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I found an arrangement of Zorba’s dance. But there is a passage I don’t like because I think there are thirds originally which sound much better. The arrangement is in the second picture.

The thirds I want to play: enter image description here Note that (it is not in the picture) the lowest third (G-B) is later in few bars (as the melody is shifted by one scale tone down) F major - A. So thumb is not preferred on the F major and then to be consistent also on the G.

I would like to play it legato, so that upper notes are connected (B in the second B-D third doesn’t have to be played, if it is not possible)

The very first third in the pictures I play 2-3 and the second 1-4.

Do you have any thoughts on how to play these fast descending thirds?

The arrangement: enter image description here

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    42 31 (x) 42 31 42 31, or 42 31 42 31 53 42 would be "standard" or "classical" marking. Thirds are thirds, can't pretty them up. – Agnes K. Cathex Aug 17 '18 at 18:14
  • There is a time to follow these rules about thumbs on black keys, but not here: 53 42 31 21 is by far the fastest option, regardless of the F sharp (I guess that’s what you mean by f major). – 11684 Aug 17 '18 at 20:21
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If you look at Cortot's edition of the Chopin studies op. 25, no. 6, the one in thirds, he gives eight to ten different fingering possibilities for many of the (chromatic) runs. This example is not chromatic, but even so, I think the idea of a "standard" fingering is not helpful. And you should always try out any variations which you might find easier.

Here, there are only white notes, and you want the top notes to be legato, so the obvious fingering is 543243. Then fit the lower notes in: 53 42 31 21 is the only way to start; your thumb should be practiced at sliding like this. Then you could use 42 31, but this has the disadvantage of a repeated finger (2, on the two Bs). An alternative is 41 32, with a sliding thumb again, and slightly awkward switch to 32. But try both and see which you can get the smoothest.

(I may have misunderstood something; I don't understand several of your points, particularly the bit about "not in the picture".)

  • thx,English is not my mother tongue. 53 42 31 21 is what I prefer. I guess top note legato even when descencing sounds better, correct me, if I’m wrong. What I meant by the note “not in the picture” was that in few bars, the same notes/thirds are repeated, but all are shifted by one tone (if makessense by tone I mean tones in the scale, so possibly a semi tone). That means I cannot use 53 42 31 21 fingering, because 21 means thumb on a black key (f major) which I find awkward/slow. In this shifted down case I use 53 42 31 32, which breaks the legato but I haven’t come up with anything better. – Adam Aug 18 '18 at 12:59
  • And for the double Bs, even if it’s possible with 21 and 53 (without repeated finger), I think I’ll simplify it to 21 and 4, leaving the second B out. – Adam Aug 18 '18 at 13:08
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The "standard" fingering for scales in thirds, right hand ascending, is groups of 31 42 31 42 etc, plus the occasional 31 42 53 31 42 etc to keep your thumb off the black keys as much as possible. (Be thankful your arrangement only has one sharp in the key signature, not four or five!)

I gave that ascending not descending because for me, it seems easier to figure out how to play this completely legato at a slow tempo (except for the 53 to 31 transitions) ascending rather than descending, though once you see what the movement needs to be, it works in both directions. To get from 42 to 31, your thumb goes under the 2, and your fourth finger goes over the 3. Imagine you are a crab walking sideways along the keyboard, or a spider "feeling" with your fourth finger for the next note to play above the third finger.

Descending, the 2 goes over the thumb, and the 4 goes under the 3.

Start by practising this very slowly - 40 notes (not beats!) per minute is plenty fast enough till you start to get the feel of the 42-to-31 transitions. If you try to run before you can walk, your fingers will literally "fall over" each other.

A preparatory exercise is to hold a long note (say G) with your thumb (just to "anchor" your hand and take the weight of your arm), then play B C B C B C etc, legato, but with the fourth finger on B and the third finger on C - the opposite way round from how you would normally finger it. Turn your hand sideways so your fingers point to the right, to make it easier.

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