Author Topic: Viola Hand Positions .. Engraving  (Read 485 times)

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mjf1947

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Viola Hand Positions .. Engraving
« on: June 21, 2020, 07:01:55 AM »
How do you indicate you want a player to play notes in the, for example, third and/or fourth position?  How would you engrave that on the staff?

Mark

Michel.R.E

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Re: Viola Hand Positions .. Engraving
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2020, 07:55:40 AM »
you don't.
positions and fingerings are only included in beginner exercise books (think "Suzuki method").

Different players will take passages in different positions, depending on how they interpret the music.

The only thing you might indicate is an open string, where you specifically want the effect of that open string, or where there might be a string crossing (ie: the lower string is actually playing in a higher position than the upper string, during a doublestop).

Open strings are marked with a "0" above (or beside in some cases, depending on the context.)
N.B. a "zero" and not an "o" like for a harmonic. it denotes that zero fingers are being used on that string.

How about posting the example you want?
« Last Edit: June 21, 2020, 07:58:37 AM by Michel.R.E »
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mjf1947

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Re: Viola Hand Positions .. Engraving
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2020, 10:32:38 AM »


Here's the measure.  Bb on the D string.

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Michel.R.E

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Re: Viola Hand Positions .. Engraving
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2020, 10:36:45 AM »
I did a quick and dirty guide to string positions on the viola, using the lowest string (C) as a reference.

Starting at the major 7th up (a B, on the C string), the fingers are over the body of the instrument, and not just on the neck.

The viola has a proportionately shorter neck than the violin or cello, compared to its body length. This means that to get higher up the string, you are quickly faced with the thickness and mass of the body.
The viola also has a much thicker body size, proportionately, than a violin.
Some soloists have a groove cut into one side of the instrument, at the shoulder, making higher positions much easier to play. (it makes it look a bit like an electric guitar) But don't expect this of every soloist you meet. It's still quite rare and has the disadvantage of slightly altering the sound of the viola.

It doesn't make positions higher than 6th "impossible", only less comfortable, and at times awkward for fingering.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

Michel.R.E

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Re: Viola Hand Positions .. Engraving
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2020, 10:54:25 AM »
there's no way to play that Bb other than on the D string, so you don't have to specify a string or fingering.

beats 2 and 3 will be problematic.
the open 5th on beat 2, then dropping that to a major 2nd on the 2nd half of that beat, then a 3rd on beat 3.
it's all rather awkward.

on beat 1, the position issue isn't that Bb on the D string.
but rather, what position places the top line in such a manner so that the rest of that measure can be fingered properly.

I'll throw together an example that shows where you might want to specify fingering (rather than string position) for a specific effect.

"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

Michel.R.E

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Re: Viola Hand Positions .. Engraving
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2020, 11:05:42 AM »
here's an example of where one might want to indicate a fingering, for an effect.
what happens here is that the 3rd finger plays two subsequent notes, so there will be a tiny "glide" between the notes.
in this particular example, one might want to do this to avoid that glide just before the actual final note (I do this in the middle movement of my violin concerto), so that that final note is firmly pressed down right on the beat.\

But this doesn't strictly specify string position (ie: the position of the hand on the string). it specifies a fingering (which by default ends up specifying a string position.)

Actual hand position, string position, etc... will be decided by factors like preferred fingering for a passage.
A same passage might be fingered 12 different ways by 12 different string players.
For example, one might prefer the sound of a higher numbered string for a passage so will use a lower string position on that string.
Another might prefer the tension of a lower numbered string but with a higher string position (hand on that string).
« Last Edit: June 21, 2020, 11:10:08 AM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

mjf1947

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Re: Viola Hand Positions .. Engraving
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2020, 07:13:47 PM »
Thanks Michel,

I will re-examine my double stops not only to see if they work but also how they move on the fret board in sequence.

Mark