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richard barwell

This isn't really a beginner question, but I was wondering, what is the number of the position used to play the notes right at the top of the fingerboard? I've seen this done a few times, and I realised I don't have a clue how to do it! the notes are so close together... I'm intrigued!

richard barwell
5 Responses
Posted: October 13, 2011
Last Comment: October 14, 2011

richard barwell
Posted: October 14, 2011
Thanks Beth,

I like your use of the word 'frightfully' there; that's how I feel about it too! And yes, I haven't found anything as clear as Diane's website. I guess it would all be played by ear at that height, and I don't have the ear yet, but it's good to know how these things work anyway. 

I look forward to your new videos;- the attention to detail you put into them definitely pays off, as I have yet to watch any of them and come away confused. Not many people can do that, believe me!

Beth Blackerby
Posted: October 14, 2011
Hi Richard,

The notes up there in the stratosphere are frightfully difficult to play in tune, as well as with a great tone, etc....

As far as information on those extreme positions , Diane Allen's fingerboard workbook series is the best source I've seen.

Frankly, anything past 7th position for me becomes a matter of "just playing the pitches".  At that altitude, I'm not thinking position at all.   However, for sure I am thinking about the intervalic relationship from one note to the next.

For instance, if I saw this,

I would first figure out the notes. (When there are multiple ledger lines, it is difficult to instantly know what the note is.) Then I would think: Ascending octave leap,  then up a perfect fourth, down a half step.

One of the reasons we don't think in "positions" when the notes are super high, is because the hand doesn't really feel any different between, say, 10 position to 11 position. However, the "feel" between 2nd position and 3rd is very different, or 3rd and 5th.

Another reason is that when you have a high passage like that, it is generally on the E string, and generally for a short amount of time. Understanding the fingerings and notes for the different positions makes sense when you are crossing from one string to another.  So when you are way up on the E string, the spacings are so close together that you are often reaching (extending) in and out of positions, for the purpose of keeping the clear E string timbre, rather than crossing over to play on the lower strings.

I'm going to try and knock out a few videos today, so I'll make one on "playing in High Positions" to address the left and right hand techniques.

richard barwell
Posted: October 14, 2011
Hi Diane, thanks! thats a great resource. The charts only seem to go up to 11th position, would the last batch of notes constitute a 15th position? And if so, how are they played?


Diane Allen
Posted: October 13, 2011

You can find comprehensive fingerboard charts on the Downloads page:

Smiles! Diane

richard barwell
Posted: October 13, 2011
I also meant to ask, is F6 the highest note you can play on the violin with 1st finger? And does anyone know of any videos where this area of the fingerboard is being played clearly? I've only seen rather fuzzy videos, so I can't really see what's going on.