Live long and prosper

July 9, 2012 at 08:18 AM · I'm curious - are there any violinists out there who are accompished players that can not do a vulcan salute with their left hand?

I've a theory that this flexibility and control is established sometime during the journey. So far, I can't do it, but I've only been playing for a year.

Any ideas how long it took before you were able to do the salute?

Replies (34)

July 9, 2012 at 02:43 PM · As a Star Trek fan, I think this is a fun question, but I don't think it's correlated. Leonard Nimoy doesn't play the violin, does he?

FWIW, I never tried to do the Vulcan salute before around age 12, when I first discovered Star Trek reruns. By then, I found it easy to do right away, and I had been playing the violin for 5 years.

July 9, 2012 at 02:52 PM · It was either William Shatner or Leonard Nimoy who couldn't do the salute live on camera, but had to move his fingers into the correct configuration off-camera first. Sorry to disillusion you, folks!

The first time I saw it on TV I had no trouble in doing it myself, but I had been playing the cello since the age of 11.

July 9, 2012 at 09:20 PM · I did not know what a Vulcan salute was until I read this post and looked it up (apparently not a Star Trek fan)... I don't have problem doing it and I have been learning to play for 3 years. I doubt that playing the violin has helped...

July 9, 2012 at 09:28 PM · I did not know what it was either. I cannot do it. Should I give up the violin ?

July 9, 2012 at 09:28 PM · Perhaps this should be part of orchestral auditions :

'We loved your Paganini and the Sarasate was wonderful but your Vulcan salute is somewhat ill defined. '

July 9, 2012 at 10:15 PM · It was Shatner who couldn't do it (in Wrath of Khan), so his fingers had to be tied together with twine before the shot where he did the Vulcan Salute.

July 9, 2012 at 11:33 PM · For heaven's sake, no one should give up the violin because they can't give the Vulcan salute. Better they should give up being a Vulcan and convert. Vulcan holidays aren't any fun, anyway. (Too logical)

July 9, 2012 at 11:45 PM · That's a ridiculous question. I think having pointy ears and a lack of expressiveness has more to do with it.

I could always do the vulcan salute. But of course I'm a genius. :)

July 10, 2012 at 12:17 AM · Yes, but can you give the Bazzini salute?

(it requires all 8 fingers and 2 thumbs, not to mention your toes).

My toes?

I said not to mention your toes.

July 10, 2012 at 12:42 AM ·

July 10, 2012 at 12:56 AM · I do find it interesting that I can do the vulcan salute with my left hand but not with my right. But I'm a better pianist than I am a violinist.

July 10, 2012 at 01:56 AM · It occurs in a fingering of the melodic minor scale.


Thanks Eric, that saved me looking it up.

July 10, 2012 at 02:35 AM · Sandy,

I'd respond to your comment, but I'm out of body parts. :)



July 10, 2012 at 03:58 AM · I can easily do the vulcan salute, but I am not so hot at the violin (I have the concepts down, but my playing is abysmal).

So, don't give up the violin if you can't do the salute.

July 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM · Actually, it occurs in the HARMONIC minor scale - that augmented second! As a kid, back in the Jurasic era, I grew up with the original series. When it came on and I was practicing, I was sorely tempted to interrupt my practice!

OK - to answer the survey, I could always do it better with my left hand than my right. I'm not sure if that indicates whether I was always a naturally talented violinist, or a naturally talented Vulcan!

Now to be serious for a moment: does anyone know where Nimoy got that from? It is from the Jewish tradtion. The priests gave their blessing to the congregation, using both hands in that gesture, with the first fingers and thumbs touching.

Live long and prosper!

July 10, 2012 at 12:23 PM ·

July 10, 2012 at 03:43 PM · "Now to be serious for a moment: does anyone know where Nimoy got that from? It is from the Jewish tradition."

The shape of the hand in the Vulcan salute forms a Hebrew letter (shin). Holding your hands in this way is a kind of blessing apparently. That is where Nimoy got the idea for it.

July 10, 2012 at 03:48 PM · Eric - I'm not familiar with your terminology, and the very act of getting serious here is rather silly, and so, I guess, a bit of a paradox. But what I had in mind is an example like this: start A minor, harmonic on the low A on the G string. Play A, B, C, D, then on the D string, E, F natural, G#, A. The placement between the 2nd finger, F, and the 3rd finger, G#, is reminicent of the Vulcan salute.

OK - I hear my home planet calling me. Scottie - 1 to beam up!

July 10, 2012 at 09:38 PM · it pays more of for a violinist to use the Force than to do a vulcan trick.

July 10, 2012 at 09:38 PM · it pays more of for a violinist to use the Force than to do a cheap vulcan trick.

July 10, 2012 at 11:53 PM ·

July 11, 2012 at 02:44 AM · Indeed, in most northern Vulcan music - where Spock came from - the tunes are in the Locrian mode!

\\ //>

(The closest I can come on the keyboard to the salute - 2 fingers, 2 fingers and the bent thumb. Good thing I'm back to gigging tomorrow!)

July 12, 2012 at 11:27 AM · Goes back at least 100 years to the Macdonald-Smith/Cowling hand culture systems for violin/piano.

July 13, 2012 at 05:20 AM · Vulcan's? Pointed ears and no emotion? Don't you mean violist? Is there a violist salute?

My first violist joke, yay! I'm sorry I couldn't resist. I think the viola is a beautiful instrument. In fact I only learned of it after I started on the violin. I'll stick with the violin though...

July 14, 2012 at 06:37 PM · Thanks John. I'll give that exercise a try.

July 14, 2012 at 09:43 PM · Well, I can do this vulcan salute with both hands and I never even practiSed iT....don't need no table friction either....I just press my index and middle fingers together, like wise with my ring and pinky, and this is the tricky needs to muster all thier powers of concentration and focus it on the point between the knuckles of the middle and third fingers.........


Spread them..!!

July 15, 2012 at 12:56 AM · John, Is the vulcan salute in Simon Fischer's Basics? If not, maybe you could make a pamphlet titled "Basics for nonvulcans." Might sell well to earthlings.

July 15, 2012 at 04:55 AM ·

Nanu Nanu

I can't get anything right

July 15, 2012 at 10:37 AM · I find this discuss very interesting.

In my youth I was very proud of being somewhat ambidextrous. I used to joke that “I would give my right arm to be ambidextrous” until I ended up with tendonitis in my right hand at 18 and had to learn to do everything with my left. I can still write a little with my left hand but I don’t make a practice of it.

Much later in life I developed a condition part of which included a tendency for my tendons to shrink. I was able to track this to a certain extent. I was taking lesson on the Classical Guitar and when life became busy I was unable to practice on a regular basis and I was able to tell when I lost some of my reach.

Though I can easily do the Vulcan Salute what I find disheartening is the Boy Scout Sign. Thumb bent over the nail of the bent little finger and the center three fingers extended straight up.

I know in my youth I could make the Boy Scout Sign with both hands. Up to about a year ago I could not even bring my thumb over my little finger and the other fingers were splayed in different directions.

Since I have been taking violin lessons since April of 2011 I have been working to develop my dexterity and my reach. I can now make the Boy Scout sign with my left hand, except that my ring finger still sticks out a little forward and away from the other central fingers. This is actually a big improvement.

On December 8, 2011 I received my copy of Simon Fischer’s “Warming Up” book.

Prior to that date, one of my standard warm ups was the tapping thing from Dounis’s “Daily Dozen”. The first warm up in Fischer’s book is similar. The interesting part is that you do a series of movements using one finger while the other three remain planted on the A string.

For the last set of taps with each finger you are supposed to tap your active finger six times on each string alternating between the two notes that finger would play in first position. I still cannot tap the E string with my third finger without lifting my pinky.

One other strange thing is that some of the time, most of the time originally, when I go to do the exercise with my second finger, it takes several tries because my third finger moves instead.

My teacher asked me last Friday if I wanted to start alternating my normal daily warm up with something different, but I think these are helping me so much I will keep at them. I did make her happy by showing her some of the open string exercises I have found or made up that I do before my left hand warm-up. I would love to find more of these.

But I guess my take on this topic is that what dexterity we bring to the violin allows us a start. Proper exercises should be able to take us where we haven’t gone before.

July 16, 2012 at 12:02 AM · Now perhaps the real question is whether or not there are any good violinists online that are Vulcans. That would be a good poll. It would also only be logical.

July 16, 2012 at 03:59 AM · I am not a Vulcan but I hope to not be vulcanized, think sulfur and heat, AKA Fire and Brimstone (Rubber Soul).

July 19, 2012 at 10:47 AM · John, were you supposed to do the mirror writing with your right hand ?

Sorry, silly question!

July 30, 2012 at 07:56 PM · When you've mastered the Vulcan salute the next stage is to learn to do it with the toes. You never know when that may come in useful.

July 30, 2012 at 11:56 PM · Don't underestimate it. It saved my life once.

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