Violin vs viola
I have think about trying viola since last February.
Actually, I'd like to know what are the differences between viola and violin(fingerings):
I know that the viola has C,G,D and A string and that the A is tuned one octave lower than the violin's
Do fingerings are like cello?
Do fingerings are like violin?
What I mean is : do you need to use your first and fourth finger to do B-D(1 position) or do you need to do first-third finger?
I know that people are going to ask me why I want to switch to viola(I'll will play violin):
The reason is that I personnaly love cello more than I like violin (wasn't the case when I begin violin) but I realised that it's way too late to be a professional cellist.I then saw that all cello concertos can be transcribed for viola without modifying so much the original score
I have another question: Are orchestras interested in playing with a violist a transcribed cello concerto?
Waiting for your answers
Viola G,D, and A strings are tuned exactly the same as those strings on violin. It's the cello that has those strings tuned an octave down. Fingering on a viola is just like on a violin. If you can play the violin, you should be able to pick up a viola and play it straight away, but of course not with the proficiency of viola specialists.
Viola is fairly similar to violin, and you can play a fair amount of the violin repertoire on the viola itself. In fact, I had a wonderful violin teacher one summer who was a violinist/violist but demonstrated everything on the viola, which he could do easily as long as he didn't run out of fingerboard on the A string.
Thank for your answers
Since a viola is larger than a violin it is more of a stretch to finger the notes on a viola.
Andrew Victor, you keep saying the Arpeggione Sonata is easy on viola. It depends a lot on hand size. The third movement requires virtuoso technique for those of us with small hands -- I now actually think it's more difficult than anything in the Walton concerto. (FWIW, the first two movements aren't nearly as hard even with small hands.)
I am a violinist, and my son, 13 y/o, plays the viola. It was his wish to play the viola because he loves underlying accompanying figures which sort of add the soul to a piece of chamber or orchestral music. (Offbeats=pure joy to him).
Viola music is traditionally written on an Alto clef. For a violinist, this can be confusing because the notes on an Alto clef correspond to different fingerings than the G clef of violin music.
I can hardly imagine anything more frustrating than trying to play viola music while reading mezzo-soprano clef. I tried something similar once when attempting to transpose Suzuki piano accompaniments from a violin book to accompany a viola student (transposing the pitch of my digital piano so that I could read and finger the notes as usual while the pitch came out a fifth down) and I just could not do it. It drove me crazy to be fingering one set of pitches and hearing another, and my hands kept trying to adjust to match what my ears were telling them.
You can yes, it just won't sound too good
What is fi size violin?
I once heard the viola is a violin that runs on diesel.
Minimum viola size for the best viola sound is 16". Violas are made that are smaller than violins, but the best violas will be at least 16". I don't know why Jake disagrees...
There are good violas between 15 and 16 inches. They're just harder to find. The main reason violinists who moonlight on viola want something close to the size of a violin is so the switch is more manageable, but if you're going to play viola regularly even if you switch back and forth all the time, I would look into a decent-sized viola that fits your frame (at least about 15.5").
Erin I didn't disagree. I meant that smaller violas don't sound as good as bigger ones. Mine is 15.5" and sounds pretty decent (I really like it anyway)
Forget about the "tricks" to reading alto clef. Such as fingering like you were in third position on the violin and the likes (rewriting in mezzosoprano clef was new to me). If you want to live in France learn french and if you want to play the viola learn the alto clef. It is not that difficult.....
Thank you, Jake; we agree on the size issue! I started on cello, then went to violin which is an ongoing struggle, but I have to say for some reason the viola was an instant hit when I found it.
Violas are awesome.
"It drove me crazy to be fingering one set of pitches and hearing another, and my hands kept trying to adjust to match what my ears were telling them."
My second teacher (My father was my first), Winifred Copperwheat was small and had small hands. She taught and played both instruments (I think she had a quartet that she led) and the viola she played was a Richardson (No wonder she said the Walton was the most difficult!).
Carmen, I have very good relative pitch, not quite perfect although I can usually identify pitches by using timbre clues as well— it’s really obvious to me when a string instrument is playing in A Major or D Major, for example. But something sounding a fifth off from what my eyes are seeing is untenable.
I agree, it's easier to just learn alto clef than resort to weird tricks. In two weeks I was able to read alto clef usably, and it just got better after that. Now it's harder to switch back to treble clef when playing violin.
One other thing that is different is that, when you play the viola, even if you stay in position (particularly first), your left hand is likely to move a bit most of the time to reach notes, unlike violin where your left hand can be stationary in a position and play the notes.
I agree with Bo. I learned alto clef by interpreting relative to
Paul I did the same thing with alto clef, but it being relative to treble. I starter with some scales and then went inti a full scale production of the musical Evita at my high school haha. What a bad decicision that was, although it was immense fun
Also note that you may have to ignore what your violin teachers have said about your left thumb and wrist. Your left thumb will almost certainly not be opposite your first finger; depending on the context you may find yourself placing it opposite your second finger, or pushing it back toward the scroll, in order to reach. While violinists generally play with a straight wrist, many violists use a gently rounded wrist. As fingerings go, violists tend to shift more often and use internal (2nd and 3rd finger) extensions rather than 4th finger extensions. Playing a 15.75" viola with very small hands, I find that the "normal" 4th finger is already at maximum extension in first position and do not use 4th finger extensions at all below third position.
The only vi0las I have played are 16". I find that the finger spacing on a 16" viola 3rd position is virtually the same as 1st position spacing on a violin - AND the left elbow angle is the same as 1st position on a violin. This is very handy; if you an relate your elbow angle to your finger spacing (as we must do on any string instrument when we change position) the finger spacing problem vanishes.
"One thing you will learn is that the far upper register of the viola sounds like crap"
If the far upper register of my G string (above A) sounded like crap, it would be an improvement. I've never tried the far upper register of my A string. It will be interesting to try.
I'm not the best at playing in the upper register of the viola because I don't need to regularly so I don't bother trying to get super good at it. I will practice high register stuff when the time comes.
One other danger with the viola is the combination of the extended arm with the firmer finger pressure in the 3rd and 4th fingers. This can lead to an excruciating case of "Viola Elbow" (as in Tennis Elbow, and for the same resons).
I don’t have anything more to add than my own experience as a doubler on violin and viola, sometimes in the same chamber music sessions. My playing (and intonation) vastly improved when I got a 90 year old 15.5” viola with an almost violinistic neck. I was able to use a more violinistic hand frame, rather than cludging between quasi-celloistic closed hand and open frame violin fingering. The shorter reach also helped my position and reach. I can now play for hours on end without the fatigue that I had. I can also approach the more violinistic works of the viola repertoire, including transcriptions of violin pieces. R Strauss and other more challenging orchestral parts are much more playable. The older instrument that I play has a warm, full timbre that you would not expect in a smaller instrument with narrow bouts and I can belt every bit as much as my larger orchestra section mates.
N.B. imho steel strings like Spirocore Tungsten, Larsen A, Jargar, Superflexible, and Kaplan Forte are much better than synthetics on smaller violas. Most of the things I wrote previously did not apply until I switched to SpiroTungsten C, Silver G, Regular D with Larsen A or Jargar DA.
Ed Maday has a nice small viola model. He moves most of the air volume to the back, which has a remarkable bulge. It ends up sounding like a viola, though, and is quite easy for players with small hands or short arms.
Also, when doubling violin and viola in the same session, it is easier if I use the same bow manufacturer and model when switching, so I can adjust the arm weight and draw much more consciously without drastic changes in balance, etc. I have glasser braided carbon fiber backup bows for all four, violin, viola, cello, and bass. Additionally, because they lack the ‘personality’ of wood bows, I don’t get distracted by that change when switching between pieces in a chamber session.
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