Shoulder rest physics

Edited: January 3, 2018, 8:19 AM · I wanted to investigate how much downward pressure using a shoulder rest requires on the chinrest to "free" the left hand of its' support duties.

I don't use a shoulder rest, as it gives me a terrific pain in the neck. I now have a better idea of exactly why that may be....

And to clarify: this is NOT an anti-shoulder rest thread on my part.
It is an investigation into finding out more about how a SR functions. "You don't get something for nothing", so what are the tradeoffs? How is a SR best put to use?

Replies (126)

December 30, 2017, 4:54 PM · The accuracy of this experiment is debatable. The torque is the product of lever length (horizontal distance from shoulder rest to chin rest) and force (weight on the chin rest). In your case, the lever length is defined by the mid point between the ends of the shoulder rest and the center of gravity of the stack of boxes (projected onto the plane of the table). From the perspective of the recording, it is not clear what the lever length is, but it seems that you stack the boxes almost straight above the SR.

Moreover, the shoulder rest is curved (video at 0:23); the way my own shoulder rest is adjusted puts the pivot point more towards the scroll than yours. Also, a chin rest is not flat; due to its curvature, you can also pull the chin rest horizontally, which uses (in my case of a fairly high Wolf SR) a larger lever length.

So, if you feel that you need too much strain to hold a violin with SR/CR: move the SR more towards the scroll and make sure that you shape your jaw such that it nicely hooks into the CR. ;-)

Edited: December 30, 2017, 5:09 PM · The weight of your head resting on a chinrest properly tailored to your jaw shape (and considering your collarbone) should be sufficient to hold the violin in place with a shoulder rest properly fitted to your violin and to the shape of your shoulders and upper chest. The violin should be able to rest on your collar bone; if it cannot you may have to make other adjustments.

In my opinion, if you are going to use the shoulder rest like a see-saw fulcrum you are heading for eternal troubles - at least in this life! In my opinion the shoulder rest is best used as a way to tilt the violin for better access to the strings (for bow and left hand), if you need it AND to adjust for the slope(s) of the player's left shoulder. The chin rest should be adapted to hold the violin upon your collarbone in a fairly comfortable way - with perhaps some fabric or leather to cushion against bone-on-wood discomfort and possible injury.

Different shoulder rest designs/brands and different angles of shoulder rest across the violin back are needed by different players - and even (sometimes) by the same player with a different violin.

These statements are all based on my own experience.


December 30, 2017, 4:58 PM · Well, counter pressure also comes from the thumb and the base of the index finger nuckle, so that's two thirds of the pressure taken care of. Also, releasing the weight of the head is enough without physical pressure. Even then, its more like the downward pressure pivots the violin against the jaw and it is the stationary nature of the jaw that gives counterpressure rather than downward muscular force.

I personally have found a way to take my head away completely with a modified Happinex and modified Bon Musica shoulder-rest. Video coming soon...

Edited: December 30, 2017, 5:39 PM · This is kind of cool experiment, but it leaves too many pertinent factors out. For example, how much force is required on a chinrest to hold a violin up WITHOUT a shoulder rest?

Basically, the experiment fails to reveal anything useful at this point, since it lacks comparative data with other methods of supporting a violin.

December 30, 2017, 5:07 PM · Agree with Andrew. The weight of a head that's properly positioned (forward and down) is sufficient to keep the violin stationary. If you're trying to pop the scroll up with only your jaw, that's way too much pressure and it will cause neck pain for sure.
December 30, 2017, 5:39 PM · I use nowhere neat that amount of baking soda when I'm playing the violin!
December 30, 2017, 6:15 PM · I guess it’s a done deal. That’s obviously why there’s never any debate about using a shoulder rest or not...
December 30, 2017, 6:22 PM · David, without a SR, there is no fulcrum with which to support the far end using the chin rest alone.

Playing without a SR makes more use of gravity, and having the instrument rest on both the clavicle and the left thumb. The chin rest, in that case is used to simply keep the violin from slipping out of position, not as a counterweight to the far end of the instrument. Scientifically speaking, I’d estimate only a half box of baking soda at most....

Edited: December 30, 2017, 6:43 PM · Craig, I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the shoulder rest is supposed to do. It does not, by any stretch, negate the roll of the left thumb in supporting the violin. It's function is to fill the gap between the collarbone and the jaw.

We can (and do!) debate shoulder rests all day, but no one is saying that it should be the sole means of holding the violin up.

Edited: December 31, 2017, 1:25 PM · To add to Julie’s and Craig’s comments, even when using a shoulder rest the instrument should first and formost be resting upon (touching) the collar bone. Your SR it too far back, set as the primary support point while it should be closer to the C bouts to rather (this is where I differ with Julie’s comment: “It's function is to fill the gap between the collarbone and the jaw.”) fill the gap between the shoulder (not the collar bone) and the instrument. The chin is NOT exercising pressure to keep the instrument up, it is merely blocking the upward motion of the edge of the instrument as it bascule on the SR. In other words, with a SR what supports the weight of the instrument are two points: the shoulder (via the SR) and the collarbone (on whigh the instrument sits), while without it’s the thumb and the collarbone. Some people wrongfully use the SR to fill the gap between the Chin Rest and the chin whereas this is the function of the Chin Rest alone.
December 30, 2017, 7:32 PM · There are countless videos that clearly show that many modern teachers seem to indeed advocate for having the violin being able to be supported by the SR alone.

As an example, check out about 1:46 here

Edited: December 30, 2017, 7:54 PM · Roger, I have that shoulder rest positioned pretty much at the wide point of the lower bout. Could you post a picture of how you have your SR positioned?

I tried 3-4 different SRs and positions close in, far out. Many different arrangements. They all were dissatisfying for me.

And thus I wanted to try and figure this issue out with some degree of empirical data. Thus, my baking soda investigation above.

Edited: December 30, 2017, 8:00 PM · The exact position of course depends on individual shoulders, for me it’s forward of the widest point. The body of the instrument should rest on the collarbone first and foremost. To properly fit the SR, you should hold the instrument as if you had no SR, and while holding that position, insert the shoulder rest in the gap hence created between the shoulder and the instrument. I.e. the position of the instrument with or without a SR is the same. The SR acts as a balancing point where one side is much heavier as the other. The chin is simply preventing the light side from going up. The head being immensely heavier than the other side (not to forget that it is also attached to your body, hence providing a counter force equal to the entire body’s weight), you don’t have to exerce any more pressure downward with the chin to maintain the balance. I can hardly see on your setup how a normal person’s shoulder can be falling down so steep as to be touching both the edge of instrument and the base of the SR at the same time. A 1/2cm difference in the SR position forward would likely drastically change your result.
December 30, 2017, 7:38 PM · Julie, I appreciate you input above. And I understand that there is some degree of semantics in how we want to word things in regards to such an ephemeral thing as playing the violin. But, if one is not using the SR as a means by which to actually support the violin, then of what use is filling up the space underneath the violin with a SR?
Edited: December 30, 2017, 8:31 PM · duplicate
December 30, 2017, 7:44 PM · An interesting experiment, but that's not how a shoulder rest works...

If everything is setup correctly, the head doesn't exert downward pressure on the chinrest. Gravity attempts to pull the violin downward, and the jaw simply blocks that from happening.

As for left hand pressure, it is minimal in the scheme of holding the violin, unless you're doing something wrong.

December 30, 2017, 7:51 PM · Hi Douglas, ever hear the expression (from Newton's 3rd law) "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction"?

Thus, a jaw can't simply "block" it, unless the head and neck are a solid piece of rock or similar. And even so, there would still be the (estimated) four pounds of baking soda force acting upwards upon that stony head/neck regardless.

December 30, 2017, 7:57 PM · Craig, I'm sorry, it's not semantics or wording. What you are saying is incorrect. Regardless of whether or not you use a shoulder rest, the thumb still supports the violin, not pressure from the head.

There are 5 places of support, none of them are the shoulder rest. When the gap is filled by a shoulder rest, it makes the violin more stable- prevents wobbling from left to right (I'm not sure if that makes sense or not). A shoulder rest shouldn't support the violin vertically.

Edited: December 30, 2017, 8:07 PM · Julie- So, the way you utilize a SR is a means to control the angle of the instrument only?

And when I mentioned semantics it was in regards to how often times there is a great deal of importance placed on using words such as "weight" vs. "pressure" for example. Or in this case "holding" the violin is often cited as an inexact word for what we are trying to accomplish.

Edited: December 30, 2017, 8:28 PM · And to further muddy the waters for the sake of discussion. Many things that seem to not require any effort at all--such as browsing this thread on your smartphone, may indeed actually require quite a bit of effort and pressure that you may not be aware of. Thus, the simple act of turning and letting your head drop down on to the chin rest to counteract the support of the instrument may require more of you than you may think. Google "text neck" to find out about how simple angles of the head (without even any violins in the equaition) can add significant pressure to your spine (they estimate a 12lb head here).
December 30, 2017, 8:30 PM · Julie- So, the way you utilize a SR is a means to control the angle of the instrument only?

No, as a means to control the stability of the angle, (really, the horizontal axis).

December 30, 2017, 8:46 PM · Since the human head weighs, on average, 10 pounds, it is more than sufficient to hold the violin by simply relaxing it into a well fitted chin / shoulder rest. Even by your baking soda standards!

What you are being cautioned against is tension in the neck, or pressing into the chintest. This is not desired nor correct technique.

December 30, 2017, 8:48 PM · “Baking soda standards”

So long metric system!!!


Edited: December 30, 2017, 11:37 PM · Did my own experiment with a different approach. I rested the scroll of my violin against a kitchen scale when supported by my SR in the horizontal position. My SR is positioned approx. 47cm from the scroll / 9cm from the button. It exerced a weight of 122g on the scale (the violin is 399g) According to the law of lever, the long side x weight = short side x weight. Hence 47cm x 122g / 9cm = Chin Force. This comes to 1.4lbs minus the weight of the chin rest and instrument body weight on the short end. If I do the calculation where the OP approx. positioned his chin rest and weight, roughly 4cm on the short side, it comes to 3.7lbs (roughly the op’s finding). That is of course a very rough estimate, but validates my calculation.

This force requirement (1.4lbs) to maintain my instrument horizontal without the left hand as currently setup is counter balanced by almost my entire body weight since the head is attached to most people bodies ;-)

Addendum: to think of it, the head also works as a lever, the fulcrum being the neck. The head lever being longer at the front, the force exerced on the back muscle to pull the head down would be somewhat more as pictured above.

December 30, 2017, 11:18 PM · Sitting on your violin will assure proper counter weight!

Thanks for your experimental analysis!

Edited: December 30, 2017, 11:57 PM · All kidding aside, it demonstrate the importance of properly setting up the SR. Aside from the force applied, which translate to your neck if your aren’t using your thumb to support some of the weight, raising the height of the instrument with a SR, also raises your arms, hence creating tension in the shoulders. This may be more the source of your neck pain . There is also a tendency to overly apply tension on the CR as we stress out, which is far more than required to hold the instrument.
Edited: December 31, 2017, 12:47 AM · I'm amused to read, multiple times, "there is no pressure, just weight/the jaw only blocks the motion". If one discusses physics, then you need to agree on what the words mean:

Pressure = force divided by area. Not a useful quantity in this analysis.
Weight = force generated by mass due to gravity

For this type of analysis, forces apply at contact points between objects, or to the center of gravity in case of the gravitational force. Forces are vectors, with a magnitude and direction. Their unit is newton (N), kilogram-force (kgf), or pound-force (lbf).

@Roger: 9 cm sounds like a lot. From what point on the SR did you measure? You measured to the button, but that is not the point where the force from jaw onto CR applies.

December 31, 2017, 9:26 AM · It's hard to tell how much chin pressure (sorry, "force") is "weight", and how much is muscle. I determined that the weight of my (relatively empty) head is enough, when I dozed off for a few seconds in a warm room while the conductor was trying to get the (French) choir to sing in tune.. The scroll actually rose a little, according to my alarmed desk partner.

In my setup the weight of the viola is balanced by theweight of my fore-mentioned head, with the SR as a fulcrum, see-saw style. My SR is definitely in front of the collarbone. I find excessive contact with the collarbone very painful, after half a century of playing.

Edited: December 31, 2017, 11:08 AM ·

December 31, 2017, 11:29 AM · Again, 5 points of contact. You don't support the violin with only your chin. It's not a lever. (Well, it can be a lever if you want to hurt your neck, I suppose).
Edited: December 31, 2017, 1:35 PM · Han, I measured from the center of the SR pad to the front of the CR base (a Kredle CR with a narrow 1/2 cm base). The SR is at a slight angle left to right, not perpendicular. A 1cm variance in measurement would equate to 0.2lbs difference. The furthest side (left) of the SR is about 1.5-2cm from the C Bout. Given variations of my SR position, the weight required to maintain it levelled is still less than 2lb. If I move the SR to where the OP has his SR positioned, the weight at the scroll increases from 122g to 135g. I couldn’t tell how wide his CR base was, but on my instrument the distance SR to CR in the OP’s position is 5cm. This increases the weight required to 3lbs or more if his CR base is wider than mine, which I assume it is.
December 31, 2017, 11:46 AM · Roger, could you please post a picture of your SR placement? I've never seen one placed so far forward towards the C-bouts.

Here is a "standard"pic of a SR from the SHAR website.

Which is pretty much how I had mine mounted in my experiment.

December 31, 2017, 11:48 AM · Julie, when you play, can you feel where the majority of your support comes from? Left thumb? Base of first finger? Shoulder rest?
Edited: December 31, 2017, 12:12 PM · Craig, in your last photo of a player, the instrument is sandwiched between the SR and CR and does not appear to be touching the player’s body. It is IMO an example of what not to do (but I could be wrong).

For me, the bottom edge (where the CR is attached) of the instrument should be sitting on the collarbone, and the SR set forward (closer to the C bout) to fill the gap between the shoulder and the instrument. Holding the instrument horizontal with the left thumb, you should be able to remove the SR with no change in the instrument’s position. When I set my instrument up, I first sit the bottom edge on my collarbone, then lower the scroll. If it isn’t horizontal at the point where the SR makes contact, I reset the SR in the required position to achieve that while the instrument is still sitting on the collarbone where it was first set. The first (and only) thing to touch your shoulder should not be the SR.

December 31, 2017, 12:05 PM · Craig - to add another variable - looking at your picture above of the SR on the back back violin - when I have used a SR it has been positioned on the right as close to the "bee stingers" at the juncture of the lower bout and the C bout and on the left as close to the end button as it will hold in place. This would totally change your force calculation. But then I also hold the violin on my collarbone with the weight of my head upon the chinrest through my jaw. If my neck were longer, I would need a higher chin rest to hold it this way - and I think that would be the way to go.

I have seen people go through a lot of trouble and expense to position their SR the way it is in that picture and retain the CR that came with their fiddle. I believe in personalizing or customizing things to fit the player and their are many options.

December 31, 2017, 12:15 PM · William Primrose totally rejected the use of a chin rest in favour of holding up the instrument with the left hand like a country fiddle player . I you doubt the credibility of this listen to his recordings of Paganini caprices played on the viola !
I noticed at concerts that Perlman doesn't use a shoulder rest either .
December 31, 2017, 12:16 PM · Andrew, that is exactly what I do.
December 31, 2017, 12:23 PM · Craig, again, 5 points of support!!! (none of them are the shoulder rest). The support is distributed across those 5 points. If you've ever heard of the slumber party game 'light as a feather, stiff as a board,' that's a fairly good representation, although with the following caveat:

The violin only weighs about 400 grams- not even a pound. That's practically nothing. The difficulty is actually holding your arm up- which weighs around 5 pounds, give or take. If you don't have the muscle tone or are using the wrong muscles to hold up your arm, then I suppose one way to compensate by is by screwing down on the chinrest. Another would be clutching with your left hand.

When your head is forward and down and you're using your arm properly, it truly feels as if the violin weighs nothing at all- you aren't supporting it, you're just standing under it while holding up your arms.

December 31, 2017, 12:38 PM · Can you please name the 5 points?
Edited: December 31, 2017, 12:47 PM · Lower jaw, collar bone, left hand index, thumb, and the bow is also seen as a point of contact (of course where it meets the strings) and therefore implicates indirectly the right arm. I dont know if Julie considers the shoulder as the 5th element. But i read that its frowned upon and could lead to physical harm.
Edited: December 31, 2017, 12:50 PM · Andrew and Roger. Are you saying you have the SR mounted at an extreme angle across the back? One end up near the c-bout, and the other back near the button? Does that cause the instrument to point way out in front of you? Or way off to the left?

The way I have my SR positioned has the SR making contact with my body halfway between the collar bone and the shoulder itself.

I customized my CR to account for my long neck, and having the instrument rest on my collar bone is key for me as well.

Here’s the Kun mounting instructions

December 31, 2017, 12:49 PM · Points of support (not contact) chin, collar bone, neck, left hand, and bow.


Edited: December 31, 2017, 12:52 PM · Contact and support :) but i wont quibble

About chin, i think it depends on position of violin..the more in fro t the more chin centric, the more to the left the more lower jaw.

A contact but not support point is the neck. Hence hickies

December 31, 2017, 12:54 PM · OK, Julie, I’m a bit confused by that.

The bow certainly is a point of contact, but how could it possibly help support the instrument?

Edited: December 31, 2017, 1:18 PM · Craig asked: “Are you saying you have the SR mounted at an extreme angle across the back?

Not an acute angle, but an angle yes. As Anbrew explained, I first set the right side close (approx. 1cm) to the C bout, then slide the left side toward the button until the SR takes hold, which is slightly forward of the widest point.

December 31, 2017, 1:39 PM · *remember all support isn't upward. Support is both vertical and horizontal. An example I read somewhere was if you're holding a book on your left palm and tilt it, on finger from the right hand exerting very, very little pressure can stabilize the book and keep it from sliding off your hand.

As for positioning of shoulder rests, etc. None of those are fixed rules. Everyone's body is shaped differently, which requires different placement.

There are tons of really interesting books on how the violin and body work together. I highly recommend going down that rabbit hole. Otherwise, this is all uninformed thought experiments :p

Edited: December 31, 2017, 2:49 PM · Is this the position you are talking about, Andrew and roger?


Certainly changes the fulcrum position. But when I just tried it out, the SR is now out far enough that it somewhat impedes the motion of the shoulder joint.

But it only required about 2 bSu of force (baking soda units) to counterbalance.

December 31, 2017, 3:25 PM · OMG, you don't use a shoulder rest as a vertical fulcrum. How many more times will I have to say this? There's no crying in baseball, and there is no vertical fulcrum (at least on the front half of your body) in violin playing. You don't hold the violin up. You hold your arm up and balance a violin on it.

I know this is a shoulder rest post, so tensions will run higher, so fair warning, I'm sort of getting angry! (picture the queen with her grimace face) But please, please please learn how these parts work before you talk about impeding motion. Of course if you use something incorrectly, it's not going to work. A shoulder rest is a horizontal stabilizer, not a vertical one. The baking soda counterbalance is invalid.

Edited: December 31, 2017, 3:45 PM · Julie, I don’t use one at all. So I’m all about simply supporting using the left hand and allowing the violin to rest on the collar bone at the other end.

What I’m trying to dig into with this thread is to possibly find out, with empirical data instead of “Heifetz didn’t...” or “Hahn does...” that is typically used in our SR discussions here at Vcom what it is the cause of the discomfort that many SR users (or rather the ones that find they choose not to use one) complain about.

For me, the instrument is fairly well stabilized horizontally by means of resting on my collar bone and my jaw on the chin rest. By not having a SR there “stabilizing”, also allows the instrument to move freely to find its own optimal playing alignment.

And yes, no SR discussion would be complete without some passion and anger, so please feel free! ;^)

December 31, 2017, 3:47 PM · I am not sure how useful any data gathered in this way will be, (1) because everyone's anatomy is unique and (2) you are completely ignoring the many people who find a shoulder rest quite comfortable.
December 31, 2017, 4:00 PM · Mary Ellen, your point is quite valid.
Edited: December 31, 2017, 4:21 PM · Craig asked “Is this the position you are talking about, Andrew and roger?

Pretty much, perhaps a bit less of an angle for me. I use a Pedi shoulder rest.

Edited: December 31, 2017, 4:40 PM · Julie wrote: you don't use a shoulder rest as a vertical fulcrum.

True, unless you don’t use the left thumb as a support point, otherwise the support points are as you said. The SR merely stabilize the instrument, facilitating shifting up and down with minimal (or no) thumb support. This is where SR is often used wrongly as a primary vertical support point, and it shouldn’t. It only “kicks in” when the thumb support is relaxed, at least that’s how it is in my case.

December 31, 2017, 4:39 PM · Many problems with experiment, but I'll not quibble. Many interesting comments too. SR can be comfortable, but it can take a LOT of experimentation. I find I need to adjust mine whether I'm sitting or standing. Note that most CRs have a hook like feature that keeps the scroll from falling. You drop your head to engage the hook. Okay so the force has to come from somewhere but my sense is that it is distributed among several places. But still I feel the weight of my head is doing most of the work. The thing is that the exact distribution depends on what you're playing, and I feel the SR just gives me more options ... more freedom, which is somewhat ironic because restless folks often say they experienced freedom by going restless.
December 31, 2017, 4:40 PM · "What I’m trying to dig into with this thread is to possibly find out, with empirical data..."

What's your data worth when your underlying assumptions are incorrect?

December 31, 2017, 4:46 PM · SR just gives me more options ... more freedom, which is somewhat ironic because restless folks often say they experienced freedom by going restless.

Perhaps because they like to rotate the instrument to facilitate playing on the G string rather than elevating the elbow?

December 31, 2017, 4:58 PM · Julie O'Connor wrote: "OMG, you don't use a shoulder rest as a vertical fulcrum. How many more times will I have to say this?"

I'm sure you're aware that there are legions of violin teachers and school music teachers encouraging their charges to stand with their hands at their sides and the violin tucked under their chin and hanging in space like a diving board. Over time this practice leads to the topic of your thread concerning pain while playing the violin, but it is very widespread.

Edited: December 31, 2017, 5:34 PM · Julie,
“What's your data worth when your underlying assumptions are incorrect? ”

Any experiment starts with a hypothesis (I believe that would be interchangeable with your use of “assumption”). Which is then either proven or disproven by peer review and further investigation.

My hypothesis: using a SR causes ME pain because it requires a downward force to counteract the lever arm created by the instrument and the SR.

Experiment: Try and find out how much downward force is required.

December 31, 2017, 5:01 PM · Perhaps because they like to rotate the instrument to facilitate playing on the G string rather than elevating the elbow?

Nope, you shouldn't be rotating the instrument.

December 31, 2017, 5:26 PM · Looks like Perlman thought it was OK.
December 31, 2017, 6:04 PM · Craig - lovely photo up there - but the left side of my SR would be even closer to the end button - as close as it could get without slipping off; If my shoulders, neck, and collarbone were different the SR positioning would be different. My arms are long and my scroll points much to the left.
December 31, 2017, 6:37 PM · "OMG, you don't use a shoulder rest as a vertical fulcrum. How many more times will I have to say this? There's no crying in baseball, and there is no vertical fulcrum (at least on the front half of your body) in violin playing. You don't hold the violin up. You hold your arm up and balance a violin on it."

Except that there's no shortage of teachers who teach exactly that: use the jaw and shoulder (with or without shoulder rest) to leverage the violin into a horizontal position. Despite the criticisms of Craig's experiment here, it definitely helps put some numbers to how much force could be involved when holding the instrument this way.

Edited: December 31, 2017, 7:50 PM · I dont think this experiment reflects reality. With or without shoulder rest, the head does not or should not be exerting all that force. All the shoulder rest does is raise the violin up closer to the chin, the left hand follows and the scroll too. Its just a nearly vertical translation of the whole instrument.
In fact, Ive been told that people who use shouldrr rest have less use of the chin/lower jaw than those withput (especially on downward shifts). The latter have to use different technique for the left hand (for instance read Simon Fischers advice on practicing shifts without using shoulder rest in order to get a precise feeling for the shift)

I think that what the shoulder rest brings is more height between chin and neck and lateral stability (or rather lateral, torsional fixity if that makes sense). The head does not act like your baking soda boxes do unless ypure doing something that will fundamentally harm you (believe me, ive been suffering lately from neck pain-much better now- and i play without shoulder rest).

The fact that many people play with shoulder rest have no problem is of course an even stronger proof that this hypothesis really is weak. Your pain is more likely due to your technique, as mine was. No need for baking soda hypothesis...careful it doesnt creep in even in your restless playing. See good teachers, experts for advice. Hope youll get better

Edited: December 31, 2017, 8:08 PM · Here’s a thread from previous post which I think is really well written and take into account of each one’s physiques.

In the article, SR is used not as a falcrum, but to fill the gap between shoulder and the violin so Player can stay relaxed and not lift the left shoulder to stabilize the violin. SR help a lot during shifts and to provide relaxed fingering.

December 31, 2017, 8:35 PM · Jeff wrote: “ much force could be involved when holding the instrument this way.”

Exactly. You get where I’m coming from.

“Could”. Because mostly things are never quantified here.

Sure, to describe playing the violin sounds incredibly easy: “lightly support the neck with your left hand (but don’t squeeze! And don’t let the neck slip down your thumb...)...stroke the strings with the bow with enough weight to get the proper response out of the string for a desired tone (keep the bow straight, keep the fingers flexible, be aware of proper sounding point...), and lightly press the fingers of your left hand to sound out the notes you would like to project out to your audience....

Of course, in real life, we all have paid thousands upon thousands of dollars for lessons on how to try to accomplish any and all of these “simple” tasks.

And as an example; I was speaking with one very accomplished violin instructor about such things, and they said the usual “keep the shoulder down, keep the left hand relaxed..” yet as soon as they raised their violin— up came the shoulder and the thumb was tight against the body of the hand...

So again, that person played beautifully, and their setup worked for them enough to get a masters from a well respected conservatory. And they said the “right” things, but in practice didn’t do those things.

Playing the violin is a somewhat nebulous affair. My experiment isn’t perfect (by a long shot), but it’s an attempt to quantify what is normally a very subjective discussion.

December 31, 2017, 8:44 PM · And to clarify: I don’t play with a shoulder rest (because of the reasons given in the OP). But my instructor does.

Thankfully they don’t impose that upon me. I tried for a year or two, but couldn’t get it to work for me. I wish it did, as it certainly seems like a useful aid when it works correctly.

December 31, 2017, 8:52 PM · There's zero tension involved in resting your chin/cheek on the chinrest, and letting the violin rest on *both* SR and clavicule. While I admit not every SR user rests their violin there, it's a common misconception by SR haters (truly no offense intended) that with SR you cannot play that way (clavicule contact with the instrument.)

Improper use of SR willl cause tension and injury-on the same token, an improper violin hold without SR will also cause both tension and injury (the infamous raised, tense left shoulder being one example-no less bad than "fulcrum-like" SR usage, "pressing down" on the chin rest.)

Finally, if the player is tension free and has utter freedom to play in any position, including the highest registers of the G string, what's the problem? SR is merely a tool. If it gets in the way of the music and freedom in playing, do NOT use it-but if it helps, and there's no technical hindrance, I do not see why it's so bad.

(I love Milstein/Heifetz/et al, so this is not a matter of old school vs "new" for me.)

December 31, 2017, 9:19 PM · It's "amazing" the numbers of folks here who believe that the one way they learned to play the violin, or the one way they play the violin, is the only possible way to do it.
Edited: December 31, 2017, 9:56 PM · Also respectfully, I would suggest that the video could mislead susceptible beginners regarding the role of the head. This could put them in harms way (at the most) or really confuse them(at the least). It is of course your choice but I respectfully suggest that its better not to put such information unless one really has much experience and put much thought into it.
December 31, 2017, 10:08 PM · I'm still trying to figure out how it's even possible to play the violin with the left thumb tight against the hand.
December 31, 2017, 10:32 PM · Mary Ellen—that person had the thumb right up against the body of the hand with the top most segment of the thumb sort of sticking outwards. And upon the tiny “V” shaped thereby, perched the violin. She is quite a good player, but it’s not a conventional hold by any means.
December 31, 2017, 10:39 PM · Tammuz, I hear what you’re saying. However, perhaps it’s better to have a “cautionary” video out there to let people know what may be involved.

As mentioned above, lots of videos out there already showing using only the chin and SR, “look no hands” method. How much Force is required for such a feat?

More information is always better than less information in my opinion.

Plus, I own stock in Arm&Hammer...

Edited: December 31, 2017, 11:30 PM · Tammuz wrote: ”All the shoulder rest does is raise the violin up closer to the chin

That’s exactly what a properly fitted SR should not be intended to do. Get a taller CR if you need to fill the gap. I use to do that (as many others do, including some pros) and it was creating a great deal of tension. When I lowered and repositioned my SR so the instrument would rest on my clavicule and raised my CR, my tone drastically improved literally overnight.

Edited: January 1, 2018, 8:26 AM · Julie, "fulcrums", vertical support etc seem to make make you angry, but your blanket dismissal of them certainly upsets me! I use them with ease and success. I don't hold my viola, I "hold it up" so that my left hand can be free to help produce some of the marvelous sounds going round in my head.

Rotation? Certainly not to avoid raising the bowing arm (I'm not that lazy!) but to allow my stubby pinky to a do warm vibrato on th C-string. Violists and second violinists spend alot o time on the lower strings.

But to be clear, I propose my successful solutions to my students, but I do not impose them.

Edited: January 1, 2018, 11:30 AM · In the interest of science, I figured I best see what the deal is with using a SR with a VIOLA.

Oh my....for a 17.5" viola, the lever arm torque involved was far beyond the baking soda level. I had to use a different Arm & Hammer product for this foray into the outer reaches of fundamental research.

Archimedes would have wept....

OK, just kidding on this one....Happy New Year!

January 1, 2018, 11:41 AM · LoL :-) and that was only one CatLitter unit!

What’s the story behind the smashed instrument?

January 1, 2018, 11:47 AM · That actually is the corpse of a 17.5" viola that came to an untimely demise. The details of which are too painful to put into words...
January 1, 2018, 12:14 PM · A 17.5" viola without a SR?
It was either him or you!
January 1, 2018, 1:39 PM · No way Adrian! A 17.5" WITH a SR is what would do one in...


January 1, 2018, 4:32 PM · Craig,

An interesting experiment, if for no other reason it revealed the many different ways people use (and do not use) a shoulder rest. Thank you for starting another SR war on The New Year has been properly ushered in! >grin<

There is one bit of physics I must correct in the vertical fulcrum debate: if one is using a shoulder rest, and there is ANY pressure of the chin rest against the underside of the jaw bone, then the SR is acting as a vertical fulcrum.

Sorry to disappoint this misconception, but Sir Isaac Newton figured this all out centuries ago and we have yet to see a physical system that violates his laws.

In regards to the violin touching the collar bone while using a shoulder rest: this is quite impossible unless the thumb is providing some lifting action at the scroll end, or the chin is providing some lowering action at the button end. See Sir Isaac Newton reference above.

I will concede an exception if you are using a chin rest made out of a sufficient quantity of stone to counter balance the higher turning moment of the violin on the scroll side of the shoulder rest.

A quick scan of youtube for my favorite, world famous violinists, who >gasp< use should rests, reveals an obvious space between their collarbone and the violin. Some of these spaces are quite small and at times the violin will appear to touch the collar area, mostly in response to them lifting the violin up at the scroll.

Keep in mind that some elder-times violinists were purported to use pads under their shirts and positioned such that the pad provided resistance to the violin sliding off the shoulder and also as a vertical fulcrum.

I am sure one can find any number of good players who also provide sufficient chin clamping pressure to keep the violin in contact with their collar bone while using a shoulder rest. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing is up to the individual I would think.

Positioning a shoulder rest so that it mostly fills up space as the violin is held between the neck and the collar bone might be a viable way to get the SR initially positioned and adjusted. But once ANY weight of the violin is allowed to be taken up by the SR, one has a bona fide vertical fulcrum in action.

January 1, 2018, 9:04 PM · Ms. Tanzio,

I don't like to be contrarian, nor is it fun to "debate" for me (or "win" arguments), but I hold the violin in the manner you stated is impossible. I didn't "invent" this either, but rather evolved it with time, practice, and seeing what worked. I still use VLM Diamond SR, finding it allows for this quite easily, but even with an old Kun (and even a Wolf Secondo, with some major adjustments) I was able to do it (full, relaxed violin/collarbone contact with SR.) In my own use, if there's a "fulcrum" via pressing down, there's an adjustment to make, until the SR is used as closely as possible as if you did not have one at all (my ideal is that no pressure should be exerted-just resting the chin/cheek on the chinrest is enough.)

Holding the violin very much to the left with a SR (top of shoulder, literally), while necessary for some players because of individual body/arms/bowing proportions, can prevent this collarbone contact while using a SR. I would still recommend, *whenever applicable*, this "impossible" contact. Although of course, there are many great players who use the SR differently than I, and still play loosely and in a relaxed, tension-free manner... in which case there's no point in criticizing their usage of shoulder rests, IMHO.

January 1, 2018, 9:47 PM · "impossible unless the thumb is providing some lifting action at the scroll end, or the chin is providing some lowering action at the button end"
Edited: January 2, 2018, 3:08 AM · A few observations (i.e. not just opinions..)
- All the restless (!) players I have met, or watched, use support from the shoulder some of the time (even the ones in the Alex Marcus's selection on YouTube which were supposed to prove the contrary..) even if they hotly deny it.
- placing the SR on the widest part of the lower bout (i.e. further from the collarbone) is stable and reduces the need for excessive pressure on the chinrest (Newtonian physics again). BUT (a) it can mean SR pressure on the very tip of the shoulder, blocking certain movements somewhat; (b) it can cramp some of the backplate vibrations; (c) it can necessitate very long "legs" on the SR, which will be less stable.
- There is no need for an either/or approach: despite my appalling use of The Fulcrum, I often use my left hand to raise my viola+SR off the shoulder, or to free my head position, and the viola then rests on the left thumb and the SR.

I dislike permanent contact with the collarbone, as I find it painful, and I want to listen to my playing via my ears, not my bones. But that is purely personal.

January 2, 2018, 8:00 AM · It's not "apalling"-I frankly pay no mind to how others play.

One "rule" we can state as "the norm", is that you don't need to press down hard on the chinrest while using a SR (a gentle chin/cheek rest usually suffices), whatever Newton said, and regardless fulcrums or collarbone contact.

Edited: January 2, 2018, 10:09 AM · When using a SR, the system is classified as a "class 1 lever"

A Class 1 lever has the fulcrum placed between the effort (supplied by your head/neck) and load (the unsupported weight of the violin). The movement of the load is in the opposite direction of the movement of the effort. This is the most common lever configuration.

The effort in a class 1 lever is in one direction, and the load moves in the opposite direction.

Note that the length of the effort arm can be greater than, equal to or less than the length of the load arm in a class 1 lever. Mechanical advantage may be greater than, less than, or equal to 1.
For violin with a SR, the load arm is always going to be longer than effort arm, which is why in my example video so much downward force is required to counteract the lever arm of a rather lightweight instrument.

Examples of class 1 levers include:

Oars on a boat
Pair of pliers
Violin with SR

Playing WITHOUT a SR is a "class 2 lever"

A Class 2 lever has the load (the entire weight of the instrument) between the effort and the fulcrum(your collar bone). In this type of lever, the movement of the load is in the same direction as that of the effort. Note that the length of the effort arm goes all the way to the fulcrum and is always greater than the length of the load arm in a class 2 lever. Mechanical advantage is always greater than 1. It is also called force multiplier lever.

Examples of Class 2 levers include:

Nut cracker
Violin without SR

*info from edited for context here.

also see:

January 2, 2018, 10:21 AM · "David, without a SR, there is no fulcrum with which to support the far end using the chin rest alone."

Agreed. But supporting the violin with the left hand and arm adds very little to the effort of supporting the left hand and arm alone.

"Playing without a SR makes more use of gravity, and having the instrument rest on both the clavicle and the left thumb."

Both make use of gravity. Gravity is hard to get away from. ;-)
In the "lever 1" scenario, gravity induces a downward force on the chinrest, since the spine is not at the balance point of the head, unless one puts the head in unusual positions.

In the "lever 2" scenario (without a shoulder rest), nothing about the gravitational head force has changed, but more arm effort is required.

Edited: January 2, 2018, 11:17 AM · David, I'm not sure about a couple of the points you're making, but coining the term "gravitational head force" is pretty awesome!

Here is Einstein himself utilizing too much gravitational head force even without a SR (or even bothering to use his shoulder at miss).

And upon further reflection he then came up with his second most famous equation as applied to music theory:

Edited: January 2, 2018, 3:54 PM · When my father was at Princeton, he once encountered Einstein walking between buildings. My father said, "Hello Mr. Einstein", and Einstein reportedly gave some kind of a grunt in return, might have even raised his eyes from the ground slightly.

That's my claim to fame. LOL

January 2, 2018, 3:59 PM · E=Fb ... let’s see how many will argue they are not quite the same.
January 2, 2018, 4:01 PM · Einstein was probably about to solve the Grand Theory or some other such monumental work of vast consequence, when your dad said “hello” and totally derailed his train of thought...

Oh well....back to zee drawing board!

January 2, 2018, 4:19 PM · But for my Dad.... ;-)

Edited: January 2, 2018, 5:12 PM · Roger, they're the same in the classical limit! LOL

And without the SR, doesn't the clavicle become the fulcrum? And isn't that much closer to downward force?

January 2, 2018, 5:14 PM · Einstein was clearly a better physicist than musician, for we violinists know that E != F flat;) Citation: Fischer 2007.

Also, Craig, your description of holding the violin as a class 1 or class 2 lever was great. Playing restless is clearly a class 2 lever. Playing with a rest can be class 1 or class 2. I can play with a rest very far up the bouts in a class 2 setup where the rest is just acting as a a pad under my tux jacket would, if I used one of those. I'm still holding the violin with my collar bone and hand.

When I was a child, I held the violin as a class 1 level because I had terrible instruction about how to use a shoulder rest. I was terribly uncomfortable and had tension issues. Switching to a class 2 level relieved all of those problem.

Just wondering--can anyone provide some examples of a player who spent most of their career playing with a rest positioned as a class 1 lever that had great longevity, like a Szeryng or Milstein for example? I ask that question legitimately and not rhetorically, I would like to see if they were doing anything else to mitigate the drawbacks of that setup.

Edited: January 3, 2018, 6:23 AM · More observations..

I used a restless, type 2 setup for a few years: it was fashionable, rather like conducting without a baton (like Pierre Boulez).
I needed more "tilt" for better left hand access to the lowest string, so I added one of those orange-slice-shaped pads with an elastic to the left corner of the back plate.
Then, to survive 3-hour rehearsals, and even dance-band sessions, and to improve my shifts and vibrato, I "converted" to the type 1 "see-saw" mode: a relaxed shoulder, and I can assure the Restless, much less tension in the neck, and a lighter, more mobile contact withe chinrest.

Jason (and others), the great, long-careered restless players switched from type 2 to type 1 and back as required using their often padded shoulders.
I too switch back and forth without removing the SR.

January 3, 2018, 6:38 AM · Holding the violin higher than Albert did in the photo and aiming the scroll more to the left will engage the shoulder in creating a combined type 2 and 1 LEVER approach for some people. This is what those tricky 20thC soloists like Heifetz, Stern and God knows who else who hid a cushion under their jackets to effectively raise the shoulder. Those of us who are built just so can do it without the cushion; the rest might use a SR.
January 3, 2018, 7:23 AM · My claim to fame is that my maths teacher had taught Paul Dirac many years before, and hardly let a lesson go by without mentioning it!

My more relevant claim to fame is that I once had a cello lesson from Christopher Bunting, who had been a pupil of Casals.

January 3, 2018, 8:10 AM · RE: padded tuxedos.

Here's Aarond Rosand, and you can clearly see the pad on his left shoulder as he gives his introduction, as well as the "look no hands" at about 0:30 as he prepares to play, same as many SR users.

Violin + shoulder pad = type 1 lever as well.

January 3, 2018, 8:17 AM · And to clarify: this is NOT an anti-shoulder rest thread on my part.

It is an investigation into finding out more about how a SR functions. "You don't get something for nothing", so what are the tradeoffs? How is a SR best put to use?

I've been quite interested in finding out how many still depend quite a bit on the left hand/thumb even when using the SR.

January 3, 2018, 8:18 AM · Adrian--can you describe what the drawbacks were for you when playing restless?
January 3, 2018, 11:34 AM · Physionomies obviously have a lot to do with the ability to comfortably play restless. In the case of Aarond Rosand, you can clearly see that at least 1/2 of the lower bout is resting against his shoulder and padding, and he also has a rather short neck. Other people (like me) have barely 1/5th of the lower bout supported in that fashion, hence why I use a shoulder rest as an extra “leg” of support on the lower collarbone, #1 being the upper collarbone, and #2 the thumb. Setup in that fashion, the SR isn’t a true type 1 lever, as both the fulcrum and the load end of the short lever are supported.
Edited: January 3, 2018, 11:48 AM · Craig,
- for the highest positions my thumb has to leave the neck, so no support!
- my longish thumb cannot open horizontally when supporting the viola to allow my stubby fingers a supple vibrato;
- with the viola nearly flat, I could not reach the C-string without pushing the elbow far to the right;
- I had to hook the ridge of my chin-rest in a rather rigid way to stop the viola slipping off my fairly discreet collarbone.

So, with the "fulcrum" near, but not on, the tip of the collarbone, and following round in front of it onto the chest, I have multiple choices:
- balancing the viola with the weight of my head: no clenching, and a free left hand;
- holding up the viola on the SR and the left hand, freeing my head.

I feel that playing all those notes while holding up the viola with the same hand is like trying to lift up the chair we are sitting on!

BTW, I have much customised my highish Teka chinrest so I hardly feel it. I could almost patent it!

January 3, 2018, 11:42 AM · Victor, that is a very good point: the tux jacket pad does allow one to basically go either way by adjusting the shoulder slightly. I guess placing the shoulder rest up the bouts would be similar too, but i’ve found playing restless with a jacket to be more comfortable. Maybe we should all just wear sport coats when we play and both be more comfortable and class up the joint at the same time!
Edited: January 3, 2018, 11:58 AM · Right! Class up the joint. Don't forget your spats!

"Yeah...nobody make any sudden moves, see?"

"Me and Mugsy are gonna play youz guyz a little ratta-tat-tat if any one of youz don't hand over da dough, see?"

"You wanna me to tune you up to 440Hz, or 440 hurts?..."

Edited: January 3, 2018, 12:06 PM · Roger, the setup you describe is still a type 1 level, it simply is bottomed out in much the same way a see-saw can rest with one side on the ground if say my svelte 200lbs was on one end, and my 11 year old was on the other. It wouldn't be moving downward any more because the ground (or in your example, the collar bone) is blocking it. The downward force is still being exerted on that end none the less.

As soon as the force is removed, the level will immediately tip back the other way.

Thanks Adrian for your explanation as well.

Edited: January 3, 2018, 1:33 PM · Craig you are right. I suppose though if the thumb provides equal support as the chin, that we have a situation where there is both a lift and a load. That would cut by 1/2 the required chin weight to balance the instrument, more or less depending on the amount of lift provided by the thumb at various time. So 1.4lbs in my case would be the max. Load necessary to maintain level, and likely much less most of the time.
January 3, 2018, 1:48 PM · Roger--right.

But then, if the thumb is providing enough counterbalance support to remove the load from the chin, of what use is the SR in the first place?

OK, that's more of a Socratic question....from the descriptions by others above, it seems they like the dynamic change of shifting between more or less of the "lifting force" to be provided at any given time by the left thumb/hand or when that's unavailable, they shift the load to the SR/head-neck combo.

January 3, 2018, 5:52 PM · I believe the premise is wrong (no offense, Mr. First), because each player is too individual for these theoretical explanations to even apply. Also, while not "advocating" rest-less use, in truth this is what the thread is about. Why the need to "scientifically" prove that SR users cannot achieve a specific balance?

Bear in mind, for me both ways of playing are valid, and I myself would not use a SR, were it the best solution for me.

Edited: January 3, 2018, 5:56 PM · I agree 100% with Adalberto.
Edited: January 4, 2018, 7:26 AM · Adalberto, I will say this in my defense- On one level I have had a certain opinion of SRs, since they haven’t worked for me in the past, so I wanted to see why that was.

On the other level, there are indeed certain mechanical absolutes about how Force distribution works in a lever system, and I wanted to broach that aspect of things, since it’s usually just an argument about using one or not without any real reason other than personal preference.

In the process of the discussion as it has unfolded I’ve learned quite a bit about how many players actually utilize them rather differently than what I have usually seen in videos using the “look no hands” method of support. That method indeed does engender a significant load. But it seems that many SR users make use of the left hand for support far more than I would have imagined.

So, perhaps it has been of no use to anybody else. But, it has been rather enlightening for me, and has changed my viewpoint of them. I’d say there’s a significant dearth of information out there about how a SR actually should be used. As I said earlier it’s usually simply strapped on to the violin in one’s youth and left to the user to figure it out, often leading to over leverage, excessive use of the neck and/or raising the shoulder to get it to feel like it is “doing its job”, totally supporting the far end.

January 3, 2018, 10:55 PM · Ammm... I'm quite sure Einstein is one of those people that would never ever write down something like E = Fb. They are not the same, Einstein would cringe so hard!
January 4, 2018, 7:57 AM · You know, I saw that pic E=Fb and thought it was humorous. I never knew it was a matter of further contention....hmmm, you learn something new every day.
Edited: January 4, 2018, 9:18 AM · Craig, "Einstein" was correct, E does equal F flat for all fixed intonation instruments (i.e., keyboard instruments). But for instruments where the player can "bend" the pitch there is the importance of "context," that is, among other things, the basic key of the phrase. Also the the vibrational frequency that sounds a note "in tune" in a melodic context may be different than that which is "in tune" in harmony. "Tolerable" string quartet playing requires constant awareness of this latter problem.

If you play a lot of violin/piano sonatas, E=Fb ! It's all relative !!!

January 4, 2018, 9:29 AM · Fb major? With a double flat?

January 4, 2018, 9:33 AM · Fb major? With a double flat?

Edited: January 4, 2018, 9:53 AM · Something happened to my above posts, they got truncated and somehow I cannot edit them.

Thanks Andrew. So the Fb for strings means it slightly “favors” a higher tone than a simple E?

Edited: January 4, 2018, 2:21 PM · That depends on where the Fb comes froman what it must blend with.

Re: comfort.
The chinrest must be totally adapted to its victim's chin, with the violin tilted to the right as necessary for easy access; then a soft pad or a very carefully adjusted SR will not interfere with one's playing, but can make it much easier.

January 4, 2018, 6:33 PM · Abbb major (triple flat), four octaves, fingered tenths. Isn't that the scale that Heifetz always asked for in his master classes?
January 7, 2018, 6:20 PM · Wow that is really interesting.
I have been trying to sort out how to hold this beast for over a year, and finding as I finally get to a comfortable solution my playing comes in tune too - which is exactly what I suspected would happen.
Edited: January 7, 2018, 6:38 PM · I have complained about the problems created by having to use the SR as a fulcrum, and now that I am not using it as a fulcrum but more in the way Julie indicates the problems are finally evaporating. Yes, you don't want the thing to pivot, you don't want to place any more than light pressure on CR through chin. I lift my chin off the fiddle now and then when playing to ensure i don't go too nutcracker. I DO add weight with fingers pressing from my LH - especially I come down hard on fingers 3 and 4, as light as possible with 1 and 2 .
Now I am working on coming down a bit lighter with 3 and 4 to reduce counterpressure needed by the chin. I do place the violin so it rests on collar bone a fair amount, and touches chin and jaw and neck . I do use LH to take some of the weight a lot of the time. I find a big problem to avoid is having the instrument too fixed, too wedged, too immobile,- by the clutch of chin and hold of SR. On the other hand it must provide a stable platform.
I find my LH, especially when using finger 1 and 2 a bit, can be used to push up the instrument into its snug space under jaw - but if I overdo that my playing goes to pot.
Very interested to see many players using SR still use LH to support weight to some extent and still rest on collar bone. I have found both those things essential to solving the problem of how to hold this instrument over the last year or so.
I play without a CR, which is unusual I suspect - no CR - just a cloth over the tail piece , but SR. Crs are quite heavy - so going CR - less is good for reducing the weight, which helps with the pivot/fulcrum problem if you MUST push down a bit with the chin. Of course the SR is heavy too...but I find I need it to fill the gap and give some (not too much ) stability.
Everything flows as Heracleitus said . Maybe he was a violinist, like Einstein
Edited: January 7, 2018, 6:46 PM · I use a Pedi SR (carbon fibre) and Kreddle CR (composite) both of which are very light.
January 8, 2018, 8:46 AM · Craig, what happened is that you tried to insert some kind of doo-dad into your post and the HTML got screwed up. You'll have to ask Laurie if you want it to get fixed.
Edited: January 8, 2018, 9:28 AM · Sylvan--you articulate very well the things I have also learned from this thread.

Paul-thanks, it's not worth fixing, it was a graphic of the Fb major key signature.

January 8, 2018, 9:44 AM · Craig - ypu might want to check out the book, "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)," by Ross W. Duffin, 2007.

This thing goes way beyond Fb and E!

January 8, 2018, 12:28 PM ·
Edited: January 8, 2018, 1:44 PM · Simon Fischer discusses tuning notes at the beginning of his _Scales_ book. If you apply this methodology to every key you will notice that many notes that are enharmonically the same on the piano would not be the same if played on the violin.

Ergo, E != F flat.

Thinking the logic through, I believe an F flat would frequently be lower than an open E string, right? And, following the logic for C major, your open E string would actually be a little flat compared to what you would typically want to play for that scale?

But, I think Fischer also says one should provide each key its own character by keeping notes that match the open strings in tune with the open strings. So it's not just as simple as sharps-sharp/flats-flat.

Either way, it's more beautiful than always-out-of-tune pianos;)

Edited: January 14, 2018, 7:37 AM · This is interesting too.
When I write music I use my computer and finale score-writing programme a lot. They have the option of many different temperments - lehman- Bach, just intonation Werkmeister 111 or whatever it is, and others. Someone told me a good one is Lehman-bach - so I use that. Also bring down the pitch to a=434 or something.
The interesting thing is , whatever non-equal temperment I choose - it brings the music alive. Even if I place Mozarts' sonata in C allegro in that temperament, it sounds FAR more alive in non-equal temperment. I have tried that with someone other than myself too and they agree - instantly far more alive. ......
Roger St Pierre, might try that I use a Pedi SR (carbon fibre) .

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