Minor double-stopped (parallel) scales

Edited: January 6, 2023, 5:27 AM · How many of you play parallel 3rds and 6ths in the minor keys as well as the majors?
If you do, do you do harmonic, melodic or natural minor or all three?

Replies (19)

January 6, 2023, 6:56 AM · I'm hesitating with my answer, because I'm not confident I understand what you mean by (Parallel) scales. Are you talking about a normal harmonic minor scale with consecutive stops as opposed to arpeggiated? Assuming, consecutive stops ...

For me, it is a daily routine. However, I run out of time and never get to work on the harmonic and the natural. In fact, I am bad about this because I rarely do any harmonic or natural in ANY scale. Good project for this morning. Thanks!
January 6, 2023, 7:28 AM · Ouch! That's going to take some work ... sigh!
January 6, 2023, 8:17 AM · Perhaps parallel is a piano expression.
January 6, 2023, 9:20 AM · I'm not a pianist , but isn't it called parallel because you're doing the third/sixth/octave simultaneously in both hands? This obviously, wouldn't be applicable in violin. Anyhow, I just wanted to be clear, and I think your question and my answer are referencing the same thing.

Little buggers ( harmonic and natural ) that I obviously need to work on. :)

Edited: January 6, 2023, 9:45 AM · I can see the point of practicing ordinary 3-octave scales in major and minor keys. The slight variations in intonation are a little different, the fingering is slightly different at the top end, and if you play harmonic minor scales, then you've got a different interval in there. I have enough facility that the differences among these matter.

But I can't play scales-in-thirds nearly fast enough for it to matter. I start all of my scales as low on the violin as possible (such as D and B) and then I just change the number of sharps and flats, and I go up until I've reached, say, fifth position on the E strong. My intonation is not secure enough in thirds to concern myself with any difference between a C major scale and an A natural minor scales. I declare victory if I can nail "just" thirds on at least half the pitches in the scale, because I also need to focus on security, minimizing tension, trying to play a few of the notes with vibrato (just to teach myself how), and so forth.

Edited: January 6, 2023, 10:13 AM · "I start all of my scales as low on the violin as possible (such as D and B)" Ditto.
January 6, 2023, 10:10 AM · In the Flesch scales, the double-stopped scale exercise in thirds is, in minor keys, some kind of mixture of melodic and harmonic.
Edited: January 6, 2023, 11:20 AM · I've got a pdf of Flesch. Gminor looks mostly harmonic to me until it gets to the broken stuff, perhaps. I'll print out just that page and try it out.
Edited: January 6, 2023, 11:26 AM · All three!
But not with the same fingerings...
E.g. be prepared to use the same pair of fingers twice in succession (even if the spacing is altered); be prepared to substitute the 4th finger for the 3rd, or the 1st for the 2nd.
Edited: January 6, 2023, 1:58 PM · Scales in broken thirds are very useful, too, but scales in thirds (what Gordon is calling "parallel" thirds, likely to distinguish them from broken thirds) is one of the best exercises that I have ever encountered for improving my overall intonation. They really help with making your individual stops more secure. I don't practice sixths as much but maybe I should.
January 6, 2023, 2:38 PM · Intonation, sure, but 3rds and also ├ętudes like Kayser op.20,n.20 or Hofmann Op.96,n.26 (IMSLP) are great for correcting hold and hand shape and thumb position.
Edited: January 7, 2023, 8:40 PM · Very correct, Gordon; in my experience too. Regular practice of these stops has greatly helped to rotate my hand closer to the neck of the violin, and also keep my fingers continuously close to the strings. Paul, your struggle with speed and accuracy may have something to do with this. In my experience, an experience which may or may not apply to you, I have improved speed and accuracy greatly this way.
January 6, 2023, 10:40 PM · I'm slow because if I go faster my intonation will suffer, so I'm allowing myself to improve gradually. But I will experiment with my hand position as you say.
Edited: January 7, 2023, 7:07 AM · Paul, you mentioned earlier about tension. How much tension is actually in your hand? I'm not advocating playing out of tune, but I find often if I fight too hard for intonation on stops, I'm actually creating tension in my hand. With that tension, I am worsening my intonation. Assuming you know the fingering already and I'm sure you do, think less about intonation and more about having a relaxed, soft hand, that's properly rotated, close to the neck and fingerboard. You may find this way that the intonation starts to fix itself because you're more relaxed, allowing the connection between your ear and your body to happen more naturally causing your fingers to adjust more instinctively in response to what you hear.

Not that my stops are perfect. I have good days and bad days, but there is a direct correlation between the quality of my sleep, and the quality of my stops and the level of tension in my body. I am most aware of this correlation due to the fact that I practice first thing in the morning.

Edited: January 7, 2023, 7:30 AM · It's not a problem as long as I don't try to go too fast. I just need enough time to be mindful about tension and so I can make the small, momentary adjustments to hand position, etc.

That Paganini thing where there are 16th-note parallel thirds or the Flesch cadenza for Mozart 3 -- I just have no desire to ever play that kind of stuff.

January 7, 2023, 7:36 AM · That's good, Paul. And while you fight with stops and getting them in tune I am fighting with this Dont Op. 35 #7 which for the life of me I cannot get in tune. Constantly over extending or under extending the broken fingered octaves and tenths. :) :). However, again, tension is the key.
January 7, 2023, 10:00 AM · There is a long list of all the possible pairs of parallel thirds, major, minor, 1-3 to 2-4, shifting 2-4 to 1-3, shifting 1-3 to 1-3, etc. You have to know the intervals for all of them.
January 7, 2023, 10:07 AM · That's why we do studies, Bruce. They're good for you. And I certainly agree with Joel that you need to know the intervals you're playing as they change through a parallel sequence of thirds (or sixths).
January 7, 2023, 12:22 PM · It's not just the interval that you want to think about. It's also helpful to be very conscious of the key signature so that your very aware when a finger needs to move a tone or a semitone.

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