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The left hand in string crossings
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RosinedUp
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June 25, 2014 - 4:07 am
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I'm trying to form some good basic habits for the left hand.

Having played a fingered note on one string, and crossing strings to play a fingered note on a different string, what should the fingers of the left hand be doing?  I mean how should they be working together to make a good crossing?  If the question is too general, please consider the case where the two strings are next to each other.

We could use the example of the fourth finger playing D on the G string, then the first finger playing E on the D string, or please make up your own example(s).

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Kiara
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June 25, 2014 - 5:37 am
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I am not entirely sure how to answer the question RU, but I think that is where scales can come in handy, and arpeggios. Keep all of your fingers fairly curled and close to the strings (if that makes sense) not up in the air because then it takes longer for the fingers to get to the strings.

Don't really know what else to say, never really thought too much about how it all works, but I'll look at other's replies and see if I can think of anything else :)

Not sure if I have been at all helpful, but I tried. :)

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Fiddlerman
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June 25, 2014 - 9:17 pm
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Yes, keep your fingers close to the strings and only lift the fingers that must be lifted. In the example you give above you can keep both of those fingers down. If you have fat fingers your 4th finger D should be just enough to the left to where it doesn't touch the D string and the 1st finger E, just enough to the right to not touch the G.

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RosinedUp
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@Kiara Thanks for your points about scales and arpeggios, and about curling the fingers and keeping them low.

Fiddlerman said
Yes, keep your fingers close to the strings and only lift the fingers that must be lifted. In the example you give above you can keep both of those fingers down.

@Fiddlerman Does that mean to only lift them off the string when needed?  Does it mean to use block fingering?

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Fiddlerman
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June 30, 2014 - 8:01 am
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Yes Kiara. As often as possible, only lift fingers when necessary. Sometimes, it's necessary to lift fingers to prepare them in advance for other positions or strings.

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

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PopFiddle
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I had a persistent problem crossing strings with the bow.  When I left one string that was fingered to go to an open string, say playing G on the D string going to the open A string, I would frequently be hearing the open G string as I was bowing the open A string.  So I would hear D, a kind of secondary note from the open G and then A.

It was very irritating and my solution was to leave the finger down on G (third finger) until I had actually began bowing the open A.  This was all precipitated by viewing Fiddlerman's video on increasing speed.

The same strategy works fingering across strings that are not open.  Play D on the G string and leave the finger down until you have actually began bowing the fingered E on the D string.

The basic rule I came up with is the finger leaves the string after the bow leaves the string, just as the finger hits the string before the bow hits it.  When slurring for speed as in the video, you might find an entirely different feel in your fingering rhythm.

This is a personal discovery and I'm ready to hear criticism and better ideas.  It works for me so far.

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RosinedUp
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PopFiddle said
I had a persistent problem crossing strings with the bow.  When I left one string that was fingered to go to an open string, say playing G on the D string going to the open A string, I would frequently be hearing the open G string as I was bowing the open A string.  So I would hear D, a kind of secondary note from the open G and then A.

@PopFiddle Thanks for a nice post, including Pierre's video.

Yes, the string tends to buzz against the finger as the finger leaves the string.  When you can't stop bowing the string before lifting the finger (say with slurred G and F# on the D string) it seems that the thing to do is to lift the finger as quickly as possible.  Slurring F# then G on the D string, the finger should come down as fast as possible, but shouldn't apply undue pressure once it's down.  Or so I am informed.  Details are in the following.

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PopFiddle
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July 15, 2014 - 9:26 pm
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RosinedUp, that's not exactly the problem.  The problem is in string crossing moving from one string to another as quickly as possible.  And I am seeing some new things here.

The problem doesn't seem to be in just the left hand alone.  The problem also has to be confronted at the bow.  My exercise is in slurring notes and so the bow is moving in the same direction as it crosses from one string to another.  The problem seems to be not just in the fingering but also in the fact that the bow as it moves from one string to another passes through a point where it is hitting both strings at the same time.

You shouldn't have to worry about a residual bowing on the departed string after the fingering has moved off G on the D string to the open A.  The bow should already have moved on to the A string.  Some sort of articulation of the bow is necessary so that as it passes from one string to another it does not bow two strings at the same time.

This is what I am working on now.  Holding the G stop down on the D string after you have moved on to the A string is playing something entirely different from a one note at a time run through a series of notes, F, G, A, B, for example applying the open string A.

I have a new rule, "The bow moving to the next string lifts the finger on the departing string".  And so I try to pick up speed.

Could anyone recommend bowing exercises to confront this?  

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Fiddlerman
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July 16, 2014 - 4:51 pm
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PopFiddle said
.........Could anyone recommend bowing exercises to confront this?

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PopFiddle
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I'll give it a try.  Looks tough.  I'm trying Kreutzer's Etude no 2.  I've heard that so many times, it's kind of a cliche beginner's piece.  I just recently have managed to go through it once without stopping -- not without errors, just without stopping.  At about a quarter speed.  I tried it because I wanted something that moved beyond the first position.

I looked up "Kreutzer Etude 13" on YouTube to see what it sounded like and found this guy, Bernard Chevalier:

That's another one you hear alot.

I first found him there after I looked up Elgar's Six Very Easy Pieces on YouTube.  I found the first of Elgar's in a nice little beginner's book, "Violin: an Easy Guide ..." by Coetzee.  I learned it because it was easy and the first example in the book.  I couldn't figure out why you would compose something like that until I heard Chevalier play it.

Now I am learning all six and so it's my first serious project.

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Fiddlerman
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July 17, 2014 - 12:17 pm
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It's a great exercise but don't get stressed about it or the tempo. Learn it real slowly and take one line at a time or whatever you can tackle.
Just remember to take the shortest distance possible between the strings. It makes all the difference in the world.

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

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PopFiddle
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I haven't tried the piece yet, but I see it involves holding "chords" and so it appears that coordinating the left had with the right is not involved, the left hand is applying fixed stops all through the string changes.

Even so, that's a lot of string changes for a given measure and it sounds nice too.  I'll give it a couple of weeks and report back.

Fiddlerman said
...
Just remember to take the shortest distance possible between the strings....

I'm trying to decide what you mean by "shortest distance".  Bow travel is what I think you are talking about and in this case I think you mean angle distance so that the bow only rotates far enough to depart the old string and move onto the new string.

Is that right?

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RosinedUp
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From Maia Bang Violin Method, Part 1, page 53:

===========================================

The Secret of Perfect String Transfer

One of Professor Auer's Most Important Rules

Any bowing is relatively simple as long as the bow is used on one string only.  It is when the bow is transferred to a new string that the difficulty arises.  It can really be said that the main problem of Bow technique is embedded in the art of a perfect change of strings.

Change of strings

In order to gain a smooth inaudible String Transfer, Prof. Auer recommended that the finger, just used, should remain on the string until the bow has changed to the new string, that is: a momentary and simultaneous resting of both fingers on two strings.

Prof. Auer claimed (and rightly so) that a perfect String Transfer was impossible without adhering to this important rule.

 =======================================

Free pdf download at:

http://javanese.imslp.info/fil.....9662-1.pdf

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PopFiddle
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July 18, 2014 - 11:48 am
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RosinedUp, that's fantastic.  I am definitely going to have to read Auer.

The violin is a near perfect musical instrument, but I suppose any musical limitations has its limitations and so string crossing in one of the violin's limitations.  On the other hand, we can play two notes at the same time, something you can't do on any wind instrument.

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Fiddlerman
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July 18, 2014 - 1:01 pm
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That is exactly what I meant to say. :)

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

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RosinedUp
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I happened to see that reference to Auer when looking at the Maia Bang method, instigated by @suresh.  I'm not very familiar with either of them.  Auer must be very good, although it's quite old, and translated from German, unless I am wrong. 

Galamian's Principles is newer and originally in English.  I've read about a fourth of it (the most basic parts), and it is astounding in its concentration of fundamentals.  It was written over a ten-year period, based on fifty years of teaching a lot of great students. Just reading two pages, one can see how well crafted it is.  It is a book for both teachers and students, and we are self-teaching, right?  So based on my incomplete knowledge, I would say it would be a mistake to overlook Galamian.  Free pdf at http://archive.org/details/pri.....viol00gala , and the Dover hardcopy is $10. 

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RosinedUp
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Here is passage from Galamian's Principles, pp 22-23, being a bit philosophical and applying to the topic at hand.

====================

TIMING

The second essential factor in the development of the left hand I have called "timing."  A necessary differentiation must be made between what might be called musical timing and technical timing.  Musical timing means the actual sounding of the notes in the exact rhythmical pattern and the exact speed required by the music.  Technical timing means the making of the necessary movements of both left and right hands at the exact moment and precise speed that will insure correct musical timing.  These two things, musical timing and technical timing, will sometimes but not always coincide.  In the left hand the fingers often have to be prepared ahead of the time of sounding.  The same is true of the bow, which has to be placed in preparation, as in martele' or staccato bowings, before the actual playing of the notes.  The musical timing is, of course, the deciding factor,  If it is to be perfect, it presupposes correct technical timing of each hand by itself and a correct coordination between the two for any rhythm, any speed, or any required change of speed.

=============================================

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RosinedUp
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Fiddlerman said
Yes, keep your fingers close to the strings and only lift the fingers that must be lifted. In the example you give above you can keep both of those fingers down. If you have fat fingers your 4th finger D should be just enough to the left to where it doesn't touch the D string and the 1st finger E, just enough to the right to not touch the G.

@Fiddlerman Thank you.

My hands are not very big, but I can barely finger D on the G string and E on the D string at the same time, as mentioned, with a curved pinky.

Don't I see people playing D on the G string on the flat of the pinky, with the pinky straight and flat?  How are these people able to finger both strings simultaneously in the situation mentioned?  I mean how can the pinky remain clear of the D string?

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Fiddlerman
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July 30, 2014 - 9:54 am
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It's not as easy with the flatter pinky but they can don't have their pinkies completely flat. If it's completely flat they can't accomplish this. Simply make soft contact with the tip of your pinky and come as much from above as possible. Also, in this case you'll need to come under more with your elbow, which will make all the difference in the world.
PS: Video question and I'll show you :)

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

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PopFiddle
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PopFiddle said
I haven't tried the piece [Kreutzer's Etude #13] yet, but I see it involves holding "chords" and so it appears that coordinating the left had with the right is not involved, the left hand is applying fixed stops all through the string changes.

Even so, that's a lot of string changes for a given measure and it sounds nice too.  I'll give it a couple of weeks and report back.

"I'll give it a couple of weeks and report back."

I tried Kreutzer #13 for about a week and found the left hand fingering to be way too tough for me even though the bowing was a nice exercise.  In my edition of the Kreutzer's Etudes from http://www.theviolinsite.com, there is some alternative bowing patterns for #13 at the beginning of that piece that were interesting to experiment with, but I have since found some musical pieces that push my bowing enough to put off #13 until my left hand gets stronger.

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