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fect can thus be introduced into a variation, particularly on
the fourth string; but if the rounding off of the notes is not
particularly desired, the scale may be played partly with nat-
ural harmonics, as indicated in Example No. 3. The scale
will be found in the same way on the same spots on the
other strings, only a fifth or more higher, according to thi


Where found
on the string.

Third Position.

& 8 8 3





string played upon. There is sometimes a slight difficulty
in getting the artificial harmonics to ring out clearly ; in-
deed, they occasionally " miss fire" altogether. If this
should occur with any particular note it may generally D8
remedied by playing with the fourth finger held slightly
sharp of its position on the string. Spohr vigorously de-
nounces the use of harmonics in this extended sense; but
before we can understand the headlong condemnation, we
must consider the period at which his work was written.
Paganini, the most astounding and meteoric genius who
ever conjured music from the violin, had just swept across
the musical world, and everywhere there was being heard
nothing but the most diligent imitation of his impassioned
style and eccentric tricks. Close shaking on every note;
monochord playing; pizzicatos, and, above all, harmonics,
were the rage or fashion of the day, and it seemed as if a
pure and classic style was a thing of the past. To remedy
this state of things, Spohr — himself the very antipodes of
the towering, hot-blooded Italian wizard — set himself to de-
nounce wholesale the tricks by which it was mistakenly
supposed Paganini had made his name, just as it is tho
fashion to denounce as a mere trick the curious bad spelling
of Artemus Ward, and entirely overlook the genius in char-
acter painting, and the sly satire and subtle wit which
underlies the whole. A critique written under such cir-
cumstances, and by such a man as Spohr; could scarcely be
sound in every particular; and, in point of fact, the deci-
sion has long been overturned and ignored by — not the very
highest of players, certainly — but a very high class of
composers and performers; and harmonics are now properly
looked upon as a brilliant and indispensable addition to the
ornaments of solo playing. Spohr says that artificial har-
monics can only be produced on thin strings; but in saying
so he undoubtedly said the thing which is not. Harmonics,
artificial or natural, if they are fingered and bowed propeily,
will ring out clear as a bell and soft and glassy as a flute on
any kind of string, thick or thin. Harmonics do not excite
wonder alone; they can be made to stir a deep feeling in the
breast — a sense of breathless interest and deep pleasure,
mingled with a sigh that the performance has ended so
soon. The advanced student ought never to rest till he baa
•nastered their performance.


Tne Playing of Chord8.

Double stopping, or the playing of chords, is one of the
most attractive graces of solo playing. When with the
louble stopping is combined a judicious and artistic ren-
iering of the close shake, there is produced a deep wailing
iffect — a thrilling intensity of pathos of which tne listener
feels he never can drink in enough. To play chords well —
chat is, perfectly in tune — though four notes should be re-
quired at once, requires a special ability. It is useless to
say that the student's "ear" must tell him when he ia
right, and practice do the rest. I know an eminent pro-
fessor of music whose'" ear"is finically acute, and who can-
not play or hear played a single note in the slightest degree
false without instantly detecting the error, yet who, the
moment he begins playing chords on the violin, plays them
atrociously out of tune; and his case is but one out of thou-
sands. Spohr notices this fact, and advises that the pupil
be forced from the first to play them perfectly in tune; but
no fixed rule or advice will apply to this defect. The stu-
dent can only be warned that such a rock ahead is in the
way, and be left to escape as best he can. In playing sec-
ond violin, or any part requiring the use of chords, in a
warm room, the strings often relax long before it is possible
to retune, and then the player's ear must remedy the defect
— his fingers being placed slightly sharp on the strings which
are wrong. Sometimes in a solo a chord of two notes is
played with an open shake upon both notes, which is callud
a double shake — a grace as surprisingly delightful to the
ear as it is difficult of performance.

Playing Arpeggios.

Arpeggios are simply chords played with their constituent
notes detached into runs. As they are most often piayed
with a slur to the down bow and a staccato bow for the up
stroke, they require a firm wrist and well-balanced bow,
rather tight in the hair, as well as great accuracy in the
stopping of the notes of the chord. It is a good plan to
strongly accent the down bow at the lowest portion of
the chord, and then let it rise with a spring to execute
the back stroke or succession of strokes. In reading ar-
peggios, chords, and difficult music generally, a knowledge


of harmony will be found of great assistance — as wnolt
phrases and long runs extending over many bars may then,
be read at a glance, being recognized as merely a spread out
form of a certain chord or progression in harmony. This
is particularly the case in playing overtures, concertos, aud
classical music generally, especially when reading "at sig lit."

Pizzicato Playing.

Pizzicatos are in solos generally condemned as mere trick
playing. They are executed with the fourth, or any other
convenient -finger of the left hand, and sometimes, when
in chords of four notes, by twitching the strings with the
second finger of the right hand, the bow being held the
while between the first and thumb, or with the thumb rest-
ing on the front edge of the finger-board near the top, the
bow resting in the fork, and the notes sounded by being
twitched neatly with the first finger of the right hand.
Pizzicatos excite the wonder of the listener, but never move
the feelings ; therefore to them must be relegated the very
3owest position in the subtle arts of solo playing.

Spohr'8 Style of Shifting.

In Example No. 4, p. ?1 I have given a specimen of
Sponr's masterly style of shifting with absolute certainty any
distance up or down the string. In making this sweep, the
first finger is swiftly advanced on the string till it reaches
that position on which the note required is immediately
under the fourth finger, which, the moment that position is
reached, must be brought slap down on the note. The
same method is observed in coming down the string, the
finger immediately below that to be used being drawn back
till it reaches the note immediately below that required,
when the proper finger is at once used. In the examples,
the guiding note in the sweep is indicated by a smaller note.
Another form of the same trick, but here used to give a
more vocal effect to the note following, will be seen in the
second and third complete bars of Example No. 1, and in
the third bar of No. 2. This is a powerful grace of art in
the hands of all masters of the instrument, especially in
Andante and Adayio movements. It is this trick, combined
with the close shake, which so often elicits the remark—


** Ke fairly made the instrument speak." The student
therefore should practise it diligently, using it discreetly,
and with that art which conceals art.


The Solo Described.

I have now noticed in brief the chief graces of style re-
quired by the solo player, and may now describe the solo
itself. A solo generally consists of an Introduction more or
less florid, an Air with Variations, and a stirring Coda or
Finale. A Fantasia is a somewhat similar composition;
but in this species of solo rather more latitude is
allowed the composer, who may introduce more airs than
one, varied or not, as strikes his taste, and the fantasia may
therefore be considered a more ambitious effort than any
mere air varied. Supposing the student to begin with the
simple solo, he will give the Introduction with all the variety
of tone, grace of expression, and florid art of which he ia
master, the Introduction taking the same place in the solo
which the introduction does in a speech, in which the orator
by some happy hit, or personal allusion, or graceful compli-
ment, gets himself entirely into the sympathies of his audi-
ence before once touching on the business proper to his
speech. This done, he will probably have a few bars' rest to
quietly tune any of the strings which may have relaxed, or
wipe his violin, or slacken or tighten the hair of his bow, as
the Thema may require, during which the pianoforte will
have a short symphony. This over, he will play the Thema,
or air, in all its purity and simplicity, aiming at a reading
as closely allied as possible to the singing of a song by a fine
soprano voice. If the air be that of a well-known song, it ia
an excellent plan to learn off at least one verse of the -words,
that every expression and line of thought may be faithfully
followed in his playing. The Variations will then follow,
particular care being taken that all that is wished neat, or
sprightly, or ringing in brilliance shall be executed with the
upper half or the upper third part of the bow, and all^ that
is crisp and noisy with the lower part. The Mnale, which ia


generally an allegro and double forte, may be executed with
the middle third part of the bow, the finishing chords of the
coda being given with long down bows, swiftly flashed, and
taken from the string with a startling crispness at each

Easy S0I03— Where to Get them and How to
Ma3ter them.

I append a list of simple solos which the student may
depend upon being showy and effective, and not difficult.
In selecting solos the preference should always be given to
those on the sharp keys, E, A, D, and G, as these lie best
under the fingers, are most brilliant in effect, and have the
greatest number of natural harmonics. All the prices given
include a separate pianoforte part.

"12 Variegated Easy Tone Pieces." By A. Ehrhardt.

Published in 2 numbers, each number, 50 cents. These

are very easy, and suit admirably for the youngest pupils.
"Dancla's Six Little Airs Varied/' Opus 89. Violin Solo,

20 cents. Violin and Piano, with violin part on separate

sheet, 60 cents. These are very brilliant, aud not too hard

for ambitious pupils.
"8 Fantaisies Faciles." D. Alard, Opus 39. In 2 books

of 4 Fantasies each. Each book, Violin and Piano, 50


De Beriot's Airs.

By the time the student has mastered some of these, he
will be in a fair way for attacking " De Beriot's Seven Airs
Varied." These brilliant and beautiful compositions ought
to be in every violinist's album, whether he should be able
to perform them in public or not.

Price, each air, Violin and Piano, Violin on separate sheot,
full sheet-music size, 30 cents.

The Selection of Solos.

In studying high-class music, such as sonatas, fantasias,
or concertos, it is well for the player to select solos or
studies considerably beyond his powers. The 5rst look at
ft new solo or selection generally staggers or overawes the


student ; the first trial of the various movements on his
instrument does worse; it fills his heart with despair, and
induces some such remark as — " Why did I buy the thing?
I'll never be able to play that — never !" After a little, how-
ever, by repeated trials, he finds that the difficulties become
familiar to the eye, and seem less appalling to the fingers;
one by one the movements are mastered, till the difficulties
are reduced to perhaps half-a-dozen particular phrases in
different parts of the solo. These hold out against all hia
efforts, as if determined to conquer him. Yet it is they
which must be conquered, and to do so they must be at-
tacked — like outnumbering forces in war — singly. Each of
the passages must be marked out from the rest of the solo,
and played, and played by itself for fifty times in succes-
sion, if necessary — slowly at first — till they also yield to the
performer. Tried then, in their proper place in the solo,
their beauty or brilliance is at once realized, and the student
is at liberty to go on conquering and to conquer with more
difficult pieces.

Solo Playing from Memory.

If the student has a good memory, he ought to learn hia
solos off. The music stand is always a source of stiffness
and discomfort on the platform; and when able to dispense
with that, and with having his eye rigidly fixed on the
music, the performer is more able to attend to that perfect
grace and freedom of style which is inseparable from a thor-
oughly pleasing delivery of violin music. In practising a
solo, it is best to try several ways of fingering before decid-
ing which is most effective; including, as this does, the shift-
ing of the melody from one string onto another; which may
gire it more effect. In cadenzas and other florid passages,
% slight addition may sometimes be made to the original
corn position with great effect, according to the taste and
skill of the player.

Orchestral Playing.

Very early the student ought to get into some amateur
orchestra, quartette party, or musical society, that he may
learn steadiness in time, and how to sink himself and hia
instrumf nt and become only a part of a grand whole. In
orchestral or quartette playing, great steadiness and purity


of intonation, great exactness in. stopping chords, and strict
mental counting of time, are the essential qual ideations for-
success. A rather tighter bow is required for orchestral
playing than for a solo. When a number of bars are
marked silent — usually by the number being written over
a blank bar — it is safest to count them mentally by al-
ways naming the number of the bar counted at the begin-
ning of each : as, 1, 2, 3, 4 ; 2, 2, 3, 4 ; 3, 2, 3, 4 ;
4, 2, 3, 4, &c.

Quartette Playing.

In quartette playing proper the melody generally goes
the round of the instruments as a solo — first the leading vio-
lin, then the second, then the tenor, and then the violoncello
— and during the performance of these solos the remain-
ing instruments, no matter what their grade, or how showy
their part, must sink themselves into mere accompanyists,
anxious only how the soloist may be assisted to show his
taste and skill. Indeed, in quartette playing, nobody is
better than anybody else; and the second violin and tenor,
or- violoncello, who are too commonly lorded over and per-
haps snubbed by the leading violin, for once may without
fear look around and dictate, and raise themselves to their
full height without any one daring to object.

Sonata Raying.

As a study for fine solo playing there is nothing so good
as the Sonata, which is generally not showy but deep; not
tricky but truly artistic; not overpoweringly difficult, but,
nevertheless, requiring close study and much critical taste
and fine feeling in its execution. All the great masters have
excelled in the composition of sonatas. The sonata as a
solo requires a discerning audience, and should never be
selected when there is not finely developed classical taste in
the listeners. A tricky solo, full of nimble pizzicatos and
grunting farm-yard effects, will often rouse an audience to
raptures, when a sonata, however finely articulated, would
only be received with ill-suppressed yawns. The sonata ia
for the chamber concert, the private recital, and, above all,


for home study and practice. There is a soul or spirit
within it which appears only to the most devoted of its

Concerto Playing.

There is a peculiar individuality about the violin — a some-
thing which makes it stand out from a crowd of instruments
as a genius stands out from ordinary men. This peculiarity
is found in no other instrument in the same degree ; and
that fact has induced many of the great composers to exert
themselves in the composition of pieces in which the soloist,
being accompanied by a full orchestra, brings out this qual-
ity to its fullest advantage. These pieces are called Con-
certos. Spohr gives directions and hints as to the perform-
ance of the concerto, which will be studied by every violin
player attempting this arduous performance, and says that
a full tone is the first essential. Some players never try to
develop a full tone, even after mastering the difficulties I
have pointed out in these chapters; that is, they are content
with an ordinary development — never putting the strongest
possible pressure on the bow with the first finger. If any
one will watch Joachim or Madame Neruda, or any of the
great players, one of the first things that will strike him
will be that at times the hair of the bow seems almost glued
to the string. This is nothing but the result of a fully de-
veloped tone, caused by the strongest possible pressure of
the forefinger on the stick of the bow compatible with a
smooth and elastic note. Let the student put tone before
him as an object of attainment, and he will, through
time, notice something like the same appearance on his
own bow.

The Perfection of Bowing.

This peculiar cleaving of the hair to the string comes only
after years of practice, and may be seen when the tone is
not required particularly loud, but only pure and full, or
even in the comparatively light bow required for the playing
of a succession of clear harmonics. To acquire it, there
must be a perfect mastery of all the technical details of good
bowing — that is, every finger and muscle must have its


proper work and no more to do, and do it. The bow must
be bo perfectly balanced between the forefinger and thumb,
with the thumb turned out strongly against the hair, and
so deftly supported by the point of the little finger, that it
might be pushed or drawn above the violin within a hair's
breadth of the string for its whole length without actually
touching it. This implies such a command of the stick,
that when it is placed upon the string its whole weight
may at any moment be taken from the string by a slight
pressure of the point of the little finger. It implies also
perfect action of the wrist in support of the action of the
fingers; and also a slight raising of the bow from the
string at the end of long notes requiring the whole length
of the hair. It implies, indeed, many little niceties which
cannot be reduced to words, but the effect of which will
be recognized the moment this acme of good bowing is

Systematic Arrangement of Studies.

I have now, as clearly and concisely as I can, gone over
nearly all that a student needs to learn from his teacher;
and in conclusion would advise him to introduce as much
variety as possible into his studies, by writing out a com-
plete list of all the music in his possession which he thinks
worth studying; arranging a different study for each hour
at his command for practice, and never letting one hour steal
the study allotted to another. This effectually prevents
the overlooking of much good music which insensibly gets
neglected. Lastly, I would say, let him play as often as he
can, if only for five minutes at a time, especially during the
first ten years ho is at the instrument. A few minutes in
youth is worth many days in after years. The thought, "I
n,T?e no time," will never dismay the really eager student.
lie can make time; he can steal the hours from sleep; he can
rise early or sit late; he can watch that not a moment that
is his own is uselessly frittered away; he can take a thous-
and opportunities of mingling with musicians more advanced
than himself and improving his powers that another would
never dream wero his own. Musicians, and more especially
violinists, are — with some miserable exceptions — a band of
brothers, ever kindly disposed and encouraging to the eager


learner; and by deferentially listening to their advice and
opinions, and adopting as much of it as experience proves
to be sound or suited to the style of playing which he has
adopted as his model, the student may be constantly learn-
ing and advancing.

"When I was a boy, I could not afford to pay a teacher
for lessons. -Though eager to learn, I knew nothing of
the various Tutors for the Violin which have been writ-
ten and composed ; and if I had known them by name,
could not have bought them; and if I had had them given
me, would not have understood how to use them, as
there are dozens of points of detail and necessary in-
struction upon which all published Tutors are absolutely
silent. litid such a work as this been thrown in my
way, it would have saved me years of weary struggling
and blind groping, and repeated retracing of steps, aud
unlearning of evil habits of style. That thought has
been my sole incentive to the penning of these chapters.
The work has been done neither for applause, for money,
nor for fame. I am convinced that there are hundreds
with every natural gift necessary to make them good
players, who are in as disadvantageous a position as I
was — possibly in some cases more unfortunately situated.
Every young lad now-a-days, however poor, can afford to
buy a cheap little work like this; and to hundreds who
may love the violin as devoutly as 1, these instructions
and directions may prove a lasting boon. Let me there-
fore hope, that when success has come — when the in-
strument is so far mastered as to become a joy in pros-
perity, a solace in grief or bereavement, a companion
in loneliness or neglect, or possibly a means of support in
unlooked-for poverty, — the student will think of the name-
less writer who, unsolicited, tried to direct him in the
right way, and be grateful-



The Diagrams of the Attitude of the Performer.

One most important point in proper bowing which T have never
»een illustrated, is the manner in which the fourth finger of the
right hand quits the stick when the point of the bow is being
used. Some amateurs have hut a confused idea of what this "quit-
ting the stick" means. 1 noticed one lately performing in an ama-
teur orchestra who deliberately lifted the little finder, stuck it right
up in the air, as often as he could remember to do so. Now, the
little finger leaves the stick simply because at that position ot th<i
bow it is too short to reach it. If it be kept on the stick, the bow
must certainly be either drawn round the body, and so describe a
curve in crossing, or, what is worse, be turned over on the string
when nearing the point, so that the stick inclines towards the player
instead of from him. Diagram I., showing the p',» ; tion of the right
arm and wrist when using the point of the bow, shows the onlv
quitting of the stick by the fourth finger which is necessary or al-
lowable, and without which the afore-mentioned evil results would
certainly appear. This diagram gives the exact lie of bow, hand,
fingers, and arm when beginning an upward stroke of the bow. Tha
hair is resting on the two middle strings, and the elevation of the
arm therefore correct for these. For the first string the arm would
be depressed a little, for the fourth elevated; but the lie of fingers
and wrist would be the same.

Diagram II. at the beginning i-i 'nis book, and that at the top of
of page 40 show the proper position of the fourth finger. As the
stick is always inclined from the performer, it follows that the lit-
tle finger, far from drooping over the front, touches the stick with
its point rather behind than on the exact top of the stick. A bo«
which I have used constantly for seventeen years, now shows qu te
a hollow in the hard Brazil wood at the spot where this touc.i' '"
with the point of the little finger has so often taken pLc*

The Violin alone to be. St-'.'

The vioiin is a jealous instxuiw**"' -mm*. «»*a buau do <;v»L ft
you give it a divided love. >* "• - .— »*«t &>• ir>sun
half-heartred obedienc* _o»e who play pianoforte a r.>. - -^ . ~iib
perhaps the v v '.. -., j-.rnet, and flue thrown l n. iioom make
great attaiaj-:u. ■. ua aithsr, and always p)?y tne violin roughly.
Let the ttudent inder«tand-«hat clearly from the first, and- he w\13

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Online LibraryElias HoweThe violin : how to master it → online text (page 8 of 10)