Double Stops Help

January 29, 2018, 8:30 PM · Hi, I'm struggling to get double stops in tune with intervals 3, 5 and 6. With interval 5, I struggle to play a 1 finger double stop. Any help? Thx.

Replies (11)

January 29, 2018, 9:25 PM · Playing 5ths is tricky. It's a matter of experimenting with the amount of finger pressure on each string. What does your teacher say? Are you able to correct yourself when you play double stops out of tune?
January 30, 2018, 3:35 AM · Hi Mark,

When you play double stops, it is vital that the position of your left hand is correct. If you have difficulty playing double stops in tune, that would be the first thing I would check. Is your left wrist straight, your left elbow under the violin (not sticking out to the left) and are your fingers on your finger tips? Getting these things right will increase the likelihood of playing double stops in tune. Start by practising octaves, then sixths, and leave the thirds till much later. For playing fifths, try placing your finger in between the two strings, this might help. If your strings are too far apart to make this work, ask your violin maker to alter the distances between the strings so that polaying double stops becomes easier. I shall be teaching a free live online class about playing double stops on the 27th Feb in the Fans of Pro-Am Strings Facebook group. Do join me there!

January 30, 2018, 6:42 AM · Intervals across the strings are so different from those along the strings
E.g. for a semitone on one string the fingers may touch (mine don't on the viola, or even on the violin); for a minor 6th across the strings, they are quite separated; for a diminished 4th, they get in each other's way!

Then, elbow and wrist (not the wrist alone, unaided) intervene. E.g. in double-stopped thirds, the finger on the lower string may have to curl more than usual to clear the upper string, whose finger may have to hook under itself, pushing the string somewhat sideways rather than downwards.
So the whole hand, wrist (and elbow!) will have to adapt.

In arpeggios and double stops we have learn a new set of hand shapes, rather than hope to just adapt the usual ones.

I have even strung a 15" viola as a violin to show my slender-handed young ladies how to cope with their full-sizd violins. (And to reduce my intonation worries when switching to and from the viola!)

January 31, 2018, 7:44 PM · Thx for the replies. @Ella, I had an etude or a piece(cant remember the name), and there was a interval 5th chord and I played it correctly somehow and my teacher was like "Wow, good job, I didn't know you could play 5ths!" I was surprised myself, but now I am playing Kreutzer no 33 which there were some 5th chords that I can't play correctly. My teacher has also been noticing that. I correct myself if I can tell if its out of tune or not, but connecting double stops in tune is a problem :(
February 1, 2018, 5:19 PM · i'm not sure if my personal experiences apply to everyone (due to physical differences), but with 5ths I find these 2 things are necessary:

1. turn your hand away from the neck (so that your finger is more parallel to the string)
2. press in BETWEEN the two strings, but mentally thinking about pressing the lower note. Or else it'll sound unbalanced

Can anyone else comment on these 2 methods as well?

February 1, 2018, 10:50 PM · I think you're totally on the ball. I tend to use the fingerpad for 5ths.
Edited: February 2, 2018, 2:55 AM · Frank, I agree. The fingertip must be a little farther from the nut than usual since it is the sides of the pad that make the note. One can also roll the pad if the lower note is not held in a chord.

Flattening the fingertip, on the other hand, is never in tune on both strings.

February 2, 2018, 6:00 PM · For 5ths: What works for me to play them *sort of* in tune is playing the bottom string with only a slice of the finger (10% of the finger), and playing the upper string with about 90% of the finger. Finger should be pretty tall. Left elbow placement can make a difference too, sometimes it helps to pull the elbow slightly to the left. Palm pretty close to the fingerboard.

For 3rds: balance on higher finger, create a good tunnel. Balance on low strings (higher finger). Elbow slightly to the right.
For 6ths: balance on higher finger (high string). Elbow slightly to the left can help.

On all double stops, 60% of the bow weight should be on the bottom string, 40% on the top. Minimal vibrato, slow bow with lots of core in the sound.

Simon Fisher has excellent practice techniques in his book Basics: 250 Exercises.
I agree with Adrian, when in doubt roll out.....
Good luck!

February 2, 2018, 7:23 PM · Most of us forget what a double stop is: you stop 2 strings instead of one.
Therefore, the building element of a double stop is stopping 1 sting in the most efficient and ergonomic way.
the order of things:
scales on 1 string (1 finger, 2 fingers, 3 fingers, 4 fingers: see Gallamian)
open strings
2 open strings
fingered octaves
February 3, 2018, 8:22 AM · Bowing is also crucial. In my experience a somewhat lighter and faster bow close to the fingerboard works best to develop intonation, because the sound is more transparent that way. Regarding balance the 60:40 rule suggested by Susanna strikes me as a good rule of thumb, but things can vary from instrument to instrument. On my violin, e.g., the D-string is weaker than the G-string and I need more of a 40:60 balance for that pair of strings. One tip for practicing fifths: Start with bowing a pair of open strings until you really like the balance and then proceed to fingered 5ths keeping the same balance, but using a slighly faster and lighter bow.
February 3, 2018, 12:35 PM · Thanks for the tips! I'll go experiment with them.

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