4

I'm a self-taught pianist. I know how to play all the major and minor scales, so I believe I can progress to modes.

How should I practice modes on the piano? Should I just use the fingering for the corresponding major scale, or are there special fingerings?

For example: In B flat major, technically to be consistent with the way the scale is played you would start on the 4th finger for the right hand, but I have heard it's ok and natural to start on the 2nd. Are there similar cases for modes?

Is there a book that will tell me the mode fingerings, perhaps a free pdf online? I don't have many musical resources at home.

Most importantly, and to reiterate, should I just use the fingering for the corresponding major scale?

4

If you can play all major (ionian) and natural-minor (aeolian) scales, you can play already 24 of 84. I think this is a rather big question asking for fingerings of all the left 60 ones. Also we are not talking about melodic or harmonic minor, which have 7 modes too, times 12 times 2 equals 168 modes.

Not to discourage you: With your ability of already playing 24 keys I would say you have a pretty good start.

Also as for the major or minor scales you have quite a few fingerings in common. For example in C major you can play all modes with:

RH: 123-1234(5)-123-1234(5) etc.
LH: 54321-321-4321-321 etc.

As a rule of thumb:

try to avoid the thumb on black keys!

As you play F major on the right hand with: 1234-123-1234-1234 to not get the thumb on the Bb. As you know you can use the same fingering as for c major for the left hand in F major

As you mentioned the fingering for B flat major, you seem to be familiar with those fingerings that in the beginning need a little practice, but you should be able to adapt those to the modes too.

Not to forget:

"Fingering itself is an art, it needs time and practice."

For example: the fingering I wrote for the C major scale makes sense if you play from c to c, but what if you want to go one tone further and play from c to d? It surely depends on the run but here I would go this way:

scale using fingering 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 4 3 2 1

the same applies for the modes too, as soon as you play more complex figures rather then just the scale from one octave to the other you might need to use different fingerings.

  • Would you recommend I use a book to learn mode fingerings, or can I just figure it out myself and mostly use the major key fingering? – reincarnationofstackexchange Aug 13 '17 at 3:30
  • honestly saying I don't know a book containing fingerings for all modes, I have been searching one for myself and my plan was to make one, but I did not find the time yet. I would say that by adapting the techniques used for playing the major scales you probably get very far. If there is a special mode that you have problems with, just post a new question. Also be aware of the fact that the fingerings used for scales are good practice, but in real music you often need to adapt them to the context. – nath Aug 13 '17 at 12:01
  • That's very surprising - I thought it would be a common thing to find in more advanced music books. Thanks for the pointers! – reincarnationofstackexchange Aug 13 '17 at 20:54
  • I haven't purchased this book myself yet, but I heard this one to be quite good: Slonimsky Nicolas THESAURUS OF SCALES + MELODIC PATTERNS – nath Aug 13 '17 at 21:05
  • @nath Did you get a chance to write that book yet? ;) – robert Jan 1 '18 at 4:04
0

@nath Already posted a great answer and I don't have much to add. I would like to elaborate on one thing though: at the most fundamental level, scales do not have dedicated fingerings.

@nath eluded to this with the C-D scale. The fingering depends on the context as a whole far more than the particular scale being played. Most scale exercises help to increase skill in 2 things: finger dexterity and fingering intuition. They help to build muscle memory and train your fingers to naturally find a comfortable fingering for whatever you happen to play.

What scale exercises are not meant for is dictating exactly what fingers to use for each key of the scale. The standard fingerings found in most scale exercise books are only there to help build good habits when it comes to fingering.

So, even if there is a book or something out there that explicitly lists out fingerings for every possible scale of every possible mode don't use it. You will be better off, at this point, by using the modes to practice the fingering techniques and guidelines you have picked up intuitively from practicing all of your major and minor scales.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.