Ringing notes

December 27, 2019, 9:14 AM · I have been working on double stops, and have found that the way I have been placing my rather large fingers on any given string has allowed contact with the next higher string. Changing the form of my finger placement now brings up a question. I discovered that a ring occurs when I play a stopped note on a lower string that is the exact tone of the next higher one.
When I play 4th finger on the A, and my E string rings, the bowed note sounds muted and the E sounds like an harmonic. If I touch the E to keep it from vibrating, the stopped note sounds full.
Is this normal or should I have the instrument serviced?

Replies (24)

Edited: December 27, 2019, 9:29 AM · Not only is that normal, but it's how you know you're playing in tune. Sesrch "ring tones" on this site for more on this. Move the stopped note around *slightly* to improve the intonation and the tone.
December 27, 2019, 9:29 AM · Does that muted quality not project? I never noticed while listening to any recording.
December 27, 2019, 9:39 AM · I dont particularly care for that sound either. I know what you mean. I always assumed it was because my stopped E was a tiny bit out of tune. Let's see what others say.
December 27, 2019, 9:44 AM · Jerry this may actually be a breakthrough for you. Also when not playing double stops, when a finger is stopping a string, it should not touch any other string. This avoids dampening your sound, as you have recently discovered. This may require that you play more on the fingertips than you have been used to before. Enjoy the tone of your liberated violin! (a bit overdramatic but still)
Edited: December 27, 2019, 9:59 AM · I suspect the ringing open E is "stealing" some of the high vibrations from the fingered E (via the violin body)...
December 27, 2019, 11:31 AM · I strongly suspect that my intervent will be ignored, as it happened in the past :D

Yet my experience on the subject is that tweaking the tunable tailpiece i have in my violin one of most notable effects is that the cancellation that sometimes exists (as described by Adrian Heath), that slightly muted inferior stopped string corrispondent to the open string above, can be corrected and zeroed.

Edited: December 27, 2019, 2:02 PM · If you play a fingered note exactly the same pitch as an open string, the open string will begin to resonate as well, and out-of-phase with the bowed string. The effect is to reduce the net vibration that goes to the bridge and body, thus the thin, tinny sound, and the fuller sound when you damp the open string.

This also happens to a lesser degree with overtones and afterlengths.

December 27, 2019, 2:15 PM · Thank you all, especially Don, for your input. I guess I should try to damp the open string.
December 27, 2019, 2:32 PM · It is resonance, and it is good, you are playing those notes in tune, at least relative to the open string tones. The double stop E-open E is occasionally used as a special effect in classical solos. And it is often used in American fiddle styles. Sometimes it is deliberately played out of tune.
December 27, 2019, 2:35 PM · I've experienced the phenomenon in the past on one of my violins. The open A was "stealing" some of the tone of the fingered A on the E string. Lightly touching the open A would reveal the full tone of the fingered A, as Jerry describes. A bridge replacement (the old bridge snapped in two during a performance) and resetting of the instrument by my luthier got rid of the phenomenon and the violin now sounds and plays better than before.
December 28, 2019, 6:26 AM · Just to be clear, of course it is a phenomenon that we are all familiar with. And I appreciate that Don Noon is a respectable luthier. But actively trying to damp the open string while playing? Never heard about, or read about it, and I have read most of the authoritative books on violin playing. I've also watched a lot of top violinists (also in real life, not just youtube) and have never seen it. I would actually be very interested if someone could refer me to a youtube video where a serious violinist is doing such a thing on purpose. I can, on the other hand, give a lot of counterexamples. For example Gidon Kremer's Amati resonates so insanely that, when he is playing the Amati, all his E's sound like an open string. Kremer doesn't seem to think it sounds thin or tinny. Apologies, I don't know why this gets me so agitated!
December 28, 2019, 6:51 AM · I occasionally do this damping (particularly having left the open C to play another harmony). But then my instruments cost thousands, not millions!
Edited: December 28, 2019, 8:41 AM · There's no need to get agitated about this, as it really isn't that big of a deal. I do notice that playing a G on the D string seems a bit deader than I'd like, due to the 2nd harmonic of the open G string... but so what. Players are much more sensitive than listeners to these kinds of effects, so I don't go out of my way to damp the G string.

It can be used to effect, as in the Bruch opening G, where you get some vibrato by fingering the octave higher G on the D string.

In fiddling, the open E and fingered E on the A string are commonly played in unison... although I suspect bowing them both (the normal method) might change the physics, and most of the time there is a bit of a slide on the A string into the unison for a distinctive fiddling sound.

Interesting effects, good to know they're there and why, but nothing to get all wound up about. And a bit of vibrato should mitigate the deadening effect.

Edited: December 28, 2019, 11:08 AM · Don you mention the (well-known) practice of vibrating open G by stopping G on the D string. There we are bowing an open string. How can that serve as an example of what I was questioning, where we are bowing a stopped string and would dampen an open string.
December 28, 2019, 11:21 AM · If you bow the open G string, the 1st harmonic of that note will excite a stopped G note (an octave above) on the D string... which you can then use for vibrato. The 1st harmonic of the open G will lose some strength in the process, but that's not terribly important.

It's all related effects of a bowed string exciting something else, although the situation is different.

December 28, 2019, 12:03 PM · You’re right, Jean, instead of trying to actively dampen the open string, I will strive to use more of my fingertips to finger the strings and let the resonance of my instrument do its own thing. Thank you all for your attention and helpful information.
December 29, 2019, 2:52 AM · jerry have fun on your violin journey (we are all on it) and please stay in touch here on the forum!
December 29, 2019, 10:21 AM · Don't forget that the open D (if in tune!) has a strong harmonic that resonates with the fingered A on the E string.
December 29, 2019, 1:18 PM · dampening that one is going to be tricky! we better start practicing all our repertoire anew! we should urge Simon Fischer to write a new book with dampening exercises! sorry for the irony. I repeat, all these resonances (they indeed happen to some degree on every pure note you play) are the essence of producing tones that are in tune with your instrument, and are good thing, not a bad thing.
December 29, 2019, 5:55 PM · The term is "sympathetic" vibration or resonance. You can use a free finger to dampen if desired.
December 30, 2019, 5:42 PM · ? Dampen a resonating open string? Don't bother, it's not a problem for the audience. What can also happen is that the forcefully driven string will pull the resonating string into the same phase and even pull it into the same pitch. I have heard that happen on Scottish bagpipes, where the very loud chanter reed pulls the drone reeds into pitch. The Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle has a set of open resonating strings in addition to the standard four stopped strings.
December 30, 2019, 8:50 PM · Joel,
Not entirely true. I've been in many situations where, for whatever reason, I didn't want the open string to resonate. Dampening it is a viable alternative. It depends on the context.
Edited: January 1, 2020, 2:28 PM · I find that when I am playing E (4th finger on A string), it is typical that I am touching the E string enough to dampen it, and maybe that's my technique being bad, but when this does not happen, and I hear that open-string (unison) resonance, particularly with vibrato, it just sounds too weird. The dampening (string touching) is even more typical as I go to lower strings, but the effect seems less to me. None of the other resonances (involving a lower string) are bothersome at all to me, in fact they seem highly beneficial tone-wise. So it's really just that ONE resonance (the E-upon-open-E unison) that I find garish and would prefer to dampen. (A footnote in the next edition of "Basics" would suffice for me.)
January 2, 2020, 11:46 AM · Another useful resonating note on the E string is the first position G, which should resonate with a G string that is properly in tune.

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