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Fingering "invented" by Chopin? Or used widely on the organ long before him?

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    Fingering "invented" by Chopin? Or used widely on the organ long before him?

    We probably all noticed that the organists use a lot of "more awkward" fingerings compared to pianists, including: finger substitutions, 3 cross 4 and 4 cross 5, thumb glissando and pinky glissando, multiple fingers on one key etc.

    But I always hear that when people introduce the fingerings on piano, they declair that some of those more "unusual" fingering methos were created by Chopin, and was not used until the 19th century.

    But I kind of suspect the accuracy of this message, because those fingerings are actually very widely used on the organ,

    the pianists might not allowed to do them until they get into a more advanced level and play some Chopin Etudes or other late 19 century repertoires, but an organ student would have to practice finger substitution and glissando almost during the first lesson, same with some more "awkward" finger crossing.

    However, when are those methods invented?
    Are they inventions of the 19 century? Or are they widely used even during Bach's time?

    After I read an article (which I included a picture clip below) and made more research online, it seems during Bach's time, even using the thumb and pinky at all would be considered "modern advanced technique" in his day.
    according to the study, it seems Chopin didn't "invent" those fingerings, but he simply "prefers" them and made them more widely acceptable for later musicians.

    And it's true substitution and glissando is more necessary in a lot of 19 or 20 century pieces.

    However, it's also hard to play a lot of Baroque repertoires without using those technique.
    So, when do people start these fingering techniques ?
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    #2
    Hi Sarah,

    However, when are those methods invented? Are they inventions of the 19 century? Or are they widely used even during Bach's time?
    Current opnion is that baroque organ music must be played generally non-legato. That is, with a minimum of silence during two notes. Therefore finger substitition and - glissando was not nessecary (may be even not possible, due to the construction of the then organs). The 'modern' fingering on organs seems to be invented during the 19th century.

    However, it's also hard to play a lot of Baroque repertoires without using those technique.
    . It's not so very hard, compared with the 'modern' fingering it is even more easy in my opinion. An example of Bach fingering not using substitutions en glissando's is here: https://www.gehrmans.se/en/shop/unde...an-works-12727. Fagius frequently prescribes that several consecutive notes are played with one finger I.e. in Orgelbuchlein chorales the melody is sometimes played with fingering 5-5-5.
    I'm studying it, for me it makes much fun and satisfaction. The music becomes very clear en vivid in a natural way.

    See also this pdf https://www.google.nl/url?sa=t&rct=j...kqAUQvxpTasebA and the music examples here: https://www.wayneleupold.com/index.p...-ed-brock.html

    Regards. D.

    Comment


    • Sarah Weizhen
      Sarah Weizhen commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes it make sense, that those techniques are actually invented in 19 century, probably by Chopin or his peers. They are not very necessary in playing baroque music.
      However the reason why I think they could make playing any music easier, is that I think finger substitution or crossing does not necessary have to make the music legato, they simply bring your hands to an easier position to do the even non legato playing, it's just easier to control. Because some times when the hands have to do a big jump, you kind of can't control the length of silence in between, some times the silence might be too big, or hard to make them even with all the other short breaks between notes. Same with pedals, it's easier to control the length of the rest with two feet rather than making one foot do a big jump.
      Although, it's not necessary to use modern fingerings.

    #3
    We need to remember, too, that the keys on historic keyboard instruments were not always as long as those on today's instruments. This does affect fingering and articulation.

    Comment


    • Dutchy
      Dutchy commented
      Editing a comment
      Surely true.

    #4
    As I understand it, in the age of keyboard instruments that is before Bach, the mechanisms were very crude. It would not have been physically possible to use the pinky finger to much effect. It would not have been possible to glide smoothly with the 4th finger. Even during Bach's lifetime a large organ fully coupled would have presented a distinct challenge to "awkward" fingerings. That was the 17th Century! I would HOPE that in the 200 years that elapsed between Bach's adulthood and Chopin's adulthood that some advances would have been made in the sophistication of keyboard actions (piano and organ) and in keyboard technique in general.

    And there was. Rheinberger, Mendelssohn, Reger, Karg-Elert ... ... you cannot play that repertoire using Baroque Fingerings. Howells, Parry, Walton, Thalben-Ball ... ... you cannot play that repertoire using Baroque Fingerings. Vierne, Durufle, Dupre ... ... you know the rest. Chopin was a composer/performer. He was not, as far as I know, as much of a pedagogue as someone like Carl Czerny or F. Busoni. But as someone of exceptional talent and influence he would of course had taught. But I don't think any hard and fast rules were created by Chopin. There is no Chopin School of piano technique, but there is a Czerny School.

    In any case, as piano music became more advanced, so did organ music. Organ music of the 19th and 20th Centuries has for good or ill become far more 'pianistic' in tandem with the evolution of the piano music being composed, often by the same individuals. Churches have become less resonant over time and thus depending more on a legato technique to 'sing' the musical phrases.

    It could fairly be said that 90% of the aim of Modern Fingering is to preserve legato in the face of a far more complex harmonic and melodic structure. Add in less resonant performance spaces and greater sonic efficiency of string and brass instruments and modern piano technique also had to developing the raw power needed to make a 9' Concert Grand Piano bellow over a full symphony orchestra. Organists don't need to develop power like pianists do but a lot of modern organ repertoire has all of the leaps and non-legato accents of the best piano music of the same time periods. It isn't all about finger substitution and awkward finger crossings.

    Comment


    • Sarah Weizhen
      Sarah Weizhen commented
      Editing a comment
      That's very good insights.
      I always wondering about what happened between Bach's death and the booming of late 19 century organ culture. Most other instruments have some very important composers and works in 18 century classism period. But the organ, you just jump directly from baroque to romantic period.
      There are however some repertoires written in 18 century, not very famous, but when I come across them, I always wonder how should they be played. Should it be like early style, non legato and detached articulation style? Or more like 19 century legato style? Or kind of in between?

      And also I always wonder why method books and instructors do not directly teach their students the early fingering when they start the organ, but instead focusing on modern fingering and use modern fingerings to play baroque, and only get into the historical performance method when the students are more advanced.

    • JeffW
      JeffW commented
      Editing a comment
      To Sarah's question of why students aren't directly taught early fingering likely has a few related answers:

      1) Historical playing techniques developed in the 20th century with broader awareness and teaching of them going wider after the 1950s. However, even today not all teachers and performers think they need to teach or use those techniques.

      2) More than a 150 years of classical organ teaching up to today has assumed students had a number of years of piano study before studying organ. Getting such new organ student's feet up to speed while teaching a completely new technique for the hands is likely more than most students can handle, so existing piano technique is the default on the organ. In recent decades organ methods been developed for students to start studying organ without prior piano skills, but they are relatively new and, from what I can tell, exceptions.

      3) Church congregations and choirs are accustomed to modern legato (non-historical) performance of music sung in church, although organ-only performance can be played with appropriate historically based technique.

      If you consider the combined impact of just the three above items (I'm sure I've missed others), it isn't really surprising that method books and teachers don't teach early fingering right at the start.

      But I leave you a sentence from Harald Vogel's Foreward in Sandra Soderlund's "Organ Technique: An Historical Approach": "...the application of historically derived principles [of keyboard playing] is an important step toward making early music a 'living' repertory."

    • Sarah Weizhen
      Sarah Weizhen commented
      Editing a comment
      JeffW thanks for the insights. Makes a lot of sense. Thank you!
      I actually heard that in some German school organ students will only learn historical technique and only play baroque music. Even thoes students don't have much experiences on the organ. I don't know if this is a new academic researching direction and teaching method. An organ student I know who studies in German told me she has never played a 19 century repertoire. All what they study is baroque music and baroque method

    #5
    Originally posted by Sarah Weizhen View Post
    We probably all noticed that the organists use a lot of "more awkward" fingerings compared to pianists, including: finger substitutions, 3 cross 4 and 4 cross 5,....​​​​​
    Sarah,

    I've never heard of 3x4 or 4x5 before, nor have I ever used it. Is this something new, or something I never learned in my brief foray into the world of organ academia? This is news to me! Please, do tell if you know the uses or origins.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

    Comment


      #6
      myorgan Michael, 3 cross 4 and 4 cross 5 in both directions do exist, I would be surprised if you have never used it, maybe you simply didn't notice it. Although it's not always necessary to use it, but I have seen it many times.
      I will give you two examples here,
      First one is "Christ Jesus Who Maketh Us Glad" by Dupré, From Seventy Nine Chorales Op28. In this example, the fingerings are given by the composer. And if you try it exactly as what he indicated, you will notice that excessive finger crossing and substitution is everywhere in this short, not so difficult little piece. Why did he indicated this way? Does he always do that? I actually don't know, because I don't have enough experience playing Dupré yet.
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      And another example. This fingering is not given by the original composer. But the left hand part on the third line surely has some 3 cross 4, 4 cross 5, and even 3 cross 5 there. This is in Roger E Davis method book "The Organist Manual"
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      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Sarah Weizhen,

        Thank you so much for the examples. I've never seen the Dupré pieces you included, and had never run across them before. In the first examples you gave (#16), In the 3rd measure where the 5-4 crossing is indicated, I'd have used the fingering from the beginning of the measure starting with 1-3, and then the remainder of the measure would fall naturally under the hand. I guess my point would be that while the fingering is suggested, there may be other, more effective methods of fingering.

        I was always taught that finger crossings were to be avoided at all costs because they're fraught with potential for failure. However, if one practices them, perhaps they're not as bad as I might think.

        Thanks again.

        Michael
        Last edited by myorgan; 01-19-2020, 05:54 AM.

      #7
      myorgan and also in Roger E. Davis method book "The Organist Manual", he has two pages of finger exercises on these unusual finger crossings.

      I would suspect that this kind of exercise also exist in other method books as well.
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        #8
        This was an awesome question and I have wondered myself although I'm not up to those yet. I'm currently trying to master the 'uphill' thumb glissando to black keys :-p

        Interesting you gave a Dupre example, I was just reading his wikipedia page entry. It says he wrote organ music considered unplayable by anyone else - according to Widor.

        Comment


        • Sarah Weizhen
          Sarah Weizhen commented
          Editing a comment
          Dupré seems to be famous for the difficulties. But the one I gave is actually not hard to play. Try it with his fingering and you will find a new world. And think about what if he didn't give the fingering, how would you play it. I think that's very interesting.
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