Left Hand: principles and compromises

November 3, 2006 at 04:36 AM · Tell me if I have this right:

At the beginning one learns a frame shape and to think of the fingers operating in a fairly uniform way from a base which moves to give access to different strings and positions. Then come extensions upward or downward, and as the music gets more advanced the hand/base moves around more and more to accomodate special situations.

What are some common ways in which the usual/basic principles of left hand function get left behind?

Do some finger patterns require a small hand to shift back and forth a bit while playing from 1 to 4? How about on a viola?

Replies (2)

November 3, 2006 at 06:00 AM · You're right, Andres.

One example of how left hand technique gets totally distorted is playing arco and left hand pizzicato at the same time in things like Paganini's "Duet for Solo Violin". I'll occasionally "pancake" my palm or bring the thumb way up over the fingerboard just to get the notes out.

Another example is a 4 string arpeggio that requires the use of the side of the first finger. The Sibelius Concerto features a C-A-Eb-F richochet arpeggio in the 1st movement that I'll play by doing a 243 fingering in the bottom strings with the side of the 1st joint of the index finger closest to the palm. I play it in tune and in rhythm, so the fingering works.

Rimsky Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" I play with mainly 1234 fingerings, unlike what's written in the Heifetz transcription. I'm regularly shifting within those 1234 patterns because of my small fingers.

November 3, 2006 at 11:23 PM · I've found as much of this kind of thing in solo Bach as anywhere else. Most often, it's because of perfect fifths, played either as double stops or as adjacent notes.

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