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Oct 6, 2022 - 11:06:44 AM
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68 posts since 12/26/2021

I remember Groundhog Peggy saying that in another thread and it is true!

I'm trying to learn to play double stops. These weren't really part of the jr. high school orchestra curriculum back in the sixties. A couple bits sawing on open strings for an intro, occasional "vamping" on the beat in some things, that was it. Zero in my private instruction. For the record, when I use the term "double stop" I mean bowing two strings simultaneously no matter what the left hand is doing.

I've been playing some things with double stop accents, kind of dig into the other string. Not too bad, and if you don't quite get the second string its not catastrophic. If the intonation isn't perfect it kind of gets lost in the mix. But now I've started working on The Cajun Fiddle by Don Rich, and Diggy Diggy Li. Ouch!

Digging into the second string is horrible. In fact digging in is horrible. Developing a smooth even stroke with equal pressure on both strings is way different from playing single strings, much less margin for error. Intonation really, really matters. When it's right, it sings, when its off, it screeches. Sheesh! Speaking of screeching, the slightest touch to the other string brings on the banshees. Fudge the finger to get it clear and it changes the intonation. Playing two finger double stops is worse. There's a slight diffence in muscle feel holding two strings instead of playing the same notes consecutively, what feels right to my hand is out of tune. Very annoying.

I'm playing drone scales and arpeggios, just droning on two open strings to warm up. Using a tuner for the two finger double stops, because when the interval sings the whole thing may be sharp or flat. Bummer. And playing Cajun Fiddle and Diggy Diggy Li at glacial speed... but I'm having fun. Mostly.

Oct 6, 2022 - 4:00:41 PM
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DrLee

USA

6 posts since 2/14/2018

Hey, good work trying to advance! I suggest to lighten your touch. Its not necessary to put much pressure on the strings, but more to have the right angle. Don't know how you hold ur bow, but one way to ensure a light touch is to have your thumb bent, making it almost impossible to lift the bow off the strings.

Oct 6, 2022 - 5:57:41 PM
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795 posts since 8/10/2017

Wanna have some real double-stop fun? devil Get the book Melodious Doublestops and do the exercises in there.

Oct 6, 2022 - 8:39:06 PM

13891 posts since 9/23/2009
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I've said it before and I'll say it again...Double stops are hard! But doable...just keep a fiddlin' with them and they seem to get easier, although never easy, imho.

Greg, you're from Key Largo? First, I hope y'all are ok after the horrific hurricane. Second...hope your property is ok. Now besides that, I had a roommate in college my freshman year from Key Largo. She was so homesick and got letters from EVERYBODY in the town and of course, eventually got so homesick she couldn't stand it anymore and went back. We were all kinda jealous of the tales she told of Key Largo...this was back in the early 70s...I wonder if it's still the wonderful place with cozy and friendly neighbors that she missed so much back then? If so...what a great place to be, except for the awful hurricanes. Hope you're doing ok. And yeah...the double stops are hard, but not impossible...sometimes at this point I'm amazed at how good mine are sounding, then the next day...I'm like...whoa...can't stand the sound of 'em...lol...comes and goes I guess.

Oct 6, 2022 - 10:27:40 PM

40 posts since 9/7/2020

Totally do-able! I'm an impatient klutz but my double stops have only gotten better. Just keep at it! Practice scales with a drone string and practice the closed shapes for C, G, and D. Use mandolin diagrams as a visual guide if you need one.

Dripping water can cut a rock in twain.

Oct 7, 2022 - 4:14:06 AM
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carlb

USA

2469 posts since 2/2/2008

For me, fiddling is playing on two strings as much as possible. One thing I try to do is to let the melody note, in the double stop, stand out more than the harmony note (i.e. bow pressure is more on one of the strings). Your ear will tell you if you've succeeded.

Oct 7, 2022 - 5:06:13 AM
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2817 posts since 10/22/2007

The 2 Cajun-y tunes mentioned, what I've found, it's better to stay rhythmic than to play too fast. It's easy to loose that nuance. It may sound fast to a listener, and I recon that's the magic part.
As far as the double stops, like everyone has said, keep at it. Like everything it gets better with use/practice. Make the one at the end of the phrase really count. That's the one everyone hears. Lastly, play those Waltzes. Lots of long voiced double stops. Even the old boys say, "a Waltz will tell on you."

Oct 7, 2022 - 5:42:38 AM
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2477 posts since 10/1/2008

Something that helped me play in tune on double-stops was to purchase and practice with a cello tone droning in the background. Playing any scale arpeggios and double-stops with an A drone playing helps your ear make the slight adjustments needed to be properly intonated. Of course, play a tone matching whatever key you are working on. I still warm up with scales etc. and a tune in " that " key. I admit to skipping some of the "never heard" keys. R/

Oct 7, 2022 - 8:28:59 AM
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2817 posts since 10/22/2007

Or a nice slow 1-4-5 tune where you can add an organ-like chord under or over the chord being played. Some call it the fiddlers cry or moan. I call it trying to be the organ.

Oct 7, 2022 - 10:17:18 AM
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68 posts since 12/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

I've said it before and I'll say it again...Double stops are hard! But doable...just keep a fiddlin' with them and they seem to get easier, although never easy, imho.

Greg, you're from Key Largo? First, I hope y'all are ok after the horrific hurricane. Second...hope your property is ok. Now besides that, I had a roommate in college my freshman year from Key Largo. She was so homesick and got letters from EVERYBODY in the town and of course, eventually got so homesick she couldn't stand it anymore and went back. We were all kinda jealous of the tales she told of Key Largo...this was back in the early 70s...I wonder if it's still the wonderful place with cozy and friendly neighbors that she missed so much back then? If so...what a great place to be, except for the awful hurricanes. Hope you're doing ok. And yeah...the double stops are hard, but not impossible...sometimes at this point I'm amazed at how good mine are sounding, then the next day...I'm like...whoa...can't stand the sound of 'em...lol...comes and goes I guess.


It was horrific, but not here.  I sat up all night watching the radar as it went by. We had four days of 30mph winds blowing up the bay and flooding the streets in neighborhoods where people have way more money than sense. Fort Myers got the axe, my daughter is there from UF with a veterinary emergency team. No, Key Largo isn't the same as it was in the 70s, but no place is. Still a small close knit community where the residents are in a minority. They banned building condos in the 80s or it would be Miami Beach South. Still a great place to live.

I know you're a big Doc Watson fan, ever listen to Jean Ritchie?

Oct 7, 2022 - 10:24:13 AM
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boxbow

USA

2739 posts since 2/3/2011

The most fun I have is backing a woman who otherwise accompanies herself with a guitar singing hymns. Once I figured out a few timing things peculiar to her, the best thing in the world was to be holding those fat double stop/drones. Strictly back up with minimal fills. Mostly her and her guitar. I haven't seen her for over a year now.

Oct 7, 2022 - 10:42:20 AM

13891 posts since 9/23/2009
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Greg, sounds pretty scary...the hurricane, not the double stops, well maybe both...but no, seriously that hurricane sounds like an absolutely awful thing. Glad to hear y'all made it through and it's nice that your daughter is there helping with the animals who were affected. I figured Key Largo had grown up into something else...just like our old town...Superwalmart came and the whole town dissolved...walmart hired maybe 15 full time people and afew extra part-timers and sacrificed the whole town for that. We had already left a long time before that happened. And yes, I do know quite a bit of Jean Ritchie and have met her several times...you must be a fan too...she was from a couple of counties over and up from us and she went to the same college that I went to, of course way before I did...lol...but she came back at least once a year and gave concerts for the college and the whole town.

Walter...nothin like playing double stops with hymns...they seem well suited for a lotta double stoppin'.

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 10/07/2022 10:43:19

Oct 7, 2022 - 10:46:27 AM

68 posts since 12/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

Wanna have some real double-stop fun? devil Get the book Melodious Doublestops and do the exercises in there.


Thanks, found a PDF and I'm checking it out. Lot of it looks like what I'm doing anyway but with fancy Italian words ;-)

All my sheet music is PDF now, if I can't read it off my Chromebook I can put it on a 32" monitor. 

Oct 8, 2022 - 9:12:14 AM
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Earworm

USA

398 posts since 1/30/2018

I have thoughts, as you would expect (pardon me if it's been said), so here goes. Double stops done well cause you to say "gee, how many fiddlers are there again?" They don't necessarily cause you to say - "wow those sure are some awesome double stops."

My other thought on this topic is that double stops seem to get a lot of attention - that's fine and good, but they are really part of a suite of skills that includes things like rocking the bow and pulsing as techniques not to be ignored. These, (along with the coveted double stops) are not as occasional gimmicks, but as the individual texture of your playing.  All of these are supported by a nice loose wrist, light touch with the bow (to be varied at will), and of course excellent intonation that both your hand and ears can agree on. Carry on.

Edited by - Earworm on 10/08/2022 09:19:34

Oct 8, 2022 - 11:02:50 AM
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2127 posts since 12/11/2008

The thing about fiddling/violin-ing is that you gotta use your ears to home in the proper pitches. In other words, experiment with your double stop and fine-tune the pitches so that they work to your satisfaction...or to the satisfaction of your overly sharp-eared companions.

Oct 8, 2022 - 1:58:41 PM
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10524 posts since 3/19/2009
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Remember this. Tens of thousands of other violinists have figured this out and have done the work required to get it done. You can do this also..It does take work, but work can be fun if you have the right attitude.

Oct 8, 2022 - 6:39:15 PM

13891 posts since 9/23/2009
Online Now

Of course one problem is if you slide the double stops, the spaces between your fingers change slightly...so...ugh...that always gets me...gotta make those subtle changes with your fingers as they slide up the neck. To me, that's just hard to do...and sounds awful if you get off track...lol. But as Lee says, it's not anything superhuman...I mean, we can do it...it's within anyone's grasp, so...we'll get it.

Oct 8, 2022 - 6:42:18 PM
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2289 posts since 8/27/2008

One thing that can be difficult about double stops is the fact that there are 2 notes. Either or both can be sharp or flat, sometimes making chaos where you don't have a clue what to do. It helps to establish which note is primary. This may be different in different situations, but lets say mostly the lower note is the melody or primary note. So when things sound sour split your attention a little and establish your primary note, then establish your upper note to compliment it. Once you get used to it you can do it on the fly.

Oct 18, 2022 - 3:28:08 AM
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2317 posts since 7/4/2007

Use the open strings to guide you. Or at least one note that you know is right.

Make sure the note/string/double-stop your starting on is right. It's easier to find the right note if you're coming from the right note.

Oct 18, 2022 - 9:58:37 AM
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9 posts since 12/28/2020

A couple things my students have found helpful: if your fingers are brushing the string underneath (fingers on the A, hitting the E while you're trying to play an E drone) you can actually put your fingers over on the D string and let them touch the A, to make a bigger "tunnel" for the E. Especially if your finger are big. Takes a little getting used to.

I also remind folks: the instinct is to press twice as hard when you've got double the strings, but that's what leads to crunching. Concentrate on using a regular amount of pressure and getting the arm height correct for the double stop. A good warm up is just to go through the 7 arm heights one by one: E, E/A, A, A/D, D, D/G, G

Oct 18, 2022 - 6:00:35 PM

2317 posts since 7/4/2007

quote:
Originally posted by MeganBeller

 A good warm up is just to go through the 7 arm heights one by one: E, E/A, A, A/D, D, D/G, G


I've never heard that before.  Thank you.  Gonna work on that right now!

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