I originally though they were (rather bad) fingering suggestions, but then I saw the second bar where the fingering suggestion is 2 4, yet this (51) still shows. What exactly does it mean then when the numbers are in brackets like this? My music theory book does not explain fingering notation at all for some reason, and Wikipedia is not helping here either.

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    I would just stop at "(rather bad) fingering suggestions". Somebody ought to tell whoever thought those fingerings were sensible why pianos have sustain pedals! – user19146 Jan 17 '17 at 12:44
  • @alephzero I am glad I am not the only one who thought that. I have already ignored their previous suggestions and I think I shall continue. – user85798 Jan 17 '17 at 13:33
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    You can't use a sustain peddle here ( don't think), else you mung the right hand. That said I could be totally wrong. – coteyr Jan 17 '17 at 14:16
  • @coteyr I think sustain is necessary here, though I reapply the pedal at the third bass note. – user85798 Jan 17 '17 at 14:40
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    Well then that poses the question, why switch fingers at all? Why not just move your hand? – coteyr Jan 17 '17 at 14:47

In piano this parenthesis with 2 fingering means that you should change finger while keeping the note played.

For example at the second bar you show, you should first use your 5th finger to attack the note, and switch to your 1st finger while keeping the note played, so you can reach the next note (that is quite far) with your 5th finger.

  • Ah! Didn't know that. Makes sense now, thanks. – user85798 Jan 17 '17 at 10:45
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    I always thought that was notated like musescore.org/sites/musescore.org/files/fingersubstitution.jpg – user85798 Jan 17 '17 at 10:55
  • Oh that's right, I assumed it was finger substitution because of the quite far legato note after the chord but I may be wrong, see Tim H answer. – Maarethyu Jan 17 '17 at 11:28
  • I've deleted my answer. I think you are right. Although I'm totally puzzled how this is supposed to be pedaled. – Tim H Jan 17 '17 at 20:48
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    @TimH Pedal isn't necessary for this, and probably is a bad idea to do it, because it would make the right hand sounds bad. – Maarethyu Jan 17 '17 at 21:16

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