Generally there are 5 types of double-stops. Scales in thirds, scales in sixths, simple octaves, fingered octaves and lastly scales in tenths. However one more technical scale which was also mentioned by Leopold Auer, is scales in fourths.
First of all, I would like to introduce to you an unpopular scale device named as scale in fourths. Great master Leopold Auer complains in his book about scale in fourths. Because, people “who edit collections containing every variety of scales have omitted any mention of the scale in fourths.” (Auer)
Even though we professionals meet this type of scale ocassionally in chamber music, orchestra music and also in solos of violin than other usual scales, we undesirably and inevitably need the usage of scale in fourths. Nevertheless, this scale is very useful as an exercise for intonation. Furthermore, Auer makes another important statement to scale in fourths that works for the artificial harmonics (flageolets). In other words, the one who intends to play flageolets, s/he should unquestionably play scale in fourths.
However playing harmonic is so difficult to play that, failure of the players struggle with failure of flageolets productions and most of their harmonics persistently fail to ring true. Because of the reason that, Auer advises students to practice the scales in fourths, methodically insisting that he pays attention to the position of the fourth fingers. (Auer) Since, the fourth has the crucial role in scales in fourths.
Scale in Thirds
Scale in thirds is one of the most difficult double-stop technics which I have always struggled with, but still have been working on playing with good intonation and quality. In order to play scale in thirds with good intonation, the players should start producing the scale as single note manner then gradually play it as follows:
As L. Auer says “then he may take the same scale on the strings D and A, playing it in G major; and also on the strings A and E, playing it in D Major, always using the same fingering, and always paying close attention to the intonation and the change of positions.” (Auer)
As a matter of fact that, Leopold Auer suggestions are related to very basic rules of this scale, undoubtfully referring to the beginner level. Because the players –even myself- who have been studying on this type of scales and dedicated themselves to the subject, may agree with the idea that, if someone has professionally challenged with scales (in thirds, sixths and so on), s/he can automatically play these without any problems, or does not need any kind of guidance –anymore.
Although, some problems can unluckily not be avoided (even by professionals) such as finger shifting issue. This issue reveals itself in all kinds of scales (especially in double-stops). While s/he is playing it the shifts from one position to another should be effected in an inaudible manner. In addition to that, Auer suggests when one produces scale in thirds, s/he should stricly prefer to keep the second and fourth fingers in place and press the first and third fingers as close as possible against the other two, move rapidly over into the third position rather than accomplishing by that slow gliding of the fingers that demonstrates evident to the experienced ear. (Auer)
Scale in Sixths
Scale in sixths may be the most difficult double-stop scale I have ever dealt with. Real problem is generally about slightest range of shifting position and changing fingers. The scale is normally consisted of ascending and descending line (like other scales)
The players particularly face with the difficulties which occur while descending line being produced. Auer’s advices for the young violinists to study this in ‘Scale Studies in Double-Stops’, by Alexander Bloch, and in H.Schradieck’s School of Technique Book II. (Auer)
Simple Octaves (1-4 Fingers)
Even though, Auer states clearly on his book, that the simple octaves are one of the most difficult technical production for the players, but I do not truly agree with his idea. Since, the scales are merely consisted of first and fourth fingers. This is the gift and curse of simple octave’s production. Generally, the problem emerges on descending line, because of the violin’s versatile range –the violin has a different range of pitch, and when one plays the scales especially octaves, s/he can possibly notices that, while s/he is ascending the position intervals and fingers range are tightened-
In order to produce the simple octaves in perfect, the players should concentrate upon their first finger, and gives no special concern to the fourth. For the reason why Auer makes such a prominent statement, is all related with intonation. In other words, the first finger always guides the finger, and the most beneficial result of intonation exists and troubles extinct. On the other hand, Auer also gives example that, he has his pupils practice octaves in such a way that though both fingers (first & fourth) are in place, the bow touches only the lower string (first finger), yet the fourth finger is moving silently, in every sense of the word, exactly duplicates the action of the first. (Auer) He also claims that the two fingers should rapidly be carried out –even in a slow tempo- in order to avoid the horrible caterwal of the glissando from one note to the other. (Auer)
Fingered octaves is one of my favourite gamut of the scale. When I firstly faced with fingered octaves, I had some troubles with producing it with good intonation. Owing to the fact that my master and father helped me to solve the issue of fingered octaves when I was the age of eight, I managed to play this scale as joyfully as possible and usually without any problem…
Interestingly Auer admits that he was never experienced with ‘fingered octaves’ throughout his student period, and none of his teachers made him practise the ‘fingered octaves’. (Auer) He says the fingered octaves is the product of the last quarter of the past century. In addition; he heard this extremely challenging scale when Wilhemj played Paganini’s D Major Concerto, in which he introduces a scale of double-stops “fingered” octaves in a cadenza of his own composing for the first time. He also adds that “neither Paganini, Vieuxtemps nor Ernst” (excluding his transcription of Schubert’s Erlking, Wineiawsky nor Bazzini employed them –fingered octaves- in their works which represent the flower of the virtuoso compositions of the time…
The players who have not been trained with ‘tenths’ (scale) production, always complain about the great stretch between two fingers (1st & 4th). I (personally) have always been hearing the complainment about this problem. Even the greatest talents, accept the fact that they can not literally produce tenths due to the fundamental issues. Unfortunately most of the instructors do not want their pupils to get faced with the skill of tenths production, until the certain age that pupils manage to undertake the scale of tenths. However, when the right time (the instructors predict) comes; they can neither stretch their fingers to the first place nor play it in good intonation. I can definitely say this; the early you experience with tenths, the more successfully you can produce the tenths. The scale is related with how elastic you fingers is…
The rule of tenths fundamentally seem like (playing) the simple octaves but “short fingers will find the first position somewhat difficult because of the great stretch between the two fingers; yet if the left arm be be well advanced toward the E-String, this difficult may nevetheless be surmounted”. (Auer)
- Auer, Leopold, ‘Violin Playing as I Teach it’, Frederick A. Stokes Company, 2009 http://petrucci.mus.auth.gr/imglnks/usimg/7/7d/IMSLP29626-PMLP66515-Auer_Violin_Playng.pdf, 18.12.2012