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I have a couple of questions related to corner cases in fingering:

  1. How do you play Gmaj9 in RH when it is inversion F♯, A, B, D? Thumb on the (black) F♯ and the rest line up? Another alternative is thumb on A, and 2 stretching over onto F♯, or is such fingering always a no-no?
  2. Let’s say you’ve stricken a melody tone and chord using RH 1, 2 and 5. But now — oops — you realise the melody continues upwards, but you’ve already used your 5th finger. I see two options: reposition the hand (but that is slow and involves an interruption); or walk using the 4th finger over the 5th. Is the latter an ugly no-no? (Placing fingers over thumb.) It can also be done with the 3rd finger. If I recall correctly, I’ve seen Aimee Nolte do this in one of her videos (YouTube). How do you resolve this? To me, fingering often involves these oops-moments.
  3. Sometimes when I realise the fingering is wrong, I repair it by “switching fingers in place”. For instance, I’ve used 1st finger but realise it should 2, so I put 2 next to the 1st on the same tangent, and then lift the 1st, hence seamlessly freeing the finger. Is such a solution a no-no, or maybe even correct practice in some cases? (For instance question 2 above can be solved by placing 4 in 5th place, hence freeing up the 5.)

If you know of any particular resource that discuss general approaches (not scales) for fingering strategies, let me know.

5

Your solutions are all quite usual for pianists and especially for organists playin chorals and fugues if legato playing is necessary.

And mind: there are no no-goes and no ugly no noes. Everything goes when it is practicable and comfortable.

You’ll find a lot of examples here:

https://reader.digitale-sammlungen.de/de/fs1/object/display/bsb10497270_00008.html

C.P.E. Bach: Versuch über die wahre Art clavier zu spielen

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Here are my answers:

  1. I tried your fingering of the pointer finger on the F♯ for that chord, and my hand already started to hurt. Do not use fingerings that make your hands hurt.

  2. At least given my hand size (the largest span I can play without hitting adjacent notes is an octave), I just keep repositioning my hand (damper pedal optional). I tried going 4 over 5, and that felt even more awkward.

  3. Yes, keeping a note down while switching fingers on the sly is a common enough fingering tactic that this is even notated on some scores. That notation is represented by 2 fingering numbers in sequence for the same note, possibly with a line in between.

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1

Often, you actually want to use fingering considered awkward in Euro-Classical tradition.

The reason for this is getting a strong attack so as to 'convey' stronger rhythm. There is a tradeoff in doing finger gymnastics to properly render a Chopin melody: you get a beautiful legato line, but that is all; you won't get a desirable big sound, you won't get enunciated syncopation, and most of all, you give up the percussive aspect of the piano which is essential to the music!

Listen to and WATCH the early stride players, as well as Monk, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell and McCoy Tyner. You'll notice that they are not afraid of thumb on black keys, complete hand repositioning in the middle of a line/melody, or not changing the finger on a key while holding it down as to transition gracefully into another position.

Instead, they use all these techniques to avoid classical gymnastics which will reduce their ability to enunciate. Crossing fingers over each other is a great way to play a quiet legato line or play two voices of a fugue in one hand such that they sound independent, but it's a terrible way to achieve rhythmic clarity.

Fingering is very important to these guys, especially McCoy, Bud, and OP, and you should spend time working it out during a transcription. However, you should prioritize rhythmic clarity and power over legato and the euro-classical sense of touch.

Here is an example of the top of my head:

Watch how McCoy gets around the keyboard during his solo, especially his big double time runs. You will see him get his thumb on the black keys at high speed rather than crossing over with his pointer. This saves time (to the end of rhythmic precision) and increases power (he is then able to rotate his wrist to generate extra force on the key he is playing with his thumb). Additionally, watch him play octaves. During classical training I was taught to play octaves by playing black keys with the fourth finger and white keys with the pinky. McCoy plays all octaves with pinky, and this again allows the wrist to get in to help with power and enunciation.

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  • Ironically, I've found I can play passages faster and more mistake-free with smoother fingering instead of ones that require me to shift my pinky finger more often. (Practicing parallel fourths and fifths with the smoother fingerings that use middle and ring fingers more often for the topmost notes in the right hand is a bother, though. I do find such passages in video game music and metal, though....) – Dekkadeci Jun 20 at 18:28

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