enter image description hereI am new in playing a violin, and in the recent sheet music that I got, there was a number over the music. Normally these are figuring charts, but the numbers were negative, that is, there was a minus sign in front of the numbers, for example -2, -3 and so on. I am confused on what they mean.


1 Answer 1


My guess is that these aren’t negatives, but just dashes used to show that a shift is necessary to use the suggested fingering. For instance, maybe you are playing an F# on the E string and then need to play a C a tritone higher. I might give the fingering for the C as –2 to indicate that you should use the second finger, but that this will require a position shift. As always with such fingerings, it is optional, but it is generally worth considering.

  • Anecdote: I've seen these in some jazz guitar books used, as you've mentioned, as position shift indicators. Not sure how I feel about them, but I suppose enough people like them for them to have gained enough popularity to appear on our site! :)
    – user45266
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 5:32
  • If so, then just MHO that it's more of a distraction than a help. Usually the choice of string is obvious from the indicated finger (plus the general set of notes before and after) Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.