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Chords
Triple-stop: is it a thing?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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Peter
West Sussex, England UK
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January 29, 2020 - 8:03 am
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Another freshman question:

Browsing the score for Mozart's K525 (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik), I discovered that the first note on violin I is a three-note chord, D-B-G, and I had to take a breath. Is this playable?

I picked up my least valuable / most easily repaired instrument, my toughest bow, fingered the chord and gave it my best shot. It sounded good, and I wonder if I had just played it as the man intended. I played the whole first two bars of the allegro, and it feels right. For what it's worth, the fiddle and bow survived.

I've taken a bit of a spin around, searching for 'violin chords', and can only find references to double-stops. Some references apologetically noted that a violin chord is a misnomer, as chords have three or more notes.

I'm probably over-thinking this, but are three-note chords on the violin for real? Mozart put them in his music, so...

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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January 29, 2020 - 8:29 am
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The short answer: yes.

Most of the time, it's similar to a rolled chord on the piano, especially if the bottom note is an open string. You start on the two lowest notes, and then move to the two highest notes and just let the bottom note ring. You can even play four-note chords this way.

It's also possible to play three notes all at once, but you need to put enough weight on the bow to keep it in contact with all three notes, and enough bow speed to keep it from sounding too crunchy. If you have to do this, bowing closer to the fingerboard will help, because there isn't as much height difference between strings there.

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Peter
West Sussex, England UK
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January 29, 2020 - 8:45 am
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Thank you Andrew,

I had indeed used the second method: aggressive, weighty bowing all three strings simultaneously. The open D is the root of the chord. It hadn't occurred to me to use the 'rolled chord' method (I hadn't heard of this hitherto), but that sounds much gentler. Mozart marks this passage as forte, so bashing three strings at once might still be appropriate.

Learning and playing this piece is still a way off for me at the moment (but I've printed the music ready); I was just curious. I'm currently working on Mozart's Andante Grazioso.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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January 29, 2020 - 4:44 pm
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In Mozart, or for that matter anything composed before the late 19th century, it is always a rolled chord. Mozart in particular should never feel heavy or aggressive; a Mozart forte is quite restrained.

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Peter
West Sussex, England UK
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January 29, 2020 - 5:00 pm
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Valuable advice.

Rolled chords (and restraint!): to be added to the list of skills to work on.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 30, 2020 - 6:53 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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As Andrew said.
However, on Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, you do play them together. The trick is to play the three strings without such power that you play attacca or anything ugly, aggressive or heavy.
Try playing a rounded type bowing that gives little to more to little pressure, but fast.
That is hard to explain, but I hope you get it.

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

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