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Topic: Sinfonia #9 Fingering  (Read 4791 times)

Offline mound

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Sinfonia #9 Fingering
on: October 27, 2004, 12:20:58 PM
I'm working on determining fingering for Bach's Sinfonia #9.. Should I be avoiding thumbs on black keys?

If somebody could please outline complete fingering for the first 3 or 4 bars only of tihs piece, I can take it from there.

Thanks!
Paul
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Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Sinfonia #9 Fingering
Reply #1 on: October 27, 2004, 05:48:43 PM
i avoid thumb on black period. whether it is bach or not. my teacher says there is no need to avoid it, but i don't prefer the feeling. If I can get away with it, then I will.

boliver

Offline bernhard

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Re: Sinfonia #9 Fingering
Reply #2 on: October 27, 2004, 11:41:30 PM
I'm working on determining fingering for Bach's Sinfonia #9.. Should I be avoiding thumbs on black keys?

If somebody could please outline complete fingering for the first 3 or 4 bars only of tihs piece, I can take it from there.

Thanks!
Paul


There is no reason to avoid (or to go for) thumbs on the black keys. Just use whatever finger will provide you with the best movement/sound for you /for the passage.

The idea that one should not use thumbs in black keys in Baroque music (and Bach in particular) because it is somehow historically incorrect is both ludicrous and demonstrative of profound ignorance.

First of all, Bach was actually the guy who introduced and insisted on using the thumb (it is not possible to play his music otherwise – he had to do it), secondly even if that was not the case, it is still no reason. One must go after the sound, not after physicality. Some people just love to limit themselves unnecessarily, so do not let their opinions limit you as well.

Fingering for first bar (this is of course no more than a suggestion, modify as you deem fit):

RH – [2 – 4 –3 ] [2 –4 –3]
LH – 5 – 1 – 2 – 3

Here is an alternativefor the RH: [1 – 3 –2] [1 – 3 – 2]

Is there a “correct” one amongst these two? Only in the “personal” sense. One of these two will “feel” and “sound” better to you personally – so this is the one you should choose to and stick to.

However, it is only once you have a larger passage that you will truly be able to judge which fingering is better. So you have two choices here:

1.   Figure it out yourself – this means quite a lot of experimenting at the small/medium chunk phase until you get a big enough passage to be able to decide unmistakably the best fingering. It may seem like a lot of time is wasted in this investigation, but actually you are going to get many side benefits from it, one of them being that it will force you to really force and concentrate on what you are doing, since you and only you have to decide which is the fingering that “feels” the best and you will have to listen carefully to hear the best sounding one, and of course you will have to have done some thorough prior investigation to figure out what sound do you want to produce. This is not for the lazy. Moreover, you will really have memorised your passage after this process, since memory is 90% attention at the storage phase.

2.   Follow someone else’s fingering from the start (either from and edition that has the fingerings, or from your teacher). Although this has the advantage of allowing you to practice the “final” thing straightaway and would somehow look like a good idea, it has the disadvantage that you will be dependent on someone else’s fingering, which may or may not be the best (for you). You will also be practising in a much less focussed and more automatic manner and you will not learn how to finger a piece – which will ultimately delay your independence from a teacher.

Now I personally use [2 –4 –2] – As you will see your choice may have an import on the next bar.

Bar 2:
RH – [1 – 3 – 4] [3 – 2 – 1 – 2]
LH – 1 – 2 – [1 – 2 – 1 – 5]

This is the one I use. Again, let us look at an alternative for the LH:

RH – [2 – 4 – 5] [3 – 2 – 1 – 3]

I do not like that so much. The only advantage is that you do not have the thumb on the first Bb of the bar. But you have a very uncomfortable stretch between 2 and 4, which I really don’t care for. Bringing the hand well on the black key area and using 1 on the Bb instead, besides being much more comfortable affords (me) a much greater control since I am using the lever (the key) much nearer the fulcrum point. In a slow counterpoint piece like this, such control is very important (to me), and I cannot find the same level of control using finger 2 plus the stretch. But as I said, this is very personal – you must experiment and find out which of the two (or even a third alternative) is more appropriate for you and for the sound you want.

Now you may have noticed that the last note of the bar (Bb) I am using the 2nd finger while the alternative is 3rd finger. This is because of the next bar, where the first note is an Ab. If you want to avoid the thumb on the Ab, you must use 3rd finger (and follow to the Ab with the 2nd). Again, I very much prefer using the thumb. So I use the 2nd finger.

Bar 3:
RH – [1 – 2 – 42(C-Eb) – 3 ] [1 – 2 – 14 (Bb-F) – 3]
LH – 3 – [4 – 3 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5] [1 – 2]

This is my fingering, and here is an alternative for the RH:

RH – [2 – 3 – 42(C-Eb) – 3] [1 – 3 – 25(Bb-F) – 4]

The only advantage of this alternative fingering is that it avoids the thumb on the black keys. Otherwise it is a much more contorted and effort laden procedure. These rules (do not use thumb on black key) are not to be adhered dogmatically. One must understand the reason  - and once you understand the reason, it becomes clear when and where the rule is simply not applicable. I believe this particular passage to be a good example where the thumb on a black key not only is perfectly valid as it is actually the best musical solution – with this single proviso: FOR ME.

Also notice in the LH a very Baroque solution to fingering: the passing of the 5th finger under the 4th – especially if the 4th finger in on a black key – in this case going from F# (4th finger) to G (5th finger). This requires a specific hand/arm movement, where the whole hand pivots around the 4th finger to place the 5th finger on the G – once again we see the general rule that one never reaches for the keys with the fingers, but rather let the arm move the finger into position. Many otherwise awkward passages in Baroque music can be rendered extremely easy by using this passing of 5th under 4th or 4th under 3rd coupled with this hand movement. Once again we see that technique is always specific to pieces – you would never learn this movement by practising the usual technical exercises. This movement will appear several times in this sinfonia, so when fingering the rest of it, be on the lookout for places where you can make an otherwise impossible passage easy by applying it.

Bar 4:

In this bar the middle voice makes its first “full” appearance. There are five notes: A natural, Ab, G, C and B natural. Notes 1 – 4 – 5 (A natural – C and B natural) are played by the RH, while notes 2 and 3 (Ab and G) are played by the LH.

RH – 1 – [2 – 4 – 5] [41(Bb – C) – 3 - 5 – 41(F – B natural)]
LH – [3 – 4 – 3] 1 (Ab of the middle voice) [4 – 3 – 2]  [3 – 2 – 1 – 5]

Now that the third voice is there, there is far less scope for different fingerings. You can try this one and see how it feels:

RH – 1 – [2 – 4 – 5] [41(Bb – C) – 3 - 5 – 42(F – B natural)]
LH – [3 – 4 – 3] 2 (Ab of the middle voice) [5 – 3 – 2]  [3 – 2 – 1 – 5]

Notice again in the right hand the passing of the 3rd finger under the 5th as you move form the Ab to the G.

Bar 5

Here the bass voice disappears but for the first note, so the middle voice is played by the LH (in spite of being notated on the treble staff)

RH – [23 (C – Eb) – 4 – 5 – 2 – 1] [3 – 1 – 2]
LH – 1 (bass) – [1 – 2 – 1 – 3] (middle voice)

And here is an alternative:

RH – [13 (C – Eb) – 2 – 3 – 2 – 1] [3 – 1 – 2]
LH – 1 (bass) – [1 – 2 – 1 – 3] (middle voice)


Bar 6:
Like in bar 5, here the bass voice has disappeared, so the whole of the middle voice is played by the LH in spite of being written in the treble staff:

RH – 1 – [5 – 3 – 2 – 1] [5 – 1 – 3]
LH – [1 – 3 – 2 – 3] [2 – 4 – 1 – 2 – 1]

Notice the left hand the last 4 notes. Here again you need a specific movement of the hand: as our 4th finger is in the Gb, pivot the hand on it, so that the thumb is brought to  to the E natural – instead of a very awkward passing of the thumb under the 4th finger. Or you may try the alternative fingering below:

RH – 1 – [5 – 1 – 3 – 2] [5 – 1 – 3]
LH – [1 – 3 – 2 – 3] [2 – 4 – 5 – 2 – 1]

Here is another interesting observation. The alternative fingering above for the left hand will be more comfortable than the first one only if you pass the thumb under the 4th finger. However if you pivot the hand, the first fingering will be far more easy and natural then the alternative one.

So keep in mind that when you try different fingerings, there is always an associated movement that may turn what seemed an impossible fingering into the best possible fingering. In the context of a lesson it is easy to demonstrate all that in a matter of seconds. But here all I can give you is a verbal description (many times inaccurate and misleading) and it is really up to you to figure it all out.

This should get you started. :P

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline mound

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Re: Sinfonia #9 Fingering
Reply #3 on: October 28, 2004, 12:45:46 AM
Thanks Bernhard!

Offline mound

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Re: Sinfonia #9 Fingering
Reply #4 on: October 28, 2004, 12:46:45 PM
Bar 4:

In this bar the middle voice makes its first “full” appearance. There are five notes: A natural, Ab, G, C and B natural. Notes 1 – 4 – 5 (A natural – C and B natural) are played by the RH, while notes 2 and 3 (Ab and G) are played by the LH.

RH – 1 – [2 – 4 – 5] [41(Bb – C) – 3 - 5 – 41(F – B natural)]
LH – [3 – 4 – 3] 1 (Ab of the middle voice) [4 – 3 – 2]  [3 – 2 – 1 – 5]

Now that the third voice is there, there is far less scope for different fingerings. You can try this one and see how it feels:

RH – 1 – [2 – 4 – 5] [41(Bb – C) – 3 - 5 – 42(F – B natural)]
LH – [3 – 4 – 3] 2 (Ab of the middle voice) [5 – 3 – 2]  [3 – 2 – 1 – 5]

Notice again in the right hand the passing of the 3rd finger under the 5th as you move form the Ab to the G.

I don't understand this. What is playing the G of the middle voice?  You didn't specify in either option (unless I'm mis-reading this) and define "passing under" - how is the 3rd passing under? Maybe just to the side of, what am I missing here?

Thanks!
-Paul

Offline bernhard

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Re: Sinfonia #9 Fingering
Reply #5 on: October 28, 2004, 01:08:45 PM
Quote
I don't understand this. What is playing the G of the middle voice?  You didn't specify in either option (unless I'm mis-reading this)

My mistake. :-[ :-[ :-[ It should read:

Bar 4:

In this bar the middle voice makes its first “full” appearance. There are five notes: A natural, Ab, G, C and B natural. Notes 1 – 4 – 5 (A natural – C and B natural) are played by the RH, while notes 2 and 3 (Ab and G) are played by the LH.

RH – 1 – [2 – 4 – 5] [41(Bb – C) – 3 - 5 – 41(F – B natural)]
LH – [3 – 4 – 3] 1 (Ab of the middle voice) [4 – 3 – 2]  [31 (Eb-G of the middle voice) – 2 – 1 – 5]

Now that the third voice is there, there is far less scope for different fingerings. You can try this one and see how it feels:

RH – 1 – [2 – 4 – 5] [41(Bb – C) – 3 - 5 – 42(F – B natural)]
LH – [3 – 4 – 3] 2 (Ab of the middle voice) [5 – 3 – 2]  [31 (Eb – G of the middle voice) – 2 – 1 – 5]

Notice again in the right hand the passing of the 3rd finger under the 5th as you move from the Ab to the G.

Better? :D

Quote
and define "passing under" - how is the 3rd passing under? Maybe just to the side of, what am I missing here?

Ok, if you look at the RH:

RH – 1 – [2 – 4 – 5] [41(Bb – C) – 3 - 5 – 41(F – B natural)]

On the second bracket you have:

41(Bb – C) – 3 – 5

After you play the Ab with the 3rd finger, you must play the following G with the 5th finger. In order to do that you must somehow pass the 5th finger under the 3rd (or over). This seems like impossible until you realise that you must pivot your hand on the 3rd finger, bringing the 5th finger under the 3rd (more towards you than under the 5th, if you know what I mean).

I am trying to call attention to this movement because it is an important point: if you figure out the movement even something that seems impossible at first (passing the 5th under the 3rd) becomes easy and obvious. Ultimately there is no “passing under” here.

Does that make sense?

(we must find a simple way to post scores  - away that does not involve scanning, becoming member of a download site and giving the address >:().

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline mound

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Re: Sinfonia #9 Fingering
Reply #6 on: October 28, 2004, 01:53:59 PM
Better? :D

Much, thank you!  (don't feel bad  :-[)


Quote
Ok, if you look at the RH:

RH – 1 – [2 – 4 – 5] [41(Bb – C) – 3 - 5 – 41(F – B natural)]

On the second bracket you have:

41(Bb – C) – 3 – 5

After you play the Ab with the 3rd finger, you must play the following G with the 5th finger. In order to do that you must somehow pass the 5th finger under the 3rd (or over).
Ok, yeah, that makes perfect sense..  I'm passing the fifth under the third.  You wrote that I was passing the third under the fifth.

gotcha.

Quote
This seems like impossible until you realise that you must pivot your hand on the 3rd finger, bringing the 5th finger under the 3rd (more towards you than under the 5th, if you know what I mean).
Yeah, I've practiced this motion before. That pivot makes the followup 41 much easier as well.

Quote
(we must find a simple way to post scores  - away that does not involve scanning, becoming member of a download site and giving the address >:().

Haha, good luck!

I feel like I'm "cheating" on the 7/20 stuff that is yet to come..  I'm memorizing the score just by doing this fingering development.  When it comes time to do the 7/20 stuff, I think the "7" is going to be limited by how well I can remember the awkward one hand fingering over how many notes I can remember!


thanks
-Paul

Offline mound

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Re: Sinfonia #9 Fingering
Reply #7 on: November 03, 2004, 01:17:47 PM
so Bernhard- you said for counterpoint music that you prefer to learn each voice seperately in its entirety.

Just to clarify, I believe that means simply holding off on all hands together work until all voices are learned right?  I can still have a session in which I'm working on top voice measures A-D (ie.) and middle voice G-F and bottom voice X  etc.. right? (ie. learning all voices simutaneously, but never putting them together until each is mastered in its entirety.)

also.. I showed my teacher the fingering I've been working on.. his first comment was.. guess...


"try to avoid thumb on black keys"

:)

I said "yeah, I know..  I've thought alot about my choices, it seems to make more sense though in some spots."

and he only said "aha" and left it at that.

-Paul
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