Fast double stop thirds

Edited: July 25, 2017, 7:23 PM · Hello all, I was wondering of anyone knows any etudes or excersizes that help improve fast doubles stop thirds such as the ones in pieces like Wieniawski Polonaise in D Major or Carmen Fantasy?

Replies (8)

July 26, 2017, 2:04 AM · You may choose from six books of Double Stops Studies, Ševcík, Op. 9 probably most comprehensive.
Edited: July 26, 2017, 8:07 AM · Dounis, and basically any scales excersise in thirds with rythms .
July 26, 2017, 8:05 AM · In many cases practicing etudes will do no good in correcting a problem.

Rather make sure that the lack of speed is not caused by an underlying technical oversight.

In the case of fast 3rds, one of the most common problems is not keeping the 1st and 3rd finger down when shifting upward. When shifting down lead with the 1st and 3rd fingers.

July 26, 2017, 8:15 AM · I'd make the possibly obvious, but possibly crucial, observation that to tackle problems with fast thirds the best thing to do is to play very, very slow thirds with careful attention to every movement you are making.

For instance, are you really confident about the left-arm placement in all positions? Are you really confident about the intonation after a shift with the hand in 3rd? Is the right arm confidently sounding both strings in all positions bearing in mind the need for a subtly different contact point on the lower string because it's stopped higher up? Etc ec

July 27, 2017, 6:34 PM · Simon Fischer's new-ish Double Stop book contains lots of preparatory work that clears the way for faster double stop playing. Without knowing what the difficulty is, it's hard to make a real recommendation, but his exercises will cover all the common ones.
Edited: July 28, 2017, 2:21 AM · The technique used to get a fast tempo involves a feeling that the hand is in constant motion. To practice this, flex the wrist slightly in and slowly slide audibly from 1st position to 3rd, feeling that fingers 1 and 3 are pushing 2 and 4 out of the way. As soon as fingers 2 and 4 go down in 3rd position flex the wrist slightly out and slide slowly down to 1st position with 1st and 3rd finger leading the action. This is the technique that Ysaye passed on to his students.

When the tempo is fast the slides will not be audible.

July 28, 2017, 8:05 AM · I found the following sequence of things helpful (note that this took me a quite a long time on each step) -

1) Play one-octive scales in thirds, very slowly, paying careful attention to the finger position patterns (think of the differences between 1-2-3-4 as one pattern, even though the fingers are on two strings.) I mostly figured this out doing C major starting on the G string (first note 3 on the G, 1 on the D).

A hint - to play one octive in third, only two finger distance patterns are needed, in alternating form.

Then add a second octave - only two more finger patterns are needed. Now you have all of them.

2) At that point, I worked on Kreisler's Vienese Caprice, which has some quite difficult third, but that can be pleasantlyu played very slowly. I haven't a lot of patience for pure etudes. I then performed it, rather badly, for a family audience.

3) Then I dove into the first page (only) of Paganini's D Major concerto. I played this over and over again seemingly forever, very much excited by the fact that I could see if making progress (if very slow). Eventually I extended it to the entire first movement. This piece, especially the thirds work, did more for my technique than any other violin piece I remember studying.

There is probably a better piece for #2 - perhaps a simpler Paganini sonata - but this is the sequence I happened to take, and it worked well for me. In particular, the first 1-2 pages of Paganini D Major Concerto no. 1 played slowly makes an absolutely amazing etude, even if you have no intention of performing it. Of course you have to go slow, but the piece is amazingly violinistic.

In general, I've found that Paganini's caprices test you, but do not teach you. (Far better fiddlers than me have made the same observation.) Much of his other music though, _can_ teach you...The D Major Concerto and Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento being my personal favorites for this purpose. I tend to suspect that his later compositions became much more violinistic as his compositional ability improved. It may also be that the caprices were never meant to be performed, only to be studied, whereas for performing, the master had no intention of forcing himself to play anything unviolinstic. Also, the caprices were written for his colleagues - perhaps the he meant to throw them a challenge, but not to give away his "secrets" (performing pieces that teach you how to play them and sound at least as hard as they are).

Hope this helps!

July 30, 2017, 4:26 AM · We often have to adopt a rather extreme hand & arm position to allow the fingers to drop rather than grope.

Also, when keeping 1-3 down when shifting, we must plan (slowly) the major and minor thirds: e.g. flat 1 vs high 3, low 2 vs high 4.

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