Principles of bowing and fingering for editing violin music

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Hayden, William Perry
Hargreaves, Robert, 1914-2000
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Despite the many innovative contributions made toward the improvement of violin playing and teaching in the twentieth century, there is an abundance of pedagogy and musical literature which continues to propagate "old school" thinking. Many editions of violin music from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are still in print and do not present to student violinists the technical or aesthetic possibilities now considered by recognized artists. Consequently, these flawed versions of the repertoire hinder the development of aspiring violinists.Whether or not an edition is good, editorial notations reflect the violinistic idiosyncracies and peculiarities of individuals and should thus serve only as sources for reference and study. This is because the violinist's perception of and reaction to music would suffer compromise if he were to be unduly influenced by the editings of others. Therefore, it is for the good of his musical growth that he experiment with and discover which interpretive ideas and combinations of bowings and fingerings ultimately bring performances of compositions closest to his conception of them.Although numerous volumes have been written on performance techniques for violin, they usually do not address matters specifically related to deciding bowings and fingerings for given passages of music. Thus, by default, the major texts on editing music for violin might be said to be the books of Carl Flesch, Elizabeth. Green, and I. M. Yampolsky. None of these writings, though, presents both bowing and fingering in a complete and logical sequence of principles and supporting rationales. Conse4uantly, there has been a substantial need for a single volume which thoroughly covers such material in a style suitable for classroom use or for individual study.This presentation of principles for editing violin music is a comprehensive distillation, simplification, and clarification of the beliefs and concepts of others, combined-with those of the author. Systematically grouped and prefaced by rationales, the principles are enunciated in separate chapters on bowings and fingerings and are illustrated by excerpts selected from the violin literature.The author hopes that this approach to editing will facilitate the learning of good editorial practice in violin music and will challenge violinists to continuously seek better bowings and fingerings.The violinist must frequently make alterations in the printed bowing of notes to accommodate the mechanics of playing the instrument and to attain the desired nuance (subtle variation) involving tempo, rhythm, phrasing, dynamics, and tonal coloring. These changes are implemented by the transfer, deletion, or addition of slurs.Bowings considered conventional or "standard" are classified under (a) The Down-Bow Penchants dynamic, tonic, and agogic accents; resolutions; and dynamic gradations; (b) Uniformity of Articulations chords and successions of identical strokes; (c) Compensational Bowings: retaken, combined, and divided strokes; (d) Linked Bowings; for dynamic constancy and bow distribution; (e) Division of Prolonged Strokes: long slurs and long, sustained notes; (f) Oscillation between Strings; rapid alternation and slurred string crossings; (g) Pizzicatos use of the index and middle fingers and thumb."Optional" bowings, which are personal and not essential for efficient performance, are listed as (a) Phrase Accommodation, (b) Melodic Profiling by Slurring, Reslurring, or Separating, and (c) Pulse Dilution.Well chosen fingering reduces or eliminates unnecessary physical tensions, permits velocity of movement with greater accuracy, and promotes maximum expression. As with bowings, fingerings are distinguished by two types: "standard" for efficiency of mechanics and "optional" for personal expression.Principles of standard fingering are grouped in the following sections: (a) Positions, (b) Chromatic Passages, (c) Interval Congruity, (d) Determining Which Positions to Use, (e) Shifting: semitone, contraction, extension, open string, natural harmonic, and alternate finger shifts plus melodic fifths and reduction of shift spans or shift frequencies, (f) String Crossing, and (g) Sequential Patterns.Optional fingerings include (a) Exclusion of the Fourth Finger, (b) Regulation of Timbre, and (c) Portamento.