\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique? (Read 1159 times)

Offline pianostreet6272

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 1
Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
« on: December 31, 2020, 06:20:30 PM »
Is it normal to replace one finger with another while holding down a key? I see some non-classical pianists doing this, but that doesn't make it a good habit to get into it. I've never seen any music with suggested fingerings that allow for this, which would require two numbers over or next to the same note. Wouldn't it?

i.e. If you played a simple triad in the right hand, using fingers 1-2-4, then replaced the ring finger with the pinky while holding the key down, freeing up the 4th finger so it can start moving to the next chord or whatever.
There is a well known pop/jazz teacher who is teaching this. He offers fingering suggestions for all triads, major 7th, and minor 7th, but qualifies them by saying that they can vary depending on 'voice leading and context.' I assume he's talking about looking ahead at the next chord before deciding which fingers to use on the current chord that hasn't even been played yet. I consider this an advanced ability.

If the answer is 'yes, even classical pianists do this' I'm wondering if it's just a naturally acquired skill that comes automatically or subconsciously as needed without ever being taught, or if teachers actually teach rules to follow or patterns of some sort that accompany the technique.

I haven't videotaped the hands of any concert pianists to try and catch them doing this, but I'd be surprised to find it.
 
I have a group piano book that occasionally includes fingerings for chords as you work through the book, but it's not so structured as to offer them all in one place, for all triads and 7th chords in all inversions. They only have that in the back of the book for scales and arpeggios. If a student were to want fingering rules to live by with regards to chords and their progressions, they'd have to go through the book and extract them all to compile their own list, assuming they can all be found in such a book. Even then, if it's true that the fingerings used for a given chord/inversion will vary depending on 'voice leading and context,' such suggestions would only serve as a jumping off point, not set in concrete. As a newbie, I'm tempted to just practice what's in my piano book, chord for chord, and worry about this topic later on, but I'm a very structured learner who can't help but look further down the road in hopes of coming out ahead in the long run by doing things right from the git go, rather than develop bad habits that waste time later on when they need to be corrected.   

What do you do when one piano book says to play a chord using 1-2-4 and another says to play the same chord using 1-3-5? Flip a coin?

If I were a classical piano student for years, I suspect I'd already know the answer to these questions, but I'm not and never will be. Thanks in advance.

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2026
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #1 on: December 31, 2020, 06:58:13 PM »
Yes.  I can't think of an example right off the top of my head, but there are plenty of places where you simply could not play the music as written without doing this.

Certainly Bach is full of places this is needed.  I just can't think of one immediately without looking through some of the scores.  Not just Bach, though.

Although I play a bit of jazz, I've never used this on various pianos, at least that I'm aware of, when playing that style.  Maybe, maybe not:  I don't have perfect recall of every last thing I've done there.  Although on the Hammond organ, all the time it's necessary (well, depending on what you want to do on the organ:  just the nature of the instrument).

About your question of "how is it taught" etc.:  I don't remember being explicitly taught any special technique except for a teacher pointing out places where a note should be held and maybe circling the note in pencil, as a reminder.  It's pretty common to see editions where this is suggested in the fingering for various pieces, and as a younger student, most of the editions I worked out of had fingering suggestions.  Whether they were always obeyed I can't say:  that was really up to me during practice at home or the teacher during lessons.

In my recollection, it was just a natural thing to do, especially once it's pointed out as desirable in such or such an instance.  I do remember having to practice at home some of those passages, but that was really for different reasons, namely, what the other fingers are doing.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Online ranjit

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 683
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #2 on: December 31, 2020, 08:25:39 PM »
It happens instinctively, at least for me. In many cases, I would say in some ways it's similar to intentionally looking away from the keyboard or having your hands jump up in the air -- it's something that just happens either for performance bravado or just because you feel like it. It's not a big deal if the piece is really simple relative to your level since you won't really pick up any bad habits as such. While you're improvising or even performing, you might accidentally play something with an inefficient fingering which needs to be held. In that case, you can just swap out the fingers.

Also, as j_tour said, it might be needed in some places (I would imagine Bach or contrapuntal writing or anything with multiple moving parts). As a fictitious example, suppose you are playing a melody staccato with your left hand and do not wish to use pedal. Your right hand is currently holding a C major chord in first inversion so the C is at the top. You now want to switch the top note with the octave without using pedal. (EGC -> C+(octave). The only way to do this would be switching fingers like you mention. I can't think of a piece offhand, but I'm sure there are plenty. Bach or Rach would be my guess as to where you'd be most likely to find them.

Offline brogers70

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1129
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #3 on: December 31, 2020, 09:17:02 PM »
I don't think it's cheesy at all. I can't think of a Bach fugue that doesn't require some finger swapping, often a lot of it. I don't know how others learned it, but I practice it with the following exercise. You do scales in sixths. Start with the right hand on E(1)/C(4), thumb on E, ring finger on C. Then play F(2)/D(5). Then, holding the keys down switch fingers to F(1)/D(4). Then play G(2)/E(5). Then switch fingers again and keep going up the scale in sixths. Start out doing it quite slowly. Keep at it and eventually you'll get good at swapping fingers quickly and silently. It's really essential for playing dense counterpoint.

Offline ted

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3842
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #4 on: December 31, 2020, 09:36:36 PM »
Generally speaking I do not hesitate to use any technique which gets the ideas out. “Cheesy” apparently originated in early American student slang for a doltish person and became generalised to describe anything cheap or of low intrinsic value. I don’t use this particular technique at all but any movement which helps personal articulation cannot be other than positive, whether normal or not.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline dogperson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1374
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #5 on: December 31, 2020, 11:02:13 PM »
Finger substitution does occur in piano... anytime you need to hold a note but the finger holding the note is best used somewhere else.  The technique is very common on the organ, as the notes do not sustain if you quit holding them— not even for one second.  So finger substitution is often essential.

Regarding the triad: if one teacher taught 1-3-5 and  1-2-4, I would choose the one best for my hand shape or best for the music.  For example, even if you normally choose 1-3-5, for a particular situation you might choose 1-2-4 as the fifth finger needed to be free for the next note.

There are principals of fingering but there can’t be ‘rules’. Every hand and situation may be a little different. 

Finger substitution was not intuitive for me: as a kid, I started with piano lessons, and then added organ lessons after a few years.  I was taught finger substitution as part of learning the organ- and then it carried over to piano.  It is not considered a beginner technique.

If this is a topic you want to explore I highly recommend this book

https://www.amazon.com/Art-Piano-Fingering-Traditional-Innovative/dp/1479285277/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=rami+bar+niv&qid=1609455645&sr=8-1

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3239
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #6 on: January 01, 2021, 02:00:48 PM »
Although I play a bit of jazz, I've never used this on various pianos, at least that I'm aware of.  Although on the Hammond organ, all the time it's necessary (well, depending on what you want to do on the organ).

And on organs with more than one manual, it isn't that unusual to need to have fingers on an upper manual and reach down with the thumb to grab a note below. 

That seems related in my brain, though it may not be.
Tim

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2026
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #7 on: January 01, 2021, 07:06:35 PM »
And on organs with more than one manual, it isn't that unusual to need to have fingers on an upper manual and reach down with the thumb to grab a note below. 

That seems related in my brain, though it may not be.

I think it's related to the OP's notion of "cheesy" techniques.

Finger substitution is not, of course, "cheesy": it's, in fact, required!

But Hammond organ in jazz is loaded with tricks that could be called cheesy.  I'd just call them tricks, though.

The classic is putting a matchbook or something else between the cheekblock and the top C on the upper manual (like if you're playing a blues in F or C, or whatever, and want the highest note to sustain while you do other stuff). 

Or putting the 2nd percussion on, pushing in all the drawbars (or hit the "cancel" preset, i.e., the low C of the reverse-colored registration keys on a stock Hammond, on the upper manual) and plinking away on the upper manual for a sort of "electric piano" sound.  It's kind of a neat sound, though:  not really a trick, just a sound one can use.

All kinds of stuff, including reaching between the manuals, taking advantage of the geometry of the instrument which is such that the two manuals are pretty closely spaced.

But I can't really besmirch classical organists by calling some of their techniques cheesy:  the Hammond organ in jazz is really an entirely different instrument than playing Messiaen at the Sts. Trinité or Sulpice, with its own traditions and idioms.  Also extremely different than piano, for that matter.  It's not uncommon for jazz organ players to not know how to play piano, at least very well.  Or it used to be the case, maybe it's different for kids nowadays.

It's not just the pedals (and many different pedals, which can multiply pretty rapidly depending on how many manuals one has on a "real" pipe organ), or even the action of the keyboard, but certainly attention to what notes are sustained or not:  there's no "sustain pedal" to cover up any flaws (not that I know of), so it has to be done right, or you might as well pack it up and go back to the woodshed.

One could argue that's the way the acoustic piano should be played as well, but the modern piano is a bit more forgiving of errors.

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3239
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #8 on: January 02, 2021, 03:06:47 PM »

One could argue that's the way the acoustic piano should be played as well, but the modern piano is a bit more forgiving of errors.

On acoustic piano, like on the old mechanical typewriters I learned on, you need to actually hit a wrong note with some force to have it play.  Brush the edge because your finger isn't centered and there's no harm done.

On organ you need to keep your finger in the center of the key.  If mine even drifts towards the edge it seems bad things happen. 

As an engineer I was part of a construction project for a new military chapel.  The chaplain specified the organ and when it came I tried to play it.  Whoa, drawbars!  I had no clue how they worked - kept looking for stops.  They sound impressive when you know what you're doing though. 
Tim

Offline illystraiter

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 14
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #9 on: January 10, 2021, 12:32:34 AM »
I’ve come across the idea of switching fingers on keys all the time, even in classical. A lot of times in the fingering numbers it gets notated as two numbers with the second in parentheses, like 4(5) implying that you play the key first with four but then switch to five while holding. This is really handy in Bach fugues that require a lot of weird finger bending and holding.

Offline lettersquash

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 94
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #10 on: January 16, 2021, 12:42:46 PM »
I’ve come across the idea of switching fingers on keys all the time, even in classical. A lot of times in the fingering numbers it gets notated as two numbers with the second in parentheses, like 4(5) implying that you play the key first with four but then switch to five while holding. This is really handy in Bach fugues that require a lot of weird finger bending and holding.
Oh, is that what that means? I remember seeing it and thinking it was just an alternative being suggested. This is an interesting question the OP asks, and I was thinking that it must surely be notated somewhere, as it is so common to do this with trills (if I'm reading those correctly). I was waiting for someone to say those finger subs are just notated similarly, like 4-5.

I've not seen "concert pianists" doing it AFAIK, but certainly seen some very experienced and skilled players clearly doing it in youtube instructional videos with those views of the keyboard and score, (e.g. all of the Bach Preludes and Fugues - played by Paul Barton?).

I'm pretty sure you'd have to do it in the Aria from the Goldberg Variations, for one. The other thing you have to do in that - notated with a curvy line - is play a note (G) in the left, but then swap to holding it down with the right to complete its value, to free up the left for some otherwise impossible stretch.

In addition to 1 - 5, by the way, if you see "N", it's to be played with the nose. ;D
Schwencke dumped in the middle of Bach's Prelude, and Gounod tried to polish it.

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2026
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #11 on: January 16, 2021, 01:44:23 PM »
Oh, is that what that means? I remember seeing it and thinking it was just an alternative being suggested. This is an interesting question the OP asks, and I was thinking that it must surely be notated somewhere, as it is so common to do this with trills (if I'm reading those correctly). I was waiting for someone to say those finger subs are just notated similarly, like 4-5.

I've not seen "concert pianists" doing it AFAIK, but certainly seen some very experienced and skilled players clearly doing it in youtube instructional videos with those views of the keyboard and score, (e.g. all of the Bach Preludes and Fugues - played by Paul Barton?).

I'm pretty sure you'd have to do it in the Aria from the Goldberg Variations, for one. The other thing you have to do in that - notated with a curvy line - is play a note (G) in the left, but then swap to holding it down with the right to complete its value, to free up the left for some otherwise impossible stretch.

In addition to 1 - 5, by the way, if you see "N", it's to be played with the nose. ;D

What is this, a Cheech and Chong routine? 

Yes, when a score has engraved 5-1 over a single note, it clearly means that one should pull one's pud and repeat.

You people are retarded.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline lettersquash

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 94
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #12 on: January 16, 2021, 02:01:30 PM »
What is this, a Cheech and Chong routine? 

Yes, when a score has engraved 5-1 over a single note, it clearly means that one should pull one's pud and repeat.

You people are retarded.
Nice attitude. :-*
Schwencke dumped in the middle of Bach's Prelude, and Gounod tried to polish it.

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2026
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #13 on: January 16, 2021, 02:18:49 PM »
Nice attitude. :-*

Well....you started it!

;D
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline dogperson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1374
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #14 on: January 16, 2021, 02:25:49 PM »
@lettersquash
Just FYI, Paul Barton is not just a skilled pianist, which you distinguish from a concert pianist.  He was a concert pianist that has changed routes.

Offline lettersquash

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 94
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #15 on: January 16, 2021, 02:42:56 PM »
@lettersquash
Just FYI, Paul Barton is not just a skilled pianist, which you distinguish from a concert pianist.  He was a concert pianist that has changed routes.
Cheers, good to know. Glad it wasn't the other way round - "Paul Barton is a maverick and charlatan!"

Well....you started it!

;D
I'm pretty sure I didn't.
Schwencke dumped in the middle of Bach's Prelude, and Gounod tried to polish it.

Online ranjit

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 683
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #16 on: January 16, 2021, 07:52:10 PM »
@lettersquash
Just FYI, Paul Barton is not just a skilled pianist, which you distinguish from a concert pianist.  He was a concert pianist that has changed routes.
Oh, I did not know that. Why did he change routes?

Offline dogperson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1374

Offline grade8pianoman

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #18 on: February 14, 2021, 10:29:38 AM »
Dubussy 2nd. Arabesque requires finger substitutions, and us marked thus.
Interestingly score notes state that this is preferred to overuse of the pedal to sustain notes.

Offline lelle

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 713
Re: Is it normal to use what seems like a cheesy technique?
«Reply #19 on: February 16, 2021, 04:28:33 PM »
Dubussy 2nd. Arabesque requires finger substitutions, and us marked thus.
Interestingly score notes state that this is preferred to overuse of the pedal to sustain notes.

I think that's a good point. If you can bind notes physically it frees you up to pedal much more creatively and use much more shallow pedals than if you have to rely on the pedal to bind your melody.