Four-note chord fingerings

Posted by: de cajon

Four-note chord fingerings - 07/12/13 04:17 AM

Back in the 70s (having heard Keith Emerson's version), I learned the piano versions of Promenade and the The Great Gate of Kiev from Mussorgsky's Picture At An Exhibition. I'm now trying to play Promenade, with its fistfuls of chords, again.

Now, I have a tendency to play all four-note chords with (right hand) 1, 2, 3 and 5. I'm thinking I should probably be trying to improve my technique by playing straightforward four-note major and minor chord inversions (nothing worse than three or four flats) with 1, 2, 4 and 5?
Posted by: Greener

Re: Four-note chord fingerings - 07/12/13 07:26 AM

Not sure how many would agree, but my inclination would be ...

play the chord in the most comfortable + sensible method based on the chord or register position you've just come from and where you are going next. Ie. NOT a restriction of finger positioning for all 4 note chords.

It doesn't make sense to play a compact chord vs. a very spread out open chord always with the same fingers.

just my two bits though ...
Posted by: Ken.

Re: Four-note chord fingerings - 07/12/13 03:39 PM

I use "The Source" by Steve Barta. It contains fingerings for 4 note chords and their inversions for both left and right hands. It also contains fingerings for modes and various scales.

For the RH the for the fingering for the root voicings he uses is 1235, 1st inversion 1234 with some exceptions, 2nd inversion 1235 with some exceptions, and 3rd inversion 1235 with some exceptions.
Posted by: de cajon

Re: Four-note chord fingerings - 07/13/13 05:15 AM

I'm guessing those fingerings are for 7ths, etc.

1234 for the 1st inversion of C major or F major isn't going to work at all for me eek . I don't think Promenade has anything other than plain majors and minors.
Posted by: John_In_Montreal

Re: Four-note chord fingerings - 07/13/13 05:23 PM

Originally Posted By: jdeacon
I'm guessing those fingerings are for 7ths, etc.

1234 for the 1st inversion of C major or F major isn't going to work at all for me eek . I don't think Promenade has anything other than plain majors and minors.


Did you not ask about 4 note chords in your original post? Of course, for major & minor triads 1,2,3,4 won't work. A general consensus is 1,3,5; 1,2,4 or 5 for 1-st inversion; 1,3,5 for 2-nd inversion. But you also need to know where you are going next and this will influence the choice of fingering.
Posted by: de cajon

Re: Four-note chord fingerings - 07/13/13 07:09 PM

Sorry. I'm not sure of the correct term. Looking in the books four-note does indeed seem to refer to four notes all of different pitch, such a 7th, which isn't what I meant. In this piece - Promenade - many chords have four keys being played but two of the pitches will be octaves. They are all plain major or minor chords.

There's an example at 0:40 here: the right hand in the middle of bar 13 or the left hand in bar 14.

'Tis a small thing. I was just thinking maybe I should be practising more flexibility.
Posted by: J.T.1986

Re: Four-note chord fingerings - 07/23/14 03:14 PM

I know this is an old thread, but i found it and thought better than to start a new one smile.

My teacher now has me practicing 4-note chords in all inversions, block and broken. the broken chords are fine, but the block chords are a little uncomfortable.

for example in the key of C it would be CEGC.. first inversion using fingers RH 1-2-3-5 LH 5-3-2-1... the second inversion gets me, EGCE using fingers RH 1-2-4-5 LH 5-4-2-1. i find it hard to smoothly transition to that fingering, i did just start practicing it. but feels very awkward.
7th chord inversions i am ok with, but these not so much.

Am i going about it the right way and just need to be more patient? or is there something else i should be doing for the smooth transitioning??

Thanks alot everyone!:)

J.T.
Posted by: 8 Octaves

Re: Four-note chord fingerings - 07/23/14 03:21 PM

Originally Posted By: J.T.1986
Am i going about it the right way and just need to be more patient? or is there something else i should be doing for the smooth transitioning??


Yes, it's correct and it does feel awkward at first until with lot of patience, it no longer feels awkward. Hang in there and keep plugging away. smile
Posted by: Art_Vandelay

Re: Four-note chord fingerings - 07/23/14 04:07 PM

Originally Posted By: J.T.1986
I know this is an old thread, but i found it and thought better than to start a new one smile.

My teacher now has me practicing 4-note chords in all inversions, block and broken. the broken chords are fine, but the block chords are a little uncomfortable.

for example in the key of C it would be CEGC.. first inversion using fingers RH 1-2-3-5 LH 5-3-2-1... the second inversion gets me, EGCE using fingers RH 1-2-4-5 LH 5-4-2-1. i find it hard to smoothly transition to that fingering, i did just start practicing it. but feels very awkward.
7th chord inversions i am ok with, but these not so much.

Am i going about it the right way and just need to be more patient? or is there something else i should be doing for the smooth transitioning??

Thanks alot everyone!:)

J.T.


That's actually the first inversion (E-G-C-E), not second.

I also choose to break this rule quite often, for example in Rachmaninov's Prelude in C Sharp minor, I play the big left hand chords (like G#/B/E/G#) with 5-3-2-1. It just feels better to me.