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Shifting On The Violin
Discussion on the best ways to learn to shift.
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megafgosd

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August 18, 2019 - 3:46 am
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Playing away from 1st position avoids the use of open strings, which can have quite a different tonal quality from a stopped-note.

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starise
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August 18, 2019 - 8:36 am
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Yes I noticed this too. I see to prefer to open string sound when it's an option. I am noticing drifts in my intonation sometimes and find I need to return to scales (or playing in a group) to get back on track. 

I was at a session yesterday and it was nice to have a center of tuning in the group. When I'm by myself I can drift. 

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AndrewH
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Classical players usually avoid playing on open strings, for three reasons:

1) If a string has gone out of tune, you can adjust your intonation on fingered notes but not open strings.

2) Most of the notes are fingered, so an open string sounds different from everything around it.

3) You can't add vibrato to an open string. You can get some of the vibrato effect by fingering an octave above the open string on the next string up (vibrato on a sympathetic resonance), but that isn't quite the same.

 

My instinct to avoid open strings is so strong that, when an open string actually makes the most sense, I almost always have to write it in to remind myself not to finger it differently.

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Gordon Shumway
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August 19, 2019 - 3:49 am
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My teacher says that second position is popular with violists. Do you agree, Andrew? It's interesting because it reduces the length of the fingerboard considerably - I hope violists aren't prone to cheating(lol)! Whistler in teaching 2nd position only seems to look at the keys of Bb, F, C and G. I wonder if that's for the sake of convenience, or if there is a practical reason. I assume that 2nd is merely a sort of stop-gap when 3rd isn't required (without expecting to be right).

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
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August 19, 2019 - 8:56 am
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AndrewH said
Classical players usually avoid playing on open strings, for three reasons:

1) If a string has gone out of tune, you can adjust your intonation on fingered notes but not open strings.

2) Most of the notes are fingered, so an open string sounds different from everything around it.

3) You can't add vibrato to an open string. You can get some of the vibrato effect by fingering an octave above the open string on the next string up (vibrato on a sympathetic resonance), but that isn't quite the same............

What Andrew says is spot on on all 3. For me, number 2 being the strongest reason.

If you need to play an open string keep in mind that it will be stronger and try to compensate by not applying as much pressure as you do with the fingered notes. Listen to yourself carefully and learn to balance.

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

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AndrewH
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August 19, 2019 - 11:03 pm
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Gordon Shumway said
My teacher says that second position is popular with violists. Do you agree, Andrew? It's interesting because it reduces the length of the fingerboard considerably - I hope violists aren't prone to cheating(lol)! Whistler in teaching 2nd position only seems to look at the keys of Bb, F, C and G. I wonder if that's for the sake of convenience, or if there is a practical reason. I assume that 2nd is merely a sort of stop-gap when 3rd isn't required (without expecting to be right).

  

 

Second position is not a stop-gap at all. For most string players, it is more difficult than thrd position because it lacks the easy 1st finger reference point. I suspect the reason for teaching a low second position to begin with is mainly that it is easier to learn than the high second position. In low second position, two notes in an ascending major scale can be played against open strings to check intonation.

 

Violists use second position mainly to avoid having a whole step between the 3rd and 4th fingers. On the viola, a "normal" 4th finger placement is already an extension for many people. I find I am especially likely to use second position in fast passages where the whole step between 3rd and 4th fingers is especially awkward, or to minimize string crossings between 4th finger on the lower string and 1st finger on the higher string.

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Gordon Shumway
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August 20, 2019 - 4:08 am
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AndrewH said

Violists use second position mainly to avoid having a whole step between the 3rd and 4th fingers. On the viola, a "normal" 4th finger placement is already an extension for many people. I find I am especially likely to use second position in fast passages where the whole step between 3rd and 4th fingers is especially awkward, or to minimize string crossings between 4th finger on the lower string and 1st finger on the higher string.

  

Very interesting. Thanks.

Andrew

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August 20, 2019 - 1:25 pm
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Thanks for the advice Fiddlerman, Andrew and others. Makes sense that a player would want a more even sound across strings. I do like the ring I hear on some violins playing open. The resonance, the harmonics? This is a big contrast to how lower strings often seem to sound.

This is my inexperience talking here. I am grasshopper lol.

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