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#441588 - 12/21/07 05:10 PM Why this fingering?
RachOn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 88
Loc: W. Pa.
In many editions (especially older ones), repeated notes are marked to be played with different fingers instead of repeating the same finger. This is true even when this changing of the fingering creates a significantly more awkward feel.

Why is/was this considered a preferred practice?
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RachOn
Estonia 190; Yamaha U1

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#441589 - 12/21/07 05:14 PM Re: Why this fingering?
playadom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/06
Posts: 1366
Loc: New Jersey
You can play MUCH faster if you switch fingerings. Even if it may seem awkward at first, with practice, you'd be surprised how fast you can go.
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Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.

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#441590 - 12/21/07 05:56 PM Re: Why this fingering?
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1729
Loc: Helsinki, finland
changing fingers is rarely necessary if it's not a fast passage which calls for it (ravels "toccata" for instance, or "scarbo"). To change fingers for the repeated notes in, say, the last movement of Beethovens 3rd concerto, rondo theme, is not necessary. Yet, the idea of changing fingers seems to have been a sort of "standard rule" sometime ago, just as it used to be a standard rule to never (if not necessary) use the thumb on black keys...both of these standard rules are quite useless.
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#441591 - 12/21/07 06:05 PM Re: Why this fingering?
Alexander Hanysz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 141
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by RachOn:
In many editions (especially older ones), repeated notes are marked to be played with different fingers instead of repeating the same finger. This is true even when this changing of the fingering creates a significantly more awkward feel.

Why is/was this considered a preferred practice? [/b]
It's an idea that's useful in some situations (e.g, playing very fast), but some people turn it into a dogma and apply it even when it's not appropriate.

The same thing happens with the idea that the thumb should not be used on black notes--sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but there will be people out there who insist on doing it all the time.

I find the Henle editions which are fingered by Hans-Martin Theopold to be particularly irritating in this respect, although Henle is still good for many other reasons.

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#441592 - 12/21/07 06:34 PM Re: Why this fingering?
playadom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/06
Posts: 1366
Loc: New Jersey
 Quote:
Originally posted by fnork:
changing fingers is rarely necessary if it's not a fast passage which calls for it (ravels "toccata" for instance, or "scarbo"). To change fingers for the repeated notes in, say, the last movement of Beethovens 3rd concerto, rondo theme, is not necessary. Yet, the idea of changing fingers seems to have been a sort of "standard rule" sometime ago, just as it used to be a standard rule to never (if not necessary) use the thumb on black keys...both of these standard rules are quite useless. [/b]
This is very true! There is no reason to play switching fingers when it is not required.

I'm just used to playing fast music, so my perception is a little skewed. \:D

Be it known that I use thumbs on black keys often BTW.
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Practice makes permanent - Perfect practice makes perfect.

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#441593 - 12/22/07 04:38 AM Re: Why this fingering?
dorfmouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/04
Posts: 56
I agree with not applying 'rules' mindlessly and always thinking about the musical purpose of any technique. I generally find that changing fingers is helpful for clarity in fast passages, and also is more expressive; when I don't change it sounds like I'm prodding the notes and I get tense.

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#441594 - 12/22/07 11:50 AM Re: Why this fingering?
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Like dorfmouse, I too find that changing fingers is helpful for clarity and articulation, but if I want to keep the volume low on a repeated note, like in Schubert's B-flat Op. Posthumous Sonata for example, I will keep the same finger on the repeated note because I can control it better.

John
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#441595 - 12/22/07 12:00 PM Re: Why this fingering?
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sometimes changing fingers on repeated notes takes advantage of the different lengths and weight of the fingers to better create rhythmic patterns.

For example, I at first found it necessary to change fingers for the repeated triplet octaves in the accompaniment of Schubert's "Erlkoenig," because of fatique that would build up in my wrist.

But there is a better reason to change fingers in "Erlkoenig," having to to do with setting up rhythmic patterns. By fingering the repeated triplet octaves 3 2 1 in each hand, you naturally give more weight to the first note, creating what I think is a more impatient and galloping effect. The same effect is lost using the wrist or forarm, as it results in too even an articulation of the triplet.

Tomasino
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#441596 - 12/22/07 12:52 PM Re: Why this fingering?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Rudolph Ganz, a prominent pianist of the early 1900's (1877--1972), teacher, conductor, etc., has a good explanation of the fingering in question here in his revision of the book, THE LITERATURE OF THE PIANO, 3rd Edition, by Ernest Hutcheson. It is very enlightening as to why one should or should not use changing fingers on a repeated note. His is a very practical approach to this problem. Your local library might have a copy or can get it on loan if easy access is not available.

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#441597 - 12/22/07 01:28 PM Re: Why this fingering?
C H O P I N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 310
Loc: England
It provides a "better feel" to the music for me, but I wouldn't use finger changing on a note that wasn't comfortable to play that way unless COMPLETELY necessary, but usualy it is comfortable anyway - so I use it. You could use a single finger to play the repeated "A" in the bass line of Fur Elise (Theme C) but because it's notated as "staccato", I find it more appropriate to use 3 fingers rather than one - it keeps the articulation more even

C H O P I N
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#441598 - 12/22/07 08:49 PM Re: Why this fingering?
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
The other reason for changing fingers is for the bouncing-off effect so you can change the hand position quickly to line up with another part of the keyboard - land on the 3, change to the 5 to move the right hand in for example.

John
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#441599 - 12/23/07 01:28 PM Re: Why this fingering?
cjsm Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 134
Loc: Washington, MO
 Quote:
Originally posted by RachOn:
In many editions (especially older ones), repeated notes are marked to be played with different fingers instead of repeating the same finger. This is true even when this changing of the fingering creates a significantly more awkward feel.

Why is/was this considered a preferred practice? [/b]
I know what you mean. I've seen passages which are simple to play and fit naturally under the fingers if one doesn't switch fingers; and the given fingering of switching fingers will make the passage vastly more complicated and much more awkward to play. Stupid fingering in my book, with no real reason behind them then to fit some pedantic rule.

I normally don't switch fingers unless I need to switch to set up the next passage. To me this feels more natural, maybe because that's what I'm used to with my background in rock and pop. But if you can play it excellently without switching fingers, why switch?

Many excellent replies in this post. And I agree with the general consensus. Switching fingers can be helpful for certain fast passages, and in certain situations, but it is wrongly applied to everything. Many academics are too pedantic and have a hard time thinking out of the box.

In general, much of the fingering I have seen in piano books is poor. While some fingerings are insightful, and really help me, others are really poor, and mess me up until I come up with my own, often much better fingerings. I have many pieces which I have two copies in different books, and they will have vastly different fingering. Bach pieces are often like this, due to their complexity. One example I can think of is the Palmer edition of Bach's Three Part Inventions. The fingering he gave for the Three Part Invention #15 in B minor kept messing me up until I tried another editon which had a much better fingering. I also have a couple editions of Bach's Little Fugues, which have vastly different fingerings for the same pieces.

In short, take the given fingering of a piece as a starting point to create your own fingering which fits your own style, not as something written in stone. I rarely play a piece without making significant changes to the given fingering. Changes which I think are often vast improvements.

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#441600 - 12/23/07 06:12 PM Re: Why this fingering?
Alexander Hanysz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 141
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by tomasino:
But there is a better reason to change fingers in "Erlkoenig," having to to do with setting up rhythmic patterns. By fingering the repeated triplet octaves 3 2 1 in each hand...[/b]
Um, how many hands do you have, if that's not a silly question? Two hands to play the octaves, and then one more for the bass line???

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