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Master Pianist Jorge Bolet Rehearsing and Teaching Rachmaninov

See and hear Jorge Bolet and Conductor Paavo Berglund in a preliminary rehearsal prior to a full rehearsal with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the Rachmaninov 2nd Piano Concerto. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Octave fingering question  (Read 1403 times)
pianoplayjl
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« on: February 23, 2012, 10:14:47 AM »

This is a question I came up with when I had  a lesson today: Why do some people use the fingering 14 for black keys in octave playing, particularly scales and chromatic scales? Isn't it better to use 15? What is the difference with using the two different fingerings? Aren't they just the same?  I do like using 14 for black keys, by the way.
I'm thinking the pattern 15 14 15 14 etc is an efficient fingering and prevents wasted motion. Am I right?

JL
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dickknowsbest
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2012, 10:28:26 AM »

Some find it easier using the 4th finger on black keys.

I prefer using 1/5, but I use 1/4 for some passages. Some pianist use 1/5, some use 1/4, some use both, some really rare pianists use 1/6. If you have large hands you might prefer using 4th or even (in special cases such as legato octaves) the 3rd finger on black notes, but...

I don't think it matters so long as the octaves are clear and you use a good, smooth and comfortable technique.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Smiley
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jesc
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2012, 04:51:52 PM »

It will prepare you for connected octaves. There's nothing you can do with the thumb but you can connect the higher notes with (4,5 legato or 3,4,5 legato for those who have the reach).
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The New Concept: Scores for All Stages of Learning

On the recent Music Education Expo in London, Piano Street presented a new concept for sheet music publication. Depending on your own level of experience and where you are in the learning process of a particular piece, you may need fingering, pedal markings, practice and performance tips, or perhaps the right opposite - a clean Urtext score. Read more >>

megadodd
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 05:10:08 PM »

some really rare pianists use 1/6.

Like a boss!
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Repertoire.
2011/2012

Brahms op 118
Chopin Preludes op 28
Grieg Holberg Suite
Mendelssohn Piano trio D minor op 49
Rachmaninoff Etude Tabelaux op 33 no 3 & 4 op 39 no 2
Scriabin Preludes op 1
jmanpno
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« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2012, 05:32:52 AM »

Use 1-5 to avoid the twisting of your hands.  That is a much more detrimental motion than the in and out that 1-5 requires when negotiating black keys.... you are going to have use that sort of motion to some degree anyways (it's the way piano playing works even though BOB and some other retards disagree)  so just get used to playing efficiently and get over this wasted motion b.s., k?
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danhuyle
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« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2012, 06:56:22 AM »

I use finger 14 on black notes and 15 on white notes. That's what I learned when my teacher taught octaves in scales. I'm not sure how to explain it. When I'm playing octave passages I use 14 black and 15 white, and I've rarely found myself use 14 on the white keys. Maybe play some pieces that use octaves.

If your hand span can only play one octave then that's something else altogether.
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thalbergmad
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« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2012, 08:16:35 AM »

If I do not require legato, it is 1/5 all the way for me.

More natural and more powerful.

Thal
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Michael Britchfield
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Do We Judge Music by Sight More Than Sound?

With an increased share of classical music consumed in various audivisual formats in relation to audio only, a relevant question to ask is whether it disturbs or enhances the musical experience of a classical composition. We have selected four distinctly different types of videos with respectable performances of the same work, Liszt’s Sonata in B minor. Listen and watch a few minutes of each and then cast your vote! Read more >>

ahinton
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« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2012, 08:51:45 AM »

If I do not require legato, it is 1/5 all the way for me.

More natural and more powerful.
Good point, although I presume that it's then more a matter of personal choice. What is your handspan, though?

As an aside, the question of fingerings for repeated single notes that's been aired elsewhere on this forum seems, however, to have no bearing on repeated octaves such as Liszt and Alkan wrote on occasion, in that I've never known any pianist use alternate 4 and 5 when playing them.

Best,

Alistair
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Alistair Hinton
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pianoplunker
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« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2012, 06:57:21 PM »

This is a question I came up with when I had  a lesson today: Why do some people use the fingering 14 for black keys in octave playing, particularly scales and chromatic scales? Isn't it better to use 15? What is the difference with using the two different fingerings? Aren't they just the same?  I do like using 14 for black keys, by the way.
I'm thinking the pattern 15 14 15 14 etc is an efficient fingering and prevents wasted motion. Am I right?

JL

My hands can easily span an octave with 3-4-5  at the same time if I wanted . My hands are long but not wide . I can barely do a ninth with 1-5, but can very easily do an octave with all 3-4-5 fingers. I feel it is more natural to use 4-5 most of the time and occasionally 3.  I tend to get tension if I use 1-5 all the time, probably because I have to keep my hand at a fixed width.
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thalbergmad
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« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2012, 07:07:34 PM »

Good point, although I presume that it's then more a matter of personal choice. What is your handspan, though?

I did not have a choice. I recall Richard Meyrick almost having a flying fit when I intended to use 1/5, 1/4, 1/4 & 1/5 for the left hand octaves in the "Heroic" Polonaise.

When I play regularly I can reach a comfortable 10th and 6 frets from the 7th upwards on me banjo.

Thal
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Michael Britchfield
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ahinton
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« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2012, 08:45:48 PM »

I did not have a choice. I recall Richard Meyrick almost having a flying fit when I intended to use 1/5, 1/4, 1/4 & 1/5 for the left hand octaves in the "Heroic" Polonaise.

When I play regularly I can reach a comfortable 10th and 6 frets from the 7th upwards on me banjo.
OK - then you obviously go for what's most comfortable not only physically but in terms of producing the desired results. Incidentally, I do remember Richard Meyrick at RCM when we were both students there; I did not know him well, but I do recall him studying with Cyril Smith (who taught Stephen Savage, who had the profound misfortune to have me as a "piano student" at that time); I've not seen RM since those days, however. By the way, if I were ever to play the Poloniase in A flat Op. 53 I'd do the same as you and use 1/5 for all those left hand octaves, because it just seems somewhat clumsily complex to introduce other fingers instead of 5 unless it is really more comfortable for a particular pianist to do so (which, I suspect, in the case of most pianists, it would not be).

Best,

Alistair
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Alistair Hinton
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The Sorabji Archive


The New Concept: Scores for All Stages of Learning

On the recent Music Education Expo in London, Piano Street presented a new concept for sheet music publication. Depending on your own level of experience and where you are in the learning process of a particular piece, you may need fingering, pedal markings, practice and performance tips, or perhaps the right opposite - a clean Urtext score. Read more >>

thalbergmad
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« Reply #11 on: February 29, 2012, 08:54:47 PM »

You have encapsulated yourself.

Considering the Polonaise, my argument was that using 1/4 on the black notes, you had more chance of hitting the note. Richard's argument was the I shouldn't be playing it if that was my approach.

Subsequently, working on the Op.9 No.1 Nocturne, he gave me what was initially a very uncomfortable fingering for the right hand octaves. A couple of weeks diligent practice proved he was right again.

Ain't they always.

Thal
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Michael Britchfield
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2012, 08:15:13 AM »

As an aside, the question of fingerings for repeated single notes that's been aired elsewhere on this forum seems, however, to have no bearing on repeated octaves such as Liszt and Alkan wrote on occasion, in that I've never klnown any pianist use alternate 4 and 5 when playing them.

Cziffra. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L0Rncqx1yQ (from 5.31)
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ahinton
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2012, 09:14:52 AM »

Well, I know it now! Many thanks for posting this. This was indeed one of the examples that I had in mind and I'd never previously witnessed anyone using other than 1/5 for those passages. And what an extraordinary artist Cziffra was!

Of course, most pianists with smaller hands would nonetheless have little choice but to use 1/5 in almost all such instances; also, when there are chords bound by octaves, 1/5 is often the only option for anyone - even Cziffra!.

Best,

Alistair
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Alistair Hinton
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ahinton
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« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2012, 09:21:26 AM »

You have encapsulated yourself.

Considering the Polonaise, my argument was that using 1/4 on the black notes, you had more chance of hitting the note. Richard's argument was the I shouldn't be playing it if that was my approach.

Subsequently, working on the Op.9 No.1 Nocturne, he gave me what was initially a very uncomfortable fingering for the right hand octaves. A couple of weeks diligent practice proved he was right again.
I'd encapsulated you as well, I fear; problem now duly remedied.

Well, perhaps you should tell him how Cziffra played the notorious octave passages in that Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody now that ronde_des_sylphes has provided the Youtubed evidence!...

Ain't they always.
No, they're not always right, even if only because, as often as not, there's no such thing as right and wrong in these matters, at least in the sense that one solution fits all. For the record, incidentally, I once say Marc-André Hamelin play a scale in octaves using the same fingering as one would usually use to play a scale in thirds, but he only did this as a joke for my benefit and swore that he would never usually do it.

Best,

Alistair
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Alistair Hinton
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jmanpno
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« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2012, 01:49:05 PM »

I once saw a lot of people do alot of name dropping... Oh wait! That was here.  TWATS!
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