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Topic Options
#1895590 - 05/12/12 02:00 AM Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 321
Do you use 1 4 or 1 5 for octaves on black keys on rapid octaves passages. Thanks in advance.

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#1895592 - 05/12/12 02:06 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
GeorgeB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/10
Posts: 635
you can use either. If yoy want a more legato sound use 1 4 on black and 1 5 white

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#1895595 - 05/12/12 02:23 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: albynism
Do you use 1 4 or 1 5 for octaves on black keys on rapid octaves passages. Thanks in advance.

Varies, depending on.....I don't know what. smile

In the contrary-motion-both-hands-octaves passages of Chopin's Fantaisie in F minor, I had trouble getting the octaves consistently until I arrived at using mostly 4 with the L.H. and 5 with the R.H. Not sure why, or if I could extract any principle that I could apply generally.

It seems that people generally argue one or the other. At least for me, it varies and it depends.

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#1895597 - 05/12/12 03:15 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
MarkH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 868
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm with Mark on this one. I usually go 1-4, but in some special circumstances, I do 1-5. One thing I can think of is: SOMETIMES in really fast passages, it's easier to play faster not switching 4-5. But there may be other times when I stay on 1-5... I think I always go 1-4 when I'm playing a slower, more melodic passage.
_________________________
Currently Studying: Debussy - Pagodes; Alkan - Cello Sonata 4th movement (duet transcription by Alkan); assorted Dvorak Slavonic Dances

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#1895606 - 05/12/12 03:46 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 321
Thanks guys. I'll try use 1 4 (it's for rapid double octaves). I think it's easier to switch to 1 5 if that doesn't work than the reverse.

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#1895607 - 05/12/12 03:49 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Either. Both. Depending. And sometimes 3 gets involved, too, e.g., in the LH octave section in Chopin's op. 53 polonaise.

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#1895611 - 05/12/12 04:00 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3836
Loc: Bay Area, CA
I don't still follow all the tenants of my Taubman training from a couple years back, but I do almost always play octaves 1-5, and achieve legato by methods other than finger connecting. I find it liberating; I find that 1-4 gives the hand a slight twist that adds unwanted tension. I do use 1-4 occasionally still.

I have a concert pianist friend who had been complaining to me about the octaves in the Chopin op.53 Polonaise. She had played this piece for decades, but for some reason she was now starting to get fatigued part-way through the section. She was using a combination of 1-5 and 1-4 (and maybe a 1-3), connecting all the top notes. I recommended she switch to all 1-5, and she now swears by that fingering; she said that after an awkward couple days, the section is easy again. A rare case of problem solved.

-Jason
_________________________
Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#1895640 - 05/12/12 06:37 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
trigalg693 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 686
Depends on stretch. 13 for me is out of the question, but 14 feels very comfortable, and I use it on white keys if I'm coming off black sometimes (rarely of course).

Smaller handed people should stick to 15 if it's too uncomfortable. Of course, part of the uncomfortableness may come from lack of 4th finger strength though, so...

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#1895644 - 05/12/12 06:46 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I almost always use a legato fingering for octaves where I can, sometimes including 13. I may occasionally use 5s where the volume is more important than the legato.


Edited by debrucey (05/12/12 06:47 AM)

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#1895653 - 05/12/12 07:27 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19642
Loc: New York City
I believe Earl Wild recommended using only 1-5 in his autobiography.

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#1895654 - 05/12/12 07:28 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
And Horowitz used 14. There are good arguments for both sides probably. I've had a very legato-centric training.


Edited by debrucey (05/12/12 07:29 AM)

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#1895696 - 05/12/12 10:21 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1176
Ok, stupid question (or is there no such thing as a stupid question?) since I have not worked on as much octaves as I should have by now. Do you find the distance between a black key octave and a white key octave to be slightly different? Last time I was working on octaves, I found it was easier to keep 14 for black keys and 15 for white keys otherwise I'd miss one of the notes on the white key octave.

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#1895697 - 05/12/12 10:22 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: wr]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: wr
Either. Both. Depending. And sometimes 3 gets involved, too, e.g., in the LH octave section in Chopin's op. 53 polonaise.

Did you know.....some people supposedly also use 2 -- i.3. 2,3,4,5.

I wouldn't recommend 2 or 3 for very many people.

Originally Posted By: beet31425
I have a concert pianist friend who had been complaining to me about the octaves in the Chopin op.53 Polonaise. She had played this piece for decades, but for some reason she was now starting to get fatigued part-way through the section. She was using a combination of 1-5 and 1-4 (and maybe a 1-3), connecting all the top notes. I recommended she switch to all 1-5, and she now swears by that fingering; she said that after an awkward couple days, the section is easy again. A rare case of problem solved.

I'm going to try that.
I've never used anything except 4, because I learned the piece years ago when I was in the habit of (almost) always using 4 -- and I've always had at least a little trouble with it (more of course when I haven't been practicing it) but never thought of changing the fingering, because -- y'know, sometimes you just never think of changing something if you've always done it a certain way....


Originally Posted By: Arghhh
....Do you find the distance between a black key octave and a white key octave to be slightly different? Last time I was working on octaves, I found it was easier to keep 14 for black keys and 15 for white keys otherwise I'd miss one of the notes on the white key octave.

It's an illusion. smile

Although....since the white keys are wider, depending on where you hit each white key you can 'make' the distance between them either less or more than the distance between the black keys, but aside from that, obviously the distances are the same).

Maybe that's part of what's making it feel like what you're saying, maybe other things. But I think what you're talking about has nothing to do with different distances.

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#1895709 - 05/12/12 10:50 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6248
Loc: St. Louis area
Depends. I usually use 1-4 on black keys and sometimes 1-3 if there are two consecutive black key octaves. On the other hand, if I am playing close to the body (closer to middle C) I'll switch to all 1-5 because 1-4 will give an uncomfortable twist at a certain point.
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#1895717 - 05/12/12 11:13 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: Mark_C]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6470
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C


Originally Posted By: beet31425
I have a concert pianist friend who had been complaining to me about the octaves in the Chopin op.53 Polonaise. She had played this piece for decades, but for some reason she was now starting to get fatigued part-way through the section. She was using a combination of 1-5 and 1-4 (and maybe a 1-3), connecting all the top notes. I recommended she switch to all 1-5, and she now swears by that fingering; she said that after an awkward couple days, the section is easy again. A rare case of problem solved.

I'm going to try that.
I've never used anything except 4, because I learned the piece years ago when I was in the habit of (almost) always using 4 -- and I've always had at least a little trouble with it (more of course when I haven't been practicing it) but never thought of changing the fingering, because -- y'know, sometimes you just never think of changing something if you've always done it a certain way....


I learned the Polonaise years ago using 5 (when I was in the habit of almost always using 5) and now that I've revisited the piece I've switched to 4 on the black keys - which works SO MUCH better for me !!!! grin
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YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1895719 - 05/12/12 11:16 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Go figure.... ha



Edit: I tried it.
Verdict: It's much less fatiguing using all 5's -- like, not at all -- but harder to play as fast.

I'm going to switch to all 5's, and work on getting it up to the same speed.

(Thanks, Jason!!) thumb


Edited by Mark_C (05/12/12 11:57 AM)

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#1895775 - 05/12/12 02:23 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
nocturne152 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 447
It's not a black and white answer (pun intended). It really depends on many factors (for me).
_________________________
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- Oscar Peterson

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#1895781 - 05/12/12 02:44 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: Arghhh]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
Ok, stupid question (or is there no such thing as a stupid question?) since I have not worked on as much octaves as I should have by now. Do you find the distance between a black key octave and a white key octave to be slightly different? Last time I was working on octaves, I found it was easier to keep 14 for black keys and 15 for white keys otherwise I'd miss one of the notes on the white key octave.


It's not the distance that's different, it's the fact that the black keys sit higher than the white keys. That means you can play octaves on the blacks by using the inner edges of the keys. If you do that on the whites, you risk playing the neighbouring notes and thereby messing up your octaves with additional notes. So you are right in your observation that it's easier to achieve the stretch on the blacks, but not in your reason why. It's not about the distance, it's just about the ease in avoiding the neighbouring notes.

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#1895798 - 05/12/12 03:21 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: ando]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1176
Originally Posted By: ando

It's not the distance that's different, it's the fact that the black keys sit higher than the white keys. That means you can play octaves on the blacks by using the inner edges of the keys. If you do that on the whites, you risk playing the neighbouring notes and thereby messing up your octaves with additional notes. So you are right in your observation that it's easier to achieve the stretch on the blacks, but not in your reason why. It's not about the distance, it's just about the ease in avoiding the neighbouring notes.


Just to clarify then, do you keep the same stretch on the black keys as on the white keys? (Actually, I found I play the outer edges of the black keys, not the inner edges and thus am stretching too far.)

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#1895800 - 05/12/12 03:29 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: Arghhh]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
Originally Posted By: ando

It's not the distance that's different, it's the fact that the black keys sit higher than the white keys. That means you can play octaves on the blacks by using the inner edges of the keys. If you do that on the whites, you risk playing the neighbouring notes and thereby messing up your octaves with additional notes. So you are right in your observation that it's easier to achieve the stretch on the blacks, but not in your reason why. It's not about the distance, it's just about the ease in avoiding the neighbouring notes.


Just to clarify then, do you keep the same stretch on the black keys as on the white keys? (Actually, I found I play the outer edges of the black keys, not the inner edges and thus am stretching too far.)


I'm more referring to the fact that the black keys are very forgiving to where on the key you press (whether it's inside or outside edge), whereas the white keys are not. People with smaller hands struggle to play octaves on white keys using 1-4, but have no trouble on the blacks. 1-5 is most preferred on the whites. So it suits the legato fingering for most people.

I tend to find that if you have to do very rapid octaves, keeping 1-5 and using a set span width is far more reliable than trying to throw in a 1-4 on the black keys. I find that inherently risky once the tempo gets beyond a certain point. The 1-4/1-5 mix is suitable for slower/legato purposes.

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#1895854 - 05/12/12 05:27 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: carey]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Mark_C


Originally Posted By: beet31425
I have a concert pianist friend who had been complaining to me about the octaves in the Chopin op.53 Polonaise. She had played this piece for decades, but for some reason she was now starting to get fatigued part-way through the section. She was using a combination of 1-5 and 1-4 (and maybe a 1-3), connecting all the top notes. I recommended she switch to all 1-5, and she now swears by that fingering; she said that after an awkward couple days, the section is easy again. A rare case of problem solved.

I'm going to try that.
I've never used anything except 4, because I learned the piece years ago when I was in the habit of (almost) always using 4 -- and I've always had at least a little trouble with it (more of course when I haven't been practicing it) but never thought of changing the fingering, because -- y'know, sometimes you just never think of changing something if you've always done it a certain way....


I learned the Polonaise years ago using 5 (when I was in the habit of almost always using 5) and now that I've revisited the piece I've switched to 4 on the black keys - which works SO MUCH better for me !!!! grin



4 on the black keys is also the fingering given in Henle, FWIW.

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#1895911 - 05/12/12 08:21 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6160
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I usually use 1-4, but not always. smile
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Music is my best friend.


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#1895917 - 05/12/12 08:38 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
nocturne152 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 447
I always play octaves with 2 and 3.
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- Oscar Peterson

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#1895925 - 05/12/12 08:52 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: nocturne152]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6470
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: lostaccato
I always play octaves with 2 and 3.


Good luck with those LH octaves in the Opus 53 !!! crazy
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#1895941 - 05/12/12 09:39 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: carey]
nocturne152 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 447
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: lostaccato
I always play octaves with 2 and 3.


Good luck with those LH octaves in the Opus 53 !!! crazy



grin
_________________________
"The instrument should be your needle, and the music should be your addiction."

- Oscar Peterson

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#1897069 - 05/15/12 12:22 AM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
HorseMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Totally depends what comes before and what comes after. Whether staccato or legato.
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#1988554 - 11/19/12 01:48 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
Li Lundi uses all 1/5 as does the Taubman & Goldansky methods, also Earl Wild.

I think 1/4 is fine for slower tempos but probably 1/5 works better for fast octaves.

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#1988559 - 11/19/12 01:57 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
1/5 is better for me because it's less stretch. It the stretch that partly gives me pain after a while. There is a youtube video of Goldansky coaching octaves and what she says about rotating into the thumb helps for me. It takes a lot of the the pressure/stress out of playing octaves. I don't like that little tug on the wrist tendons I get when I stretch a little to accommodate the 4th on black.

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#1988936 - 11/20/12 12:02 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: albynism]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
Has anyone tried measuring their hand span from thumb tip to 5th fingertip and thumb to 4th fingertip? You may well find that the latter is slightly longer, if your ring fingers are longer than your index fingers, like mine are. (I believe that women have ring fingers shorter than their index fingers, while men tend towards the opposite). My LH measurements are 8.15in 1-4 and 8.05in 1-5. On RH, it's 8.05in 1-4 and 8in 1-5. Which explains why I find it slightly easier to stretch 10ths on LH than RH, and probably why I almost always play 1/4 on black octaves, unless it's a chord where the 4th finger is already employed elsewhere.

But it might also be because my teacher taught me to play octaves this way, from the very first piece I learnt that has fast octave scales (Schubert's D664). I remember being rather miffed that I had to roll the very first RH chord when Sviatoslav Richter (my hero at the time) could play it perfectly as written, and thought that I wasn't a 'real' pianist when I couldn't even physically play what Schubert actually wrote......
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#1988958 - 11/20/12 01:23 PM Re: Quick question. 1 4 or 1 5 for black key octaves [Re: bennevis]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Has anyone tried measuring their hand span from thumb tip to 5th fingertip and thumb to 4th fingertip? You may well find that the latter is slightly longer, if your ring fingers are longer than your index fingers, like mine are. (I believe that women have ring fingers shorter than their index fingers, while men tend towards the opposite). My LH measurements are 8.15in 1-4 and 8.05in 1-5. On RH, it's 8.05in 1-4 and 8in 1-5. Which explains why I find it slightly easier to stretch 10ths on LH than RH, and probably why I almost always play 1/4 on black octaves, unless it's a chord where the 4th finger is already employed elsewhere.

But it might also be because my teacher taught me to play octaves this way, from the very first piece I learnt that has fast octave scales (Schubert's D664). I remember being rather miffed that I had to roll the very first RH chord when Sviatoslav Richter (my hero at the time) could play it perfectly as written, and thought that I wasn't a 'real' pianist when I couldn't even physically play what Schubert actually wrote......

For most people, I imagine the span is pretty close one way or the other. The difference, especially for people with smaller hands, is the angle from 1-4 vs the angle from 1-5. The thumb and pinky are the two fingers with greatest lateral motion, and also are at opposite ends of the hand. When you "stretch" your hand out and look at it, you can see there is a much greater angle between 1-4 vs 1-5. The 1-5 span is nearly perpendicular to the wrist, which makes it much easier to play octaves without twisting.

For small hands, especially, a 1-4 span requires one of two things: a large enough hand that you can span the distance, or a reposition of the hand/arm (without twisting if played correctly) in order to span the distance.

Any time you have to reposition, it slows you down. Extra movements require more time and effort to execute. So, the idea should be to minimize this effort. This, ironically, was the initial reasoning behind the switch from 1-5 to 1-4 on black-key octaves. (The hand has to move in to play a 1-5 black key octave.) However, with octaves, left-right movements to reposition (for smaller hands) takes longer and creates a "destructive interference" effect with the muscles. An in/out movement creates far less interference with speed than a left/right movement. So, for smaller hands, it is usually advised to forgo the left/right reposition, and to move in/out to play a 1-5 octave on all keys.

Also, if you start in on white keys and out on black keys (rather than playing in the middle of the white key or the middle of the black key), you can minimize the in/out distance your hand has to travel.
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