How would you finger this? (16th notes)

December 27, 2011 at 01:55 AM · Here is a short passage from the first violin part of Mendelssohn's e-minor string quartet. The tempo is half note = 88 (i.e. very fast)

Please make a suggestion for fingering the 16th note passages. Please offer a justification or rationale for your choice. I have a current fingering but haven't settled on it. Appreciate your suggestions.


Replies (20)

December 27, 2011 at 03:45 AM · extend for the e, 3-3from d to c# Shift to first position on the following beat 3A. Or you could do the 1/2 step from b-a# 1-1.

In the next group 4 on the g to 321. then1 on the c#. Shift down to first position on the b. In fast passages, I like to shift on the beat, but in this case, it doesn't work very well.

December 27, 2011 at 03:52 AM · extend for the e, 3-3from d to c# Shift to first position on the following beat 3A. Or you could do the 1/2 step from b-a# 1-1.

In the next group 4 on the g to 321. then1 on the c#. Shift down to first position on the b. In fast passages, I like to shift on the beat, but in this case, it doesn't work very well, unless you go to 4 on the e on the 3rd beat. Then do 3 on the A#.

December 27, 2011 at 04:16 AM · I understand paragraph 2 very well but I am a bit confused about the first paragraph.

December 27, 2011 at 04:49 AM · I never play this piece and I never listen to this recording, but I'll probably do (start from A sharp on 3rd position) 1-2-3-1-4-4-3-2-1-2-3-1 | 4-4-3-2-1-2-3-2-1-(shift down to first) 2-1-0-2-1-0. There's really no reason as this is the only fingering you don't need to shift or cross string. Just extend for the E. If I shift for better articulation then I'll have to slow down.

December 27, 2011 at 07:38 AM · I agree with Bruce. It's good to use the same finger for two adjacent semitone notes. For the first group, the semitone notes are d to c# on E string. Make sure your hand stays on the 3rd position when play these notes, with 1st and 2nd finger staying there without shift, stretch your 3rd & 4th fingers stretch to reach for the e and d then move slide the 3rd finger down from d to c#.

Group 1: 1231-4332-1231| 4332-1232-2110 (or 1210) -3210|

Group 2: 1231-4332-1231 |4321-1231-3211-3210 (or 4321 on A sting if coming notes are on lower string)|

See what others think.

December 27, 2011 at 09:53 AM · Greetings,

startingfrom the first beat of bar three.

the first finger a# is a guiding finger getting you into second position on the second beat.

Go into fourth position for the third beat.

Shift back into thri position on the semitone . Stay in third position and use a `fly off ` technique IE Bruce Berg`s fingering with the hand staying in third position. Easy for me as I have big hands.

Keep the passage on the e string for the next 16ths.

Good luck with the kamikaze leap.



December 27, 2011 at 01:07 PM · You can listen to a performance on-line here.

December 27, 2011 at 03:34 PM · Good suggestions. My current preference is to play the first group in 2nd, 4th and finally first position with the last beats in 1st position with fourth finger on a#.

I play the next group in 2nd 4th and sixth positions again returning to 1st with fourth finger on a#.

The pros of this are that it conserves the finger pattern in 2nd and 4th position. Conserving pattern seems to help articulation. It also (to my mind and for my skills) keeps it less smeary to shift with beat changes. Balancing the hand on the second finger also contributes to posture conservation and helps keep the fourth finger poised over the string.

The cons are the longer shifts.

December 27, 2011 at 07:40 PM · Greetings,

tah`s more or less my take on it, too. The mendelssohn quartets are truly difficult works but well worth the effort of mastering. Some of the most neglected music around.



December 27, 2011 at 09:29 PM · Yes, Buri, they are great works. Very under-rated. I love Op 44 No 1 in D major.

By the way, I never realised the violin could play so high up - and are those funny notes fast ones or slow ones? Never seen music that looks like that before, but I'm only Suzuki book one - learning how to start the damned bike. (And I keep falling off it ...)

December 27, 2011 at 09:31 PM · And when I do get it started, it's so noisy!!!

December 27, 2011 at 09:44 PM · Not having violin in hand...this seems most logical to me. For fast passages slurring with one finger I like to shoot for half-steps


December 27, 2011 at 10:20 PM · Interesting Jonathon. I will try it tonight. My current solution is very close to Buri-sensei's suggestion but I like your rationale.

December 28, 2011 at 08:53 AM · Hi Corwin, my inclination would be to use 4th position as an anchor with an extension backward for the A#. On beat two start with hand in 4th position but fingers extending back to play A#1-B2-C#3; feel the change from tritone between A#1 and E4 and perfect 4th between B1 and E4; pivot 1-2-3 to 4th position at the same time 4 finds the E; then play E4-D3-C#2-B1 as you would normally in 4th position; extend 1 down to A# (palm stays in 4th position) and repeat. This way you can eliminate the temptation to accent the E on a shift. The sf marking on the second beat suggests a falling away over beats 2 and 3, and even though there are no other sf written, beats 4 and 1, and the following beats 2, 3, 4 would follow the pattern. Also the descending finger slide from B to A# can be hidden with the bow change. It might be tricky to tune the extension at first, but once you get it such pivot shifts can be cleaner than position shifts, especially in fast passages. On the second passage, rather than shifting to sixth position (on 1 as the guiding finger) for the high G, it's possible to pivot the hand so that 2 replaces 4 (feel a tritone with E4 as you place A#1 , then replace E4 with E2 as you play G4 to train the pivot; later the hand just pivots from A# to G.) Again there might be a higher learning curve at first but such pivots can help with clarity and speed in the long run.

December 28, 2011 at 04:33 PM · Let's be thankful that Mendelssohn didn't write that passage to be played as individually bowed notes.

December 29, 2011 at 03:51 AM · He put it down the octave on the advice of David who accidently got his fingers stuck up his nose during a performance.

December 29, 2011 at 04:35 AM · I definitely agree about taking the lower octave to figure if the fingering. However, off the top of my head, I'd start off in 3rd and stay there. Really no need to shift back for any reason. The few notes that are out of 3rd position can be played with an extended first finger.


December 29, 2011 at 06:09 AM · ther e are many things in this world I truly don`t understand.

This may have been one of the most perplexing....

December 29, 2011 at 05:19 PM · I am reminded of the first time I played this quartet. I was about 20 and Lillian Fuchs (violist) was coaching our group. She kept on exhorting me to "Use more bow, boy!" and then would whack me on the head with her bow. I did use more bow, not because I particularly wanted to, but because I didn't want to be the one who was blamed for breaking her Tourte bow.

December 29, 2011 at 07:36 PM · Greetings,

nowadays, if the bow broke the teacher in question would probably sue the student for millions for having a hard head. Hence the need for a lawyer specializing in Torts.


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