferred.

When the composer’s bowings are changed for the cellofun Edited Versions, the criteria used are almost always focused on pleasing both players and listeners, rather than pleasing musicologists or scholarly critics. Some composers’ bowings and/or articulations are difficult, if not impossible, to play on the cello, especially when our piece is transcribed from another instrument. The cello needs more bow than the violin, and piano articulations also very often inappropriate for the cello. If there is a choice, it is always preferable, for me, that a piece sounds “good” with non-Urtext bowings/articulations rather than being true to the original indications at the price of having it sound “bad” (difficult).

See the page Choosing Bowings for an extensive discussion about the fascinating subject of bowings.


The fingerings suggested in the Edited Versions of the music offered on this website are always conceived for small-handed cellists (see Hand Size). This is because finding “good” fingerings for a small hand is incomparably more difficult than for a large hand. Whereas large-handed cellists will find the “small-hand fingerings” annoying and unnecessary, at least they will be able to comfortably do them. The reverse is not true for small-handed cellists trying to play “large-hand fingerings”.