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I'm new at this game (3mo.). I'm trying to graduate to songs with 4 flats, typically A,E,B,D,. My question is when I hit the D flat should I use the middle finger (turning it into a "C sharp" in my mind) or just pull down the forth finger (usually used for a "D" on the "A" string). I know the sound result will be the same, but will either approach hinder me later?

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I'll take a shot at this, although I'm sure there are more qualified people aroumd.

It depends on what postion you are playing in.

First position with the index finger on Bb, one would play C with the second and Db with the third.Then Eb(4),F(1), G(2), Ab(3) Third postion one would play Dd with the index. then Eb(2), F(3),G(4), Ab(1)

Four flats is not an easy key for us beginners though. You are brave to make the effort.

If I'm all wet, then someone will correct me I'm sure


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For singers and string players, C# and D flat should NOT sound the same. Suffice it to say that given a black key note on a piano, the sharp version should sound a bit higher than the flat version (e.g. A sharp vs. B flat). That "rule" applies within a single voice or line. In a chord, a C# would have to be lowered a bit to sound well with an A natural. (Whenever possible, you'd avoid raising the A, since it will sound best if it's exactly on pitch with your open string.) When you throw in other instruments or voices, or a piano, "perfect" intonation gets even more impossible to achieve, which is probably why one of the best musicians I've ever met says intonation is a compromise (she's a real intonation freak, too).

As for your actual question, use whichever finger is most musical or comfortable. Be prepared to use a low 3rd finger for the D flat most of the time (save 2nd finger for the C natural), though in places like arpeggios, 2nd finger might be more comfortable.

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If you are playing in first postion (well actually 1/2 postion for Ab) then Db should be the third finger.

If you are shifting up to third to go higher Db is still 3 and then I shift to 1 on Eb to block into third position to make the higher octave easier to play.

Ab is usually a good key for hymns and other songs. Pianists love it, but I don't think it is a very resonant key for the violin. A is much better as you have three open strings (E, A, & D) which occur in the A scale. These matter as they can be used to sympathetically resonate when the stopped pitches are played creating a fuller sound.

For this matter D,F,G or C and their relative minors are probably the best keys overall for the instrument for the fullest tone. This is something to consider compositionally when writing a piece.


Don Crandall

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