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Novice here. In playing C Major, it seems pretty straight forward. You start for example playing, 1-3-5 / 5-3-1 (or a 1-2-3) depending on the hand, but other scales like Db for example are starting on a black key, so you end up having to roll your thumb under.

This works for individual notes going up and down the scale, but if you want to play root triads or their inversions all at once, then you can't roll your thumb. Is there a standard arpeggio fingering technique which works for both individual notes and the entire chord?

  • I have seen some teachers recommend using thumbs on the black keys as an alternative to rolling, so it doesn't seem as if their is any standard way of playing. I don't know enough to tell if this is an encumbrance or not later on. – Perry_M Oct 14 at 1:32
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It depends on the linear pattern played. This image covers the basics:

enter image description here

Source: https://imslp.org/wiki/Mastering_the_Scales_and_Arpeggios_(Cooke%2C_James_Francis)

The basic difference is how you change position.

The first group of examples uses linear patterns that stay within the range of one octave and then shift position simply by moving the arm and hand up or down the keyboard. In those cases it's OK to use the thumb on black keys.

The second group labeled with Roman numerals uses linear patterns exceeding one octave and passing the thumb under to change position. When passing the thumb under for those you don't want to pass the thumb under to a black key. You especially don't want to go from a white key to passing the thumb to a black they. It's just a matter of the shape of the hand and the keyboard. Thumb on a white key and fingers on the black keys fits the hand.

Notice that the fingering for...

enter image description here

...is essentially the same as...

enter image description here

...but the F natural where the thumb is used falls on different metrical positions. One is one the beat, the other is off the beat.

You can see that same kind of pattern for the other chords rooted on a black keys.

You could think of it as just one set of fingerings for the three chord positions (inversions) but various linear patterns require starting with differing fingers and changing position at different times.

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If I understand the question properly, you want to play only triads - inversions included, with one hand.There is nothing at all wrong with using thumb on black keys for this. Since there are only three notes to be played at a time - either sequentially or as a block chord - it makes sense to use the hand 'flat', as in not move it left or right as you play the three notes. Obviously this is for an arpeggio of the three notes - a block chord with a 'passing thumb' would be pretty daft.

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This depends of what fallows and from the pattern of the arpeggio:

If it’s only the triad you can play it like you’re proposing. ( e.g. Bachs prelude C).

enter image description here.

As you see you can also use 1,2,4.

But look at Chopin’s Etude 1:

here you need to play with different fingers as it is a quit different arpeggio pattern:

enter image description here

As I have no chance to become a virtuous pianist I always play the arpeggios in my personal finger settings (most comfortable to me!)

(To show and demonstrate simple triads to pupils I let them play even 1,2,3 or even 2,3,4. They have never been ambitious to become pianists and to perform Bach or Chopin. Their purpose was just to accompany the school band on the keyboard - and my goal was to teach them simply chords and the basics of harmony, they were not able to read sheet music! , The aim was to discover the joy that lays in making music with friends.)

  • If I am understanding you correctly, there doesn't seem to be any established standard for fingering. Just use what works for the piece you're attempting to play. – Perry_M Oct 14 at 13:07
  • If you want just play the triad c,e,g and inversions, then yours fingering 135, 125, 135 might be quite established! – Albrecht Hügli Oct 14 at 13:13
  • Problem is, that only works for the white keys, unless you are breaking convention and using thumbs on the black keys. Some teachers say that's okay, while others are adamantly against it. – Perry_M Oct 14 at 13:51

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