Three/four octave scale fingering patterns for all major and minor keys

May 3, 2017 at 12:52 AM · What fingering pattern do you use for playing 3-4 octave diatonic and chromatic scales.

Replies (21)

May 3, 2017 at 01:20 AM · I use the standard fingering listed in the Flesch and I believe also Galamian books, where you start with 2nd finger on the G string. It is only different for G, A, and A flat major. I used to think it was not good to always use the same fingering, but now I think using the same fingering in a variety of positions really helps you map out the fingering.

May 3, 2017 at 01:53 AM · I learned the standard Flesch fingerings, but it's good to practice scales in a variety of fingerings since scales that occur in actual repertoire often don't lend themselves well to "standard" fingerings.

May 3, 2017 at 01:53 AM · I realize this is heresy but I like the Barbara Barber (Scales for Advanced Violinists) 3-octave scale and arpeggio fingerings better than Flesch.

I don't do 4-octave scales.

May 3, 2017 at 02:05 AM · I agree with that. The Barber Scale book is good. I learned the Sevcik fingerings when younger. Starting on the second finger and doing a round-trip 4-4-4 at the top is something I rarely do in real music so I don't practice that one very often. Everyone needs to work out their personal method of negotiating those tiny intervals at the second half of the E-string. For me, I try to do half-steps on the same finger, and avoid using the 4th, because it is too short.jq

May 3, 2017 at 02:35 AM · I like using 1234 instead os the usual 123

Diatonic: because it is better pay off for 4th finger strength and shifts are tricker to do cleanly).

Chromatic: Lends itself to clean passages (a la Paganini, though he used 123-1234) by not repeating any sharps/flats with one finger, you crawl from 1st to 3rd then back to 1st for each string, then climb E 123 (top 1234)). :)

May 3, 2017 at 04:35 AM · What's the Barber pattern? That's a scale book I don't have...

May 3, 2017 at 05:00 AM ·

May 3, 2017 at 05:21 AM · and, for the chromatic scale, the pattern 0-1-2-3-shift-1-2-3-4or0, is the standard fingering for cellists. Above first position, I look for rhythm patterns; 1-2-3 works with triplets, 1234 for fast groups of 4 sixteenths. 2-3-2-3- can be more stable than 1-2-1-2- ...

May 3, 2017 at 09:37 AM · The Barbara Barber "Scales for Advanced Violinists/Violists" books are really well laid out. Beyond that, I have the students write out and memorize the tetrachord sequences and map out their own scales anyway, so printed scale material beyond it is a moot point.

Really, you only need 4 sets of fingerings for three-octave scales, for G, G#/Ab, A, Bb, then use the Bb fingering all the way up till you reach F#. For a 24-note Bb scale, try this pattern with three shifts up and two shifts down (the dashes indicate shifts):

2123 4123 4123 -1234 12-12 -1234

4321 -4321 4321 -3214 3214 3213 (2)

For chromatic scales, learn all the different fingers, these two are initially quite useful:

0 1 -1 2 -2 3 4 (0 - next string), for lyrical passages

0 1 2 -1 2 3 4 (0 - next string), for technical passages

May 3, 2017 at 01:36 PM · One could use Flesch for everything, but there are advantages to learning all sort of "contemporary" and older fingerings. Galamian, Fischer, Gilels, whatever works for you. Having the brain get used to unfamiliar fingerings that may be of use in the future can't be a bad thing.

(Flesch double stops, however, have few rivals-any of you can suggest good alternatives to these? Not exercises, but proper scales.)

May 3, 2017 at 06:30 PM · I noted a couple of posts above that used the word "standard" when applied to scale fingerings. When I was a teenager I used Flesch and thought that those fingerings were "standard." Imagine my surprise when, in my adulthood, I bought other scale books (such as Fischer) and found that his fingerings were different. Does that make them non-standard?

Are "standard" or "textbook" scale fingerings practical anyway? Let's consider an F major scale. A "standard" type fingering would start in fifth position (2nd finger, G string). Would an orchestral passage typically be played that way, or would it be played in the lowest convenient position with all or nearly all of the shifts on the E string going up? And what do you do when you find a three-octave F major scale that starts on open G? Find some way to shift up on the G string so that your second finger ends up on the F (fifth position) and continue from there using the Flesch fingering? I have never seen that scale (which appears in the Scherzo of Beethoven Sonata No. 5) played that way. Thus we find the rare three-octave scale that actually appears in a piece of music and we don't play anything remotely close to a "standard" fingering for it!

I like 4-4 at the top of major scales just because my fingers are relatively wide, but then if an ordinary passage has something like A-Bb-A at the top, I rarely play 4-4-4 because its hard to get that to sound like three distinct notes. I think scales are important but I can see where this kind of thing would cause people to be skeptical of scale-worship.

May 3, 2017 at 07:09 PM · Another Carl Flesch and Simon Fischer fan here. I find Flesch scales and, particularly, arpeggios give one the foundation of fingerings for secured shifts in most cases. Simon Fischer goes a bit further to suggest that it's not enough to use these "standard" fingerings, but one should feel comfortable to use all fingers on the same note (obviously with the exception of the first position). So the idea is that we should not to just stick to one set of fingerings, but know how to practice the elements of scales and arpeggios, such as, tuning, measuring and timing shifts, handshape for each position, finger extension, etc. I believe Lydia has made similar very good point.

May 3, 2017 at 10:15 PM · Also one point espoused strongly be me (and Leonid Kogan):

Use the 4th finger often in scales and rep, since it is actually much more versatile in tonal and phrase shading than many seem wont to do, especially in the stratosphere and above all the way to the exosphere note found as a 'solid' and harmonic a mere 3 octaves above the open string (habits perhaps?) ;D

May 4, 2017 at 01:25 AM · Adalberto, I have been practicing with Simon Fischer' s "Double Stops: scales and scale exercises for the violin ". It provides sensible guidance to double stop scales( 3rds, 6th, octaves, fingered octaves , and 10th) in every key. In my opinion, it is a good alternative to CF.

May 4, 2017 at 05:23 AM · Why do some start on 2? Logically, I start on 1 doing four 1234's (for a major scale that's 2 major tetrachords followed by 2 minor tetracords). In that way a beginner can do all 12 2 octave major scales straight away. I'd appreciate comments as I'm not much of a violinist. Primrose has a similar system. (sorry just noticed the thread is about 3&4 octaves)

May 4, 2017 at 11:12 AM · I start with 2. For instance, while playing 3 octave D major scale, I use the following pattern

234 (G string) - Corresponding notes : D E F#

1234 ( D string) - G A B C#

121234 ( A string) - D E F# G A B

121212344 ( E string) - C# D E F# G A B C# D

May 4, 2017 at 12:48 PM · hi Bud, about your question about starting with the second finger. let's just talk about a single-octave scale in one position and starting with the second finger. a distinguishing feature of that is that you only have whole tones between your fingers. it makes intonation perhaps easier in fast runs, although that is debatable. of course the half tones are between fourth finger and first finger on the next string. that is not much a problem going up but may be less convenient going down. ok that was my brief essay on starting with second finger :-)

May 4, 2017 at 03:20 PM · Starting with the second finger is one approach to adding two extra notes to the three-octave scale so that we can get a total of 24 notes.

It's useful because we can split it into 12, 8, 6, 4, 3, in practicing the three-octave scale, we can play them, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, and 24 notes in a single bow, while maintaining bow speed and tone quality.

May 4, 2017 at 03:37 PM · How about 3 octave arpeggios

I use

24 -G string. - D F#

2 - D string. - A

113 - A string - D F# A

2134 - E string - D F# A D

to play D major 3 octave arpeggio. Is there a better way to do it

May 5, 2017 at 10:22 AM · @Gautam: For 3-4 octave arpeggios, I stay in a position as long as possible, using consistent 1-3 and 2-4, higher up or at the top of a 2 octane I use 1-3-4 because it is more facile on terms of memorization, and eliminates the unnecessary (and only) shift at the very end

May 5, 2017 at 03:23 PM · Whether or not using the 4th finger at the top of the fingerboard is going to be a good idea is dependent on your hand geometry. It's useful to practice scales/exercises/etudes that use the 4th finger in the top positions because you'll encounter repertoire where there are no other practical fingerings other than to use 4, but unless you have a long pinky, substituting 3 where you would otherwise use 4 is often more reliable.

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