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Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute (Read 7905 times)

Offline R.Q.

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Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
« on: July 28, 2003, 06:55:35 PM »
It seems to be a major bother to frequent visitors of this board what precisely is the correct fingering for the chromatic scale. Correct meaning speed, eveness, and clarity.

Actually there isn't a correct way.

Chopin was known to use every finger on his hand for chromatic scales - just whatever comes easily at the moment - sometime he even slid of a black key onto a white key if he felt like it.

I probably use a different fingering every time, although because I'm ambi-dextrous (born left handed brought up right handed) its probably easier for me than most.

Anyway, lets end the dispute once and for all! How about everyone put the fingering they use here and we all try them out and tell our results?

~ Young Virtuoso

Ps. also remember that different hand shapes and sizes make certain fingering easier for some than others.
~R. Q.

Offline allchopin

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #1 on: July 28, 2003, 07:33:39 PM »
well hmoll says my fingereing is wrong (i do the  1 3 1 3 1 3 2 1 3 etc), but i think it feels good. However, i cant break 6 seconds. id like to know what the fingering is for all fingers.
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Offline Hmoll

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #2 on: July 28, 2003, 07:48:58 PM »
Like you said, there is no single correct fingering for chromatic scales. Fingerings depend on the context of the music - dynamics, speed, what comes before and after the scale,  articulation, what note you start and end on, etc. - not just the fact that it is a chromatic scale.

I don't understand what you mean when you say you use a different fingering every time. Does that mean you could use different fingerings in different pieces of music, or you use different fingerings for the same passages in the same pieces of music?

In general, I try to limit the crossovers and thumb-unders by using 4321 for right hand descending) and 1234
(for right hand ascending) as much as possible.
This  approach is the most facile, and it is also sounds the most even, because you are using adjacent fingers as much as possible, as opposed to a 313131 approach, where you are using a relatively strong finger in a strong position alternated with the thumb in a weak position (crossed under the hand).

Having said that, the focus of chromatic scales should be on the overall sound. In rapid chromatic scales - like the beginning of Beethoven op13 - you should not hear individual notes. Instead you should hear an individual gesture that starts at one point and ends at another.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline allchopin

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #3 on: July 28, 2003, 07:55:20 PM »
do you use the 4321 approach for the left hand as well? what about for both togehter?
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Offline Hmoll

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #4 on: July 28, 2003, 10:15:15 PM »
Allchopin,

Yes, and yes.

It gets a little trickier when you play hands together, but for the most part, I would use the same approach for both lh and rh.

One example is the end of Chopin's first Scherzo. I couldn't imagine playing it 3-1-3-1 with either hand anywhere close to performance tempo.

Of course you could do what Horowitz did with that passage - play it as double octaves.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline R.Q.

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #5 on: July 28, 2003, 10:28:27 PM »
Thankyou for your input allchopin and hmoll.  In the meantime I have been studying up on the subject.

I believe it was a student of Leschetiszky's who implemented the now standard (in methods such as Alfred, Hal Leonard etc...) 131313123 etc... He suggested this because it works with every hand. I didn't say it is the best method for every hand because obviously some hands (hmoll's shall we say?) work better with the other standard fingering using the fourth finger.

Up until Leschetiszky there was no set fingering: Every man fended for himself, although several tried to force their own personal fingerings on their student's with varying success. Leschetiszky's students started our present day obsession with a set of rules for how to play, finger, and phrase.

Basically, I still say whatever works for you!

By the way allchopin, when I said I use a different fingering every time I should have explained myself better: I (as my pseudonym suggests) have a naturally excellent technique. I didn't have to learn the chromatic scale - I just knew it. I have my own unusual fingerings which depend mostly on how I want to play but would be impossible for most people because my fingers are exceptionally long and double jointed. I won't torture you with my wierd fingerings, I just wanted to settle the dispute for you guys and figure out what to teach my own students on these lines.

8) ~ Young Virtuoso  8)
~R. Q.

Offline RiskyP

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #6 on: July 28, 2003, 10:42:49 PM »
Quote

I (as my pseudonym suggests) have a naturally excellent technique. I didn't have to learn the chromatic scale - I just knew it.


Interesting statement. If this is the case, please contribute your thoughts to the thread: "Talent, is there really such a thing?"

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #7 on: July 28, 2003, 11:04:51 PM »
Quote

By the way allchopin, when I said I use a different fingering every time I should have explained myself better: I (as my pseudonym suggests) have a naturally excellent technique. I didn't have to learn the chromatic scale - I just knew it. I have my own unusual fingerings which depend mostly on how I want to play but would be impossible for most people because my fingers are exceptionally long and double jointed. I won't torture you with my wierd fingerings, I just wanted to settle the dispute for you guys and figure out what to teach my own students on these lines.

8) ~ Young Virtuoso  8)



The only double jointedness I see here is you dislocating your shoulder while you pat yourself on the back.

1313.....  might work adequately in some method books because the playing is at a more rudimentary level.

Once you play pieces that require chromatic scales to be played evenly at a high velocity a more efficient fingering would be called for.

I don't know where Leschetiszky documented this fingering, but I would like you to show me a reputable edition of any piece we discussed where that fingering is indicated for rapid chromatic scales.

"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline allchopin

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #8 on: July 28, 2003, 11:45:12 PM »
Quote
Allchopin,

Of course you could do what Horowitz did with that passage - play it as double octaves.


Wait a minute youre saying that Horowitze used one hand to play that?? that is much ahrder than just playing 1 3 1 3 etc.!
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Offline Hmoll

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #9 on: July 29, 2003, 12:00:32 AM »
Quote


Wait a minute youre saying that Horowitze used one hand to play that?? that is much ahrder than just playing 1 3 1 3 etc.!


I'm probably using the wrong term.
He played the chromatic scales as octaves alternating hands.
I've also seen this referred to as "covered octaves."
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline allchopin

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #10 on: July 29, 2003, 03:09:03 AM »
oh wow, thats a pain in the butt.
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Offline Ktari

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #11 on: July 29, 2003, 06:41:17 AM »
Hehe, I already told allchopin these, but for me, I prefer this fingering:

231312312341 right hand ascending from C
131321432132 left hand ascending from C

but of course that has to be adapted for whatever comes before or after the chromatic
~Ktari

Offline trunks

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #12 on: April 18, 2004, 09:15:52 PM »
I agree there is no correct way. I would stick to the maximal use of the 4th finger to minimise the total number of crossing-over of fingers.

And I always look into the context of the actual piece that contains long chromatic runs, such as Chopin's Scherzo No.1 as mentioned by Hmoll earlier, or Liszt's etudes la leggierezza and un sospiro. I would experiment with a variety of fingerings and decide which is the most natural and convenient to me (I'm very sure each one has his own version), then mark it down on the score, and stick to it.
Peter (Hong Kong)
part-time piano tutor
amateur classical concert pianist

Offline donjuan

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Re: Chromatic Scale Fingering Dispute
«Reply #13 on: April 18, 2004, 09:54:13 PM »
Fingering should indeed depend on the work.  in Liszt's Grand Galop Chromatique, you will have to play ascending chromatic scales with only the 3,4,5 fingers while holding down chords with 1,2 fingers.  It is this one trick that makes this piece so technically difficult.

A good pianist will find innovative strategies to overcome problems.  A bad pianist will follow a single set of instructions given by an even worse teacher.