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open vs 4th finger
knowing which to play
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rockinglr33
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March 15, 2014 - 7:18 am
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Hey guys,

I'm pretty sure that this topic has come up before. I remember reading a few posts about it but i can't seem to find them. So i'm finally getting into my books where its asking the use of 4th finger instead of just open string notes. I've noticed a lot of pieces never tell when to use the open string vs the 4th finger. i know a lot of people say they choose which one to use for the sound of the piece because the open string can stand out, but is there really a wrong way?

i've noticed that with some combinations its easier to play 4th finger and others its easier to play open strings. Granted i'm just learning how to do some decent string changes, well simple ones like going from A on D string to B on the A string, as well as really using that 4th finger so i'm not the best at it.  is there a good way to learn when to choose or is it kind of a by ear or feel kinda thing? 

hope thats not to complicated of an explanation. lol. Thanks for all the help!

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

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Schaick
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March 15, 2014 - 10:42 am
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I am just now well past few weeks have been starting to use my pinkie at the suggestion of my Teach.  As hard as it was to start using my pinkie I now see how it makes a few pieces so much easier to play.

When I see a note that can be played using the pinkie in the middle of a group of notes on the one string and when speed is an issue, not having to change strings is an advantage.

Teach at my first lesson said playing the violin very much uses the conservation of energy.

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 15, 2014 - 12:42 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Great question and yes it's been discussed a lot.
The best way for me to give examples of which finger is the best to use in varying situations is for me to see some sheets.
As you mentioned, it can be much quicker and easier to use the 4th finger vs open string based on string crossings. Sometimes having to use an open string vs 4th finger could even involve a 2 string crossing instead of alternating between 2 strings. The same thing can apply to using an open string advantageously when alternating between two strings repetitively vs crossing over to the next string.
Using a fingered string instead of an open string is often better for matching sound against other notes, vibrato and expression and even for intonation believe it or not. :-)
If ever you have any doubts about fingering, post the sheets and the spot in question or just a section of the sheets and I'll give my 2 cents. :-)
Not for everyone but once you've reached a certain level of perfection.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Fiddlestix
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March 15, 2014 - 1:26 pm
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I totally agree that using the pinky is easier in some respect's as opposed to open and certain string crossings. However using the open string will definitely let you know if you are playing in tune or not. I've found this out several time's. I think i'm in tune with a song until I hit an open string for the next note and found that I have played myself out of tune up to that point then have to go back and fix several note's. The ear can be deceiving.

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RosinedUp
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March 15, 2014 - 4:38 pm
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Here's my idea for bringing the pinky into use after neglecting to learn to use it.

I went about a year and a half without using the pinky much.  I'm using it a lot more now and getting more comfortable with it.  I play mostly by ear, so my goal is not only to be able to use it, but to know (without thinking much) when to use it.

I felt bad trying to switch over, because it was harder, and not being in the habit of using the pinky, it usually felt awkward and didn't sound good.

I finally developed a strategy to start using the pinky not on tunes that I already knew but on scales and a some designated new tunes.  That way I didn't upset my repertoire.  The expectation is to eventually work it into all my tunes as appropriate.

And it has paid off.  Not rarely I'm surprised to find myself using my pinky without planning to do so.

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Mustang
Minnesnowda
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March 15, 2014 - 6:26 pm
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I used to have trouble knowing when to use 4th finger too. After a while you just start to know when to use an open string or 4th finger, though.

Sometimes it can be easier to use one or the other in a series of notes, like you said. Just pick which one is easier for you in that situation. I don't think there's a right or wrong. smile

If it's a long note, 4th finger is usually a good idea because then you can vibrato. It can depend on the style of the music too, though. Open strings are more common in fiddle music, open strings are rare in classical music.

 

Experiment with 4th finger and open strings when practicing. Figure out which one is easier/sounds better for you and go from there.smile

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rockinglr33
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March 16, 2014 - 12:16 am
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Thanks everyone for your helpful tips! I will definitely experiment a bit with the songs I'm learning and see if i can figure them out, worse comes to worse i'll take Fiddlerman's advice and post the sheet music to get some help! 

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 16, 2014 - 8:58 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Mustang said
Experiment with 4th finger and open strings when practicing. Figure out which one is easier/sounds better for you and go from there.smile

This is great advise and applies to everything and all techniques when practicing. :-)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Uzi
Georgia
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March 16, 2014 - 8:09 pm
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I don't know much about the fiddle, but ...

If you look closely at these two videos of master violinists you'll see two different approaches to the same piece of music, one that uses the open string and one (that to the best of my ability to see) does not. The example is the first six violin notes from the theme of Shindler's List and the first six notes are A on the G string, then A on the D string followed by two slurred A (on the D string) to D notes. It is the choice between those D (one D open, the other not) notes that is relevant to your question.  Which one you play is, as my grandson's viola teacher would say, a matter of personal artistic interpretation. Simply, whichever one you choose is the right one to play, but you need to be able to play either.  Anyway here are the videos, so that you can hear the subtle difference it makes. Both ways sound good to me.

 

First, Itzhak Perlman who plays the string open:

http://youtu.be/TJhPH16AJe8

 

Next, Fiddlerman, who I think plays at least one of the two D's on the G string.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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March 16, 2014 - 9:21 pm
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They are both playing open D, it just appear's different because FM / Pierre is sliding his finger, but is really playing the open D also.

The same two video's I was going to post earlier  until I watched closely.

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Fiddlerman
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March 19, 2014 - 8:18 am
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Interesting that you guys make the comparison. I actually use the open D the first time but the second in a row I vision that D as a pick-up to the following phrase and wanted to change it as well as to vibrate so I fingered it.
When you get to a certain point in your playing, choosing to play open will most often become a choice rather than a convenience.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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rabbittavo
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May 1, 2014 - 2:56 pm
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I've also heard that when you'll be crossing strings it's easier to use an opened string if going up. If you'll be going back down then fourth finger, at least at the beginning this is something that I had also neglected after awhile and this isn't a hard day rule just a trick to make it a bit easier to incorporate into your playing.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
May 1, 2014 - 3:25 pm
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Not a rule at all. As a matter of a fact not appropriate.
Every situation is unique. If ever in doubt do the one that sounds and feels the best.
I will be happy to write fingerings for any posted example and explain why if ever you guys need a tip.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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