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Corwin Slack

Book 'Review': Ricci on Glissando

November 3, 2007 at 1:17 AM

Ricci on Glissando The Shortcut to Violin Technique is now shipping. I received my copy today and have skimmed through it.

Ricci discusses the pre-chinrest (yes chinrest) technique of Paganini that is based on caricatures of Paganini plus a few statements he made and the fingerings he marked in the parts to the Cantabile and Waltz for his student Camille Sivori.

Summaries like mine always get it wrong but Ricci advocates a radically (to us) different way of "holding" the violin with the left hand. He also advocates learning scales with a 1-1-1-1 fingering rather than the 1-2-3-4 fingerings that we use today. He insists that intonation cannot be learned playing single note scales (yes he said this in his left hand technique book) and that they must be learned as one finger drone scales (in glissando) and then advocates scales in fifths (one finger), two finger glissando scales in 4ths, 6ths, thirds, octaves and tenths.

Interestingly he concedes the shoulder rest "...if you decide to use a shoulder rest..." but suggests right and wrong ways to use it.

The book says nothing about right hand technique but comes with a DVD that discusses the right hand.

This is a a must read for all violinists. I think that many will reject it because it is so radically different but I expect that those who take it seriously will learn an awful lot.

I put the word review in quotes in the title. I hope others who are more qualified will obtain this book, study it carefully and post their thorough reviews of it their blogs here at

From Laurie Niles
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 3:29 AM
Hi Corwin,

I've been reading it, too. Major ideas in this book! I'm planning to interview Mr. Ricci; any questions for him?


From Corwin Slack
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 3:58 AM
1. Does he advocate going all the way back to a pre-chinrest style or is he suggesting that we consider more of the pre-chinrest style in our modern chinrest playing?
2. What does he really think of the shoulder rest?
From Corwin Slack
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 4:07 AM
As I have read it more and watch the DVD I get the sense that he doesn't really expect us to go all the way back to a Paganini style hold but rather that we adopt a lot of Paganini-isms in our playing. (glissando shifts on the same finger for consecutive notes, thrown back hand position, thumb following fingers. etc.)

I hope you interview the "editor" as well. I think that he played a major role in this book. Perhaps co-author may have been more accurate.

From The Weekend Vote
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 5:02 AM
I love Paganini's quote: that there's only one position, only one scale.
From Jude Ziliak
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 8:39 AM
A question for Mr. Ricci: does he believe that one-position scale practice (in multiple positions) is useful? That seems to be sort of in keeping with the advocacy of one-finger scales.
From Bruce Berg
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 10:27 PM
I would guess, not having gotten the book yet that he may advocate elimination of shifting by extending the hand forward and backward from the wrist. This facilitates many passages in the Paganini caprices. For instance the c minor scale in thirds can be played without shifting back and forth from 1st to 3rd position. Similarly, in the 17th caprice the fingered octaves can be performed with perhaps one true shift. In the Baroque era shifting was avoided at all cost due to the lack of the chinrest. When it was necessary to shift from third to first position, the hand would extend back and the thumb would follow later when convenient. Of course this would result in the hand flexing inward which would be anathema to a lot of violin teachers.
From Bruce Berg
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 10:38 PM
Sorry, the c minor scale I mentioned is in the 4th Paganini caprice.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 11:25 PM
Bruce, he does indeed advocate a shiftless style of playing.
From Bruce Berg
Posted on November 4, 2007 at 1:12 AM
Some students are very resistant to this particular technique because it requires the wrist to be inclined inward in lower positions so the palm touches the neck. Perhaps since this info occurs in a book I can convince them of the technique's efficacy. I am looking forward to getting a copy.
From Kevin Cheung
Posted on November 4, 2007 at 4:37 PM
Over the last two decades, I have gone from not using a shoulder rest to using a shoulder rest, then back to using a shoulder rest and now not using a shoulder rest. I firmly believe that a shoulder rest is not necessary if one adopts the `baroque style' shifting. But I won't go so far as not using a chinrest. Sounds like Ricci's Book/DVD is definitely worth getting.

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