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Finger Numbering Question


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#1 ragtimer

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 09:33 PM

This dumb question is probalby in an FAQ somewhere, but it may help to take a fresh "poll."

When numbering fingers when marking up concertina sheet music, do you number the fingers as for the piano, with thumb No. 1 and pinky No. 5? Or, more likely, the index finger is No. 1 and the pinky is 4?

As a long time pianist, I prefer 1--5, but what I've seen suggests "everyone" uses 1--4, with the thumb numbered 0 if it's used at all (Zero means "hit the air button, fast reversal of bellows" :P

Meanwhile, I use a compromise system with letters:
i = index, m = middle, r = ring, P = pinky (I use capital P to make it stand out when I have to use that pesky little digit).

My own music software also supports Spanish guitarists' a = anillo = ring, p = pulgar = thumb,
but I don't use those at home. ;)

#2 asdormire

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 10:09 PM

I know the deVille book I started with uses a 1-5 for the buttons on the C row, and 6-10 for the G, with dots for the left hand, which is how I used to label things when I started. Each hand startd with the index finger.

Alan

#3 ragtimer

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 10:15 PM

I know the deVille book I started with uses a 1-5 for the buttons on the C row, and 6-10 for the G, with dots for the left hand, which is how I used to label things when I started. Each hand startd with the index finger.
Alan

THanks. I'm not looking for how to number the buttons on the instrument, but your fingers,
as in which finger to use on a given button in a piece of music.

It does seem from what you said, that this book uses 1=index, 4=pinky.

BTW, I believe fiddlers use 1--4 also, which must make it hard for someone who tries to play both violin and piano from sheet music. Too bad piano teachers didn't seettel on numbering from 0 (thumb) thru 4 (pinky), but nobody counts from 0 except computer types like me :P

#4 JimLucas

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 07:59 AM

When numbering fingers when marking up concertina sheet music, do you number the fingers as for the piano, with thumb No. 1 and pinky No. 5? Or, more likely, the index finger is No. 1 and the pinky is 4?

As a long time pianist, I prefer 1--5, but what I've seen suggests "everyone" uses 1--4, with the thumb numbered 0 if it's used at all (Zero means "hit the air button, fast reversal of bellows" :P

Meanwhile, I use a compromise system with letters:
i = index, m = middle, r = ring, P = pinky (I use capital P to make it stand out when I have to use that pesky little digit).

My own music software also supports Spanish guitarists' a = anillo = ring, p = pulgar = thumb,
but I don't use those at home. ;)

BTW, I believe fiddlers use 1--4 also, which must make it hard for someone who tries to play both violin and piano from sheet music. Too bad piano teachers didn't seettel on numbering from 0 (thumb) thru 4 (pinky), but nobody counts from 0 except computer types like me :P

Why should that make it difficult? Language (of which notation is one form) is always context dependent. I'm sure that when someone mentions "the sopranos" in a conversation, you don't get confused between the TV series and the choir section. :)

By the same token, you can tell when your index finger is on one row of concertina buttons and when it's on another, a simple shift in position. So why should it be difficult to get used to a simple shift of numbers with respect to your fingers, a shift that doesn't occur from one note to the next, but only from one instrument to the next?

At some times (in some contexts) I may speak of my "five fingers", while in other contexts it makes sense to distinguish the "thumb" from the distinctly different four "fingers". Using 1-5 on the piano makes sense, because you use all five fingers to play the notes. On the concertina it doesn't make sense to include the thumb with the other four fingers, since (except on exceptional instruments) it's not used to play notes. And if you're only using four fingers, it just doesn't make sense to number them "two" through "five". (If so, then why not 13-16?)

But I find particularly interesting the implication that you have no problem shifting between 0-origin counting for computer work and 1-origin for "daily life" (or do you insist to your friends that December is the "11th" month of the year?), yet would have difficulty with a similar shift between piano and other instruments. And also no trouble with semi-arbitrary use of letters to label the different digits?

For what it's worth, the use of "0" to indicate the thumb in playing the concertina is something I'm not familiar with. I always use (and am used to seeing) "T" along with 1, 2, 3, and 4. This clearly distinguishes the thumb and its use as not just another of the same. The (other) fingers can range around the keyboard, with each finger able to reach more than one button and each button accessible to more than one finger. The thumb can't reach any buttons but its own, and I've never heard of anyone trying to press the thumb button with any of the other fingers (though I find that I can press it with my index finger, if I contort my hand enough).

#5 ragtimer

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 10:13 AM

Why should that make it difficult? Language (of which notation is one form) is always context dependent. I'm sure that when someone mentions "the sopranos" in a conversation, you don't get confused between the TV series and the choir section. :)

By the same token, you can tell when your index finger is on one row of concertina buttons and when it's on another, a simple shift in position. So why should it be difficult to get used to a simple shift of numbers with respect to your fingers, a shift that doesn't occur from one note to the next, but only from one instrument to the next?


The issue, to pardon another computer term, is "real time." In a conversation, you have a second or two to figure whether the "sopranos" are rattling bling or just jewelry :rolleyes:

And in switching between computer-area counting and normal human usage, there's plenty of time.

But when I see a "3" in a piano score, I feel it in my 3rd (middle) finger. This has been drilled into my cerebellum ( or wherever) so that it takes place instantly. No time for a context switch.

So I started using piano numbering on 'tina lead sheets. Then I realized I was probably setting myself up for a problem if I ever tried to read another's sheets, or published my own to others. So I went to the letters notation, which isn't yet as fast for me to react to as numbers, but won't cause any conflicts down the line.

Now, I just realized that for years I've been playing valved brass instruments (euphonium, baritone, valve trombone) and they number index=1 also (thumb is never used), and I do respond instantly to those numbers with a horn in my lap, so I guess I've already instilled both systems.

So (edited to add this): If I can just learn to think of my Hayden Duet as a horn, rather than a piano/organ, maybe I can indeed use the 1--4 numbering!

FWIW, I've never heard of the thumb being used on tinas for anything but the air key, and was just kidding around about any notation for it. But I do need to add "T" to my program for isntruments that do use it (liek guitarist's right hand).

But I find particularly interesting the implication that you have no problem shifting between 0-origin counting for computer work and 1-origin for "daily life" (or do you insist to your friends that December is the "11th" month of the year?), yet would have difficulty with a similar shift between piano and other instruments. And also no trouble with semi-arbitrary use of letters to label the different digits?

As I said, real-time response is not needed here. Just to be geeky, Dec. is the 12th month, but is "month[11]" in programming ;)
Letters aren't so great, but in learning them I don't set up conflicts with existing systems.

For what it's worth, the use of "0" to indicate the thumb in playing the concertina is something I'm not familiar with. I always use (and am used to seeing) "T" along with 1, 2, 3, and 4. This clearly distinguishes the thumb and its use as not just another of the same.

A good policy. Similar to how I write capital "P" to make that inept finger stand out when I need it.
I agree the thumb isn't much use on a tina, and progably not on a PA either (?).

(edited to clean up spelling and balance those stinking quotes -- will we live to see that automated?)

Edited by ragtimer, 24 July 2007 - 10:23 AM.


#6 JimLucas

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 11:34 AM

And in switching between computer-area counting and normal human usage, there's plenty of time.

I guess you don't deal directly with end users, who speak to you in origin 1 while you're programming in origin 0? :unsure:

But when I see a "3" in a piano score, I feel it in my 3rd (middle) finger. This has been drilled into my cerebellum ( or wherever) so that it takes place instantly. No time for a context switch.

I do that sort of context switching when I pick up the paper with the music on it, not later as I'm playing. I do the same when I switch among my anglos (no two identical), or switching among the American, British, and Danish keyboard layouts for my computer. As for it being drilled in, all it takes is a new program of drilling, and it seems to me that you're on your way, just impatient. :)

Now, I just realized that for years I've been playing valved brass instruments (euphonium, baritone, valve trombone) and they number index=1 also (thumb is never used), and I do respond instantly to those numbers with a horn in my lap, so I guess I've already instilled both systems.

Definitely on your way. :)

So (edited to add this): If I can just learn to think of my Hayden Duet as a horn, rather than a piano/organ, maybe I can indeed use the 1--4 numbering!

Why not think of it as a Hayden duet, and give it its own context switch? Shouldn't be too hard, as you can copy the horn program and modify it slightly, rather than starting from scratch (said I, geekily).

FWIW, I've never heard of the thumb being used on tinas for anything but the air key, and was just kidding around about any notation for it.

Well, some anglos have thumb keys (often drones, but not always) for the left hand, and so do most duets made by Jeffries (including my Crane by Jeffries).

#7 allan atlas

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 07:08 AM

GOOD FOLKS: for what it's worth: the Victorian method books for the English concertina always use the following finger system: 1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4 = pinky. . . . .

i have NEVER seen any other system. . . . .

but here's a question: whereas the method books are full of fingering suggestions, the actual publications of music for the instrument enter fingering VERY SPARINGLY. . . . . why????????...........after all, much of the music that was published was aimed at amateurs who could certainly have used a bit of help once in a while in terms of fingering............Allan

#8 ragtimer

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 10:15 AM

GOOD FOLKS: for what it's worth: the Victorian method books for the English concertina always use the following finger system: 1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4 = pinky. . . . .

i have NEVER seen any other system. . . . .

Thanks, Allan, for your valuable input. That's a pretty strong "vote" for the "pinky = 4" system, and not the piano's "pinky = 5" scheme. I will probably adjust my own fingering notations to match, or at least stick with my letter scheme and not risk foisting "pinky = 5" scores on other players.

but here's a question: whereas the method books are full of fingering suggestions, the actual publications of music for the instrument enter fingering VERY SPARINGLY. . . . . why????????...........after all, much of the music that was published was aimed at amateurs who could certainly have used a bit of help once in a while in terms of fingering............Allan

Others may have some answers, but I do seem to recall that in my pianist days, there were some pianists who felt they had reached a certain degree of proficiency, who felt insulted by sheet music with fingerings -- "as if I couldn't figure those out myself." And also because they might prefer their own scheme to what was notated, and it's hard to use your own while staring at what's printed differently.

Also, it's part of a pianists' preparation, to go thru a new piece slowly and work out fingers and pencil them into the music. Pre-printed fingerings deprive one of that learning experience. Of course, if you're a working musician just trying to learn a lot of pieces in a hurry, some help might be appreciated!

Some music would present alternative fingerings right below the first one, but still, some players didn't like seeing fingerings.

I'd say all these pianistic observations would apply to EC as well. --Mike K.

#9 allan atlas

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 02:46 PM

MIKE AND FOLKS: in the end, i just don't know. . . . .there are some Regondi pieces that have a "smattering" of fingering. . . . .to some extent, it might have to do with the "house policy" of the publishers. . . . .but again, the discrepancy between the amount of fingering in the method books (where one would expect a heavy dose, since we're dealing with instructional material) to the amount in the music itself, where it's really kept to a minimum. . . . . . . .Allan

#10 David Barnert

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 08:32 AM

Mike, I suspect that if your first instrument had been the violin (or cello, as mine was), rather than the piano, this thread would never have come up. Concertina is certainly not the first instrument to be notated using 1 as the index finger (remember what "index" means, anyway) and 4 for the little finger.

#11 Alan Day

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 04:31 PM

Mike, I suspect that if your first instrument had been the violin (or cello, as mine was), rather than the piano, this thread would never have come up. Concertina is certainly not the first instrument to be notated using 1 as the index finger (remember what "index" means, anyway) and 4 for the little finger.

I have just had this question asked about my tutor as I use the numbering system and it is exactly as you say David.All the old tutor books I have had also used this numbering system.
Al

#12 ragtimer

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 08:12 PM

Mike, I suspect that if your first instrument had been the violin (or cello, as mine was), rather than the piano, this thread would never have come up. Concertina is certainly not the first instrument to be notated using 1 as the index finger (remember what "index" means, anyway) and 4 for the little finger.

Yes David, your big hands would work well on the cello (and Duet tina, for sure!).

I had suspected that string instruments, that don't use the thumb, would use index=1.
If only piano teachers had numbered the thumb=0 there would be agreement :angry:

Guitarists aren't supposed to use their left thumb to fret strings, but they do use all 5 RH fingers to pick with, so I believe they use letters for the RH digits.

To add to the confusion, Guens is selling a low-cost version fo hsi Hybrid Bandoneon (C-system chormatic) that's laid out such that one can bring the thumbs into play, or so he claims. The three rows of buttons are at a 45-degree angle along the front edge fo the box, midway betweeen a tina and an accordion.

So maybe his books will number the thumb=0 ;) --Mike K.

#13 JimLucas

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 04:03 AM

but here's a question: whereas the method books are full of fingering suggestions, the actual publications of music for the instrument enter fingering VERY SPARINGLY. . . . . why????????...........after all, much of the music that was published was aimed at amateurs who could certainly have used a bit of help once in a while in terms of fingering.......

I can speculate at least three reasons:
  • The authors' idea of how much of "a bit" was necessary/useful differed from yours. Once someone has gone through a tutor which gives the fingerings, might they not be expected to have developed habits of which fingers to use in mosts circumstances, needing help only where a particular sequence might require them to depart from "standard" fingerings?
  • Whether engraved or typeset, I'm sure that adding in fingering numbers entails extra labor, thus extra cost and a higher price. Minimizing such extra work would normally be considered desirable from the publisher's standpoint, especially when trying to sell into a "popular" market.
  • In fingering, as in shoes, there is no "one size fits all". I'm no Regondi, but I don't even always use exactly the same fingering every time I play a particular arrangement. Could respect for personal differences be one of the factors behind the authors' not dictating rigid fingerings for every note in a piece?


#14 JimLucas

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 04:15 AM

I had suspected that string instruments, that don't use the thumb, would use index=1.
If only piano teachers had numbered the thumb=0 there would be agreement :angry:

Is it possible that they were still using Roman numerals when they developed their system? :unsure: No zero. :(

#15 PeterT

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 07:02 AM

Is it possible that they were still using Roman numerals when they developed their system? :unsure: No zero. :(

Might explain why the Roman space programme never got off the ground! :lol:

#16 JimLucas

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 07:23 AM

Is it possible that they were still using Roman numerals when they developed their system? :unsure: No zero. :(

Might explain why the Roman space programme never got off the ground! :lol:

No point, really; the sea made much more sense.
Back in those days you could just sail off the edge of the world. :D

#17 davidcorner

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 11:18 AM

It does seem from what you said, that this book uses 1=index, 4=pinky.

BTW, I believe fiddlers use 1--4 also, which must make it hard for someone who tries to play both violin and piano from sheet music. Too bad piano teachers didn't settle on numbering from 0 (thumb) thru 4 (pinky), but nobody counts from 0 except computer types like me :P


Old piano music from the Victorian era used 1 to 4, together with + for the thumb.
Sometime later they changed to use 1 to 5.

#18 Boney

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 05:48 PM

Guitarists aren't supposed to use their left thumb to fret strings

I'm not sure what "supposed to" means, but many guitarists do fret with the left thumb.



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