Double Stopping - Tuning to Open Strings
One thing that always needs refining is the tuning of double stops. Here is an exercise that may help. Using the open strings can help you to orientate yourself when playing more than one note at a time. There are certain keys where each pair of notes in a double stop scale has at least one note that can be checked with an open string, to help the tuning (6ths and 3rds).
Try tuning the ‘coloured’ note to the corresponding open string first. This way you can trust that note will be in-tune. Then play both notes, if it doesn’t sound right, you’ll know that it must be the other note that is out of tune. Move the finger for this note around until the double stop is in-tune. Your viola will sound much more resonant when both notes are perfectly in tune, listen out for this.
In time you will automatically start to recognise the sound of the ‘in-tune’ interval and can begin check with the open strings less and less.
This exercise, in turn, can help with tuning the double stop passages in your studies/pieces. Here is a small example – Stamitz Concerto No.1 in D
Enjoy your beautifully in-tune double stopping, be patient with yourself and remember to keep your fingers relaxed.