What makes that 'click' sound?

December 24, 2016 at 03:16 AM · I'm talking about the sound that happens when you place a finger or remove a finger and the note sounds like it 'clicks' or pops into place. I usually hear it when professionals play, and I only sometimes hear it when I play. I'm curious how it actually happens? I've noticed it happens more when I confidently place my finger/remove my finger, but it still doesn't always happen. Is it a combination of speed of placing the finger and something happening with the bow? Is it the quality instrument/bow itself?

Replies (22)

December 24, 2016 at 03:25 AM · Yes, I think.

I've found that playing a great instrument/bow, or getting the setup right, increases the sensation of 'pinging' between notes-- sort of like a typewriter key. Whether that is because of the instrument, or because the new rig encourages me to play better, I could not say.

December 24, 2016 at 04:26 AM · I think it's the finger is hitting the fingerboard very hard and quickly.

December 24, 2016 at 05:26 AM · It's purely a speed of finger effect -- the finger stopping the string at velocity, and then snapping back off the string very quickly. The movement needn't be large or hard.

To get good at this, do the first exercise of Schradieck op. 1 book 1. Set the metronome to sixteenth note = 60, initially, and ensure that the finger is dropped or raised extremely precisely with the metronome. Slow tempo, very fast motions. Do not "throw" the finger onto the string or otherwise press (i.e., the finger doesn't hit the fingerboard hard); just drop it quickly, but with a conscious mental control. Increase the tempo fairly quickly over a few days until quarter = 60.

Do the exercise daily. It will build velocity and control, and you'll start hearing that ping with every note. Then you'll end up deliberately avoiding the ping when you want a smoother sound (but it can be super-useful for projection and clarity in a large hall even if the passage is fully legato).

December 24, 2016 at 05:28 AM · It can be the finger or the opossum of the Strings, although it is true that a great instrument makes it more obvious, because the fast passages are much better articulated and responsive.

December 24, 2016 at 10:21 AM · Miles, you might be talking about one of two things, or a combination of the two. One of these is what Lydia spoke about, and has to do with the technique of the player.

The other is what we call the "transient" at the beginning of a note, and has more to do with the instrument, and how it is adjusted.

When a note is first started, there is a short chaotic period, before the string and other vibrating parts attain their "steady-state" vibrations, or pitch. When isolated on a recording, this comes across as a "click" or a "crunch".

This noise, along with its intensity and duration, have a lot to do with the character of a violin's sound. Too little, and the violin can sound unfocused, and lacking in articulation and consonance. To much, and the violin can feel rough and unresponsive (although too little can also have a player describing the feel and sound as being unresponsive). It needs to be "just right", and there isn't universal agreement among players on just how much of this they want.

It's one of the things I pay high attention to when doing sound adjustments.

December 24, 2016 at 10:40 AM · One modern way to approach this:

1. On placing the finger down, rather than hitting the string and fingerboard very hard, you drop the finger down with only enough force to stop the string at the desired pitch with the pad (not the tip). Especially in higher positions, the string will not contact the fingerboard. There will be a slight "ping" to the start of the note. It's easiest to observe this on the E string, say, in third position, playing A with the 1st finger, then B with the 2nd finger.

2. On removing a finger, rather than simply lifting the finger off, you execute a very slight LH pizzicato. This creates a very clean "click" or "pop" as you describe. One excellent place to use this is in the Massenet Meditation, in the opening passage, where you have to drop down from the A harmonic down to the open A...lifting the finger makes the transition a bit muddy, but slightly "brushing away" with a LH pizz motion gives you an open A exactly at the moment your finger triggers the motion.

FWIW, I try to do #1 on every note I have to put a finger down for, and #2 on every note I have to remove a finger for. It does wonders with even a basic scale, but it's easier said than done!

December 24, 2016 at 12:25 PM · First thing come to mind is the Heifetz finger tapping warm up thingy.

December 24, 2016 at 01:05 PM · Heifetz, heard up close, made quite a percussive sound as his fingers hit the fingerboard.

December 24, 2016 at 02:16 PM · I must be deaf ! I can't say I have heard this sound. How close to you have to be to hear this ?

December 24, 2016 at 02:18 PM · I'm convinced that you're hearing the bow "click" articulation change in a nice instrument/bow combo.

I suppose it could be a left hand accent...

These are generally done by dropping the finger faster/higher than usual going upwards in a scale, or pulling the finger leftward (almost like a left hand pizzicato) doing downward in a scale.

David -- I once saw a video of Heifetz's left hand in slow motion. It was beautiful -- everything was meticulously planned and there was a certain acceleration of each finger as it approached the string. I wish I could find that video to share here -- I'll keep looking.

December 24, 2016 at 03:13 PM · I heard Miriam Fried perform the Beethoven violin concerto about ten years and I could hear her fingers stopping the notes on the fingerboard for most of the concerto. I thought it was due more to the acoustics of the hall because I was quite a distance from her. I could also hear her warming up for about fifteen minutes playing bits of Bach in a back room and she produced incredible projection.

December 25, 2016 at 06:47 AM · Douglas, that slow motion video of Heifetz is on youtube. What amazed me about watching it is that he seemed to be doing vibrato on everything... even the faster passages. Part of the Heifetz sound perhaps ?

December 25, 2016 at 07:08 AM · Lydia, how do you practice the Schradieck in terms of what you're playing? Do you do the same number exercise until you get to quarter = 60, and then move to the next one?

And in general, I'm having trouble distinguishing between hammering down and lightly but quickly 'dropping' the finger. I can be very light and relaxed but a lot of the time I loose the quickness or end up tensing up to stop myself from slamming down on the fingerboard, weirdly enough.

December 25, 2016 at 08:54 PM · Just those first two pages. You practice it relatively slowly to listen for precision -- you also want to make sure that every repetition of a note is identical in intonation. Once a week, try a speed test with a metronome. You should eventually be able to max out a standard metronome with perfect clarity.

Do not expect that in the initial week or even weeks of the exercise that you'll get the ping going down. Just drop the finger naturally from the base knuckle -- the motion is going to be pretty minimal in order to get velocity. This is actually a speed exercise at its core; the articulation is almost a side-effect.

December 26, 2016 at 07:04 PM · Does anyone have an audible example of this. I'm not quite positive I know what this articulation sounds like

December 26, 2016 at 08:07 PM · To me, if I very quickly lift the finger on the G on the E string in order to sound the F# (which is already fingered in place) the effect isn't so much like an audible click but more like an instantaneous and precise transition from the higher note to the lower. If I lift the finger more slowly, the transition is also slower and slightly "fuzzy" (if that's the word I want).

As I said, I don't think I hear an actual "click", but I think I could check for this by recording the notes and examining the digital trace on an audio editor for a give-away spike of very short duration.

I'm still working on the "click" technique - it's worth working at. I also practice, and warm up with, silent rapid trills (no bow), trying to ensure that the fingers are as close to the string as practicable.

December 26, 2016 at 08:17 PM · "As I said, I don't think I hear an actual "click", but I think I could check for this by recording the notes and examining the digital trace on an audio editor for a give-away spike of very short duration."

__________________________

Trevor, yes, you can find it on an audio editor which enables enough detail. But it won't look like a spike. It's more like a short period at the initiation of a note, during which the waveform-versus-timescale doesn't conform to the frequency of the note, or any particular note, so it's perceived as more of a "noise".

January 14, 2017 at 01:48 AM · I've been doing Schradieck with metronome and keeping in mind what everyone has said, and I notice the 'ping' sound a lot more and feel like I can play more articulately. Also I hadn't done Schradieck before and it has definitely helped my left hand's agility and relaxation, so thanks for the advice everyone!

January 15, 2017 at 07:54 AM · Its the sound of when you press vigorously onto the fingerboard (my previous teacher taught me a way to achieve that. Put your bow away and concentrate on the fingering. Press each finger down as hard as you can. If you can hear the melody just from pressing and releasing your fingers, then viola! you got it!

January 15, 2017 at 08:33 AM · I think that's a different sound, more of a thud than a click/ping. I actually hear the sound more when I press very lightly, it's more about speed and confidence with placing/removing the finger than power I've noticed. I can't imagine hammering down being very effective in a fast passage, unless I'm just not understanding what you're saying.

January 15, 2017 at 12:16 PM · I have no idea what you're talking about if it isnt what i described XDD. When Im listening to my teacher practice before lessons i never hear clicks/pings...

January 15, 2017 at 03:17 PM · Yes, there's no need to press. The ping comes from an extremely fast transition.

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