3-octave scales and arpeggios

July 15, 2020, 8:12 PM · Hello,

What fingering do you use for 3-octave major scales and arpeggios, specifically A, D, E, Eb, B, and F?

Thank you!

Replies (17)

July 15, 2020, 8:26 PM · I start on 1st finger for A and B
I start on 2nd finger for D, E, Eb and F (on G string)

Good luck!

Edited: July 15, 2020, 8:58 PM · I recommend writing out a scale on some staff paper and finding all the possible fingerings that you find useful. Not only will you find the best fingering for your hand, but maybe some alternatives too. You'll also notice a lot of scales can use the exact same fingering pattern, which will simplify life a lot.
July 15, 2020, 11:05 PM · There are many solutions, that in real music, not the scale book, will depend on the rhythm, bowing, and context.
Default fingering #1: Start in first position, stay in first position till you get to the E string, then 1-2-1-2 etc until you get near the top, then finish with whatever fingers are left over. go down the same way you went up. Avoid the often printed 4-4-4 round trip at the top. You won't want to do that in real music. The Arpeggios will be even more variable.
July 16, 2020, 12:10 AM · I always play my major scales with the 3rd octave starting on 2.
July 16, 2020, 1:29 AM · I start all my 3 octaves starting on finger 1 (other than open C & G of course)
July 16, 2020, 4:43 AM · I've gotten used to the Flesch fingering.
Edited: July 16, 2020, 7:18 AM · I don't know the names of the systems. For scales I have one fingering for G, one for Ab and A and one, always starting on the 2nd finger, for Bb to F#, with small variations for major or minor. Except for G, they all end on the second finger on the E string, and the last octave is then 21212344.
Arpeggios 2421132134, mainly, I think, unless I end 2124. I can't remember.
Edited: July 16, 2020, 8:08 AM · I prefer the Barbara Barber fingerings in Scales for Advanced Violinists.
Edited: July 16, 2020, 1:33 PM · continued - my fingering for the 3rd octave on the E-string, when it is very high, the fourth finger doesn't reach the string when the 3rd finger is down ; 1-2-3-2-3-2-3-3.
And then there is the Ricci fingering, which I have yet to do in its entirety in music, but the principle is sound; Half-step crawl-shifts with the same finger.
G-string: 1-2-3-3-4, D-string 1-2-2-3-4-4, A-string 1-2-3-3-4, E-string 1-1-2-3-4-4. The only thing I don't like about it is 4-4 ascending.
July 16, 2020, 10:38 AM · For D-major, I start on open D, shift on E on the E-string, shift on high E on the E-string, shift on high A on the E-string, and then use 3-3 at the end.
Is there anything wrong with this fingering?
July 16, 2020, 6:54 PM · You’re better off starting in third position on the G string, shifting once to fifth position on the A string, and then shifting again as needed on the E.
Edited: July 16, 2020, 8:34 PM · I agree with Mary Ellen, but I might use the latter part of Samwit's fingering on a fast run, depending on the starting note and the rhythm. I tend to prefer to shift up from a 3rd finger to a first finger, but in most cases I also want to shift with the beat.

I suggest buying Simon Fischer's book "Scales", Flesch's scale system, the Galamian scales book, or Barber's "Scales for Advanced Violinists".

July 17, 2020, 12:22 AM · I used to use the Flesch system for all my scales, but when I got to college my professor changed my fingerings for everything after C#/Db. His reasoning was that most of the time you probably wont be starting a scale passage with 2nd finger on the G string in most repertoire especially scales like E major, F# major, and the like. So I start D major with open D, and then Eb-F# in 1st position. Sometimes I do miss the Flesch system it was much easier.
Edited: July 17, 2020, 7:01 AM · Samwit if you don't have a scale book yet and you want a free one, you can download the Hrimaly from IMSLP. It's a simple one but not bad. It just doesn"t have scales on a single string and scales in double stops. For that you have to advance to Flesch (or other scale books mentioned above). Anyway you should definitely feel free to adapt fingerings as you see fit. A very important one is to shift from third finger to first finger on a half step. That is something very useful.
Edited: July 17, 2020, 9:31 AM · To be honest, it's great to master-or at least practice-all sort of scales and fingerings, including those that makes us uncomfortable. Undoubtedly, we will generally fall back to those we are more comfortable with during our practice and performance time, but the repertoire is so vast and diverse that one of those more "crazy" fingerings may make more sense in due time.

To all those excellent books mentioned above, I just wanted to add the Gilels Scale Book, "Heifetz" scale book, and Ysaye Scale "Book" (more like a pamphlet), the latter which also offers some excellent warm up exercises for both bow arm and left hand. There are others too, though I do not remember these right now.

The Flesch & Galamian are near "essential" for different reasons-certainly not a waste to learn all alternate fingerings offered even within those two choices-IMHO.

July 17, 2020, 11:30 AM · I happen to like the scale books by Elisabeth Gilels and Jascha Heifetz very much. I generally alternate between the two. I grew up with the Flesch scale book, but I stopped using it many years ago. The fingerings, in my opinion, are in some instances old fashioned and outdated. If I'm feeling lazy, I appease the scale gods by just running through the last exercise (No. 10) in the Hrimaly scale book. I use my own "21st century" fingerings, where technical logic and musicality take priority over ease and comfort.
Edited: July 17, 2020, 2:16 PM · About what Adalberto wrote: in the Flesch scale book edited by Rostal, Rostal writes in the introduction that he took the liberty to add additional suggested fingerings (they are printed in italics) either because he thinks they are better, more "modern" (compare Alexander's remark above), or, just to challenge the student! Interestingly, you have to experience yourself which of those are of the first kind, and which of the second :-)


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