January 2008

Finger Patterns III

January 29, 2008 20:21

Buri's post on speed got me to thinking. Some months ago I did two blog posts on finger patterns.

Finger Patterns

Finger Patterns II


It was quite a bit of overkill. But it boiled down to this: Almost all of the useful finger patterns on the violin are comprised of half steps, whole steps and minor thirds.(There are 27 possible patterns with those three interval combinations), A major third or higher between two fingers is quite rare and one could hardly be accountable to sight read such a finger pattern.

But even 27 patterns is a lot and notating the traditional patterns 1 2 and 3 has limited value to someone who hasn't memorized the pattern.

In my original posts I proposed two pattern notation schemes. The first used numbers to notate the patterns. Traditional pattern 1 would be notated 221 (two whole steps and a half step). Pattern 3 would be notated 122.

But the problem is that the page is already cluttered with fingerings and using numerals for finger patterns risks confusion. My alternate proposal was to use the letters h= half step, w= whole step and m = minor third. In this scheme pattern 1 is wwh and pattern 3 is hww.

Still a lot of clutter and a lot to grasp.

I have another proposal that takes advantage of existing conventions for notating intervals:

^ = half step
⨅(a flattened down bow symbol or bracket on its side) = whole step
x = minor third (i.e. extension)

The flattened down bow symbol isn't easily available on most html browsers. I tried to enter an approximation but it may not be visible to you.

The symbols should be written as a word just as the 221 or wwh symbol. ^^X = hhm=113

These are much quicker to grasp.


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