Is there a general term to describe the concepts referred by "fingering", "(slide) position", perhaps other such words, that describe the specific manipulations of an instrument to produce pitches? And if yes, what is that word?

More generally, how does one describe the underlying concept? My phrase "manipulations to produce pitches" seems inelegant at best, if not outright baffling in its intended meaning.


This question was prompted by trying to think up a tag synonym for "fingering" that would apply to instruments like trombone. Currently (as of 11 Feb 2021), there is a tag called available, but not proposed as a synonym.

  • 1
    If I were trying to write about that I would probably describe those actions as “pitch selection” or “note selection”. Not very elegant, I admit. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 5:03
  • @ToddWilcox Yeah, it's sticky. "Pitch/note selection" makes me think of composing/improvising as opposed to the mechanical aspect.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 5:05
  • I note, that this would also cover fingerboard positions for violin family, but am afraid the even in the restricted form the asked concept is quite broad and there may be no term for it. Interestingly muscle memory as the source for doing all that correctly, is pretty established.
    – guidot
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 9:42
  • Maybe something related to "modulation"? Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 17:36
  • 1
    Does "Technique" work?
    – MattPutnam
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 20:55

2 Answers 2


The first word that came to mind is simply technique.

I know that can include lots of other things beside pitch, but fingering technique or manual technique seems straight forward for what you are hinting at.

FWIW, it's not entirely clear what your after. You specified pitch and implied hand, manual technique. Does that mean voice is excluded? Hand in a horn bell, included? Percussion stick technique, in or out based on pitch/non-pitched?

If it's manual technique your are after, I think just say that and don't necessarily limit it to pitch.

  • Good point about the clarity issue. I've updated the OP to indicate how the question originated.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 23:26

This article http://www.donaldsauter.com/guitar-fingering-notation.htm uses term "performance indication". I don't believe it's widely used, but seems accurate.

  • That term is typically used to describe any instruction related to how a piece is to be performed. Although it's used in relation to fingering in the example you found, the term is more general.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 18:59
  • @Aaron I think instructions are called "performance notes". Anyway, OP asked for a more general term for "fingering". However, as I don't believe the term is widely used, it may not be understood if not introduced properly. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 20:58
  • OP is me. Performance indication and performance note are overlapping terms.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 21:14
  • @Aaron oops! Right. I gave the best answer I could. But possibly the term you're asking for doesn't exist, or there is no single, widely agreed upon term. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 21:18
  • The term not existing does seem to be the conclusion we're headed toward, in which case something like your suggestion may win the day, so to speak. The underlying motivation is a synonym for the "fingering" tag to cover the more general case. We'll see...
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 21:41

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