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ENGLISH FINGERING QUESTION.


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I have played Anglo before, but am in my first week with a very lovely Lachenal Excelsior. I like the Anglo, but thought it only fair I should try the other systems. What a different way of thinking!

So far, I am enjoying the experience, but I have come across an awkwardness and was wondering what others do? In playing up a fifth, the button above, do you jump the finger, breaking any legato you were wanting, or do you twist the hands to get a finger on each button, destroying any ergonomics, and if so, which fingers?

 

Excelsior1.png.97201edd91c882a78bda255f9d1390ed.png

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You need to think of where the fingers are moving from and where they are needed next.

If you are (or will become) used to using 3 fingers and not just two, you can try becoming more flexible in which fingers you use.

For example, to play the G above middle C on the left hand: you would normally play the G note with the index finger.

As an alternative, try playing this note with the middle finger. This leaves your index finger free to move straight to the D above, i.e. the fifth.

Similarly, you can use the ring and middle finger as an alternative to the middle and index finger.

There are no fixed rules. Just try which patterns fit your flexibility. That flexibility will improve the more you practise and play.

Note also that playing a note with the 5th above is most of a chord, if you are looking for interesting harmonies or arrangements beyond single note melodies.

 

Keep practising and trying different combinations, and you will find what works for you.

 

Let your readers here know how you get on.

 

Best wishes,

 

John Wild

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It took me 25 years of playing with always using one finger per vertical row, to eventually be able to use different fingers according to preceding or following note. Others have done it much earlier! I encourage you to also experiment sooner.

 

So, jumping the finger is a possible approach for many tunes, can be done very fast with practice, and is still my default, if the tiny break between notes fits into the bounce of the tune. If I need legato, then I use whichever nearby finger fits best. It's related to the similar task of playing repeated notes - alternating between first and second fingers rather than just using one finger on/off/on/off.

 

 

Edited by Paul_Hardy
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I'm a duet player but it's still push pull same note so this may apply;  bring the trailing finger up to cover the first note as you lift off for the next.  You can then shift the accent for the note change ( or not ) with a bellows change.  

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Slightly off topic, your fine instrument is not an 'Excelsior', it is an 'Inimitable' model. There were several models of Treble that were listed with 'tempered steel reeds'

 

the Newly Improved, rosewood ended and silver tipped keys, this was the 1st of the range of better instruments; the next model up was the 'Paragon', rosewood ended, but these did not have the inlay ornamentation,  they were better than the newly improved. Moving up the range, the rosewood ended instruments with inlays was the 'Inimitable', followed by the 'Excelsior' which was ebony ended with silver inlays. The top of the hexagonal range was the 'Nonpareil', which was amboyna ended, some with with gold plated fittings. Essentially an Excelsior with go faster stripes.  

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This is the hardest thing about the English layout IMO. See recent thread about Savage Hornpipe.

 

After some practice, I find it fairly easy to play the lower note with my index finger and then curve the middle finger to the fifth above it. The good news is that this is the most common situation. I still struggle with the less common situation of descending fifths (and especially the medieval saltarello tune that goes ADADADA) and when you get thirds mixed in (e.g Indian Queen: EAF#AA) which ties my fingers in knots. Needs more practice I guess.

 

One cheat that works for some tunes is to transpose it so one of the awkward notes becomes a black note. But better to grit your teeth and practice.

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I use one finger per column.  I was challenged to do this when I first started and found it makes the instrument much more intuitive.  I run up and down the chromatic scale as a quick warmup.

 

For keys directly above or below I just walk up and down using the two easiest or maybe closest fingers then quickly get back into my one finger per column routine.

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