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Touching unplayed strings
When is it bad and when is it okay and when is it good to touch strings that are not being played?
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Honorary tenured advisor

January 23, 2014 - 4:21 am
Member Since: September 7, 2012
Forum Posts: 985
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I think I can safely say that there are important cases when unplayed strings should not be touched with the fingers of the left hand.

For instance, playing G on the D string: if you touch the G string at the same time, you can't hear the G string's sympathetic vibration, and you deprive yourself of a very useful reference for precise intonation.  And if you barely touch the G string in that case you will get a buzzing sound.  I believe the audience can hear those effects also.  It's the same when using the fourth finger to play D on the G string: touching the D string would mute its very strong resonance.

Can people name more cases when unplayed strings shouldn't be touched?

What are some cases when it doesn't matter?

What are some examples when it's necessary or desirable or convenient?

January 23, 2014 - 9:11 pm
Member Since: March 14, 2012
Forum Posts: 1644
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I'll bite, with a slight modification to the question @RosinedUp .

I'll say that adjacent strings shouldn't be touched when playing drones. Can't refer to them as "unplayed" strings because, by definition you're playing both strings when playing a drone.

It might be necessary to touch an adjacent string when certain note combinations require quick changes from one string to another with the finger in the same relative position. I'm thinking, for example of the very beginning of Swallowtail Jig, which involves going from E on the D string to B on the A string very quickly. I usually have my index finger resting partially on both strings at that point and just shift the pressure from one string to the next.

Cases where it doesn't matter would be most times when you're not doing either of the above.

That's my 2 cents.


When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

Russia, Tatarstan rep. Kazan city

January 25, 2014 - 11:06 am
Member Since: October 7, 2011
Forum Posts: 2849
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One that i hate: when playing with 2nd finger in IIIrd pos. on any string and trying to do vibrato my finger touches the higher string (which is in unison with the played one) - it couses the stupid wobbling sound. That one is quite expectable but annoying, LOL!facepalm

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