FORUM

Please have a look at our Forum Rules. Lets keep this forum an enjoyable place to visit.

A A A
Avatar

Please consider registering
guest

sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —






— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

No permission to create posts
sp_Feed Topic RSS sp_TopicIcon
Fear of key signatures with flats?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (5 votes) 
Avatar
cashierjim
Hollywood, CA
Member
Members
January 20, 2017 - 12:04 am
Member Since: January 1, 2017
Forum Posts: 15
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I consider myself to be a beginner as I'm still working through some of the simple pieces available on this site (thanks Fiddlerman for making those available!).  One thing I've noticed is that I enjoy playing pieces with 1 or 2 sharps, but I don't like the sound of those pieces with 1 or 2 flats.

I can think of two reasons for this: the keys of G major and D major have lots of open strings, which helps to keep my intonation in check, and provides open strings for sympathetic vibrations.  Also, it appears that my left hand has gotten used to the scale shape for these keys.

My question is: will this preference for sharps over flats persist when I'm a more experienced violinist?  Note that I don't find flats "harder to think about" than sharps--I'm an experienced pianist with a pretty good understanding of music theory.  The problem is that I just don't sound as good playing flats as I do sharps, and I wonder if that will ever change.

So for you experienced violinists out there, do you prefer sharps over flats, or do you not care one way or the other?

Avatar
Jim Dunleavy
United Kingdom
Members

Regulars
January 20, 2017 - 3:30 am
Member Since: April 19, 2015
Forum Posts: 301
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hi @cashierjim - I also fear the flats when playing violin! I've been playing for coming up to 3 years now and like you am an experienced pianist (I also play flute to a reasonable level).

The thing is all the beginner tutor books and easy violin music tend to be in easy keys, so what happens is you get used to just playing in the easy keys. The same goes for most folk music which is usually in G, D or A major or relative minors, which means you keep pretty much the same hand shape for everything you play and (crucially imo) never have to use your first finger in the 'low' position.

As soon as you go into flat keys, you have to use low one all the time, and that's what throws you. Then you start needing low 4 instead of the open string etc etc, and I agree, there's less reference to open strings which doesn't help 'calibrate' your pitch.

There's only one solution, and you may or may not like it - scales! Once you have the scale shape under your fingers practice pieces written in those keys and you'll soon find them a lot easier.

Avatar
damfino
oHIo, USA
Members

Regulars
January 20, 2017 - 8:57 am
Member Since: July 23, 2015
Forum Posts: 1103
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I have played songs here and there in flat key signatures since I first started (was following youtube video tutorials, and tab sheet music as I learned how to read sheet music in my lesson). I didn't feel like I sounded great playing them but they didn't scare me, everything was new to me anyway.

As I started learning sheet music, I got very comfortable in all the usual fiddle tune keys, and seeing those little flats in the key signatures started to worry me more, how I sounded worried me more, too.

After I hit a year my teacher and I moved away from working on tunes/bowing/ornamentation and into technique (had fun the first year, still having fun now but we're digging deeper) and part of that was moving into etudes.

The etudes have helped me a great deal. I hardly consider myself an experienced violinist, I'm still a beginner, but those flat key signatures don't worry my anymore. I still question how I sound when playing them, but when I go to my lesson and play along with my teacher and hear that I match her that helps me move away from worrying and trusting my ear again, like I did in the comfy key signatures with more sharps.

So the moral of my story is, if you aren't doing etudes or scales yet (I personally enjoy etudes more) you should think of trying them out. They really help you grow. However, I am glad I didn't do them my first year, I think that would have been boring and frustrating for me.

Avatar
MrYikes
Honorary advisor
Members

Regulars
January 20, 2017 - 8:58 am
Member Since: February 11, 2014
Forum Posts: 464
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Thank you Jim, that helped.  I have a tune I want to play (Harlem Nocturne).  I look at the music with all those flats and it feels like walking through walmart on black friday.  Just cannot move or get through those flats.  I thought that someday I would be good enough to play it.  It NEVER occurred to me to practice the scales.  I'm not the brightest bulb in a set.
Yesterday I was playing Anniversary Waltz.  It has a D# to F# (on the D string) then a low B.  My fingers got lost and I had to stop to work it out.  Normally I can play an Eb without a problem, but yesterday I couldn't.

Avatar
cashierjim
Hollywood, CA
Member
Members
January 20, 2017 - 9:18 am
Member Since: January 1, 2017
Forum Posts: 15
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Thanks to everyone for their responses.  I do like to warm up with a scale or two, but guess what, I always pick G or D!  Anyway I guess I'll try some C, F, and Bb scales instead.

Avatar
Charles
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
January 20, 2017 - 4:15 pm
Member Since: June 7, 2016
Forum Posts: 152
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

My teacher gave me a useful sheet. It shows how the string patterns on one string change as you're going to the next one. I don't remember the whole thing, but for the G scale, is would 0, 1H, 2H, 3L (change to D string) 0, 1H, 2H, 3L (change to A string) 0,1H,2L,3L (change to E) 0, 1H, 2L, 3L.

Where it gets interesting is when you play scales that don't start on the open string. 1st finger becomes the equivalent of the open string, 2nd functions as the first does in the G scale, 3rd for 2nd, and 4th for 3rd.

The pattern then becomes

1,2H,3H,4L  (G string)

1,2H,3H,4L (D)

1,2H,3L,4L (A)

1,2H,3L,4L (E)

 

What's neat about this is that pattern stays exactly the same, no matter what note you start on. Once you get practiced at this, you can play a proper scale in any key, just by knowing the note it starts on (which is the name of the key).  You have to truncate the pattern if you start notes on a higher string, or else shift up high on the E string.

If you're comfortable with shifting, this would work anywhere on the fingerboard.

It's worthwhile to play scales in unsual keys using the open strings, too, of course.

Avatar
intrepidgirl
Members

Regulars
January 20, 2017 - 8:52 pm
Member Since: March 8, 2015
Forum Posts: 119
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I have been working on Oh solo mio, and Fiddlerman has a pretty simple version of it here.  It does cover a lot of territory though, and it is filled with sharps.  I find it is very good practice as it may have lots of sharps but it is not terribly hard other than that (and it is a lovely tune). I too warm up with scales but not just G and D so am doing sharps and flats along the way.

Avatar
coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
Members

Regulars
January 21, 2017 - 3:51 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 3876
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Love all the sharp and flat talk here.

Since I am such a rebel, there were songs that I just couldn't live without.  Godfather was one of them.  

Our Thaxted Project was one that helped me with the Bb's.  (whether I hit them correctly back then... well... that's another story).

I got used to some of the Sharps with Greensleeves and some of the Beatles tunes.

That is usually how I deal with sharps and flats.

I do need to work on scales... I will always say that is the way... but that is my one help... is that there are songs that I just "have" to play and that helps me just suck it up and learn them.

And by now way does that mean I excell at it.  🙂

Cheers,

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Avatar
SilverHalide
Scotland
Members
January 21, 2017 - 4:34 pm
Member Since: May 29, 2015
Forum Posts: 67
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

damfino said

So the moral of my story is, if you aren't doing etudes or scales yet (I personally enjoy etudes more) you should think of trying them out. They really help you grow. However, I am glad I didn't do them my first year, I think that would have been boring and frustrating for me.  

 

Yes! I have a bad habit of sticking to sharp keys but now I'm progressing through Wohlfahrt's Op.45 I have no choice but to tackle the flat keys and more difficult time signatures. 

 

I think you really have to practice finger indepence to reach back with whatever finger you need and focus on keeping the rest of the hand shape still. It's a shame you don't like the sound of them, F major is quite beautiful. 🙂

Avatar
MrYikes
Honorary advisor
Members

Regulars
January 22, 2017 - 10:36 am
Member Since: February 11, 2014
Forum Posts: 464
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10sp_Permalink sp_Print
5

Only if you can get rid of the F.  I can't get it to sound good in any tune except Godfather---and I play a lot of tunes in F.  But I love the sound of Bb and Eb.

Avatar
BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
January 22, 2017 - 12:28 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 1873
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

sb.jpgImage Enlarger

ftf.JPG

Oh - you can tell I'm just filling in time before the SJ Strings On Sunday show....

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

Avatar
Elwin
Houston
Advanced member
Members
January 22, 2017 - 10:58 pm
Member Since: January 3, 2017
Forum Posts: 76
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Practicing in different keys should help. Eventually, you'll get used to it with good practice.

I know the feeling of loving sharps more than flats. From what I've observed, it's common for musicians who start off on a string instrument to love sharps more. While, musicians who start off on wind instruments commonly prefer flats. I was a band geek during middle school so I know the sharps and flats thing. The Band and Orchestra preferred only flats and sharps respectively.

Avatar
Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 25, 2017 - 10:48 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12081
13sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Do you feel that sharps are easier than flats?

  • Not really, haven't noticed any differences.(63% : 5 votes)
  • Yes of course. Way easier(38% : 3 votes)
  • Actually the opposite, I find flats to be easier.(0% : 0 votes)
Total Voters: 8

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

Avatar
damfino
oHIo, USA
Members

Regulars
January 25, 2017 - 1:48 pm
Member Since: July 23, 2015
Forum Posts: 1103
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
14sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

I think it's all in how you look at it, and how the learning process makes you look at it. How I was started, and how I'm guessing most people started, was in "easy" key signatures, or what we assume must be easy because the book is starting us there and we have to work our way up to being worthy of playing the flat key signatures. 

When I first picked up the fiddle, my week and couple days before I started lessons, if a video tutorial said something was for a beginner, and showed to play the notes back, I did it and didn't think anything of it. I was new, it was all new, and figured I just had to jump in.
 
It wasn't until I started my lessons, got comfy in certain key signatures that I started looking at it all as hard and scary. Now I'm back to not caring so much, but just have to think a little harder still about the flat key signatures to make sure I'm playing the right finger pattern.
 
That said, I need to make myself learn what all those little things mean for sure. I read them as "#" a low second finger easy peasy, "##" happy place, "b" gotta think about this "bb" Oh no, think harder...
Avatar
coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
Members

Regulars
January 28, 2017 - 2:36 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 3876
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
15sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

@BillyG Oh I love those pics you posted.. LOLOLOL..

so true so true.. "Feel the Fear, and do it anyway..."  Bravo and YES INDEED.

Cheers.

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Avatar
al-f
Member
Members
February 18, 2017 - 2:48 am
Member Since: February 9, 2017
Forum Posts: 10
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

my dad in law could easily read music, and was teaching me how, i asked him how he could remember where all those notes were. {i was trying to remember the order of them like this A,A#,Bb,B,C (and i was thinking in my mind while getting to the B that B# would be a C and a Cb would actually be a B)}. he told me you dont have to remember all that, you will never see a B# or a Cb written like that, and you only have to remember where these 7 notes are, the sharps and flats are only a half step away. my next question was how do you know whether its a sharp or flat. answer was, that just depends on whether you are going up or down the scale.

so as someone who is just starting to learn to sight read music (I have a small knowledge of how to read  but no experience), my question is why is it harder to play b than to play # ? or is it just a matter of how those particular scales are played. how your fingers are used to moving on the fingerboard?

Avatar
Charles
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
February 18, 2017 - 8:48 am
Member Since: June 7, 2016
Forum Posts: 152
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
17sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

al-f said

so as someone who is just starting to learn to sight read music (I have a small knowledge of how to read  but no experience), my question is why is it harder to play b than to play # ? or is it just a matter of how those particular scales are played. how your fingers are used to moving on the fingerboard?  

It's not harder to play them, in the sense of it being physically difficult (except maybe for the low first finger - I find it hard to twist my hand that far), it was your second guess - it's what people are used to.

One of the more useful tidbits I've gotten from this board is that a major scale follows the pattern (of half steps) of 221-2-221  (For example, on the D string, it's open, high 1st finger (E), high 2nd finger (F#), low 3rd finger (G). 2 half-tones, 2 more, then 1 more.  Switching to the A string (open) is 2 more, then high 1st finger (B), high 2nd finger (C#), low 3rd finger (D). D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D is the D major scale.

Since D is one of the "natural" scales for the violin, there are a lot of pieces written in it. Those finger positions (high 1st and 2nd, low 3rd) are what seem "natural" to most people, because that's what they've played a lot of.

If you think the 221-2-221 pattern for a scale, it doesn't matter that much where you start, but if you're thinking "Play a scale" and that thought is attached to those finger positions, it messes you up.  It's a mental difficulty, not a physical one.

Avatar
al-f
Member
Members
February 18, 2017 - 11:20 am
Member Since: February 9, 2017
Forum Posts: 10
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
18sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

thank you charles, yeah thats what dad in law taught me whole step,WS,1/2STEP,WS,WS,WS, 1/2S.... i will keep in mind what you posted, man i sure do have ALOT to learn as i am reading thru these posts, its seems so overwhelming...just bits at a time i guess.

Avatar
Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 23, 2017 - 10:28 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12081
19sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Perhaps flats are harder for you because your hand has to be so far back away from your body and up against the nut of the fingerboard.

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

Avatar
Charles
Regular advisor
Members

Regulars
February 23, 2017 - 4:26 pm
Member Since: June 7, 2016
Forum Posts: 152
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
20sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Fiddlerman said
Perhaps flats are harder for you because your hand has to be so far back away from your body and up against the nut of the fingerboard.  

I think you're right. I tried it, and the further my arm is stretched out, the harder it is to keep it twisted enough.  Nothing to do about it except play Ab3 until it feels comfortable, I guess.  It's only the ones right next to the nut that are hard. Low second finger is a tiny bit harder than high second, but not enough to be a problem.

No permission to create posts
Forum Timezone: America/New_York

Most Users Ever Online: 231

Currently Online: Fiddlerman
32 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Members Birthdays
sp_BirthdayIcon
Today None
Upcoming Sofia Leo, TKDennis, FiddleDetroit, CookiesViolin, Dorque, Elaisa

Top Posters:

coolpinkone: 3876

Mad_Wed: 2849

Barry: 2666

Fiddlestix: 2647

Oliver: 2439

DanielB: 2379

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 1

Members: 4435

Moderators: 0

Admins: 3

Forum Stats:

Groups: 16

Forums: 56

Topics: 6642

Posts: 82616

Newest Members:

WesleyShall, HenryDem, Rajagopal Mudupiri, reneeub2, StevenClano, GuestBlort

Administrators: Fiddlerman: 12081, KindaScratchy: 1677, BillyG: 1873