Simon Ficher Scales

November 8, 2017, 10:46 AM · Hi,

Id like to ask how come in Fischer's book Scales, in the one octave section, there aren't all the keys written out, although Fischer states that that he follows Carl Flesch in writing out all the scales...unless I'm missing out on something. Thanks

Replies (21)

November 9, 2017, 4:54 AM · Sorry, I meant the two octave scales and arpeggios. There are only the folliwing keys:

C major/minor
Db major/minor
C# major/minor
D major/minor
Eb major/minor
E major/minor
F major/minor
Gb major/minor
F# major/minor

I dont see the Ab, A,Bb, B
Also in the one octave arpeggio sequence, I dont see keys of Db abd Gb.

Does anyone know why he doesnt include these in those sections? Thanks

November 9, 2017, 11:48 AM · I don't have the book in front of me but the only reason I can think of is because these two-octave scales are meant to convey specific learning objectives for scales in general, and maybe the missing keys are not needed for that before moving on to three-octave scales.
Edited: November 9, 2017, 5:30 PM · It's an error and I can see how it happened when his book is based on more than one scale systems. For what I can see, the key order of his one, three and four octaves is based on the notes of violin strings GDAE, from the lowest note G and goes up Ab/G#,A, Bb, etc.(Galamian system). But his order of the two octave scales is based on Flesch's system. The order starts from C instead of G, then changes based on the number of "b" and "#". The problem seems that Fischer didn't follow Flesch's scale system all the way for two octave scales consequently he missed keys of G, Ab, A, Bb and B. I am not surprised with such errors, as I find his books could benefit from some more careful editing efforts.

Initially, I thought the same way as Paul did, but upon further reviewing, his intention to write out all keys in one-three octaves is clear to me (see page 3rd para of page vi of his Scales).

November 9, 2017, 3:49 PM · Paul, Simon Fischer explicitly states in his introduction that he will write out all the scales after he noticed that students were less likey to play all scales if not written out like flesch had done. So, i see it from Yixi's point of view. Also why write out 9 then choose to exclude 4? I mean its not worth not including them at that point. Same for the 2 missing one octave arpeggios with 11 present. Unless im not understabding the point

I guess one has to extrapolate from the three octave scales with the same logic of the other 2 octave scales. But its a pity nonetheless; perhaps in a newer edition that could be rectified

November 9, 2017, 5:22 PM · He missed five keys (G, Ab, A, Bb and B) instead of four. He doesn't provide index for the Scales and generally no bibliography in all his books. Fischer is no doubt a genius and his works are pretty much the most helpful violin books you can find today. I wonder if he has to do all the editing by himself, as I didn't find any acknowledgement of assistance.
November 9, 2017, 5:30 PM · Oh yes Yixi. You're right. G major i forgot.
Edited: November 9, 2017, 5:43 PM · Arguably, the two octave section has its special purpose; that is, rather than being used as a usual two octave scale book, it is specifically designed for learning unified intonation by using different fingers on the same notes(see note 6 on page 3).
November 11, 2017, 6:57 PM · A wise man once told me the author of a book should never prepare his or her own index.
November 12, 2017, 8:03 PM · Yixi, all of the exercises leading up to the three octave scales have their special purposes; but I do not think that their purpose has much to do with the decision of-or oversight in-leaving out some scales. Again, Fischer specifically mentions in his introduction that he will include all scales (and not just for the three to four octave ones) and this seems to be the ethos of the book.
November 13, 2017, 2:18 PM · FWIW, I used the contact form at to point out this thread.


November 13, 2017, 2:29 PM · Thank you Neil
Edited: November 13, 2017, 3:36 PM · Dear violinist.commies, my attention has been drawn to this thread, and I have been urged to correct the misconceptions stated here.

Coincidentally there was a similar problem a month or so ago, when a customer who had bought the viola version of Scales wrote to say that there were mistakes in this same two octave section.

A long email exchange ensued with my site administrator, in which the customer kept insisting that the section was missing keys. My administrator even sent her a pdf of the violin version of that section of the book to prove that it was the same. Then the customer thought it was wrong in both books - until my administrator finally pointed out that this section of the book is a uniform intonation section: each scale, and its arpeggio, is to be played starting first on the 1st finger, then played again with identical intonation starting on the 2nd finger, then played again starting on the 3rd finger.

The reason the scales are not presented in the lowest keys, i.e. Ab, A, Bb and B, is that those keys can only be started on the 1st finger and the 2nd finger respectively.

So it is absolutely a matter of design not mistake.

At present the introductory text is as follows: "This section is an excellent exercise for uniform intonation. The point is to make all three fingerings (the same notes played starting on the first, second and third finger) sound exactly the same, since the right tuning of a note is the same no matter which finger you play it with."

It never occurred to me when I wrote that, that anyone could be confused by the omission of the lowest keys. And I had thought it was just this one person who didn't get it; but now from this thread I can see that the next printing of the book might do well to have a note added to the introduction to explain that the lowest keys were omitted deliberately and necessarily.

In answer to the question about the editing, yes, I do all my own editing. It is always better to be cross with yourself when you find a mistake - and mistakes are inevitable - than to find yourself cursing someone else! :-)

In the case of the Viola edition of the Scales book, however, someone else did all the proofing. It is note-for-note the same as the violin scale book. In fact, I was practising from Scales the other day and found a wrong fingering. (Page 114, second staff from the bottom, first measure, last note, should be marked 3 not 4.) So I checked in the Viola edition and the same wrong fingering was there too!

But in terms of the level of 'mistake' alluded to in this thread, no, I am happy to say there are none.

Thank you everybody for your interest. I hope you find the Scales book as helpful as I do. Part of my preparation for a recent concert was to play one whole key of the Carl Flesch Scale System every day for six weeks. It took about 50 minutes each day and it was incredibly helpful, and I would recommend to anyone to do the same.

But then I started doing lots of the 'sharpening the knife' exercises in my own Scales book, and as usual all I found was that I did not want to stop - every time I work from that book I always want to do 'just one more' section, and then 'just one more' section again! And I do find it all quite pleasantly error-free...

Best wishes to all,


November 13, 2017, 10:10 PM · Thanks for the explanation, Simon! Love the book.
Edited: November 14, 2017, 4:58 AM · Thanks a lot Simon. Im very glad it was my misunderstanding as I think your book is quite unique. I agree that an added note would be helpful although I should have paid closer attention to the explanatory text. Again many thanks for the explanation..and for your book/s.

Edited to add: Simon, also why are the Db and Gb one octave arpeggio sequences not present with thd redt of the one arpegio sequences. Thanks again

November 14, 2017, 7:16 AM · Tammuz,

Db and Gb are not there because they contain nasty double flats and things, and C# and F# are there instead.

It has been mentioned in this thread that in the introduction of Scales it is stated that the scales are all written out in all keys. Just to clarify, it actually says only that the section on how to set-up the intonation (as taught by Casals and DeLay), would be presented in every key in the preliminary sections of the book.

It's an interesting question, though, whether to choose Db or C#, and thank you for raising it. I guess I was influenced by that great book for double stops by Gaylord Yost, "The Key to the Mastery of Double Stops", which I spent much time on as a student, and continued to revisit for many years afterwards.

It is written entirely in G major/minor, and then repeated entirely in Ab major/G# minor. Yost states at the beginning of the Introduction:

"There are actually only two tonalities on the violin from the standpoint of manual adaptability: the tonality based upon the key of the open strings, and the other based upon the first semitone above."

So by practicing the material in just the keys he offers, one is then well-equipped to deal with all other keys. Always looking for ways to save time, I was always grateful for that approach.

In the same way, my hope was that in Scales there is enough building-work and preparatory-work to more than cover every eventuality that may arise in playing from any other scale book, or in any other key, or in playing any repertoire.

So if the one-octave arpeggio exercise appears only in C# and not in Db, I hope I am right in thinking that it really does not matter.

Best wishes,


November 14, 2017, 8:29 PM · Thank you so much for the explanation and for taking the time to answer our questions. It is truly appreciated.
Edited: November 14, 2017, 9:47 PM · Thank you, Simon, for detailed explanation. I've got a slightly different question regarding your other scale book, the Double Stops. It's been extremely helpful to me since I've got it last summer. I do wonder why 4ths are not included in almost all the scale books, including yours? Is there a way to incorporate 4ths into the practice of your Double Stops?
November 15, 2017, 3:27 AM · Simon great to have had you on the forum (although you will probably not read this anymore ;-) To Yixi: In Basics, the part on Intonation, the last section, that is specifically on 4ths, with four exercises.
November 15, 2017, 4:46 AM · Thanks Yixi,

4ths are hidden in there - #5 in the 3rds section. Adding 4ths to a scale of 3rds is a very old practice method which I learnt from the Korgujew book of double stop exercises when I was a student. (Siergiej Korgujew was a professor at the Lenindgrad Conservatory from 1900-1924.)

But the only reason there is not an actual section of 4ths in my book was just a matter of trying to keep it to a manageable length.

In the beginning I did think it was going to have sections of 2nds, 4ths, 5ths and 7ths, but even with only one page given to each this was going to mean another 96 pages (4 x 24 keys). Without them the book is already 346 pages, which is probably quite long enough...

2nds (played with the fourth and first finger) are only octaves played with the fingers on the wrong strings, so octaves feel easier afterwards, and they are a great exercise for keeping the fingers above the strings.

In early drafts I did have one scale in 2nds included in the Octaves section, but it had to go to make space for other things. Similarly there was a scale of fingered 2nds in the Fingered Octaves section which didn’t make it to the final draft.

4ths are again great for training the hand position as well as intonation. 5ths are also really important to practice, especially when you're playing solo Bach. Yost includes 4ths and 5ths in "The Key to the Mastery of Double Stops", and so does Galamian in the second volume of his scale book.

And 7ths were also going to be interesting. In early drafts there was a scale in 7ths included in the 3rds section, since again 7ths are only 3rds played round the wrong way.

But there is enough in the book already, and at some point one has to face the fact that life is too short. There isn’t time to do everything, but there is always time to do the most important things.

To Jean,
Many thanks for your comment. Indeed, the existence of the 4ths in the Basics book was another reason to omit them from Double Stops.

Best wishes,

Edited: November 15, 2017, 4:39 PM · Simon and Jean, thank you! I re-read the intro of the Double Stops and now I see how important these first 6 pages of the book are! Thank you also about playing 2nds and 7ths too! I find it's hard to hear 7ths in tune, but thinking 7ths as 3rds played the other way is quite nifty.

November 16, 2017, 1:45 PM · I feel like someone needs to write a book called "Every Scale Ever."

And it's just ALL the scales, each one written separately based on fingerings, on octave-range, on bowing variations, on rhythm variations, double-stops, etc..., so that even just "C Major" will be 100 pages of increasingly complex scales, starting from a 1-octave detache scale, and finally ending in 10th-double-trilled-4-octave-diminished 7th-arpeggios on the 100th page.

The book will be 5000 pages long and 3ft x 2ft, and will include every. possible. variation. on every scale ever, so that no one will be able to point out that something is missing from it. It will also include all of the scales written out in different clefs so violinists can practice their transposition skills while they're doing their 10th-double-trilled-4-octave-diminished 7th-arpeggios.

And in this way, no violinist will ever have to think for themselves while doing scales. Just play from the beginning to the end each day and you're ready to go!

Looking forward to the 1st Edition of "Every Scale Ever!"

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