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Old 11-05-2009, 07:20 PM
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Default Double Stops: 7ths vs. 3rds

My orchestration books tell me that as far as double stops go, 3rds are easy, and 7ths, less so.

But I can't figure why this would be. Don't they both require the same distance between fingers 1 and 3, except that 7ths are in the natural angle, while 3rds are in the reverse angle.

Seems like 7ths would at least marginally easier than 3rds, if anything. What am I missing?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:27 PM
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As a professional violinist myself I can state that you are absolutely right! From the violinist stand point (as well for viola players and probably cello players) 7ths are MUCH easier than 3rds. I would say that 7ths are the "easiest" of the double stops. Here is my personal order of difficulty (from the easiest to the most difficult):

1. 7ths
2. 6ths
3. 4ths
4. 3rds-5ths
5. 8ths
6. 2nds (without open strings)


I hope that helps!
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:38 PM
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Fabrizio, that helps tremendously. And I'm glad to know that my instincts were correct on this.

Much appreciated!
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:50 PM
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Oh yeah, I forgot to ask, for practical orchestral writing, do all of these double stops go up to 7th position or 6th position. The books differ on that.
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:15 AM
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You are most than welcome!

About your last question, that depends by the player skills: professional, good players are able to play octaves up to the 12-13th position. I suggest you to look at the Paganini's Caprices for violin to understand what a violin can do. Of course, usually you don't write that difficult for orchestra, but they give you an idea of what the violin is capable of.

Good luck with your composing!
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