Violin/Viola, Piano: 3 octave fingerings
Author: C.M. Sunday

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Note that there are quite a number of fingerings possible for the three octave scales; this essay simply provides a means of memorization for the purpose of auditions. See also:

Carl Flesch, Memoirs - free download from Universal Library
• Carl Flesch: Scale Studies: Violin | Viola
Analysis of Carl Flesch Scale System
Free one- to three-octave Printable Violin and Viola Scales
John Krakenberger: Galamian Scale System - Methodology

Every major scale has a relative minor, which has the exact same key signature, but starts three, 1/2 steps below the tonic in the major. Minor scales have three forms:
  1. Natural: Exact same notes as the relative major, without any chromatic alteration;
  2. Melodic: Raised 6th and 7th step in the ascending form; the descending form is like the natural;
  3. Harmonic: Raised leading tone (both ascending and descending), which causes a step-and-a-half interval between the 6th and 7th steps.
Note also that works are not in "melodic minor" or "harmonic minor" keys; rather, composers sprinkle these configurations throughout the work.

Key Areas (Major)
B flat
E flat
A flat
D flat
G flat
C flat
Key Areas (Minor)
a e
b flat
e flat
a flat

Parallel keys are a different thing altogether; what makes them parallel is that the scale starts on the same note - but the key signatures are different. For example:

C Major (no sharps or flat) / c minor (three flats)
G Major (one sharp) / g minor (two flats)
D Major (two sharps) / d minor (one flat)..etc.

So the question really is, if an audition is asking for a "Parallel melodic minor scale" -- parallel to what Major key? You will need to find that out, and then play a scale on that same tonic note but with the melodic minor construction -- which of course is a raised 6th and 7th step in the ascending form, and the "natural" form in the descending.

Supposing that the auditioner wants a melodic minor scale parallel to the A Major; then you would play a melodic minor scale starting on the pitch "A," thus:

a b c d e f# g# a g natural f natural e d c b a

The order of the sharps (from left to right) is Fat Cows Gulp Daises And Eat Beans. The Flats are the opposite: BEADGCF.

Rule for Sharp Keys: The key is 1/2 step above the last sharp (sharp furthest to the right).

Rule for Flat Keys: The key is the next to the last flat. With F Major, you have to memorize that it's one flat, since there is no "next to last."
key signatures
Graphic from Key signatures by Catherine Schmidt-Jones

With respect to three octave scales on the violin, all the scales which start with the second finger, can have the same fingering. One rule for memorization is "up on the A, down on the E" (Viola, of course would be "up on the D, down on the A"). In other words, you shift up on the A string in the ascending form of the scale, but come down on the top string, in the descending form.

Second finger scales include those scales with the tonic on:

B flat, B, C, C#/D flat, D, E flat, E, F, and F#/G flat

  • Play two of the scale notes on the A string, then shift up;
  • On the E, it's 1-2 (shift), 1-2, then an extension at the end: 1-2-3-4-4;
  • The descending form is 4-4-3-2-1, 2-1,2-1;
  • then cross over to the A string

    The three non-second finger scales are:
  • G:
    - Ascending: on the A, 3rd position; E string, 1-2, 1-2-3-4-4
    - Descending: down to first on E; 4-4-3-2-1, 2-1, 2-1

  • A flat
    - Ascending: on the A, 3rd position; E string, 1-2, 1-2-3-4 (no extension)
    - Descending: down to first on E; 4-4-3-2-1, 3-2-1, 2-1

  • A (same as A flat)
    - Ascending: on the A, 3rd position; E string, 1-2, 1-2-3-4 (no extension)
    - Descending: down to first on E; 4-4-3-2-1, 3-2-1, 2-1

    Steps and Half-Steps
  • Half steps in major scales: 3-4, 7-8 (numbers refer to scale steps)
  • Half steps in minor:
  • Always 2-3 (primary "minor" characteristic)
  • harmonic: 1 1/2 steps between 6-7

    Galamian has a scale study method covering much the same material, but includes more contemporary harmonies, more diverse choice of fingerings, and a separate book with bowing options. Notes are only note heads, which is different than the Carl Flesch.

    An even more contemporary scale and arpeggio study book with a jazz/rock influence is Mark Wood's Electrify Your Strings. This may be studied with an acoustic instrument and is well worth examining.

    For fiddlers, I recommend the Mel Bay Fiddling Chord Book.

    Violin Scale Books
    Barbara Barber Violin Scale Books:
    Scales for Young Violinists
    Scales for Advanced Violinists

    • Lisa Berman: Violin Scales and Arpeggios in One, Two, and Three Octaves: Based on Carl Flesch
    • Susan Brown: Two Octave Scales And Bowings For The Violin
    • JoAnne Erwin, Kathleen Horvath: A Scale In Time
    • Simon Fischer: Scales
    • William Fitzpatrick: Scale Workbook (2 Octaves)
    • Carl Flesch: Scale Studies - violin
    • Ivan Galamian Contemporary Violin Technique: Vol. 1, Vol. 2
    • C. Paul Herfurth: A Tune A Day Beginning Scales for Violin
    • Jan Hrimaly: Scale Book - violin
    • Paul Rolland, James Starr: Three Octave Scale Fingering Alternatives
    • Henry Schradieck: School Of Violin Technics: Bk. 1, Bk. 2, Bk. 3
    • Hans Sitt: Scales Studies For Violin, Op. 41
    • William Starr: Scales Plus!
    • Ritter-Stoessel: Scale and Chord Exercises for the Violin
    Viola Scale Books
    • Julia Adams: Scales for the Intermediate Violist

    Barbara Barber Viola Scale Books:
    Scales for Young Violists
    Scales for Advanced Violists

    • Kathy Blackwell: Viola Time Scales: Pieces, Puzzles, Scales, and Arpeggios
    • George Bornoff: Finger Patterns for Viola
    • Susan Brown: Two Octave Scales And Bowings For The Viola
    • Castleman/Koob: Tonal Applications of Finger Patterns
    • Mary Cohen: Scaley Monsters
    • Carl Flesch: Scale Studies – viola
    • Samuel Flor: I Like to Play Scales for the Viola
    • Ivan Galamian: The Galamian Scale System For Viola (Volume 1)
    • Rudolf Haken: Scales and Arpeggios
    • Dr. Michael Kimber: Scales, Arpeggios, and Double Stops for the Violist
    • Leonard Mogill: Mogill Scale Studies - viola
    • Walter Primrose: The Art and Practice of Scale Playing on the Viola
    • Ellen Rose: Extreme Viola. Printed to order. Contact
    • Henry Schradieck: School Of Viola Technics - Bk. 1, Bk. 2, Bk. 3
    • William H. Somach: Accidentals Happen! - First Position, Two Octaves, Three Octaves
    • Stephanie Tretick: Vademecum Scales for Viola

    Accidentals Happen! Scale Books by William H. Somach
    Major & Minor, Modes, Dominant 7th, Pentatonic & Ethnic, Diminished & Augmented, Whole Tone, Jazz & Blues, Chromatic

  • The following major scales have the same fingering: C, G, D, A, E, B/C flat.

    - RH: 123 12345
    - LH: 543 21321
    Note that the "3's are together"

  • F Major, the left hand is the same as above, but the right hand:
    - RH: 1234 1234

    The less consistent scales on the piano are the following (please practice these carefully until they become "second nature"):

  • B flat:

    - RH: 21 23 1234
    - LH: 43 14 3213

  • E flat:

    - RH: 31234 123
    - LH: 32143 213

  • A flat:

    - RH: 231 23 123
    - LH: 321 43 213

  • D flat/C#:

    - RH: 231 234 12
    - LH: 321 432 13

  • G flat/F#:

    - RH: 234 123 12
    - LH: 432 132 14

    In the major there are three sets of enharmonic fingerings. While the tonality may be somewhat different on stringed instruments, depending on context, the notes are exactly the same on the piano (though phrasing is related to key structure); thus the fingering of the enharmonic pairs is the same:
  • B/C flat
  • F#/G flat
  • C#/D flat

    Hirschberg Scales and Chords Are Fun: Bk. 1 (Major), Bk. 2 (Minor).
    Schaum, Scales and Pieces in All Keys: Bk. 1, Bk. 2.
    Palmer, Manus, Lethco: Scales, Chords-1st Book
    Palmer, Manus, Lethco: Complete Book of Scales
    Ada Richter: Know Your Scales and Arpeggios
    The Brown Scale Book
    Franz Schulz: Scales and Chords in all Keys
    James Francis Cooke: Mastering Scales and Arpeggios
    Walter Macfarren: Scale and Arpeggio Manual

    A Dozen A Day
    Prepatory, 1, 2, 3, 4
    Play with Ease in Many Keys
    Mini Book

    Junior Hanon
    The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises - Complete (Spiral Bound)
    Jazz Hanon
    Jazz Chord Hanon: 70 Exercises for the Beginning to Professional Pianist
    Blues Hanon: 50 Exercises for the Beginning to Professional Blues Pianist
    Salsa Hanon: 50 Essential Exercises for Latin Piano

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