Discussion:
Wacky illegal fingering
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Greg G
2004-10-02 01:09:35 UTC
Permalink
The "thumb under" discussion elsewhere on this group got me to
thinking about some counterintuitive fingerings that I've used so long
that they seem natural.

Probably the strangest one involves essentially crossing the third
finger of my RH over the pinky to play the adjacent (higher) white
key. It only works in a few selected cases. For instance, if I wanted
to play a pentatonic run of C-D-E-G-A-C (that I knew was going to END
on the C), I might play it 1-2-3-5-3-5. I can play that very quickly,
faster than would really be useful.

For an even greater transgression, I might leave out the first C and
put in a sort of slurred Eb between the D and E (D-Eb-E-G-A-C). What
fingering? Why 2-3-3-5-3-5, of course, sliding the 3rd finger from the
Eb to the E. Oh, I CAN play it 1-2-1-2-3-5, but it actually seems LESS
"familiar" to me. I think that was among the very first "runs" that I
learned, when the world and I both were young.

Anybody else have favorite "cheat" fingerings?

Greg Guarino
Mason A. Clark
2004-10-02 05:51:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Greg G
The "thumb under" discussion elsewhere on this group got me to
thinking about some counterintuitive fingerings that I've used so long
that they seem natural.
Probably the strangest one involves essentially crossing the third
finger of my RH over the pinky to play the adjacent (higher) white
key. It only works in a few selected cases. For instance, if I wanted
to play a pentatonic run of C-D-E-G-A-C (that I knew was going to END
on the C), I might play it 1-2-3-5-3-5. I can play that very quickly,
faster than would really be useful.
For an even greater transgression, I might leave out the first C and
put in a sort of slurred Eb between the D and E (D-Eb-E-G-A-C). What
fingering? Why 2-3-3-5-3-5, of course, sliding the 3rd finger from the
Eb to the E. Oh, I CAN play it 1-2-1-2-3-5, but it actually seems LESS
"familiar" to me. I think that was among the very first "runs" that I
learned, when the world and I both were young.
Anybody else have favorite "cheat" fingerings?
Greg Guarino
My reaction, worthless that it is: "there are no cheat fingerings"
There are only fingerings that work.

Mason C
Michael Sayers
2004-10-02 08:28:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Greg G
The "thumb under" discussion elsewhere on this group got me to
thinking about some counterintuitive fingerings that I've used so long
that they seem natural.
Probably the strangest one involves essentially crossing the third
finger of my RH over the pinky to play the adjacent (higher) white
key. It only works in a few selected cases. For instance, if I wanted
to play a pentatonic run of C-D-E-G-A-C (that I knew was going to END
on the C), I might play it 1-2-3-5-3-5. I can play that very quickly,
faster than would really be useful.
For an even greater transgression, I might leave out the first C and
put in a sort of slurred Eb between the D and E (D-Eb-E-G-A-C). What
fingering? Why 2-3-3-5-3-5, of course, sliding the 3rd finger from the
Eb to the E. Oh, I CAN play it 1-2-1-2-3-5, but it actually seems LESS
"familiar" to me. I think that was among the very first "runs" that I
learned, when the world and I both were young.
Anybody else have favorite "cheat" fingerings?
Greg Guarino
When Busoni returned to performing, after several years off, he would
play outward moving scales by bringing fingers over the hand, rather
than the thumbs under.

Bach and other baroque keyboardists played without using their thumbs.

C.P.E. Bach wrote a book on pianoforte playing, with some interesting
ideas on fingering.

Banowetz may or may not have finished the book on fingering, for the
same press which published his book on pedalling.

Busoni said to always practice a passage first with the hardest
fingering.
Paul Matton
2004-10-02 16:50:27 UTC
Permalink
X-No-Archive: Yes
Post by Michael Sayers
Bach and other baroque keyboardists played without using their thumbs.
This is patently absurd. JS Bach was instrumental in
modern 'thumb-in' fingering. If you had the skill to
play the fugues in WTC you would know that the
thumb is necessary to play them.
Radu Focshaner
2004-10-02 20:53:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Matton
X-No-Archive: Yes
Post by Michael Sayers
Bach and other baroque keyboardists played without using their thumbs.
This is patently absurd. JS Bach was instrumental in
modern 'thumb-in' fingering. If you had the skill to
play the fugues in WTC you would know that the
thumb is necessary to play them.
I think Michael is partially right. In Baroque times (possibly before JSB)
the thumb was not used. More over, since the notion of legato meant nothing
to keyboard players, the "applicatura" for scales could be 123 34 34, no
thumb in, no thumb over, just moving the hand aside.

It is interesting to note that I saw music scores in an Australian archive
with "odd" fingerings markings: 1 is the index finger, the thumb is marked
with a cross.
Paul Matton
2004-10-02 22:34:35 UTC
Permalink
X-No-Archive: Yes
Post by Radu Focshaner
Post by Paul Matton
This is patently absurd. JS Bach was instrumental in
modern 'thumb-in' fingering. If you had the skill to
play the fugues in WTC you would know that the
thumb is necessary to play them.
I think Michael is partially right. In Baroque times (possibly before JSB)
the thumb was not used.
That is true. However, JSB changed that quite early on. The
proof is in the music - much of which is impossible to play
without use of the thumb.
Walter Ramsey
2004-10-05 00:29:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Radu Focshaner
Post by Paul Matton
X-No-Archive: Yes
Post by Michael Sayers
Bach and other baroque keyboardists played without using their thumbs.
This is patently absurd. JS Bach was instrumental in
modern 'thumb-in' fingering. If you had the skill to
play the fugues in WTC you would know that the
thumb is necessary to play them.
I think Michael is partially right. In Baroque times (possibly before JSB)
the thumb was not used. More over, since the notion of legato meant nothing
to keyboard players, the "applicatura" for scales could be 123 34 34, no
thumb in, no thumb over, just moving the hand aside.
It is interesting to note that I saw music scores in an Australian archive
with "odd" fingerings markings: 1 is the index finger, the thumb is marked
with a cross.
Before Bach the thumb was not used. Bach used all 5 fingers, and was
the first keyboardist to develop a "universal" technique through his
studious approach. CPE Bach writes in his "Versuch" that his father
pioneered the use of the thumb.
I don't understand the phrase, "since the notion of legato meant
nothing
Post by Radu Focshaner
to keyboard players" since the tradition of organ has always been a legato one, and in many Scarlatti sonatas a contrast between legato and staccato is evident. But I maybe misunderstand.
WR
Radu Focshaner
2004-10-05 02:09:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Walter Ramsey
I don't understand the phrase, "since the notion of legato meant
nothing
Post by Radu Focshaner
to keyboard players" since the tradition of organ has always been a
legato one, and in many Scarlatti sonatas a contrast between legato and
staccato is evident. But I maybe misunderstand.

Actually I though of "plucked" instruments (harpsichords) for as someone
wrote: " Staccato and legato on a keyboard were impossible before the piano
because Cristofori was the first with the concept of a damper, and a pedal
that disables the damper"(Sachs 332-4 ,Sachs, Kurt. The History of Musical
Instruments. New York, New York : W.W. Norton and Company, Inc, 1940)
Naren99
2004-10-05 07:35:51 UTC
Permalink
From: "Radu Focshaner"
Post by Radu Focshaner
Actually I though of "plucked" instruments (harpsichords) for as someone
wrote: " Staccato and legato on a keyboard were impossible before the piano
because Cristofori was the first with the concept of a damper, and a pedal
that disables the damper"(Sachs 332-4 ,Sachs, Kurt. The History of Musical
Instruments. New York, New York : W.W. Norton and Company, Inc, 1940)
The above statement is correct (taken in its entirety), but the harpischord
does have dampers - one for each string. It does not have the pedal to defeat
the dampers however.

The damper for a harpsichord string engages upon release of the key. So
staccato is definitely obtainable. If you hold a key down the string will
continue to sound, but it dies rather quickly compared to a piano therefore the
legato does not "sing" in the same way.

And, obviously, since the continued sounding of the string is dependent upon
the ability to hold the fingers down, one's ability to sustain various notes is
limited compared to a piano with its "sustain pedal". I think that must be the
type of legato referred to above. You obviously couldn't play something like
Chopin's first etude on a harpsichord (!) even if had the range - which it
doesn't.

--
Naren
Walter Ramsey
2004-10-07 19:51:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Radu Focshaner
Post by Walter Ramsey
I don't understand the phrase, "since the notion of legato meant
nothing
Post by Radu Focshaner
to keyboard players" since the tradition of organ has always been a
legato one, and in many Scarlatti sonatas a contrast between legato and
staccato is evident. But I maybe misunderstand.
Actually I though of "plucked" instruments (harpsichords) for as someone
wrote: " Staccato and legato on a keyboard were impossible before the piano
because Cristofori was the first with the concept of a damper, and a pedal
that disables the damper"(Sachs 332-4 ,Sachs, Kurt. The History of Musical
Instruments. New York, New York : W.W. Norton and Company, Inc, 1940)
"actual" legato on an older instrument such as harpsichord, is of
course "impossible," but all good players know to create the feeling,
atmosphere, or illusion whatever you would like to call it, of
contrast in articulation. In the same way that "actual" vibrato is
impossible on the piano, although it was noted somewhere else that
Liszt asked for it on occasion.
Si
2004-10-05 08:34:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Walter Ramsey
I don't understand the phrase, "since the notion of legato meant
nothing
Post by Radu Focshaner
to keyboard players" since the tradition of organ has always been a
legato one

I don't think that's entirely true. The "legato" tradition of organ playing
is not what we would consider legato in this context. It was an "articulated
legato", where each note was given its own space, surrounded by a "silence
d'articulation" which could be lengthened or shortened to give accents, etc.
True "legato" seems to have been rarely used. Of course, in 19th Century
France and the age of Franck, Widor, Vierne, Dupre etc. the technique of
strict legato was encouraged.

Si
Ronald Bloom
2004-10-06 23:31:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Sayers
When Busoni returned to performing, after several years off, he would
play outward moving scales by bringing fingers over the hand, rather
than the thumbs under.
How can you "bring your fingers over the hand" ? You can put your
fingers *under* the palm of your hand, by curling them; but unless
you can bend your fingers upwards and back, to an angle of greater than
90 degrees from the horizontal, the position of "fingers over the
hand" is literally impossible.
Walter Ramsey
2004-10-07 19:48:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ronald Bloom
Post by Michael Sayers
When Busoni returned to performing, after several years off, he would
play outward moving scales by bringing fingers over the hand, rather
than the thumbs under.
How can you "bring your fingers over the hand" ? You can put your
fingers *under* the palm of your hand, by curling them; but unless
you can bend your fingers upwards and back, to an angle of greater than
90 degrees from the horizontal, the position of "fingers over the
hand" is literally impossible.
Obviously, he meant fingers over fingers - going up a scale with
threes and fours, for instance.
Michael Sayers
2004-10-07 23:28:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ronald Bloom
Post by Michael Sayers
When Busoni returned to performing, after several years off, he would
play outward moving scales by bringing fingers over the hand, rather
than the thumbs under.
How can you "bring your fingers over the hand" ? You can put your
fingers *under* the palm of your hand, by curling them; but unless
you can bend your fingers upwards and back, to an angle of greater than
90 degrees from the horizontal, the position of "fingers over the
hand" is literally impossible.
One has to be willing to rotate the wrists outwards quite far....and
keep the hand + arm/elbow moving. It should be one fluid motion.

In Liszt's Apres une Lecture du Dante, measures 25-28, these are
plausible figurings (b=flat; #=sharp; n=natural; a=ascending;
d=descending):

Right Hand:

a a a a a a a d a d d d d d d d d
An Bb C# En Fn Gn An Bb C# Fn En Dn Bn G# Fn En Dn G#
1 2 3 4 2 3 4 5 1 5 4 3 1 4 3 2 1 3

Left Hand:

a a a a a a a d a d d d d d d d d
An Bb C# En Fn Gn An Bb C# Fn En Dn Bn G# Fn En Dn G#
5 4 3 2 1 3 2 1 5 1 2 3 5 2 3 4 5 2


Busoni took either five or six years off from concertizing, during
which he among other things seems to have systematized these types of
fingerings.
Michael Sayers
2004-10-08 00:06:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ronald Bloom
Post by Michael Sayers
When Busoni returned to performing, after several years off, he would
play outward moving scales by bringing fingers over the hand, rather
than the thumbs under.
How can you "bring your fingers over the hand" ? You can put your
fingers *under* the palm of your hand, by curling them; but unless
you can bend your fingers upwards and back, to an angle of greater than
90 degrees from the horizontal, the position of "fingers over the
hand" is literally impossible.
Pianist Chico Marx brings the fingers over the hand, as can be seen
when he play in some Marx Brothers movies.

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