Double Stops and Chords

October 4, 2004 at 07:02 PM · Okay, here's the scenario:

I've just played through four pages of continuous sixteenth notes for the Preludio of Bach's E Major Partita. The piece comes to its climax, and then I hear, inserted in the place where a V7 chord would be played, a perfect emulation of a goose call. I could've taken this sound hunting with my husband and we'd've brought in an entire flock of honkers! I cringed and finished with half-hearted disgust, mentally asking forgiveness as Bach cleaned out his ears in his grave.

I want to practice chords and double stops. I've been doing the thirds in the Flesch scale system. They are not so great, but I've learned a couple of things about centering my hand position from that Basics book. I do octave exercises in Kreutzer. Don't 35, # 1 seems to be over my head. What would be a logical progression so that I can nail those chords when they come up in my music? Trott, melodious double stops? What else? I dream of someday playing Bach fugues on the vioin, but for now they only make my dog search the sky for falling fowl. What are some tips for creating accurate thirds, fourths, fifths, etc?

Replies (17)

October 5, 2004 at 09:59 PM · Flesch's scales-that's what really help me with study doubles. My professor liked to listen to all 3-4 pages in slow tempo, piano, and he paid a special attention on all connections of two neighbour intervals. From my view I can say, that after long practicing of tenths and fingered octaves, it was easy to reach a good quality of intonation and sound from the rest intervals. Yes, some chords and intervals are not easy to form because they require a special, not comfortable, even sometimes painful, finger and hand position. So, it is good to determine, which finger/s we have to place firmly, like a "hook" on a fingerboard, and which are really free from any tension, so we can place them on using their own weigh, without any overpreasure. Also, usually this temporary discomfort from the left hand transfers to the right arm and even shoulder what effects sound quality. That's was the main reason (I think) why my professor asked to practice such staff on piano.

October 5, 2004 at 11:34 PM · Greetings,

Rita is absolutely right. You cannot escpae Flesch. But there are short cuts for developing efficiency. It is quite common for a wannabe violnist to play Flesch for thousands of hours and not develop good intonation or tehcnique (same thing...)

Like all apsetcs of playing it is necessray to break the problem down into its smallest componet parts. For thgirds that woiuld be vertical finger action, shifting and string crossing. Flesch acknowledged this aspect of practice in his book on technique when he advised the player to practice only one aspect for a month or so then another for a month or so and only after much work of this kind put the scales together.

However, swince Fleschs time there has been a recvogntion that there are even more short coyuts to developing thirds. In particlar the glissando scale on one stirng for one octave using 13 and also 24 (the first thrid has to be 13) . You would be well advised to practice these every day. Also pracitce shifting intervals using the same fingers.

There is a very good analysis of this kind of practice in Basics. You might also find the daily finger pattern system in Gerles Art6 of Practicing to be invaluable. Especially if you are short of tiume or don`t like long hours on technique,

Cheers,

Buri

October 5, 2004 at 11:42 PM · Emily, I sympathise wholeheartedly with your predicament, having found myself in precisely the same situation this evening (and every evening??). I'm not so bad at double-stops, however this one in particular drives me to distraction - I find it's the parallel first finger that ruins everything... and add to that that by the time you get to it you're exhausted, incapable of stringing out a beautiful whole bow, and all too willing to admit defeat...

October 6, 2004 at 01:26 AM · Greetings,

Sue, my favorite parallel first finger technique is used when you are stuck with a pratt in a bar. You smile sweetly and place both index fingers only on the table next to each other. The other fingers are below the edge of the table. You then enquire if the pranny can `do this?` they will be puzzled and say yes. So you challenge them to do it. When they oblige you pick up the pint of beer thay have had one sip of in the last two hours and place it balanced on the two index fingers. The person is unable to move the glass , stand up or do anything without it toppling over.

You leave.

If you can lift his wallet at the same it is a good move,

Cheers,

Buri

October 6, 2004 at 02:11 AM · Sooo, there is where my wallet went!

October 6, 2004 at 02:30 AM · Greetings,

don`t worry son. if someone calls you a pranny they can`t be serious.

Cheers,

Buri

October 6, 2004 at 03:43 AM · OOOOO wanna be musician thats me <--------

October 6, 2004 at 03:49 AM · Greetings,

you -are- a musician. Now you just have to figger out how to get paid for it,

Cheers,

Buri

October 6, 2004 at 10:35 PM · Thanks for some feedback there. I will put effort into being diligent with the double stop practice. I found that I could play the chord just fine, but I had developed a large psychological barrier that incapacitated me in front of a crowd. I tried thinking of lots of ways to beat it, but just thinking about it at all doomed me to fail. I could only play the chord when I was least worried about playing it correctly.

I suppose more practicce would help me overcome the psychological wall, but I wish I knew how to train my mind to gear up for success instead of expecting to fail.

October 7, 2004 at 01:19 AM · We must be in parallel universes... I whipped through the Preludio tonight without really giving a stuff, and... voila! A perfect chord.

October 7, 2004 at 02:06 AM · Maybe we could hire stunt doubles, you know, to fill in for that chord, and edit the scene so they only show the back of the double's head playing a glorious vibrant BM7 chord, and then cut back to me playing the end.

They do it all the time in the movies.

October 7, 2004 at 05:01 AM · Emily, which finger pattern you use to play this BM7?

October 7, 2004 at 06:50 AM · Hi,

As to practicing double stops. Use Sevcik and lots and lots of it. Also Dounish: the Artist Technique has a lot of great stuff and he takes it very systematically, shows you how to built up and stuff.

For years I did something called "Polo etudes". They are fairly easy at first (I started when I was 9 with them) but eventually you can make them as hard as you want, working on tone, vibrato, bow pressure, all those sweet things that you have to look at after it is somewhat in tune. Everytime I finished the book my teacher would make me start at the beginning and I have practised those etudes for about 10 (!!!) years.

A couple days ago I landed on the website of Kurt Sasmannhaus. There are some good videos and ideas of how to practice double stops. My only comment to that would be, that his student seems to play a lot with the fingertips. I find it better for sound and intonation to use more flesh, but then again I am a Perlman student...

Good luck on Bach. If you have time listen to Bach Cantate 29 "Wir danken Dir, Gott" Sinfonia in D, it has a funny surprise in store for you!

October 7, 2004 at 08:24 PM · Rita, don't laugh, I used 2-2-4-3 (bottom-top). I think looking back I should've gone for 1-1-3-2, to set myself up for the following B.

Carla, you've piqued my curiosity about that Bach Cantata.

Ultimately, I think I could use a teacher again. I can only figure out so much of this on my own. I know some people are the best and they are the ones that do all the teaching and don't have a teacher simply because no one is better than them, but I'm not about to put myself in that position. I need a teacher, but there's no one in my town significantly above my level of playing. A teacher could look at what I'm doing and show me how to practice them better. The tips at this discussion board are helpful, too.

October 9, 2004 at 04:23 PM · I think 1-1-3-2 is a much more comfortable fingering. But I also suspect that the problems with this chord are as much bowing as fingering. If I try to make too big a deal of the chord it sounds much worse than if I just let it be a nice light ringing thing without too much thought or force.

October 9, 2004 at 09:23 PM · Yes, you are right about that.

And I will probably look into the possibility of some lessons from you, if ever I get financially stable here. Perhaps next year? :)

October 10, 2004 at 05:08 AM · Hmmm...you are very kind. You are probably as skillful as I am, or more. I have adopted the practice of never charging for the first lesson. After that perhaps a collaboration would be beneficial for both of us.

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