Why does this fella go down to lower positions as he moves along toward the E string from the G string to do G melodic minor?

Hi dear vmlee!

Following the evolution of our discussion, and especially with your last reply and the thoughts it provoked, I think I would say the following to a student:

You are going to learn positions! They associate to where your handframe and thumb are in contact with the fingerboard and learning to your handframe effortlessly between them will give you digital access to every semitone on the violin.

How many positions? It was theoretically an option to define every semitone on each of the 4 strings, when played with each of the 4 fingers, as 'by definition' meaning the player was in one position and one position only.

However, this is not how the currently named positions were derived.

Why not? Probably because the number of positions, that were theoretically possible to define, were so numerous, that associating a specific thumb-hand-frame position for each would have presented needles additional mobility issues in the pursuit ov violin mastery. Why needless? Because we also have flexibity in our fingers, to stretch back or forward, without having to move other fingers in the handframe, or the handframe itself, which is more efficient in terms of speed.

As such, the convention has been to define a smaller number of positions 'loosely' as being a semi-tone to a tone distance apart (depending on the string and key signature) and, to compensate for this reduction, make allowance for forward or back adjustments by individual fingers within the position (handframe) to play notes to respect the key signatures: I may play a D# on the A string with my 1st finger - and I am either extending foward from 3rd position (which is defined as 1st finger on the D natural) or I am extending back from 4th position (defined as 1st finger on the E natural) : of course, because as we dont have a different position for every semitone, you cannot say definitively which of these is happening, unless you can actually see the players hand position. The hand frame is either a little foward and the first finger is visibly stretching back (conclusion: 4th position) OR the handframe is a little further back and the first finger is visibly pushed forward (3rd position).

Your job as a student is to learn the handframe positions associated to this more limited number of notated positions (in etudes for example) and to master whatever forward or backward movements are required of each finger on each string that can be played comfortably without moving your handframe i.e without "changing position".

In this way you can cover the entire keyboard and muscle-memorise a limited number of handframe positions and movement between them. If you want to have a separate handframe position to play that D# on the A string so that the first finger is neither extending back or forward, then be prepared to learn a different hand frame position for every ascending semitone!

The attentive student will eagerly go for the first option, in my view!

So maybe we can start to pull some tenttive conclusions together?

This following scale (which I had previously invited you to comment on - but you have not done so yet) with notated finger positions, would, I think, be classified by you as half position (according to your reply above) - I quote a previous comment of mine:

"... in what position would you say that this following scale is played in??

G-string: Ab 1st finger, Bb 2nd finger, Cb 3rd finger, Db 4th finger D-string: Eb 1st finger, F natural 2nd finger, G natural 3rd finger, Ab 4th finger. A-string: Bb 1st finger, Cb 2nd finger, Db 3rd finger, Eb 4th finger E-string: F natural 1st finger, G natural 2nd finger, Ab third finger."

However, there are some (you say) who would still insist that this is a scale (G# or Ab ascending melodic minor) played in first position (they are reluctant to include the concept of a 'half position'). The question I would have for them then is: why do you allow 'first position' to describe both fingerings on the A-string: 1st finger on the Bb (as above) AND 1st finger on the Cb (or B natural) as played by the guy on the video?

I think they can only respond with: first position is the only position which has some flexibility to extend back (or forward?) - and the other positions are fixed! This has to be their position to deny that a first finger on the Cb could be incorporated in a second position hand frame.

OK then that could be their theory. It is ultimately a bit disappointing. Ever since the well-tempered clavierchord we have been accustomed to a circular 12-pitch scale where everything is relativised. The relationships for any key are the same (regardless of key) - this relativism should logically seep into our concept of violin hand positions....and I think it does ACTUALLY because we could just as easily be having ths discussion over a scale played in both 3rd ad 4th positions, where an extension of the 1st finger back a semitone is regarded as 'shifting down to a lower position' - one might be saying no its clearly 4th position and the other

/r/violinist Thread Parent