Double Stops in Bruch 3rd Movement

August 21, 2021, 6:16 PM · It’s been about 2 weeks since I’ve been assigned this piece, and I have to admit, this is a lot more difficult than the first and second movements, especially the double stops. Does anyone have any advice on how to approach these double stops, especially in measures 3(it feels really hard to get that 1-3 to 1-3 shift in tune), 28(the shift from D-A first position to A-E third position, and also on the third beat whether to do 2-4 1-3 or 1-3 4-0), and lastly 205-207(having a really hard time playing the fifth with the first finger into the 2-4 third, and again shifting to 3rd position for those double stops). On second thought, probably gotta use the sheet music to find what the hell I am talking about.
Thanks in advance!

Replies (11)

August 21, 2021, 7:22 PM · Greetings,
this is the link to a lovely master class by Rachel Barton Pine.
You get the 3rd movement around the 1 hour mark and boy, is that student having trouble with intonation…
August 22, 2021, 3:10 AM · I used to struggle with any double stop passages until my professional studies- due to too weak muscles, which I discovered much later.
So, for playing thirds, I see two completely independent types of possible issues:
First, really getting in your Brain and hands, which fingers do the halftone and whole note steps. Can be practiced with lots of variations, like fixing the first finger, and switch between third/fourth, and all other combinations. For shifts, very slowly observe, which of the fingers must go a wider/shorter way, and anticipate the following kind of grip.

I, as a student, had figured all of the above out. My teacher at that point simply said I wasn’t practicing enough if this didn’t work. I was very frustrated, also with octaves- my teacher told me I had to listen better. I had the problem, though, that I would hear the bad intonation but couldn’t control my fingers, precisely enough. For that, I needed a new teacher to tell me my fingers were not strong enough, meaning their independence from one another, and sideways stability. I then practiced Dounis independence of three (or four, respectively) fingers, and my basic problems were gone for good, ever since. Now, I am at the point where I can follow my first teacher’s advice, and “just” practice, if I have to play something like this.

So, my point is that you have to analyze what exactly your problem is. Be honest to yourself: Why don’t your fingers hit the right place? Are you rather confused where to put them, or do you exactly know that but just cannot control them? And then ask your teacher about how to help you fix either of those. As I said, not every teacher is able to identify the real cause of a problem, so you have to actively demand it from them.

Edited: August 22, 2021, 4:39 AM · Two-thirds of our technique lie between the notes, and for the first minutes of practicing a 4 or 5 note segment, I recommend a slow-motion "moonwalk" mode, where we can feel and observe every finger-lift, finger-stretch, finger-curl, finger drop, finger-pressure, wrist & elbow swing, and bow contact point. And the last note of the segment already prepares for the next one.This avoids a trial-and-(reinforced)error approach.

BTW, a change in finger-pattern is not always based on the first finger: sometimes the arm moves more than the fingertip.

August 22, 2021, 8:55 AM · As someone who will never be able to play the 3rd movement of the Bruch, I can resonate with Emily's comment about finger strength. Listen to Joshua Bell play a third without vibrato during a cadenza or such, and not only does have have to nail it from the outset, but he has to HOLD that for the duration of the note. And if your fingers are wobbling around then you can't do that. If you can't hold your fingers still on the timescale of the note then you've got another source of error in your intonation.
August 22, 2021, 10:50 AM · I learned and competed with this movement last year, and my first piece of advice is do not let the double stops overwhelm you to the point where you can't appreciate the music! Along with working on pitch, I highly recommend you listen to as many recordings as possible and really try to feel the music, even if you have to play it without chords at first.

Now onto your actual question. What I did when practicing any chords, especially the shifting ones, I practiced top note-bottom note separately, and shifted that way too, if that makes sense. I also make sure to move my arm when I shift, and my left hand thumb because that is one of the biggest causes of bad intonation for me. I say experiment with hand positions, and work on thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, octaves, and tenths in scale form like described in the Carl Flesch scale system - if you use that of course. Hope that helps :)

Edited: August 22, 2021, 7:10 PM · Thanks for the replies everyone!

Buri: Yikes! I can’t imagine what was going through that student’s mind to bring Bruch 3rd Movement in that shape.

Emily: Great point, I do definitely feel like I do have a similar problem that you used to have.

Sofia: On the topic of the left hand thumb, should you have a consistent hand frame when playing any double stop, or should your hand change to slightly varying shapes depending on the double stop played?

August 23, 2021, 3:28 AM · The smaller our hands, the more we must twist & turn them!

E.g. to allow my short pinky on the D string to clear the A string, my middle finger must curl under itself and push the A string to the right rather than down to the fingerboard...

These unorthodox movements can be established during my "moonwalk" practice.

August 23, 2021, 3:56 AM · Landon - for the 3rd bar of the solo, the tricky bit in that shift is that you are changing interval from major to minor 3rd as you go. I think the only solution is to do it very slowly, at first with just each finger on one string doing it as a slide, then playing one finger on one string with the other finger placed silently and also shifting and you checking the interval when the shift is complete. Then once THAT is working try a slow sliding shift with a double-stop.

I really can't find the other places you mention in the score (are you giving bar numbers counting from the start of the violin entry rather than the actual bar numbers?)

Edited: August 23, 2021, 10:21 AM · Landon another tip to practice that 3rd bar an octave lower on D and A strings, in first position. That is actually more difficult, which is the whole point. You can practice and "destroy" it there, then have success an octave higher!
August 23, 2021, 6:00 PM · Chris-Oh I’m sorry, I listed measure 3 because it was convenient and I honestly didn’t think too much about it, but the other 2 measure numbers I listed are from the start of the piece rather than the violin entry.
August 26, 2021, 10:06 PM · Landon,-- My part for the Bruch concerto is in the garage archive (shows how much I like it), and Petrucci is not cooperating with me, so here goes, from the memory bank:
In general, thirds are very difficult, physically awkward and hard to tune. They are three times harder to tune than single notes. You tune each note AND the interval between the notes.
I once wrote out all the possible combinations of fingers for the major and minor thirds, and shifting between thirds. It filled one page. So,- for starters,- be aware of the minor and major thirds and the whole and half steps between them, and, the shifting distance between them.
Measure one of your entrance: that single tap [1,3 - 2,4 -1,3]. The fourth finger is slower and weaker than the others; lead with the fourth finger and make sure the fourth finger is over it's spot, not sticking out in the air or curled up in the hand. Measure 3 of the solo: 1-3 shifting up to 1-3, focus on the finger that moves the farthest; the third finger moving from G to A. When you do this shift it might feel like the 1st finger is moving back (!). The standard fingering for scales in thirds is treacherous; 1,3--2,4--shift 1,3. Look for opportunities to instead do 1,3- shift-1,3 -2,4. Also, the major third fingered 1-2 with a first finger extension is not a difficult stretch. Look for opportunities to do 1,2 -1,3( the first finger pops up, without shifting), --2,4. Avoid the 4,0 third. It sounds out of balance.
I hope that makes sense.
Vibrato on thirds, or any double stop; Because two fingers are down instead of just one, the hand is partially locked up, especially for the wrist-vibrato. Hint- for double stop vibrato, try vibrating slower. I don't know why that works.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Virtual Sejong Music Competition
Virtual Sejong Music Competition Business Directory Business Directory

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine