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This may be a basic question, but I've never had a piano teacher so I'm not sure how to finger this circled measure.

From an anime opening song

enter image description here

My confusion stems from the fact that I remember seeing in arpeggio books that for the flat arpeggios like Eb major, Ab major, etc. that the thumb plays the white key. For example, if you want to arpeggiate the Eb major chord ascending on the left hand, you would use the fingering 3 1 4 2 1 4 2. Please correct me if I am wrong about this.

However, in Japanese music, often I see the third of the chord omitted, and so the regular fingering (at least, the one I've seen in Hanon) doesn't seem to apply. Are there multiple/alternative fingerings for a single arpeggio? What about, for the circled measure, after the octave, 1 2 5, followed by crossing over to 3 2 3 5? Does the adage "whatever feels comfortable" apply here?

Any help is appreciated.

  • A fingering for the circled passage cannot be suggested without knowing what follows. Please include the next bar. – user48353 May 13 '18 at 7:06
  • Got it. Hopefully this helps. – reincarnationofstackexchange May 13 '18 at 20:04
  • "Whatever feels comfortable" always applies to fingering. However, you also have to play the music correctly as well as comfortably, so it's a good idea to try several different fingerings. – BobRodes May 25 '18 at 9:24
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Fingering suggestions:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Explanations:

The first and second involve two “shifts”; the third involves only one.

The first and second involve the pinky traveling only an octave at the first shift; the third involves a shift of a twelfth.

Excluding an octave span on the first note, and the octave with a fifth in the middle (a.k.a, “power chord”), the first involves a span of a fifth across fingers 1 to 5; the second, the same, across fingers 1 to 4; the third, an octave.

Recommendations:

If you are comfortable with Romantic-era classical piano (a la Chopin), the third should not feel out of place—wide arm leaps and finger stretches are common.

If you are less comfortable with that, the first and second both seem viable options, but I would recommend the second example, for this reason: although the first uses a pretty common triad fingering, it is likely to be less comfortable and less useful than the second. You don’t need your pinky and middle finger to travel as far to play that triad, as there is surely enough space between your thumb and your four fingers to accommodate a triad like that. Since your next move is to jump back down, this advice is further reinforced.

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Remember that fingerings are only ideas, not rules. No scale, arpeggio or chord has a set fingering and different fingerings will work better for different people (depending on hand size, flexibility and complexity) and in different contexts. "Whatever feels comfortable" is generally a good rule of thumb, but it is not the number one factor. Some Chopin passages require some rather uncomfortable fingerings that are very efficient. Comfort is nice when possible, but is secondary to efficiency. For example, here is my fingering for Chopin's Waltz no 15 in E:

Notice the marked finger crossings (3 over 4, 2 over 1, 3 over 5), which are necessary to play this fully legato and not cut any notes short.

enter image description here

Now, back to your piece: I don't see any reason why you need to play the 2nd note (Ab) with either your 1st or your 5th finger. 1st creates a huge jump up to the Eb (an octave and a half if played with your 5th). Using your 5th is better, but still creates an octave jump, which is not ideal, especially if this needs to be played legato at all. Personally, I would use my 3rd finger on the Ab, which can be easily reached from the previous 1-5 octave, but also leaves your 1st and 2nd fingers available to reach for the following Eb, eliminating the need for any jumping at all. This leads us to a fingering that is both comfortable and efficient:

Fingering Example

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There is no reason to change the "standard" rule that the thumb should go no the C. The main question is how to negotiate the 3 notes between the octave and the C.

There are (at least) two possibilities - choose whichever feels best:

1/5 (or 1/4) 1 3 (or 4) 2 1 2 1 2

1/5 (or 1/4) 5 3 2 1 2 1 2

You don't have to play all the notes legato - that's what the sustain pedal is for! For the second option, just let go of the octave and move your hand to the position for the following notes.

  • I wouldn't rely on the sustain pedal for legato as you might miss out on some valuable techniques. I have always seen the sustain pedal as an ornamental accent, used to blend and fill out the sound, not an essential part of the music that is needed to make you sound good. When practicing I regularly refrain from using the pedal for an entire play through, just to make sure I am still accurate and not getting lazy. The sustain pedal does a great job of blending out mistakes, which is never a good thing when learning a new piece. – WillRoss1 Aug 23 at 16:38
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After the Ab octave, try 1 on and next Ab, then 5 on the Eb, then 32123. This way you only have to shift your hand once. Sometimes it's best to put the thumb on black keys for practical reasons.

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