# Piano Forum

### Topic: Scarlatti sonata fingering  (Read 5750 times)

#### kghayesh

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##### Scarlatti sonata fingering
on: May 22, 2006, 11:03:15 AM
Hi,
I had a problem in the fingering of some passage in Scarlatti's K.535 D major sonata (that of grade 8 ABRSM syllabus). Find it in the image below. This RH D major descending arpeggio.

This part is intended to be played fast (Allegro). I don't know which fingering to choose, i am confused between either 4 2 1 2 or 3 2 1 2 or 2 1 3 2, but i definitely won't choose the one indicated in the score that starts with 5. I think it is hard to play the notes right (F# D A F#) like this with the pinky and the thumb playing on black keys. It will be lazy and with little action which is needed in Scaralatti sonatas.

What do you think ??

#### vakulchai

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #1 on: May 22, 2006, 12:51:28 PM
In my opinion, 5321 is the best fingering. Don't forget to apply cart wheel motion described in C. Chang's Book.

#### pianistimo

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #2 on: May 22, 2006, 12:54:31 PM
agreed about disliking the pinky (unstable short finger for the sharped note) and would choose 421 (3) or 2 for the last note of the phrase.  i personally wouldn't chop it up with 31 and then something else - as the notes wouldn't seem as connected without pedal - because i feel you should be able to play the phrase w/out pedal at first and then lightly add it wherever it is needed LATER.

it's always good to get advice on fingering.  hope that more people will tell you what they think.  sometimes i look through the books for other sonatas in D for ideas.  my book doesn't have all the sonatas - so i don't have any fingering at all in the book for that particular sonata.  sometimes you can go to the library and find different versions of pieces in the library and choose the best.  (and, at wcu - some of the music is already fingered by julliard trained teachers).  i'm not saying that julliard students are the best at fingering - but there's some reasons behind fingering that most people don't think about.  weak and strong fingers, etc.

usually when you start a phrase, you start with a stronger finger, but as with this phrase, you also want to connect all the notes.

#### Mozartian

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #3 on: May 22, 2006, 01:37:31 PM
If you avoid using the weaker fingers in easier repertoire, you're really going to regret it when you get the more difficult stuff where you can't substitute fingers- or even an "easier" Schumann piece like Kinderscenen movement 1, which has the melody played with 4 and 5.

Definitely use 5321. It is a bit awkward, but it'll sound much better in the end.
[lau] 10:01 pm: like in 10/4 i think those little slurs everywhere are pointless for the music, but I understand if it was for improving technique

#### pianistimo

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #4 on: May 22, 2006, 01:44:39 PM
i tend to agree and disagree at the same time.  the fourth finger is longer and makes playing on the sharped note just a bit easier.  but everyone's fingers are different.  maybe it gets down to a persons individual hands and what is comfortable.

the reason to like starting with 5 is that you can play the whole phrase and not chop it up.

#### mike_lang

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #5 on: May 22, 2006, 07:35:54 PM
Why not 5421?  That's how I would play it if it were a solid chord.  Seems to fit the most naturally in the hand.  If it is "lazy and has little action", then for God's sake give it some action, but why make it more difficult for yourself?

#### sharon_f

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #6 on: May 22, 2006, 07:51:26 PM
5421 unequivocably.
There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.
Albert Schweitzer

#### stevehopwood

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #7 on: May 22, 2006, 09:50:35 PM
I always finger single broken chords as I would play them unbroken. In this case 5421 in the first bar and 5321 in the second.

Steve
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www.hopwood3.freeserve.co.uk

#### pianistimo

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #8 on: May 22, 2006, 11:33:10 PM
i do a 'dusting' that is minuter with the last note using 2 or 3 instead of 1.  when you use 1 on a staccato it's more wooden.  is this a good reason?  maybe it isn't.

points for the other way (starting with 5) probably because the very next arp. is fingered 5321, right?  guess that consistency is good, too.

#### Mozartian

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #9 on: May 23, 2006, 12:23:42 AM
I went and tried it, 5421 is extremely natural. I don't know why you're having problems with it.
[lau] 10:01 pm: like in 10/4 i think those little slurs everywhere are pointless for the music, but I understand if it was for improving technique

#### kghayesh

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #10 on: May 23, 2006, 12:29:46 AM
Quote
I always finger single broken chords as I would play them unbroken. In this case 5421 in the first bar and 5321 in the second.

Steve

You will play any unbroken 4-note chord with this fingering. The point IS...... playing a 1st inversion D major arpeggio by 5231 doesn't make sense.

When you are practicing scales and if you are doing the D major arpeggio 1st inversion (that is F# A D F#), will you play it like 1 2 4 5 ? with 1 and 5 playing on black keys ?? Try it and tell me how many wrong notes you get and how hard it takes you to play it at speed.

Usually when i play such arpeggios, that have black and white keys and the starting note is a black one (C# minor, F minor 1st inversion, E major 1st inversion.....etc.) i don't start with the conventional thumb start, yet i play with another finger and then rotate in the middle. This way it becomes easier and more suited for the hand, so the sound comes out by nature not after making extra unneeded movements.

I am saying that and i am sure of it that 5321 is ridiculous in this passage. It is simply against the hand nature. How can you play  F# D A F# with 5421 at speed and expect it to come right?

#### sharon_f

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #11 on: May 23, 2006, 01:12:29 AM
Once again, 5421. That's it. Okay. Got it? Good.
There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.
Albert Schweitzer

#### pianistimo

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #12 on: May 23, 2006, 01:32:38 AM
dear kghayesh,

i'm divided on this one.  i can see both sides.  personally, i feel like i have more control over the 'sound' rather than just hitting the notes when i play with 4 to start.  but, i can see that perhaps speed would be an inclusive element of playing with 5.  i experimented going back and forth on some fingerings in beethven's waldstein and ended up going with 5 when it was against my nature to do this.  it ended up being fine and actually better than i thought it would sound.

and, yet, allegro isn't presto or anything -so you have 'fudge' room to do whatever you want, really.  sometimes i alternately use a 4 on one and a 5 on another.  you just have to remember to do that, which is easy because as you said - you are used to practicing your arpeggios that way.

i would be interested to hear more answers - as fingering is often simple and complex at the same time.  agreed that not everything has to be complex.

#### pianistimo

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #13 on: May 23, 2006, 01:36:35 AM
do you think for concert pianists - asking a question for scarlatti fingering (since they did anything and everything back then - using whatever fingers were available) is like asking if you want ketchup or ranch dressing for your fries.  i'm not saying that scarlatti is like french fries - just that maybe when we are learning about fingering we try to keep all the rules.  then, you go a little farther and you learn to break them all again.  it's murphy's law.

#### stevehopwood

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #14 on: May 23, 2006, 07:28:31 AM
How can you play  F# D A F# with 5421 at speed and expect it to come right?
In my case, quite easily  . I don't suppose I am alone in this, either.

Steve
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www.hopwood3.freeserve.co.uk

#### vakulchai

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #15 on: May 23, 2006, 09:14:57 AM

You will play any unbroken 4-note chord with this fingering. The point IS...... playing a 1st inversion D major arpeggio by 5231 doesn't make sense.

When you are practicing scales and if you are doing the D major arpeggio 1st inversion (that is F# A D F#), will you play it like 1 2 4 5 ? with 1 and 5 playing on black keys ?? Try it and tell me how many wrong notes you get and how hard it takes you to play it at speed.

Usually when i play such arpeggios, that have black and white keys and the starting note is a black one (C# minor, F minor 1st inversion, E major 1st inversion.....etc.) i don't start with the conventional thumb start, yet i play with another finger and then rotate in the middle. This way it becomes easier and more suited for the hand, so the sound comes out by nature not after making extra unneeded movements.

I am saying that and i am sure of it that 5321 is ridiculous in this passage. It is simply against the hand nature. How can you play  F# D A F# with 5421 at speed and expect it to come right?

Fingering when playing arpeggio sometimes cannot apply to the passage. Usually I have to take a look at the notes before and after those chunks. In this case this is an F# after F# D A F#. There are a couple things why some people use 5421 or 5321 instead.
1) When playing 5 the and is a bit deep in the keyboard. When playing 4 or 3 the hand even move a little bit foward, and so on. One you play 2, it is ready to play 1 on F#.

2) Hand don't move to the left that much, so the position is not far to play the next F# with 5

3) Hand shaping occurs naturally. The hand goes down when you play the first F# on 5 and finally goes up when you play on 1. This makes your hand moving only one stroke down-and-up, then it is ready to go donw on the next F#.

4) You can control the arm weight easier in one stroke of arm movement.

I think you may try this fingering or your own fingering. Then you can use whatever you are comfortable with.

#### kghayesh

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #16 on: May 23, 2006, 09:19:44 AM
Well, Thanks for all these arguments, but i think i will use 4 2 1 2. I guess fingering is not a universal general rule. Everyone chooses the fingering that suits him/her and that makes him/her comfortable with playing. People don't play the piano like each other. Everyone has a special unique thing, so we can not guarantee a 'one-size fits all' fingering.  Although many times, fingering is trivial

#### stevehopwood

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #17 on: May 23, 2006, 09:33:36 AM
Well, Thanks for all these arguments, but i think i will use 4 2 1 2. I guess fingering is not a universal general rule. Everyone chooses the fingering that suits him/her and that makes him/her comfortable with playing. People don't play the piano like each other. Everyone has a special unique thing, so we can not guarantee a 'one-size fits all' fingering.  Although many times, fingering is trivial
It is fear of 'getting it wrong' that drives people to worry about fingering so much.

What is 'correct' is what works; the only thing that counts is that the fingering an individual uses works for that individual. Fingering is not and cannot be, a universal general rule whilst players have different hand shapes and sizes.

I have even come across a rh passage in the piano part to one of Beethoven's cello\piano sonatas that I play most easily by using all five fingers and then throwing my 3rd over my 5th, rather like children do when the finger a passage badly. That isn't something I ever expected to do

Steve
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www.hopwood3.freeserve.co.uk

#### keyofc

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #18 on: May 23, 2006, 06:16:25 PM
4212 works best for me.

I have more control with this fingering.

#### pianalex

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #19 on: May 23, 2006, 07:25:06 PM
5421

#### kghayesh

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #20 on: May 24, 2006, 01:09:20 AM
Quote
4212 works best for me.

I have more control with this fingering.

You are right !!

#### persona

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #21 on: May 26, 2006, 04:55:17 AM

1) When playing this arpeggio with 5421, should one press the white keys in the "upper side", I mean, in the space between the two blacks, or should one twist the hand in order to press the white keys on their wider side? The first option seems much tidier, but also turns out to be more difficult (I think that is what this argument is all about)

2) I'm asking this because I have no official musical training at all: those of you who state so firmly that this should be played with 4212, that fingenring is subjective and all that; have you actually studied in a music college and can ensure you are right, or do you just say this because you think so (don't be offended, I really want to know)

#### pianistimo

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #22 on: May 26, 2006, 05:31:39 AM
persona,  yes, i think that when you play this passage starting with five you are FORCED to play more into the keys.  this is good for fast, light playing.  it is harder, imo, to play the notes evenly - though, so you are forced to just wing it and hope it sounds good.  that is due to the many various lengths of fingers and types of hands.

i studied at two colleges and find no real significance there because two different methods and ideas were taught.  the one was using cortot fingering ideas and a more 'romantic' setting and the other was a combo of international ideas that did not fit into a 'romantic' setting but a post modern one.  basically, there is a return to tonality - i hear - but a definate tendency to reject formulated theories for one's own discoveries of 'what works' even if it is contrary to everything you've been taught.  which brings you back to square one - your own discoveries.

i learned from my last teacher to think for myself and not blindly accept everything - although having a foundation to build upon is nice!  i'm not one of those people who would discover all this information on my own (whereas other pianists - famous and not famous - have).  for instance, i learned that when you play a lot of fast notes - there is not the urgency to play a ff at a beethovenian level in liszt.  you can simply play forte and it comes out ff naturally because of the number of notes.  therefore, you can lighten your touch and play faster, too.

this type of information is invaluable to people who want to progress in their technique.  but after 4-6 years of this - you go off on your own and find another teacher that tells you to break a few rules.  to play with a very flat hand was a huge wondering for me.  i thought, 'i'll lose all my control.'  well, you really don't.  and, you actually gain some insight into 'bel canto'  instead of strict bachian type playing which works well in church but not in liszt or chopin.

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #23 on: May 27, 2006, 01:44:46 AM
Both 5421 and 4212 work for me.  But as mentioned earlier 5421 requires you to be inbetween the black keys which is a bit uncomfortable if you have fat fingers (me).  So I would do 4212.

#### persona

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##### Re: Scarlatti sonata fingering
Reply #24 on: May 27, 2006, 04:45:18 AM
I think you shouldn't simplify by using 4212 because later on you may find other pieces in which you can't help playing inbetween the black keys (Notebook for Anna Magdalena part 36, for instance). So, when you come across something like this, it's very heplful to practice it until you get it right. Anyway, I'm just a self-taught begginer, you don't have to take my word for it if you don't want to.