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The Fingerplate...a Historic Mistake?


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#1 goran rahm

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 10:23 PM

I have written an article presenting my views on the use and misuse of the english concertina fingerplate and not sure where it might fit best 'published' it in the "Public news & announcements" section. (Trying to make it heavier unconsciously posting it twice...:-)

The article contains a little survey on the opinions in some tutors about the matter which might be of some historic interest.

Goran Rahm

#2 Richard Morse

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 10:53 AM

What do you mean by "fingerplates"? What most people (I know) call pinky rests?

#3 yerpalal

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 11:29 AM

Goran, Want to read the finger plate article, where is it ? cheers, Al Watsky

#4 Lester Bailey

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 12:29 PM

Goran, Want to read the  finger plate article, where is it ? cheers, Al Watsky

You can find it here

Edited by Lester Bailey, 04 October 2003 - 12:30 PM.


#5 goran rahm

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 03:00 PM

Richard:"What do you mean by "fingerplates"? What most people (I know) call pinky rests? "

Goran:Both terms "finger plate" and "finger rest" ("pinky rest") have been used about equally frequent in tutor books. Charles Wheatstone, William Wheatstone and Regondi used "finger plate" so that could be regarded as an 'original' term.
In my view it is also attractive in its double - culinary - meaning of a slightly cannibalistic dish....

#6 d.elliott

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Posted 05 October 2003 - 04:07 PM

What do you mean by "fingerplates"? What most people (I know) call pinky rests?

Rich,

What's a pinky? I thought it was one of two piglets, the other being Perky!

Seriously, do people call finger slides, err, 'pinky rests'???? :unsure:

Dave

#7 JimLucas

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Posted 05 October 2003 - 04:45 PM

Seriously, do people call finger slides, err, 'pinky rests'????

Many do. "Pinky" is common slang for the little finger.

But calling the finger plate a "rest" is incorrect, at least with regard to the way I play the concertina. I don't *rest* my little finger, I use it to help *grip* the instrument.

And Dave, finger "slide"? First I've heard that term. I don't think sliding is the primary use for either the finger or the "plate".

#8 Richard Morse

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Posted 05 October 2003 - 08:52 PM

Seriously, do people call finger slides, err, 'pinky rests'???? 

Actually, I'm hard pressed to think of ANY other name people call them by (here in the US). I've never really questioned it before....

Now that I think of it, IF I hadn't heard the term before and someone asked me to name it, I would probably call it a "pinky grip". Pinky because that's the name of the finger involved and that's what it does there. Naming the item a "handle", "plate", or "rest" really doesn't conjure up my idea of what that item look like.

What do you folks in the UK call your little finger?

#9 goran rahm

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Posted 05 October 2003 - 11:19 PM

Rich:"Now that I think of it, IF I hadn't heard the term before and someone asked me to name it, I would probably call it a "pinky grip". Pinky because that's the name of the finger involved and that's what it does there. Naming the item a "handle", "plate", or "rest" really doesn't conjure up my idea of what that item look like. "

Goran: I suggest you read the article if the semantics are done with...:-)
Like I mentioned elsewhere to Jim (who favours the 'gripping' idea too..) the majority of tutors since long have strongly spoken AGAINST using the finger plate for gripping....apart from C Wheatstone himself (!! on the other hand he probably didn't play the instrument....) but as I mention this is entirely related to his intention that the finger plate should be the home for BOTH 3rd AND 4th finger and this is the reason for the design - NOT that you should slide with the 'pinky' along it!!!

#10 allan atlas

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 07:34 AM

Göran and Folks: I had intended to stay out of this discussion. I changed my mind, though, upon reading Göran's latest memo. In particular, it was the following statement that caught my attention:

". . .the majority of tutors since long have strongly spoken AGAINST using the finger plate for gripping. . ."

Now, let's make sure that we're in the same ballpark: (1) I take it that the "since long" means that Göran has the Victorian tutors in mind, whether mainly or entirely; and (2) "gripping" means supporting.

To be sure, Göran has read the Victorians correctly. Most of the Victorian tutors that I've seen say precisely what Göran says they say. But here Göran and I part ways. We have very different views on how we, as concertina players at the dawn of the twenty-first century, should approach the Victorian tutors, most of which were written in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Göran seems to believe that we must take their recommendations as gospel truth, that we must play in the manner that the tutors recommend. I disagree entirely. The tutors, like so many historical documents of a similar nature, speaks for their own time. They tell us what some players -- albeit very good ones, and probably the best then around -- preferred at a given time. The should NOT and canNOT, however, dictate to us about how WE should play.

Göran: I would ask you to read the tutor that I just published. I spell out my "philosophy" at greater length..................Allan

#11 goran rahm

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 10:11 AM

Allan:"Now, let's make sure that we're in the same ballpark: (1) I take it that the "since long" means that Göran has the Victorian tutors in mind, whether mainly or entirely; and (2) "gripping" means supporting."

Goran:(1) yes, this is apparent from the 'Fingerplate...' article
(2) not entirely since some ( Jim for instance...) do mean an active *grip* (muscular activity for opposing fingers to the thumb...in this case the fourth finger to the thumb) and this is different from what some of the tutors suggest for *supporting* ( resting or merely touching the finger plate to stabilize the end or just provide a guide for the position)


Allan:"Göran seems to believe that we must take their recommendations as gospel truth, that we must play in the manner that the tutors recommend. I disagree entirely. The tutors, like so many historical documents of a similar nature, speaks for their own time. They tell us what some players -- albeit very good ones, and probably the best then around -- preferred at a given time. The should NOT and canNOT, however, dictate to us about how WE should play. "

Goran:I definitely do not mean that *we* must do anything of the above but I do mean that the authors ("for their own time") did very sincerely mean things should be done the way the described....some very categorically....not 'preferring' since they (each one of them) never presented any alternatives or analysis of varying needs or methods.

You certainly ought to have noticed Allan that I never 'dictate' anything myself either but I sometimes have a very definite personal opinion what might be most efficient in a certain situation....but that is *very* relative....

( There is hardly any doubt for instance that I do mean the fingerplate ought to be
disposed of for good except of course on individual basis for those who
1) are used to it and find no reason to change technique
2) are not tempted by curiosity to explore the world without it
3) experience no limitations of the used method
...but since we DO live in a different world than the 'victorians' why deny the newcomers of today the opportunities 'modern' views could offer to extend capacity beyond the traditions....)

Allan: "Göran: I would ask you to read the tutor that I just published. I spell out my "philosophy" at greater length..................Allan "

Goran: I certainly would like to read it as soon as possible but unfortunately I have missed the ordering procedure....you may help me on the way.....

#12 allan atlas

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 05:14 PM

Göran: you can get the tutor by going to the website of the Button Box. . . .clicking on "What' New". . . . .and there is a reproduction of the cover of the tutor, with information about ordering a copy....................

i think your differentiation between the tutors' dictating and preferring is splitting hairs a bit. . . . .one of the great faults of all the victorian tutors is that they simply PREscribe or PROscribe. . . . .with little if any further discussion..................

likewise, i think the differentiation between supporting and gripping falls into the same category......................though i will certainly not get into an "argument" about anatomy with you, since i readily admit that you know a million times more than i do about it.....................

finally: given your aims in connection with redesigning the instrument, it seems to me that the victorian tutors are really, in the end, totally irrelevant.................allan

#13 goran rahm

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:46 PM

Allan:."finally: given your aims in connection with redesigning the instrument, it seems to me that the victorian tutors are really, in the end, totally irrelevant.................allan "

Goran:Not in my view and I willingly admit that one of the impulses for the historic survey is my own interest for modifications but *history* is not just a catalogue of the past.... it is a continuous flow of development and understanding the dynamics of this 'flow' may be the clue in this case....
I have pointed out that WILLIAM Wheatstone (WW)opposed against the initial use of the fingerplates described by CHARLES Wheatstone and that early players and tutors evidently did the same (but differently...) It seems remarkable that what today can be regarded as 'good insight' by WW was more or less 'forgotten' for a century in practise....which is no good reason not to re-awake it if we open our eyes....

#14 Ken_Coles

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 01:50 PM

This is fascinating! After reading the article by Goran, I took my English (I mostly play anglo) and tried holding it with two fingers on the rest-grip-slide instead of one. It is like a different world. I may be tempted to keep my playing so simple that I can do it with the two middle fingers! (not a tall order in my case) :rolleyes:

Ken

#15 goran rahm

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 09:38 AM

"This is fascinating! After reading the article by Goran, I took my English (I mostly play anglo) and tried holding it with two fingers on the rest-grip-slide instead of one. It is like a different world. I may be tempted to keep my playing so simple that I can do it with the two middle fingers! (not a tall order in my case) "
Ken

Goran:Well, you see!! That's the way it was meant and it surely works as long as 1st and 2nd fingers do the job for you which they may.... particularly on rows (1) 2 and 3 during single note playing but as soon as you go chromatic and into keys with more than 3 signatures you may start inventing new bad words.....

The action of the 3rd finger is much of the clue. Either the 4th finger is used for actual button work or not an ideally relaxed and efficient fingering work can only be achieved if the 4th finger is 'free in the air' along with the other fingers.

Since so many players nevertheless have managed to perform very well while using the 'traditional three finger method' (resting 4th finger lightly on the finger plate) it is evident that an actual piece of music may allow success but there is hardly any question that 'liberating' the 4th finger offers mcuh improved conditions for 'fingering'. (The resulting problem to solve is the reduced stability....)

So Ken, go along with the 'two finger technique' and do report back IF and WHEN you reach a point of despair....:-)

#16 Ken_Coles

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Posted 17 October 2003 - 08:39 AM

Well, I'm reporting back. Not dispair, but I miss having three fingers to play simple tunes in the key of G, so I'm back to that imperfect way of doing it.

But an interesting observation. My English is a Lachenal with two different numbers between 31,000 and 35,000 (swapped reed pans, but circa 1890s, maybe?). The nickel plating is partly worn off the slides-rests-grips, and the wear pattern makes it clear that whoever played this instrument most of its history was resting two fingers there! I don't know who played this box before Ed Delaney, who owned it from 1992 to 2001 and sold it to me.

Do the rest of you see anything like this on your English?

Ken

#17 BruceB

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Posted 17 October 2003 - 03:34 PM

Well, I'm reporting back. Not dispair, but I miss having three fingers to play simple tunes in the key of G, so I'm back to that imperfect way of doing it.

But an interesting observation. My English is a Lachenal with two different numbers between 31,000 and 35,000 (swapped reed pans, but circa 1890s, maybe?). The nickel plating is partly worn off the slides-rests-grips, and the wear pattern makes it clear that whoever played this instrument most of its history was resting two fingers there!

Do the rest of you see anything like this on your English?

Ken

Ken,
I'd be interested to see exactly what people played with only two fingers. I find it almost impossible to believe they didn't use the third finger at least part of the time. Without the third finger I don't see how someone could play even the easy tunes in Dancing With Ma Baby. Even simple tunes without any harmony become difficult with two fingers only. To borrow a tune from another thread, the first 5 measures at the beginning of the B part of The Black Nag (BGE & ECA.....Em & Am) are really hard with two fingers and very easy with three. The Black Nag is the first of the three basic tunes in Richard Carlin's English Concertina tutor and is presented exactly for this reason, to show how to play these note patterns using three fingers.
I do think playing with two fingers on the rest is a terrible idea. I've been paying more attention to what my fingers do when I'm playing and I find that I take my pinky off the rest quite often when using my ring finger. I do it all the time with my left hand and a bit less often with the right. The evolution for me has been to use the finger rest less & less. I've also been experimenting with building up the area under my right palm (so far using bees wax or duct tape & paper) to see if it helps when using 4 fingers on the press (the only time I have any trouble), but so far I haven't been able to come up with anything that's helped.

BTW, I really like Carlin's tutor and is the one I'd tell anyone starting out to use it, providing it's still available.

I don't recall what the wear pattern was on the rests on my Aeola.
bruce boysen

#18 goran rahm

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 09:11 AM

Bruce:"I've also been experimenting with building up the area under my right palm (so far using bees wax or duct tape & paper) to see if it helps when using 4 fingers on the press (the only time I have any trouble), but so far I haven't been able to come up with anything that's helped. "

Goran:Bruce, have you missed my articles on the issue?? :-) ....like:

http://www.concertin...an_ergonom.html

For facilitation of press work and release of 4th finger you don't need the whole concept...you could start with a 'cushion' or part support for the fleshy part of the palm on the thumb side...say 10-15mm high...try a little wooden piece with some felt on the top (and underneath too to protect the end plate surface).The piece could be about 30x40mm or so. But if you experiment more you probably will find that "the whole concept" (= a wide steady thumbstrap,a wide 15-45mm high wrist support, a steady and precise wriststrap) opens a new world for you when the 4th finger is complely liberated and all fingers relaxed, bellows worked with the hand instead of the fingers and to complete the story the instrument hanging on shoulder straps if not resting on the knee....

Goran




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