String Crossings: Three Strings

For practice purposes, we can divide repertoire string-crossing passages involving three strings into several different types, for each of which we offer practice material made up of compilations of exercises and repertoire excerpts. Each passage/exercise can be practiced with many different bowings: slurred, separate, mixed, spiccato, etc.

REGULAR: broken chords, in which there is a regular repeating pattern and every string crossing always goes to an adjacent (neighbouring) string:

regular broken chords

Regular Broken Chord Passages: REPERTOIRE EXCERPTS      Regular Broken Chord Passages: EXERCISES

IRREGULAR: arpeggio type figures in which the bow always goes to an adjacent string )when it has a crossing), but in which there are sometimes more than one note per string

irregular excs

Irregular Arpeggio Passages: REPERTOIRE EXCERPTS      Irregular Arpeggio Passages: EXERCISES

GRASSHOPPER (WITH LEAPS): passages with jumps to non-adjacent strings:

leaps 3 str excs

3-String Leaps: REPERTOIRE EXCERPTS         3-String Leaps: EXERCISES

A special discussion of leaps across multiple strings can be found by opening the highlighted link.


We can use the Three-String Chord Charts to create our own bowing exercises to reinforce the different 3-string crossing bowing (and left-hand) problems that we will find in the repertoire. These chord charts are a lot nicer and more practical than the Sevcik charts (which were taken directly from the violin exercises and are thus not particularly well adapted to the cello).

Very often repertoire passages will use a combination of three and four-string crossings. Depending on the relative frequency of the four and three-string broken chords these mixed passages are included in either the Four-string Crossings section or on this three-string-crossing page.