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Shifting On The Violin
Discussion on the best ways to learn to shift.
Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
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starise
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March 21, 2019 - 9:00 am
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I'm not  sure I  have the meaning of the term "shifting" correct. I hear it used among classically trained players. My guess is it means the way we move our hand and fingers in relation to the notes we are required to play. 

As a fairly recent player, I am only beginning to get into the ways that work best to play several notes without lifting my fingers. For some reason my fingers want to lift when they should be closer to the strings. I realize this is probably a matter of practicing the right techniques. What has worked best for you in learning these techniques? 

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MoonShadows
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March 21, 2019 - 10:01 am
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Good topic, @starise  I'm interested in this too. 

I'll be watching this topic.

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Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
March 21, 2019 - 11:53 am
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@starise - "shifting" refers to "which position" you are playing in (sitting or standing  sorry - that was a poor joke!)

Here's a link to a discussion on first and 3rd position - the "shift" occurs when you move out of any one position to another - 1st to 3rd you would slide / shift your hand up the neck...  Playing away from 1st position avoids the use of open strings, which can have quite a different tonal quality from a stopped-note.

https://www.dummies.com/art-center/music/violin/how-to-play-in-third-and-fourth-position-on-the-violin/

... In case anyone saw the original link - I've replaced it - nothing wrong with it - I just didn't realize at the time it was also a violin shop....  didn't mean to give them free advertising !

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

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

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starise
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March 22, 2019 - 12:19 pm
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Nice to meet you BillyG!! and thank you for this info. I'm at the stage where I'm playing a few of the higher notes on lower strings. I guess technically this isn't shifting just an alternate fingering. For instance I'll play an E on the A string instead of an open E. In playing something like Ashokan Farewell I'll  slide my little finger to the B, or a close approximation , on the E string at the ending. That would probably be easier if I practiced shifting. 

Almost seems a skill that isn't as common when "fiddling". More common for music playing higher notes further up the neck i.e. classical music.

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BillyG
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March 22, 2019 - 12:47 pm
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You're welcome @starise 🙂

Yes, a lot of people initially find the stretch to get that fourth-finger pinkie reaching the 5th above the open string (D on the G, A on the D, your E on the A and so on) - but it's worth taking the time to master that, exercise that pinkie and get it used to the stretch!   That's because once you do go on to playing in a higher position, you'll almost always need to use that pinkie - BUT - it gets easier since the notes "get closer together" so to speak, so the stretch is less the higher up the neck you are.

I agree with you, in general, a lot of fiddle tunes really don't require that skill/technique - but to have it at your fingertips can bring an interesting and unexpected variation to the piece - you mention Ashokan Farewell - now - this is not the actual video I had seen Jay Ungar do this on - it was another version of AF, where he stayed up in 3rd (or 4th maybe - I'd have to find the video again ) for a good number of bars - but in this one on the Folk Alley Sessions he does a quick excursion to a higher position (at about 4:30 into the video ) - and if Mr Ungar does it - well....  what more to say LOL !

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

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

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starise
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March 26, 2019 - 11:20 am
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BillyG, That video was a big motivator in getting me to play Ashokan Farewell. I'm not sure I'll ever play it like Jay though. That tune has made it into the pile of Irish Traditional I play in sessions which is not that unusual considering a bunch of Scottish and even some Scandinavian made it into the common pile too. 

Interesting thoughts on the closer fingerings higher on the neck. I had noticed on the G string the fingerings are comparably further apart since it's a lower string. FFF (Fat Fingered Folk) need to move em' over a little more and do a little more nudging there. Like trying to get one more body on the bus 🙂

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Scrap
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March 26, 2019 - 12:26 pm
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I've never heard that song, but wow. That is a nice one. Added to my to play list for sure. 

 

To add to the OP, I have never learned to shift but would like to. I have started messing with the fiddlerman slurs and am trying to figure finger placement for third position. I believe one church song I want to play with 4 flats would be better off in a different position than first. So I am watching this threat intently.

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starise
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March 28, 2019 - 8:31 am
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@Scrap I notice a lot of "church" music in keys like Db. Maybe transposing that one will help.

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Scrap
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March 28, 2019 - 12:03 pm
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@starise That is good advice. I have found other versions.

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MoonShadows
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March 29, 2019 - 7:21 am
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@Scrap You never heard Ashokan Farewell? It's beautiful, isn't it. I first heard it when I watched the Ken Burns series on The Civil War, an excellent recounting of the Civil War done mainly in historic pictures and personal accounts.

Ashokan Farewell was not, as both its tune and the miniseries that made it famous would seem to suggest, written in the 19th century. It was written instead at the tail end of the 20th. And it wasn’t a Southern waltz; it was created in the style of a Scottish lament—and in celebration of a town, and a reservoir, in upstate New York, by a guy from the Bronx.

In the early 1980s, Jay Ungar and his wife and fellow musician, Molly Mason, were running the Ashokan Camp, a summer arts school specializing in fiddle and dancing, at the Ashokan Field Campus of SUNY New Paltz. Ungar composed the tune—Mason would later give it its resonant name—to commemorate the conclusion of the 1982 session of the camp. Ungar had traveled through Scotland earlier in the summer, and he wanted to compose a tune in the style of a Scottish lament—something that would capture the sense of sadness that the camp, and all the camaraderie and community and joy it represented to him, would be ending.

In the years Ken Burns spent researching and producing The Civil War, he was on the lookout for songs that could serve as the soundtrack for the documentary. He heard “Ashokan Farewell.” He got in touch with Ungar and Mason. He asked for permission to use the song in the documentary. They consented. And, that's how a song written in the 1980's by a guy from the Bronx became the theme for that series, associated with The Civil War, and the miniseries catapulted the song into the spotlight.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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bocaholly
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March 29, 2019 - 8:40 am
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I love that Ashokan Farewell, @MoonShadows so a huge thanks for that quirky background story 🙂

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starise
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April 1, 2019 - 9:17 am
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Interesting how some of these songs came about. Thanks MoonShadows. I knew it was written later and had some association to the civil war, now I know.

FYI, here is a book my teacher had me buy related to the positions called "Introducing The Positions". I've been going over the basics for a few minutes each evening. Fiddlerman might have it here too.

It's probably too early for a green beginner to learn this if they don't know the 1st positions well yet. Something to maybe get into later. I have found the book to be very helpful.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Positions-Violin-Third-Position/dp/1423444876

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MoonShadows
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April 1, 2019 - 9:47 am
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Thanks for the link to that book @starise

I put in on my Amazon Wish List for when I am ready for it.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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starise
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April 2, 2019 - 2:13 pm
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You are very welcome MoonShadows. I hope it helps. I was a little pessimistic like, " I have to learn all of this now?" Almost the same as learning all over again on those fingerings. 

I guess all mountains look the highest before we climb them.

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AndrewH
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April 2, 2019 - 11:02 pm
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starise said
You are very welcome MoonShadows. I hope it helps. I was a little pessimistic like, " I have to learn all of this now?" Almost the same as learning all over again on those fingerings. 

I guess all mountains look the highest before we climb them.  

I actually still remember it being daunting at first. But eventually it becomes second nature. Now, shifting is so instinctive for me when I see certain note patterns that I sometimes have to write in fingers to remind myself not to shift (e.g. if something farther down the line is easier in 1st position).

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