Difficulty of Figure for Viola

October 28, 2018, 8:10 PM · I'd appreciate if violists could rate the difficulty of the following figure. It would be particularly helpful if you actually got out your viola and tried it--even if you think you are sure without trying it.

Anyway, it's merely a single note followed by a single double-stop: a quarter-note-triplet D, the second D above middle C (the D an octave above the open D string), followed by an eighth-note-triplet A octave. The lower note of the octave is A-440 (the first A above middle C). There is a quarter rest immediately preceding the D note and another quarter rest immediately following the A octave. The tempo is quarter-note = 126.

I'm imagining the D played with the fourth finger on the D string in fourth position, the lower note of the A octave played with the first finger on the D string (still in fourth position), and the upper note of the octave played with the fourth finger on the A string, but other practical suggestions are very welcome. Thanks.

Replies (15)

October 28, 2018, 10:42 PM · Too difficult already without a picture.
October 28, 2018, 11:23 PM · A picture would help immensely, but this is doable.
October 29, 2018, 8:00 AM · I couldn't figure it out. I guess I'm not destined for MENSA.
October 29, 2018, 1:21 PM · Can you help us by posting some sheet music so we can get a better idea of what is going on? Thanks.
October 29, 2018, 1:55 PM · Look, it's merely a THREE-note figure, a D followed by an A-octave. How is that complicated?

The D is D4 and the A's are A4 and A5. They're both eighth-notes except that the thing is in shuffle eighths or swing eighths (if you prefer), so the D is long (for an eighth-note) and the A-octave is short (for an eighth-note).

And I know it's playable. I just want to know (approximately) how difficult it is.

October 29, 2018, 2:38 PM · What is the context? What comes before and after?
October 29, 2018, 3:23 PM · Seems rather pedestrian you've got it all in 4th position and getting there is a snap from almost anywhere. Where does it go from there?
Edited: October 29, 2018, 9:41 PM · You really shouldn't ask for free advice and then get snippy about people wanting to see it on paper *so they can better help you*.

Context is everything, and I have a hard time visualizing it based on the way you describe it. It's needlessly difficult to do it this way - you're making it into a word problem and not a music problem. I had to read it three times to understand what you were talking about and it would have taken me 2 seconds to understand what you were talking about with a snippet of the score. That is not an unreasonable request.

In your words, how is that complicated?

October 29, 2018, 9:44 PM · Andy said it's pedestrian. That's good enough for me.
October 29, 2018, 9:58 PM · Not here in Toronto, where pedestrians are killed in traffic almost every day!
October 29, 2018, 10:55 PM · It’s not as difficult as you. Be thankful there are people here who are willing to help.
October 30, 2018, 12:29 AM · Re: "What is the context? What comes before and after?" As I said, there is a quarter rest on either side of the figure (at, as I said, quarter-note = 126). I forgot to mention that the D and the A-octave are not slurred together. Other than these rests, the tempo, and the bowing no context is particularly relevant. (So the music doesn't ask for ponticello, or any special effect, etc.)

Re: "Seems rather pedestrian you've got it all in 4th position and getting there is a snap from almost anywhere." It seemed that way to me too, but then I don't play the viola. I never worried until a violist objected to the figure. Basically she complained that it was awkward moving the fourth finger across the strings and refused to play the figure as written. I settled for just the top-note of the A-octave and let it go at that. At home I tried the analogous figure on both the cello and the mandolin. It was a piece of cake (as I would put it) for me on these instruments, but then neither is a viola. It seems to me the essential difference might lie in the angle of the fourth finger. I have to assume the violist was not hallucinating and there must be at least some degree of awkwardness involved, but I can't tell how much, that is, whether it's worth fussing over.

(By the way, in case people are still wondering, I have no photograph or any reasonable means to post one. I'm sorry if the way I originally framed my question was somehow insufficiently clear, but I don't see how that circumstance should make the written language useless.)

Edited: October 30, 2018, 7:58 AM · D4 is the open D string, so I think you mean D5 A4A5 (double-stopped octave). Yes in 4th position you have to move the fourth finger very quickly to the adjacent string. Suggest your violist to prepare the first finger on the A4. Then again, on a viola, the distance between first and fourth finger is quite a stretch, although in fourth position it should be doable. So, no, it is not totally easy depending on the level of your violist, probably an amateur (like most of us here ;-)
Edited: October 30, 2018, 9:03 PM · Jake wrote "I have no photograph or any reasonable means to post one."

If you have a computer, and obviously you do, then you have the means to post an excert but apparently not the know how (or willingness to make the effort). The reason why some have asked to see the context is that the best fingering depends on what preceeds, what follows and what sound is desired in the context of the phrase, where you come from on the fingerboard and where you are going after. It is quite a reasonable request. To say that it is preceded and followed by a quarter rest provides no context whatsoever. You could use simple ABC notation to write the phrase and any free online rendering software to see it.

Edit: e.g. copy and paste the following code at this link:

http://www.mandolintab.net/abcconverter.php and then click submit

Q:1/4 = 126
K:clef=alto G
||z2 (3 d2 d2 d2 (3 [aA][aA][aA]| z2 (3 D2 D2 D2 (3 [AA,][AA,][AA,] |

October 31, 2018, 3:58 PM · "I'd appreciate if violists could rate the difficulty of the following figure"

Difficulty: Too high for Jake to post a picture of.

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