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Geminiani and the odd couple

November 12, 2006 at 11:21 PM

apologies to all the people I have recommended looking in the archives for the `Geminiani Chord Position.` I did a quick search myself and cannot find much there unless its buried under a pseudonym from sheer embarrassment.
The `chord` is basically two setting of the hand using all four fingers. The first setting, the `easy` one is , starting from the g string, f1-aflat, f2 f, f3 d, f4 b. the reason this is easy is the hand is in what is called an open position. From this position one can do a variety of useful exercises. A simple one is to slide up the instrument as far as is comfortable while keeping the same spacing. Do this 12 times everyday. The fingers rest on the surface of the strings. To strengthen fingers one should practice `lifting` them. They drop onto the string and therefore do not require much training for the down action. Practice one finger at a time in a slow tempo but with a rapid lift. Various rhythm patterns can be used .These are well exemplified in `The Daily Dozen` by Dounis which I believe can be downloaded from this site. The bow is not used for these kind of exercise which are often called `silent exercises.` One can also experiment with various finger combinations going up and down or simply varying the finger pressure on different fingers without lifting the fingers.
The closed hand position is much more difficult. The fingers are placed with the same spacing on the reverse order of strings. It is important to wiggle the left wrist about to eliminate tension here and find the most comfortable position for the hand. The same exercises can then be repeated.
One does not generally use a bow for this kind of work. The key points are total relaxation, especially of the base joint of thumb and first finger. Plus, rapid lifting irrespective of the tempo. The fingers can actually be lifted slightly higher than normal but you must retain the curved shape. The movement is from the base joint.
Different topic, but I find my taste in listening and judgment has really changed over the last twenty years. (Thankfully...) I couldn’t help feeling a little surprised by the violence of the reaction against Ilya`s use f the expression finding Szeryng `amusing.` In spite of the reverence and respect we do and should hold for our predecessors sometimes going back to those old masters can provoke reactions of discomfort and I could imagine very well, a kind of amusement. Reason I was thinking of this is I have been going through Handel sonata recordings since o have a couple of students working on them and enquiring about recordings. Started with Manze. Very well researched, musical etc. etc. Much to learn. Just the tuning of A415 is just too low for me. I can’t hack it. But I immediately followed that with a recording of Grumiaux (the f major). If there is a recording one could point to and say `yes, that is the most beautiful demonstration of perfect violin playing around,@ this would be a contender. The damn thing is utterly flawless. bow control, evenness, vibrato, wonderful fruity sound, tastefully phrased.
But, for the first time ever I thought this kind of flawless twentieth century intensity sound -utterly- ridiculous with a harpsichord tacked on. For sure, it must have been a big first step in the evolution of performance practice for this generation of glorious players, but after a struggle the most apt simile I could come up with was something like this. Imagine you are looking at a bold, dazzling canvas by Van Gogh or Kandinsky. It is situated near a window and outside the rain is gently vibrating on the window. Not only is the color different but the medium is different. That was the effect for me of the bold beauty of Grumiaux and that odd little harpsichord noise tinkling in the background.
Amusement, perhaps not. But very uncomfortable.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 13, 2006 at 4:42 PM
Is the open position chord the same as Flesch's "Urstudien", Practical Part,#1.E.?
Also, why twelve times?
Also, what kind of hand wiggle? A vibrato-type wiggle, or do you remove the whole hand and shake it, as if you were flicking water off of it?
Also, I would like a Van Gogh for Christmas.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 13, 2006 at 8:19 PM
the Flesch Urstudien is not the same but the principle is, except he doesn"t use pressure exercises (of the fingertip). The wiggle refers to the left wrist, sory that wasn"t clear. Holding the chord and moving the wrist backwards , forward sand whatever until it is loose and comfortable is very important.
The Gogh is in th epost with the check,
From Susan D
Posted on November 13, 2006 at 11:15 PM
I start with the Geminini chords every session, both 'easy' and 'hard' one, but I always start with the 4th finger, to ensure that my whole hand pos it based on 4th finger comfort and the 2nd and 1st fingers learn to reach back.

It's very helpful!

From Albert Justice
Posted on November 13, 2006 at 11:28 PM
Buri, could you please be explicit for us beginners. I can envision the four fingers, but the actual string that the finger is on is eluding me.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 14, 2006 at 12:30 AM
Albert- open position
g string, first fiinger, a flat
d string, second finger , f natural
a string third finger d,
e string, fourth finger b natuiral
Doe sthat clarify things?
From Susan D
Posted on November 14, 2006 at 7:58 AM
Or, to get the hand shape really based on 4th finger comfort, and learn to stretch the other fingers back from the 4th, start with B on the E string, then D on A string etc. Then the other way around: D on G string (4th finger), 3rd finger on G on D string, 2nd on C on A string and 1st on F on E string.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 14, 2006 at 3:32 PM
Thank you for clearing up my wrist confusion.
But really, why twelve times? Arbitrary? Lucky number? Secret Alexander Technique number?
Also, if you are sending me a Van Gogh for Christmas, keep in mind I don't want any old shoddy Van Gogh. I want "The Potato Eaters".
Also, while you are Christmas shopping, I also want "The Soil" Stradivari, AND Permanent World Peace.
Also, what check?
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 14, 2006 at 9:40 PM
eleven just sounds like half a convenience store. 13 is unlucky. I borrowed the number from Urstudien. It seemed reasonable at the time,
From Charlie Caldwell
Posted on November 14, 2006 at 10:26 PM
what a jokester you are, Buri.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 14, 2006 at 11:34 PM
Twelve times is much more reasonable than my Christmas wish list!

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