February 2009

VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Bow Legato Right Arm Hand Soft Gentle Sweet Delicate Side of Hair

February 26, 2009 11:38

“Any thoughts on playing extremely light for sweet-sweet sound on angled hair?”  Thanks Drew...

This is a continuation in the series of blogs dealing with:

  1. Left Hand
  2. Shifting
  3. Right Arm
  4. Right Hand
  5. Bow — soft and sweet

They will be kept under the heading of VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE for those who wish to follow the articles. I hope they are of benefit to you.

Contact variables of the bow hair on the string:

1)   Point of contact

2)   Speed of bow

3)   Weight of bow

4)   Amount of hair

5)   String selected

6)   Vibrating length of string

Everything is to be brought together in order to accomplish the desired intonation, dynamics and character of the music.

 

“Any thoughts on playing extremely light for sweet-sweet sound on angled hair?”  Thanks Drew...

Yes, use the side of the hair maintaining clarity and focus of tone and pitch. Do not allow the stick of the bow to be pushed into the string. Have a sense of gently and actively holding the bow rather then letting it hang limply from the hand.

Use Crescent Bows…even a bit extreme at first. Crescent Bows are very forgiving, but you will eventually need to modify the drawn curve to a very subtle line.

The wrist, elbow and shoulder joints must hinge and flow smoothly along the required plane of the bow stroke. Concentrate primarily on the flow of motion along the plane of the bow’s path. Anticipate string crossings by moving toward the next string via the upper arm.

A good way to practice the above is to flow into and out of a double-stop of the two neighboring notes. When needing greater clarity in this action, use a more articulated string crossing, practicing with varied rhythms. This contrast of approach will blend into a fluid combination and enable a clear and clean legato connection of the notes across the strings.

Before and during playing:

  1. Breathe slow and deep. 
  2. Put yourself in slow motion mode. 
  3. Start out stronger then you may want—a gentle mf perhaps.
  4. Use an elegant, smooth and liquid bow stroke. The Crescent Bow naturally develops this technique.
  5. Keep breathing…
  1. When settled and achieving the calm flow, gradually lighten the touch.
  2. At the end when using a down-bow, consider rolling the hair to the inside—it is far more relaxed for the right arm through the wrist and fingers of the bow hand. (near the tip of the bow)
  3. Release the string in character of the ending.

If edgy or tight in the muscles and nerves, do not soften—the smooth pace will give the character you want.

Hope this helps —

Drew

Author of

Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master… 

Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…

 

 

 

3 replies | Archive link


VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Left Hand Intonation Accuracy Action Interpretation

February 20, 2009 12:03

Your Global Positioning Satellite / Mental Positioning Satellite is all-important.

Technique is the tool by which we accomplish the artistic.

 

ROLLS v. REPS

There is no improvement of intonation with rolling fingers—it only shows where we should have hit.

 

How do you think of, view and order your fingers?

Plan actions > Accuracy, Fluidity > MASTERY

This is a continuation in the series of blogs dealing with:

  1. Left Hand — #2
  2. Shifting
  3. Right Arm
  4. Right Hand
  5. Bow

They will be kept under the heading of VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE for those who wish to follow the articles. I hope they are of benefit to you.

Intonation is one of the primary areas of focus in all we do. This applies to the rotations, settings and measurements of the left arm, hand and fingers in combination with the contact variables of the bow hair on the string—1) point of contact, 2) speed of bow, 3) weight of bow, 4) amount of hair, 5) string selected and 6) vibrating length of string/position number—everything is to be brought together in order to accomplish the desired intonation, dynamics and character of the music.

Your Mental Positioning Satellite is all-important in the above. We must be knowledgeable of 1) where we were and what we did, 2) where we are and what we are doing, and 3) where we are going and what we are going to do—past, present, future.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the numerous variables. They will free you to maneuver, easily flowing into and out of the various settings and positions of the left hand and bow, thereby accomplishing the passage.

 

Artistry is the fusion of technique with musical expression.

 

LEFT HAND—Repetition Hits and Finger Action

Everything affects everythingthis is true in all aspects of playing the violin and viola.

What am I suppose to be 'repeatedly hitting'?

Definition: RH (Rep Hits)

Repetition Hits of the left-hand fingers thrown from the knuckles to gain a freer action with greater accuracy—do not pound the fingers as in knocking loudly on a door.

  1. The action is to be decisive and light.

a.   For dramatic and/or intense passages we do apply greater strength, always maintaining freedom of action with flexibility.

2.   Best done in rhythmic patterns.

a.   For the longer rhythm, feel the finger hold the note like an electro magnet that you simply turn off when the note ends—the finger rhythmically and automatically releases the string.

b.   The fingers must remain close to the string and above their note.

Excerpt: “Violin Technique: The Manual” & “Viola Technique: The Manual” 

 

Having taught nearly 39 years, it has been my experience that RHs develop actions, balance and intonation like nothing else. Apply this technique throughout work in all studies and repertoire.

 

Repetition Hits (RHs) of the left hand fingers onto the string develop great ease of action with consistency, balance and accuracy of intonation. The fingers will be hitting/tapping the notes. The RHs are to be done with the change of bow or articulation of notes within one bow stroke, as with staccato—sharpening the coordination of the two.

When changing fingers/notes sustain the last note of the RH sequence into the following new finger/note, e.g., 2 short eighths each with stops in the bow for release of finger followed by a sustained quarter or half note connecting into the next RH sequence with change of finger. Do slowly at first and gradually speed up—a moderate tempo is all that is needed. Never allow tightness or panic in the left fingers, hand and arm.

Additionally, with release of each pulse relax the bow arm, hand and fingers while maintaining proper form.  

We are constantly learning to do far more then one thing at a time and must continuously assess all we do.

The short RHs develop quickness, agility and freedom of action. DO NOT LIFT FINGERS—they will simply release or pop off the string. Throw/release from the knuckles—finger should hover, poised above the note. Then repeat, hence Repetition Hits.

 

Caution

Absorb the tendency of the left wrist to kick/react out or in at the moment of impact—particularly with the 4th finger. The left hand and arm are to maintain proper form and position with no reaction and or tightening.

 

Tips 

In the rhythmic sequence, e.g., short, short, long, the long note requires stability of the finger upon hitting the string assuring maintained accuracy with balance, after which we can add vibrato.

With the addition of vibrato maintain the core/center/plumb line of the straight pitch in your inner ear—the mind. This will prevent the vibrato becoming too obtrusive and thereby offending the character of the music—not to mention, the listener’s ears:-)

Upon playing a note out of tune and/or feeling something is off balance, immediately use RHs in sets of 3 or 5—giving 9 or 15 hits respectively when simply doing short, short, long. Very quickly the note, positioning and balance become focused and accurate. After doing RHs of one or more notes incorporate that note or group of notes again into the section or passage.

 

RH without the bow

The RHs can also be done without the bow to great advantage. Observe the angles and balance of the fingers and how the left hand, wrist and arm line up. The hit of the finger on the string causes the note to ping, easily being heard. It will be softer then using the bow and requires our listening much more keenly—a good thing.

 

Finger Action

Open and close the fingers by expanding and contracting the palm and knuckles of the hand. This is good to do away from the violin both in the air and on a tabletop, etc., with palm facing up and/or down. When preparing to play a note, measure the distance and angle of approach in your mind, then hand, then fingers—they inter-relate. THEN freely throw the finger from the knuckle. If you miss, and initially that is common, release and reset the measurements of the hand, knuckles and fingers.

 

Maintain ease and balance.

 

Keep fingers down as much as possible. When using 2nd, 3rd or 4th finger, have the lower fingers on the string based upon the key and passage.

Example: 

  1. E-1 on Ding to D-3 on A: Also place 2nd finger on the Aing. Not necessarily done in performance, it is of tremendous value in proportioning, shaping, molding and developing the left hand facility and greatly assists in furthering our technique for future repertoire.

Additionally, always keep the previous note/finger down when changing strings, practicing the given interval as a double-stop, e.g., B-2 on the (sul) Ging to E-1 sul Ding—this interval is a Perfect 4th. 4ths and 5ths flip, i.e., E-1 sul Ding to B-1 sul Aing is a Perfect 5th.

Aside—

Remember the number 9. Just as 4ths & 5ths flip (both being Perfect intervals), so do 3rds & 6ths (Major 3rd to minor 6th or minor 3rd to Major 6th), 2nds & 7ths (M to m/m to M) and unisons to 8vas (remaining Perfect intervals). Sum total of the two numbers that flip is always 9.

Do not lift fingers—release them rhythmically. With fingers down while descending in a scale type sequence, they will precisely leave the string adding clarity and diction to the next lower note. This rhythmic release has the added benefit of constant relaxation for the various fingers and portions of the hand when they are not in use—similar to a light switch with power on and power off.

 

Interpretation

It is of paramount importance to practice in various rhythms, bowings and dynamics. Developing knowledge of the technique required to achieve the passage, such varied practice keeps us mentally and physically alert and agile, additionally preparing one for future repertoire. This in turn opens the mind and ears to harmonic structure that guides intonation and musical interpretation.

Determine whether the notes increase or decrease in tension, relaxation, dynamic, strength, gentleness and/or ease—and various other combinations of characters. Aside from markings given by the composer, play the passage at least three different ways—enabling one to gain skills of control in technique and thereby great freedom to express musical content.

Remember to study the accompaniment to your part, whether the score of a concerto, the piano part for the sonata or shorter work, and the score or other parts of a chamber ensemble. It is wonderful how much better we will play the piece when truly known in its entirety.

 

Pivot, rotate, extend, contract, raise, lower—modify—subtly adjust the left hand and arm as needed and when needed, programming all moves, actions and feelings into your Mental Positioning Satellite.

 

Hope this helps…

Drew

Author of

"Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master" 

"Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master"

 

 

 

9 replies | Archive link


VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Left Hand Intonation and finger action.

February 6, 2009 00:32

Your Global Positioning Satellite / Mental Positioning Satellite is all-important.

Technique is the tool by which we accomplish the artistic.

How do you think of, view and order your fingers?

Plan actions > Accuracy with Fluidity > MASTERY

 

This is the first of a series of articles dealing with:

  1. Left Hand — #1
  2. Shifting
  3. Right Arm
  4. Right Hand
  5. Bow

They will be kept under the heading of VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE for those who wish to follow the articles. I hope they are of benefit to you.

 

Intonation is one of the primary areas of focus in all we do. This applies to the rotations, settings and measurements of the left arm, hand and fingers in combination with the contact variables of the bow hair on the string—1) point of contact, 2) speed of bow, 3) weight of bow, 4) amount of hair, 5) string selected and 6) vibrating length of string/position number—everything is to be brought together in order to accomplish the desired intonation, dynamics and character of the music.

 

Your Mental Positioning Satellite is all-important in the above. We must be knowledgeable of 1) where we were and what we did, 2) where we are and what we are doing, and 3) where we are going and what we are going to do—past, present, future.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the numerous variables. They will free you to maneuver, easily flowing into and out of the various settings and positions of the left hand and bow, thereby accomplishing the passage.

 

Artistry is the fusion of technique with musical expression.

 

LEFT HAND

 

Everything affects everythingthis is true in all aspects of playing the violin and viola.

 

Physical Measurement

Remaining on the same string is the basic standard of intervallic measurement—proportional finger measurement. All other measurements are adjustments from that starting basis.

The Beginning Hand Group (BH=whole, half, whole) is the most natural set of measurements for the left hand. The whole step between 1st and 2nd fingers is larger then the whole step between 3rd and 4th fingers—they are proportional. Therefore 3 whole steps would be large (1-2), medium (2-3) and small (3-4). When playing in a higher position all interval distances proportionally shrink, and when in a lower position all interval distances proportionally expand.

The various parts of the arm and hand must always work in concert together.

String Changes

When changing strings the finger measurements and angles modify. The whole step E-1 on the Ding to F#-2 on D is totally different in measurement than E-1 on D to C#-2 on the Aing or E-1 on D to B-2 on the Ging. Improvement of intonation and balance of the left fingers, thumb and hand are immediate when the player understands and masters the necessary moves in combination with these variables.

Examples:

  1. E-1 on D to C#-2 on A: (Higher finger on higher string.) The left hand should rotate counter-clockwise when placing a higher finger on a higher string. There will be a well-defined counter-clockwise rotational move of the forearm and opening out (left) pendulum move of the upper-arm making the measurement of the C#-2 far easier with no undue stress and tension. The muscles, etc., must never fight the adjustments—that struggle is the body telling you they are resisting the move. Tell them it is a new action for them to learn—this does work.

The above moves—counter-clockwise forearm rotation with outward upper arm pendulum swing—cause a slight opening of the diagonal angle of the left hand to neck relationship. This in turn requires a lengthening of the finger(s).

  1. E-1 on D to B-2 on G: (Higher finger on lower string.) The left hand should rotate clockwise when placing a higher finger on a lower string. There will be a well-defined clockwise rotational move of the forearm and coming under (right) pendulum move of the upper-arm making the measurement of the B-2 far easier with no undue stress and tension. Again, the muscles, etc., must never fight the adjustments, but should learn the new moves.

The above rotational pendulum move slightly closes the diagonal angle of the hand to neck relationship requiring an adjustment of the 2nd finger’s length. The 2nd finger will feel closer to the 1st finger due to crossing over the string that the 1st finger is on.

During various moves the fingers adjust shape and angles. Take care that the contact point for intonation is maintained while traversing from one setting to another.

 

Maneuvering via Hand Groups (Intervallic patterns—inter-related measurements of the fingers’ intervals in group settings.)

Hand Group changes and modifications need an adjustment along with re-balancing of the left hand and arm positions. When changing Hand Groups, determine the precise adjustment(s) required—whether on the same string, changing strings and/or shifting.

Following are two examples that can be readily felt and observed—the Beginning Hand Group (BH=whole, half, whole) to High 3 Group (H3=whole, whole, half). The terminology is based on finger sequence of 1st—4th fingers.

Examples: 

  1. When playing on the Aing B-1, C#-2, D-3, E-4 (BH) and then modifying to B-flat-1, C-natural-2, D-3, E-flat-4 (H3) the entire hand and arm should adjust to a lower 1st position. With this change there needs to be subtly different angles of the upper arm, forearm and hand along with modifications of fingers’ arches, accompanied by rotations in the knuckles—especially the 3rd finger in this example.
  1. In this next example the entire hand and arm adjusts rotationally counter-clockwise, accompanied with opening up the knuckles toward the 4th finger to a higher 1st position. Play on the Aing B-1, C#-2, D-3, E-4 (BH) and modify to B-1, C#-2, D#-3, E-4 (H3). This requires subtle adjustments of the upper arm, forearm and hand along with modifications of the fingers’ arches and therefore rotations in the knuckles.
  1. Now do similar modifications from BH to Low 2 Group (L2=half, whole, whole). Observe, feel and follow the leadings and leanings your hand and arm desire because of the lowering of the 2nd finger.
  1. Also, play from the BH keeping the C#-2 and then change into the L2 by raising 1st, 3rd and 4th fingers. This is challenging and requires adjustment into a much higher setting of the position.

Sometimes the adjustment is a simple pivot and other times it will be more like a complete shift. This is determined by the player’s hand size, length of fingers and breadth of palm/knuckles.

Open and close your knuckles—along with rotations this contributes fluidity of motion and clarity of action in the fingers, playing either slow or fast.

Positions

Every position has 3 basic locations—high, medium and low (sharp, natural and flat). These settings have numerous modifications enabling us to move with tremendous agility and freedom.

 

Finger Action

Never lift fingers—rhythmically release them. They will precisely leave the string adding clarity and definition to the note(s). It is of paramount importance to practice with various rhythms, bowings and dynamics. Rhythmic variety opens the mind and ears to harmonic structure guiding our intonation and musical interpretation. Additionally, we attain knowledge of the technique required to achieve the passage.

Pivot, rotate, extend, contract, raise, lower, modify—subtly adjust as needed and when needed, programming all moves, actions and feelings into your Mental Positioning Satellite.

 

Everything affects everything.

Technique is the tool by which we accomplish the artistic.

Hope this helps…

Drew

Author of

"Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master" 

"Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master"

 

 

 

10 replies | Archive link


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