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Legato string crossing

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Jan 12, 2019 - 4:18:43 PM
4 posts since 1/12/2019

Hi there,

I’m new to this forum, and new to the fiddle ...

I have a question about legato string crossing (by which I’m meaning crossing from one string to another with a single bow stroke so the two notes are slurred).

I notice that if I accidentally touch one of the two strings involved with a LH finger the slightly damped string can cause a squeak.

I can avoid the squeak simply by taking great care not to touch the adjacent string even slightly — but this often feels awkward and slows me down.

I also notice that if I time the movement of the LH fingers precisely and handle the bow deftly, I can avoid the squeak without having to worry about touching the adjacent string. It seems easier and still produces a slur across the two notes (to my ear anyway).

So I’m wondering if one of these approaches to the problem is better or more ‘correct’ than the other. Hope this makes sense!

Edited by - Rasbob on 01/12/2019 16:19:36

Jan 13, 2019 - 9:58:20 AM

190 posts since 11/5/2014

It seems you are referring to situations where the finger on the lower string arches over the higher string. In most situations you really should find a way to not touch the other string. Not that hard with a bit of practice for index/ring/middle; pinky can take more time. It might help you to move your left elbow "in" more (i.e. towards your right side), which will help you left hand curl more and give you more space.

Practicing double stops (where finger have to stay down cleanly) is a great way to get better at this.

Jan 13, 2019 - 11:46:26 AM

4 posts since 1/12/2019

That’s helpful, thank you!

Jan 13, 2019 - 1:24:23 PM
likes this

1309 posts since 12/11/2008

If nothing helps you finger the strings cleanly, think about replacing your fiddle's nut with a nut that has wider distances between the strings. I have three fiddles. Each one has/had a nut with different string groove distances. In other words, if there is a standard groove distance in the luthiers' bible it doesn't seem that fiddle-makers actually adhere to it.

Anyway, for whatever reason (perhaps my singular clumsiness?), I could never cleanly finger the fiddle that had the narrowest nut groove distances. Because of this, I took the offending fiddle to the joint I bought it from. They put on a new nut with grooves that were one millimeter (or was it two mm?) further apart between a couple of the grooves. Case closed.

Jan 13, 2019 - 4:50:24 PM

311 posts since 11/12/2016

Two things you might try, both of which I've read about and my teacher endorses is 1) place the finger on the string toward the side of the finger tip, away from the other string, rather than the middle of the tip to reduce the amount of flesh that can touch the other string; this works best toward the nut, and 2) when your finger contacts the string, push it slightly to the side. Works best further down the finger board and when trying not to touch the higher string, however it can slightly change the intonation depending on how much you push the string. I use both techniques on different tunes and, after practicing it that way, comes easily.

Jan 13, 2019 - 6:36:45 PM

2285 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Rasbob


I have a question about legato string crossing (by which I’m meaning crossing from one string to another with a single bow stroke so the two notes are slurred).

I notice that if I accidentally touch one of the two strings involved with a LH finger the slightly damped string can cause a squeak.

I can avoid the squeak simply by taking great care not to touch the adjacent string even slightly — but this often feels awkward and slows me down.
 


This is really no different than playing with a drone, or doing any double stop; each string needs clearance. Practicing helps get rid of awkwardness.

The problem is only the higher up fingerboard placed finger. 

Most importantly; to consider; only one adjacent side needs clearance, that is the finger tip does not need to be centered, and can lean one side or the other; away from needed adjacent string. It's perhaps more as if  putting the finger tip in space between 2 strings. 

As FiddleBas mentioned, a flatter low finger angle can cause some problems (usually on lower of string pair); straight down, perpendicular creates better tip and clearance.  As well - some problems occur from squashing down the finger, makes the tip wider, a light touch is all needed. 

--

quote:
Originally posted by Rasbob


I also notice that if I time the movement of the LH fingers precisely and handle the bow deftly, I can avoid the squeak without having to worry about touching the adjacent string. It seems easier and still produces a slur across the two notes (to my ear anyway).

So I’m wondering if one of these approaches to the problem is better or more ‘correct’ than the other. Hope this makes sense!


I'm not sure what you mean, other than perhaps lifting the upper finger off? Might work, but seems less efficient (and unnecessary)... especially when trying to get up to speed. It would be difficult to keep full note value and flow. Would not solve problem if wanting to do double stops.

(similar pushing or bending the string seems inefficient to speed or flow)

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 01/13/2019 18:52:27

Jan 14, 2019 - 12:36:49 AM

4 posts since 1/12/2019

These are all very useful responses,
thank you. I feel I know where I’m going now :-)

Jan 14, 2019 - 4:24:34 AM

1158 posts since 4/6/2014

Don't quite know what you mean but if i start snagging an adjacent string, i tend to think of the strings as pairs, so three pairs of strings are G&D, D&A, and A&E , if i was string crossing on the middle pair (D&A), i would have my fingers on the two "outer pairs" (G&D,and A&E),
unless i was playing a 5th with a single finger (eg: G&D with my 3rd finger...that's a different problem)

so if i wanted to play say a G/B double stop on the D&A strings for example and slur between them, i would put my first finger on the B&F# notes on the A&E strings,( not worrying too much about fingering the the F# cleanly) and my 3rd finger on the C&G notes on the G&D strings (not worrying about the fingering the C note cleanly), that would give me plenty of clearance to play the Middle pair of strings either slurred or as a chord/double stop

Edit: if i'm crossing or double stopping on the outer pairs of strings i just imagine another string on the outside of the finger board smiley

Edited by - pete_fiddle on 01/14/2019 04:34:42

Jan 15, 2019 - 5:09:24 AM

4 posts since 1/12/2019

Just to say that the problem has been solved, just getting out of the mindset of feeling I have to centralise my finger on the string, and realising that it's OK to offset it has completely done the trick.

Jan 15, 2019 - 3:32:05 PM

311 posts since 11/12/2016

Glad to hear it. I find these little 'victories' very motivating to keep going.

Jan 16, 2019 - 2:51:13 AM

Jimbeaux

Germany

206 posts since 5/24/2016

One thing that really helped me with this kind of problem was to get into fiddle setup. I've bought a couple of approx. 100-year-old fiddles at low prices, usually because they had missing strings, bridge or a fallen sound post. Learning how to do these things and set up string height to the way I like it has helped my playing a lot. The downside is that I don't sound quite as good on a fiddle/violin with a more standard set up.

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