William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Using different fingers to play diminished 5ths

Learn the right approach for diminished fifths

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick gives you very useful tips for playing diminished 5ths often found in the most famous violin repertoire.

Released on November 2, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Why don't we have a little talk about one aspect of Fingerings? Why don't we talk about Fingering Diminished 5ths, like this one, or this one?

My question is, why do we use the same finger when we play Diminished 5ths on two different strings? I mean, why wouldn't we use, why wouldn't make sense to use two different fingers? Well, this is simply a commentary on my laziness.

For example, suppose we have a D on the A string and a G sharp on the D string? Why not use a third finger on the D, and a fourth finger on the G sharp, or what if we start that with a G string with a C natural, and then went to an F sharp on the D string using a third finger on the G string, and a second finger on the D string. I mean, doesn't that make sense?

Why would this be important? Well, it seems to me that this would increase accuracy, and increase cleanliness. I mean, isn't there a big risk when using the same finger to go to two different spots on two different strings? This seems obvious to me or perhaps then I've lost it. Well, let's assume that I haven't, and look at some specific spots in the music to see if I can show you how one might use this not-so-new idea. The wonderful pedagogue I. M. Yampolsky talked about this concept years ago in his book "The Principles of Violin Fingering," which is unfortunately out of print today.

Let's look at the Bach D Minor Partita Number Two. You see, in this measure, we have a G natural on the D string and we have a C sharp on the G string. Some people might play the G natural and the C sharp with the same finger, the third finger. Well, what I'm suggesting is that we use our third finger for the G natural, and our fourth finger for the C sharp. Do you see how much more sense that makes? How much easier it would be...it will be to control the pitch?

Okay. How about a look into the Barber Concerto for violin? If in this excerpt we use a third finger for the D on the G string, then we use a second finger on the A flat on the D string and even a first finger on the D on the 8th string. It would be like this... This makes so much sense to me. What about you? Does this make sense to you?

From a practical standpoint, to do any of this, you cannot squeeze with the left hand. Not at all. I mean, consider the amount of strength required to move a finger that's stuck to the string. It's so hard to move. Can I get it to move? No, I can't. It's stuck.

Okay. Here, let's try another one. Let's try Ysaye's Second Sonata. The one that... That one. You see, from the G on the E string, to the C sharp on the 8th string, instead of using a second finger, a better way is to use the third. Not... But...

That's it for this video on Fingering Diminished 5ths. My name is William Fitzpatrick, and I'm the Artistic Director of the MusiShare Young Artists Program. I'm as well the Temianka Professor of Violin at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University.

As always, I do hope this video helps your practicing to become more efficient and effective, helping you to learn to practice hard, but wisely. Hopefully this will lead you to giving even better performances.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

John Jerome Coughlin * VSM MEMBER * on November 16, 2016 @6:10 am PST
What a great tip! Thank you.
William - host, on May 10, 2017 @12:32 pm PST
You're welcome!
paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on November 2, 2016 @1:18 pm PST
why would anyone want to play these following diminished 5th notes with the same finger ? Just because you usually play them with that same finger when they are not in a diminished 5th sequence ?
I've never seen any fingering numbers on a score recommending me to use the same finger ..
Isabelle * VSM MEMBER * on November 9, 2016 @10:05 am PST
Me neither. My teacher and all the repertoire I've played suggested different fingers. I think it must be unsual to play it with the same finger...
William - host, on November 11, 2016 @10:47 am PST
Hi! Have a look at Fiocco Allegro in measure 5 ... the A-D-F sharp-A-C natural. How many play the F sharp with a 2nd finger and the C as well?
William Strickler * VSM MEMBER * on December 3, 2016 @11:05 am PST
Dr Suzuki back in book 4 when diminished 5th is introduced Vivaldi, A to D#, says you always you the same finger 3,3 and that is probably where the tradition is propagated. My violin teacher usually requires that I do it the way Suzuki wants, but on diminished 5th, she says you always use a different finger because it will be easier and more consistent to get the right tone. At the time I fought it, now with this presentation, I now finally understand. What I still don't understand is why not write the D# as Eb to help you use the right finger?
William - host, on May 10, 2017 @12:32 pm PST
Thanks for the response! Its my belief though that notes should not be "tied" to fingers ...
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