Dounis: Artists Technique

Edited: February 3, 2021, 5:35 PM · Greetings,
I have a question about Dounis Artists’ Technique. In the section where he talks about shifting and scales and does a preparatory high speed version of a sift before doing the shift proper, are those ultra rapid notes supposed to be played in the same way as a regular shift or does the hand simply remain in position and flick those notes?
I have a hazy recollection of a Dounis student saying the hand stays in position and kind of flicks those notes which correlates well with Dounis’s vague explanation of adding the necessary elan/impetus to the shift. It certainly feels more useful to do it this way rather than maintain the arm hand as one unit .That way is very clumsy to my mind.

Replies (8)

February 3, 2021, 8:54 PM · Yes, as much as possible, the grace notes are played by flicking the fingers, the hand and arm stay in the old position.
February 3, 2021, 9:26 PM · Greetings,
many thanks.
Edited: February 3, 2021, 10:38 PM · I should add - I said “as much as possible” because my hand still rotates from the wrist, even if just a little bit. Less so on upward shifts, and more so on downward shifts. Perhaps a function of the exercise being innately difficult that I still struggle with it, although it does help make everything else you play feel easier. But yes, the gist of the exercise is to feel that burst of speed originating in the fingers.
February 3, 2021, 11:31 PM · Greetings,
yes, me too. Some of that flick covers a huge distance. (4th to 1st is fun) but it is very relaxing. I think there are a lot of subtleties in the way Dounis lays out the book. For example, placing this =very relaxing= exercises directly after exercise that place the hand under a larger than normal amount of stress. On the whole I always feel this book constantly pushes my technique to new levels.
February 4, 2021, 3:44 AM · I think the arm "flicks" too, to "dynamise" it, and "free the way".
February 5, 2021, 3:40 AM · Thanks for bringing this up Buri! Just checked these exercises. Artist's technique indeed! ;-)
Edited: February 5, 2021, 5:23 AM · Hi Jean,
well the book is kind of intimidating when you first look at it. But I try to remember it is the road towards developing an artists technique rather than the end product. I think you can break down any aspect of it you like and use it the way you wan to. For example, my favorite horizontal finger exercise is the first one. If you just play the top line it’s a great fourth finger strengthened but not to challenging. Then you could isolate the scale the exercise is build on. Double stopped 7ths for ear training. Very useful! Then practice the first two notes quarter note of each group only. That gives you a very neat finger independence exercise without the stretching. You could get this quite fast and even and just going up the scale so you get a brilliant fmental exercise that has zero stretching. Then you can put the whole thing together if you are in the mood....
That is only an intermediate level violinists series of exercises when all is said and done.
Another superb exercise is the last one befor the horizontal movement section. This is great ear training if you follow Dounis’ rule of guiding finger then the hand always slides up on the second finger to a semi tone below the target note. In effect then, if you choose to make this audible you are playing f# g first position and then sliding to F#g 7th position . To make these octave spaced intervals perfectly in tune is really good mental training. Then of course great attention should be paid to the massive shift in point of contact. So rather than slog though the whole exercise I think it is quite legitimate to just do a few really focused bars as you build up confidence and strength.
Some of the exercises are, in my opinion just theoretical. No 6 of the horizontals has a stretch from an extended b on the a string to an unfurled first finger e on the d string. I have large hands but that is impossible for me. So I don’t try and hurt myself. It’s just a little further each day or maybe don’t bother... The shifting exercises don’t need to be done all at once. I’d just do one on Monday, another on Tuesday and so on. Putting the scroll of the violin against the wall is invaluable if you are non rested like me. These are so relaxing for the hand. The lh pizz should definitely be done everyday for around two minutes. Trying to balance out normal fainter pressure on some fingers with a lot of pressure from the plucked notes is very useful. Generally speaking, these exercises will help when you want to play with more articulation by a slight sideways motion of the fingers when lifting them. (Erick Greenberg mad me practice Schradieck this way).
It’s all good stuff and if you allocate exercises to different days and then alaways strive to be more and more relaxed as you work on them (Vibrato!) the exercises as a whole gradually become quite manageable while the dividends are huge.
Edited: February 5, 2021, 10:19 AM · Buri many thanks. It actually took me a while to realize that you were not talking about the Shifting exercises but about the "Muscles of the Hand and Fingers" exercises :-) Looking more now in the book yes I see these are great exercises that everybody can at least work on sensibly.

Yeah that 6th exercise asks to take a twelfth between the fourth and first finger :-O Simon Fischer has variants on that (exercise #133, #134, #135 in Basics).

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