Intonation of Double-Stops

October 30, 2007 at 05:34 AM · Any tips, tricks, advice, for really perfect double-stop/chord intonation. I am familiar with the play one line finger both technique. I have had very limited success with this approach. Even when each line is perfectly in tune, the double-stop does not ring....Any thoughts??

Replies (20)

October 30, 2007 at 08:47 AM · The trick is

1) at first to study individual notes of the chords and than the intonation of the chords playing all the notes

2)for consecutive chords the best way to get the perfect intonation is the "CHAIN SYSTEM" I have previously mentioned and consisting in playing the chords (1,2, etc...) in this way

1-(1,2)-(2,3)-(3,4)-(4,5)-and so on...

with the chords between brackets to be played in the same bowing.

This makes you play the consecutive chords in the same bowing making the shifts incredibily more fluid and perfect.

Just try it, this is one of most important trick I have acquired from my teacher.


October 31, 2007 at 02:02 AM · It's worked better for me to think of a double stop as a single entity, not in terms of its separate parts. Learn the proper left hand shaping (double stop left hand technique) for the intervals, and then you'll be in tune.

October 30, 2007 at 03:03 PM · since my kid is working on some of that, which means i have to put down the chainsaw to postpone the yardwork to another year, i would like add couple things. may be already talked about by previous posters such as the illustrious kimberlee:) but i am not very familiar with the terminology so here it goes.

1. do it as slow as you can and listen. (is SLOW the word of the year for 2007 for violin players? :) learn to listen for the 2 notes when played together: when they are one "sound", can you tell them apart? i don't think this comes natural to many people, particularly to violinists (as opposed to pianists where what you hear if what you get) since a teeny bit off with each fingertip will result in a false note. playing it slow allows you more opportunity and less stress to "study" it... on purpose, slide one good note to a false note and hear the combo effect. there are quite a few combos to experiment with, right? low,low; low, high; high,low; high, high; good, low; good, high; low, good; high, good... if i'm not mistaken you have about 10% chance of hitting a ringing double stop. darn! if you have a piece with only 10 double stops (you wish), the chance of hitting ringing tone on all 10 is 0.000000001%. DARN!

2. even though both notes are equally important eventually, in the beginning, it is not a bad idea (at least i think:) to nail the lower finger note first, to establish a base, not only for both fingers but the hand position/form. in other words, to get one out of the two dead right first and then build from there. this is important imo because it teaches the concept of not just being able to something out of talent, out of hunch, out of luck, but developing a way/habit of following a routine/process so that the desired action of dynamics becomes more repeatable.

3. there is the mention of "playing one line"..i am not sure what exactly that means. what i think may be helpful is to play left hand in the usual double stop way (2 fingers on 2 strings), but bow only one string at a time, so to hear each note individually while the other note is also pressed. for instance, if A string note sounds good, and then the E string note also sounds good, there is no physical explanation that your left hand double stops are off. what you may need to check therefore is your bowing, to see if you can maintain good 2-string contacts for the entire bow, something i think is very very very difficult to do very very well:) and if you try to do it good and SLOW,,,whew, so happy i don't have to do it:)

4. i have observed that often, with beginners trying to "catch" both strings, the instinct is to press on the strings with the bow too hard. actually, you can hear much more, at least much more clearly if the bowing is softer, particularly when you are on a false note and trying to slide into the correct spot. less is more or at least more pleasant to hear:)

5. actually, forget everything i just said. just get a strad and everything will be fine and ringing:)

October 30, 2007 at 01:57 PM · My daughter is working on double stops too. In the beginning... when she practiced them I felt like drinking (not a drinker). But it does become easier with time.

I would also like to add that the position that the double stops are in makes a difference. Of course the higher the position the less space between fingers etc. Sometimes that means playing in positions that you are not comfortable in.

Also, we do alot of work with a tuner for double stops. Listen for the note in between the two notes (harmonic) that also helps.

October 30, 2007 at 02:31 PM · Good point, Al. I'd completely forgotten about the bow issue. It very well could be a bow issue. Nice one.

October 30, 2007 at 02:32 PM · One more trick is that for octaves it should be given much more importance to the bass note (the highest beeing just a "shadow") because in the same time this improves

1)the intonation

2)and quality of sound

October 30, 2007 at 02:53 PM · Before you worry too much about the fingers worry about the bow. Pressure kills everything. If anything, double stops and chords demand a much lighter stroke.

Start by practicing the "no pressure 5 minute bow" on one string. Once you can draw a rich stroke with no pressure you can start thinking about double stops.

Intonation and tone die when there is pressure.

October 30, 2007 at 03:53 PM · How do you make double stop tenths sound good? The high note is always so scratchy..

My son has been practicising thirds, sixths and octaves, and he can make them (most of them, anyway) ring, but tenths are pretty awful.

Any advice?

October 30, 2007 at 05:59 PM · try to give more importance to the bass and however to remove too weight to the bow this means that should played with more speed reducing pressure

October 30, 2007 at 07:12 PM · When playing octaves, imagine that you are playing one note in the middle of of your hand. This will help balance the two figners. When it is out of tune, you want to move both fingers rather than just one to fix it.

October 30, 2007 at 07:36 PM · Thanks for the question and the responses...I'm struggling with intonation of double stops too (slow section of the Kreisler Caprice Viennois) and keep forgetting about the bow pressure issue as well. rules!

October 30, 2007 at 09:05 PM · Pick up the "Polo" doublestop etude book, it's superb. Starts very very easy and progreses.

October 31, 2007 at 04:38 AM · For double stopped 5th - the trick is to land the finger between the strings with no "preference" to one string or another. In other words, the left hand finger should be dead-nuts between the two strings in question - each side of the finger barely touching each adjacent string.

October 31, 2007 at 09:29 AM · "How do you make double stop tenths sound good? The high note is always so scratchy.."

Try angling the bow so that the higher note gets a sounding point closer to the bridge than the lower note.

October 31, 2007 at 10:02 AM · When you say that "each line is perfectly in tune", are you sure that it is in tune harmonically, and not melodically? The latter will sound very out of tune when played as double stoppings.

To explain what I mean, try playing a G major scale up the D string, with the open G as a drone. The 1st, 4th and 5th degrees of the scale are quite straight forward to tune, but you'll notice that you have to play the 3rd and 6th relatively flat in order for them to sound in tune to the G. In order to tune the 2nd and and 7th notes of the scale, you can test them against the open A (the open D would be ok too if you weren't already playing on this string). You'll notice that the 2nd degree of the scale has to be relatively sharp, and the 7th relatively flat.

Also, when two notes are perfecly in tune, they produce an undertone. I find it helps to listen more to the undertone that results from the double stopping, than the two notes themselves. I think this a what undertone you'll hear for each of the common intervals.

Interval - Undertone

Octave - same as lower note

Perfect 5th - octave below lower note

Perfect 4th - 2 octaves below upper note

Major 3rd - 2 octaves below lower note

Minor 3rd - 2 octaves and major 3rd below lower note

Major 6th - 5th below lower note

Minor 6th - minor 6th below lower note

I hope this helps.

October 31, 2007 at 02:09 PM · One more advice from my techaer's hat:

for consecutive tenths the trick is to use the rotation of left elbow:

major tenth: high rotation of the elbow

minor tenth: low rotation of the elbow

hoping it helps.



October 31, 2007 at 03:25 PM · Thks guys for your tips. Will get my son to try it out this afternoon..

November 2, 2007 at 07:16 AM · Intonation for double stops is like anything else. ...repetition, etc. etc. Your brain will respond from repetition like anything else. The hand motion can be remembered just as well as you can memorize a fast run. You don't think about the individual notes, it becomes a pattern engrained in your brain. As far as fifths, they ARE tricky. I studied with Catherine Tait at Eastman, and she taught me a simple trick. Move your arm/wrist position until you can hear it perfectly in tune rather than trying to adjust your finger across the two strings. I have no quick answers here, but hope it helps somewhat!

November 2, 2007 at 07:20 AM · Oops....forgot to say the note at a time, then together over and over again on up the scale ....thirds, 6ths, etc. SLOWLY and LISTEN

November 2, 2007 at 01:33 PM · Don't forget absolute minimal finger pressure on the string so intonation can be quickly adjusted. But you should be able to hear the intervals in the first instance.Good luck.

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