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Paganini's 24th Caprice Variation IV
So far, how is everyone finding these studies? The word "Caprice" or "Capriccio" in Italian stands for study or exercise. Each study he created was meant to not only improve technique, but to get a better understanding of the harmonic possibilities of the violin. Paganini was considered a virtuoso violinist of his day; his caprices are examples of such virtuosity.
It is your choice what right hand fingering patterns you wish to use in this variation. Please note however, that this entire piece is a study and trying every possible variation would be to your benefit. You can start with a two-fingered combo I-M. Then practice the same passage using M-A and I-A. Try also notating this variation using three fingers (I-M-A) as this will improve your co-ordination.
This variation was created using a series of chromatic and arpeggiated phrases. Chromatic or chromaticism simply refers to a semi-tonal succession of notes. In layman's terms, chromaticism or chromatic melodies are simply two or more melodically played notes that are a semi-tone apart. For example: if you play Open G then play first fret G# then to second fret A, you have just played a 3 note chromatic passage: G-G#-A.
A good part of this variation is played past the twelfth fret. There are a few pointers I must give for those who are attempting this study on a classical guitar and have never seriously ventured above the twelfth. The correct positioning of the left hand is crucial if you are to play above the twelfth fret. The classical guitar has a span of nineteen frets, twelve on the neck and seven of them joined to the top of the guitar. Similarily, this junction happens on the fifteenth fret with regular acoustic guitars. There isn't the luxury of anchoring your thumb behind the neck for support when playing above the twelfth fret. It is still necessary for a guitarist playing in this zone to anchor his thumb. The reason why it must be anchored is for support and comfort. It should be placed in between the heel and the body, at the twefth fret. Essentially, your thumb should be resting right underneath the twelfth fret high E string. This will give you enough curl to your fingers to manipulate this and other future passages that are played in this area.
Also, you may run into problems if you don't sit in classical position. Classical position is where the guitar is sitting on the left leg which is being raised by a footstool, while the right leg is pointing north east about a foot and a half to two feet away from the left leg. I am in the process of writing an article that includes a section on proper sitting position. I recommend this sitting position for all guitar players, acoustic, classical, and electric alike, simply because most other sitting positions are constricting and injurous to many parts of the body.
Lastly, measure eight and measure twelve, beat three features an A on the twelfth fret on the A string. This note should be played with the index finger and sounded as a harmonic and not a fretted note. You are coming from the fourth position and jumping to the twelfth; playing this harmonic better prepares you to play the high A on the seventeenth fret and its subsequent descending arpeggio. Hope you enjoy this variation. It is one of my favorites to play. Good luck!