Printer-friendly version weekend vote: What kind of fancy technique gives you the most grief?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: July 4, 2014 at 9:31 PM [UTC]

Ah, what a beautiful piece of music I'm playing, and how nicely I'm playing it! But wait, what is that, up ahead! Flash red, noooooo!!!


Turn the car around, we're about to go careening down a very bumpy hill, and I don't think the brakes work!


Violinists seem to be natural show-offs, thus our most beloved concertos and showpieces often contain such challenging and treacherous passages. Of course, the best solution is to climb the mountain, slay the dragon, conquer the wild blue sea! Go for it, and get good at it!

But let's be honest: sometimes it's just a pain. You see such a passage and know right away, if you decide to play this piece, you're taking on a heckuva lot more practice! Of the ones listed, what kind of show-off-y technique gives you the most challenge? (Feel free to list any that aren't included in the comments!)

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 10:16 PM
Screw octaves. Tenths in the lower positions make me cry. Worse yet - tenths on up bow staccatos.
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 12:31 AM
Riccochet Chords *cough* Mendelssohn cadenza *cough*
From Anne Horvath
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 12:48 AM
Big stretches.

Pag #13 is in the current rotation. 1st position, 4th finger up to C on the E string + 1st finger back to A flat on the G string isn't terribly secure. Or, at least, securely out of tune (sad smiley face here).

And don't get me started on the stretches in #12.*

I'm also working on Prokovief/Heifetz's "Masks". The octaves are challenging, as are the quiet side articulations. Good piece. The Big H, and Kogan, are my Octavespiration.

I had a nice listen to Szigeti/Beecham/LPO's Mendelssohn concerto today, a recording well worth spending time with. (Tricky octaves, those on the first page. I've heard a lot of violinists, live, bomb the quarters but nail the triplets. One of the Great Mysteries of Violin Concerto World...)

Happy 4th!

*Or #1. Or #2. Or #3. Or #4. Or...

From Bev Saunders
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 12:49 AM
I checked up bow staccato because I don't have a good one. But I have to say that I could have checked off fingered octaves. They make me cringe in front of my teacher and cry at home. My normal octaves are great but fingered... Yikes!
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 3:41 AM
Of the pieces I've been assigned in my student days, definitely up bow staccato. Never had a good one, either due to genetics or a decent bow.
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 7:09 AM
How about down bow staccato ? (Rode 7) Or the combination of the up bow staccato and double stops (Sibelius violin concerto part III).
From Chris Gossy
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 7:12 AM
To complete the list: down bow staccato (Rode 7), all combinations: e.g. up bow staccato on double stops (Sibelius violin concerto).
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 2:48 PM
Double artificials and double fingered octave trills.
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 4:53 PM
For many an orchestral hack, it's a matter of "none of the above".
Very long, quiet notes can give rise to the dreaded "pearlies", or bow-shakes. From this I have suffered. Many of my colleagues needed prescription medicines, such as beta-blockers, to keep the pesky bow on the string.
Posted on July 5, 2014 at 9:46 PM
I've been struggling with fingered fifteenths lately, the ones in Ern(e)st No. 561 for example. Doing pizzicato with my toes has always been challenging as well.

How come Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, etc. never needed such parlor tricks to write great music? Okay the Bach S&P are mostly hard as nails, but those are unaccompanied. I mean concertos. When Mozart wanted a run of double stops in his Concerto No. 3, he put one line in the solo and the other in the first violin part. No wonder people say his intelligence has not been matched since.

From Jon Lilley
Posted on July 6, 2014 at 11:02 AM
Oh how I would love to be able to answer this question! Sadly as an adult beginner of not yet 3 years my technique is way, way, way below any of the answer choices. Simply hitting the right notes and keeping my bow straight are challenging enough for me! I think I'll take a raincheck on this one and get back to you in ten years or so :)
Posted on July 6, 2014 at 12:53 PM
Why combine octaves and double stops? Double stops in general don't bother me much, but octaves?? I've come to the realization that I'll never play Kubelik's Octave Dance in tune,
From Mendy Smith
Posted on July 6, 2014 at 3:24 PM
ALl of the above?
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 6, 2014 at 5:14 PM
I agree with Mendy. All of the above.

But the worst is octaves and fancy double stops in general, or triple stops. And I don't even bother with 10ths. If a piece has that in it, I'll just move on. My fingers don't really stretch that way. If you want that many notes played at once, get a string quartet.

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on July 7, 2014 at 12:02 PM
I'd be inclined to point the finger of blame for the list at Paganini, with a passing nod to his idol Locatelli of a century earlier. Having said that, Paganini composed a large number of melodic pieces, mostly for his patrons and pupils, that do not require the listed techniques and are within the comfort zone of most players.

For the average orchestral player I think a facility for playing octaves in tune (up to the 5th position, say) is valuable in that it enables smooth bowing in broken octaves rather than unseemly bow flapping across non-adjacent strings.

One omission from the list is left-hand pizzicato (beloved of Paganini). This is something I use occasionally in orchestra when a composer (or more often an arranger) hasn't thought through the difficulties involved in an unusually quick changeover between pizzicato and bowing.

From Mark Roberts
Posted on July 7, 2014 at 2:05 PM
this vote last ran in nov 2009, then I put octaves and up bow was top, this time I put up bow and octaves are top.

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