How do you play fifths with the fourth finger?
I am a self-taught (or perhaps self-teaching would be more accurate) amateur violinist. I recently started teaching myself to play fifths and I've figured out that the trick is to place my finger in this sweet spot between the strings where I press down both strings at once.
The problem is that doing this with my fourth finger is impossible. My pinky is slimmer than the other fingers and the space between the strings is too wide when you go further away from the scroll.
So how exactly do you play fifths with the fourth finger?
Maybe turn your pinkie to be perpendicular to the fingerboard and use the entire first joint section as contact to the strings. If you need support on your pinkie, possibly push on it with the ring finger too.
What Fabian said. You are unlikely to find a lot of examples of repertoire where there is no better alternative to playing a 5th with the 4th finger, so I wouldn't waste too much time prepping for such a doomsday scenario.
Just say no.
Purchase the patented Pinky-Pad® ($74.00). It comes in 7 sizes, according to your digit width and slips onto your pinky to provide you with 2-4 string 5th coverage. Also useful as a violin capo destra to nail those Bach S&P chords when, you know, there are just not enough fingers to pull it off.
I am just starting the Rodney Friend book, which calls on this occasionally. Success is impossible, I suspect, but the act of trying leads to better posture, strength, etc. So I treat it like the hypothetical toe-touches that loosen me even when I fail.
I agree with "don't, unless you can't possibly avoid it." I'm working on the first Bach fugue right now (which has a lot of fifths), and I've noticed that even playing fifths perfectly with the third finger, especially on the middle 2 strings, can be dicey. I can imagine four note chords where you really need, say, 1-2-3-3, but suspect you can usually get by without using a 4 (especially on the middle 2 strings where it often seems harderst).
See a plastic surgeon for collagen implants?
I think it's probably easier than playing fourths with the fifth finger.
Consume a fifth, and you'll never know that.
hence the well known Scottish folk song ‘Crossing the Firth of Fourth while playing a fifth makes me sixth.’
There is a local teacher who marks "5" in his students parts for notes that are played with a fourth finger extension, such as C on the E string when reached from first position.
Paul, just be sure not to raise your second by mistake.
I watched a couple of Rodney Friend videos on fifths. He's intense. But I think he can be summarised by this: "stick your elbow out to the left, otherwise the higher string will be flat." Or have I misconstrued?
in fact, I would also like to suggest the original poster uses one of the ideas from his superb book. That is practice for the finger double harmonics in order to learn the position of the fingertip efficiently and without stress. This correct position will dictate the position of the hand for the most efficient playing. Following this kind of work, try depressing the string with the with the fourth finger well retaining the same feeling of a double stopped fifth. I also think one of the problems is simply that the posters little finger is not quite strong enough. One way to develop left little finger strength very rapidly is to play basic skills using the fingering 343434343434343434 et cetera up and down. Following the ideas advocated by Rodney friend one can also do this remarkably good exercise in fifths. That too may be very helpful to the original poster.
Here is the clip that exemplifies it perfectly. Also some of the best violin playing I have ever seen.
"If in doubt, forget Elise’s useless PinkyPad"
Use a flatter finger. Might be easier if you finger a fifth across the same two strings with the first finger (b natural and e natural on the A and D strings while playing a d natural and e natural for instance). Left elbow shifts very slightly to the right (a little more if using D and G strings).
Buri wrote, "Traditional teaching always talks about swinging the elbow from left to right depending on which string you are on but Mr Friend argues that this is a waste of effort and that it destabilises the shape of the hand."
@Kennedy Becky - the short answer to your original question is that you don't. You figure out a workaround of some sort so that you are not trying to do something that is barely possible. Violinists are good at this sort of thing.
As a violist with a short pinky I could use 3rd finger on the lower string next to the pinky on the other.
I did not expect to be able to give any serious advice to the OP, but I've just been doing this lockdown thing of trying the 2nd Partita in G-minor on my viola. The first chord of the Sarabande (and several chords in the Chaconne) is only fingerable if you use the pinky for the bottom two notes, and even though I was playing viola, where the strings are farther apart, I was not finding this a difficulty; so I thought I'd better have a look at exactly what I was doing:
That's an interesting example. Is it easier to play on the viola because of the angle of approach? Sounds like it might be. I think I would have some issues getting that fifth in tune (and it sounds a bit muddy to my ears - not as bright as the D and F natural part of the chord so I would stick with open strings there).
John, I can't speak to the Chaconne, but isn't attempting the opening of the Sarabande with the 5th fingered instead of just on open strings a bit of gilding the lily? I've never seen anyone do otherwise than the open strings.
@-John R., I will agree with Christian about that chord. I might get shouted down for this, but we don't need to play the notes of a chord in the same bottom to top order that they are written. That chord can be played as an open string D-A double stop followed by D-F, or, perhaps better, D-D followed by A-F (!). In the Chaconne, first chord in ms. 2, it could be played as D-Bb, followed by G-E. In general, double stop 5ths are an intonation gamble on any finger. Substitute 3 for 4 whenever possible, especially in high positions where the 3rd finger reaches farther than the 4th. Vibrato helps. If you are lucky enough to get things like octaves, 4ths, and 5ths double-stops perfectly in tune in a performance you can impress violinists in the audience by turning off the vibrato.
Rodney Friend’s new book is a goldmine in terms of this aspect of technique.
How do you four geniuses manage to play a four note chord using only three strings? I think I HAVE to play the bottom note of that chord fingered on the bottom string (I was talking violin when I gave DADF as the chord for the OP to try, and I'm talking violin now - I was surprised to find that the Chaconne was not appreciably more unplayable at normal speed for me on the viola than currently on the violin). I suppose one could employ a technique similar to what pianists use when they have to play more notes in a chord than they have fingers and stretch for, but I've never observed that in bowed instrument performers, certainly have never been taught it by any teacher I have had - Mind you, there is chording later in the Sarabande that needs the top note interrupted. Maybe it was unnecessary for arrangers of the Arpeggione Sonata to reduce Schubert's five and six note chords to four or three note chords?)!
John, how about 3rd finger on the D-A fifth, and 2nd and 1st fingers for the D-F# third?
That D minor sarabande is interesting.
It's not a cheat. It's just how you play it.
Alright, small counterpoint here. The Szymanowski Nocturne and Tarantella starts with some parallel 5ths (Really beautiful effect), and Stephen Waarts DOES play one of them up high on the G and D strings with his 4th finger.
Adrian, it's not an F#, it's an F-natural, a larger stretch than the root position triads or same note double stops you get in Bach Partitas (assuming you use the 4th finger) and which I put in the Dowland (It wasn't getting the notes that was defeating me, it was playing the piece so that someone would really want to listen to it).
How about a viola da spalla?
Try to do some finger-warping through devices like the one that Schumann used.
"It's not a cheat. It's just how you play it."
"Gordon is a nice young man who will go places"
"...and end up where he started off"
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.