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I can't find suitable fingering for the below minor-pentatonic riff,

1 3 4 | 3 4 5 | 4 5 7 | 5 7 1 | 7 1 3 | 1 3 4 | ...

I know that it matters which key, so let's say A minor.

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  • Is this for the left hand or the right? Jul 21, 2014 at 9:45
  • Is your 5 7 1 still 'rising' as in 5 7 8, or are you going back to the start? Jul 21, 2014 at 9:48
  • @LeeKowalkowski right hand. and the run rises as 5 7 8 (sorry for confusing) Aug 9, 2014 at 19:38

2 Answers 2

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Generally, the best fingering to use for pentatonic scales are groupings of twos and threes. A grouping of two would involve the thumb and either the index or even middle finger. A grouping of three would involved the thumb, index and middle OR thumb, middle and ring finger.

Speaking generally again, a good rule of thumb (pun intended) is to experiment with fingering. You want to keep a few things in mind. Does the fingering you've chosen allow you to play blazingly fast and without mistakes? Does the fingering you've chosen allow you to sustain the pattern without finger fatigue (often this happens because of reusing the same finger too often). Hope this helps.

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In general, it's best to minimize the number of hand shifts. To do this, think of the riff in groups of six notes.

A minor (also E minor and D minor)

A C D  C D E    D E G  E G A    G A C  A C D    C D E  D E G    E G A  G A C    etc.
1 2 3  2 3 4    1 2 4  2 4 5    1 2 4  2 4 5    1 2 3  2 3 5    1 2 3  2 3 5

When black keys are involved, thumb turns will help avoid awkward transitions.

G minor

G Bb C  Bb C D    C D F  D F G    F G Bb  G Bb C    Bb C D  C D F    D F G  F G Bb
1 2  3  2  3 4    1 2 4  2 4 5    1 2 3   2 3  4    3  1 2  1 2 4    1 2 3  2 3 5
                                            *       *

Note the reuse of finger 3 on Bb so as to avoid an awkward shift into group 4.
C minor

C Eb F  Eb F G    F G Bb  G Bb C    Bb C Eb  C Eb F    Eb F G  F G Bb    G Bb C  Bb C Eb
1 2  3  2  3 4    1 2 3   2 3  5    3  1 3   1 3  4    3  1 2  1 2 3     1 2  3  2  3 5
                            * (4)   *          *       *                (1 3  4  3  1 3)

Again the same thumb-turn strategy as in G minor is used, here in groups 3 and 4.

These two basic strategies -- grouping in sixes, and using thumb turns as needed -- will get you through all twelve keys.

As a final note, fingering-wise, Eb minor is actually the easiest of all. You can use 1-2-3 2-3-4 the entire way.

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