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Crane Duet Fingering Query


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As a beginner I keep my fingers strictly in their 'normal' columns, i.e. (on right hand) first finger covering the first and second columns, second finger covering the middle column and third finger covering the fourth and fifth columns. I don't normally use my little finger and I don't shift my hand over a column to left or right following an accidental in an outer column. Is this the way to do it on a Crane, or should I be more adventurous? I am thinking in particular of the following situations:

 

• Same note repeated. I seem to remember reading (possibly in connection with the Anglo) that you should use different fingers if you want to strike the same note twice.

• Different notes in same column. Different fingers or same finger?

• Playing 'out of column' following an outer-row accidental. This might make the next note(s) quicker but sometimes this just seems to delay the delay when you shift back.

• Use of little finger. I do use my little finger for playing D before G especially at the beginning of a tune, but not otherwise.

 

Overall, then, should I try to be more clever, or should I just try to be quicker/smoother while basically staying 'in column'?

 

I know it might be tempting to say "do what works best" but I'd specifically like to hear what other Crane players actually do themselves.

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I have only had a few weeks of Crane exploration, but so far my fingers have been fairly well behaved. The little fingers have done next to nothing, and it is only the "two buttons in one column" which can cause a tangle. Not quite got the hang of doing both with one finger, but it might work.

 

I think the answer really is "do what feels natural", and if that results in fingers being in the wrong place too often, then think again.

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As not a beginner but playing a Maccan (one more row but basic principles must still apply, don't you think?), this is how I do it.

 

1) As you learn you will find situations where your hand has to move off centre; the trick is to have planned and practiced your walk across the keys so that you never end up running out of fingers and having to make a great leap of faith back into your central position. You should work it so that you always move to the next note using the last one as your anchor; it's how you know where you are. So get that little finger working. You'll find playing some tunes smoothly will back you into corners and a spare finger will help; get it into training. I use all my fingers equally and even get my thumb in sometimes (I can play a bottom C sharp with it and it's often surprisingly useful in freeing up my hand for the next passage)

 

2) Don't hesitate to hold two notes (or 3, or 4) down with one finger. I can do this diagonally, just, as well as up on a Maccan, so I suspect you can do it on a Crane, if you have decent sized fingers. And yes, I do have one piece where I have to play 4 notes with one finger.

 

3) Fast repeated notes worry me; I've never been able to work out a credible finger change for them, although that's what we're told the theory is. I suspect this is inherited from piano practice where it is very easy to rattle all four fingers rapidly across the face of a key. I only have one (trad) piece that uses repeated notes and I change fingers for that, it feels more comfortable, but I wouldn't want to have to play it fast. If you're playing anything interesting you won't have many spare fingers free for such luxuries anyway. Remember you can use rapid bellows movement for this too if the backing allows, and if the note is in the crossover area you can use LH and RH buttons alternately. (This is the reason I have disappointed my friends who expect me to learn Captain Pugwash; I've never worked out a really slick handling and it's not high on the play list) Probably I change fingers if it doesn't impede anything else.

 

4) You can slide one finger from one note to another; it's why the keys are domed. You lose a bit in timing accuracy, so if it frees up your hand for further playing, do it; never from choice though.

 

5) Playing up a row, use a finger for each note. Awkward but best. Remember you can go up both ways, 1,2,3 or 3,2,1; one will feel more comfortable but sometimes the wrong way gets your hand to a better position for the next figure.

 

I take a lot of time finding the most efficient progression of fingers at the outset so that as the piece settles and speeds up it goes straight to full polish.

Do use your little finger though, and I'd start practicing some runs in the left hand too.

 

Does that help?

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I thought that Dirge's post was excellent. I'll just add a couple of things.

 

When you get to the keys farther from C on the circle of fifths, you will absolutely need to shift your hands now and again. Indeed, when you get far enough away, you will be shifting from one outside column to the other and only occasionally be playing in the middle three columns.

 

I can't recall using my pinky on the furthest (inside) column. But I have used every other finger there at some time or another. The same holds true for the outside column -- I can't recall ever using my index finger there.

 

I only sometimes use one finger for two notes (in the same column but never across rows). This is not a rule nor even a recommendation, just the way I play. Usually, I try to avoid playing two notes with the same finger ant the same time, but it can be very convenient and at other times it helps position the fingers for the next note or chord coming up. I just feel more in control when each stud has the undivided attention of one finger.

 

Anything else I have to add would just repeat what Dirge has already said. Especially about playing the same note repeatedly with the same finger.

 

Kurt

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Kurt, thanks for the vote of confidence!

 

I thought of another odd one as I was playing yesterday; I find my little finger will bend under my hand comfortably to play a bass note below a repeated chord, for example I play a low A in the third row with it and use my first 3 fingers on the second, third and fourth rows to make the chord and that is definitely the way to do it. It's perfectly comfortable, but probably looks odd.

 

The point is that your little finger seems particularly mobile when it comes to curling it under the rest of your hand.

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Dirge and Kurt, thanks for the notes, they are quite helpful.

 

I tried to use one finger on multiple buttons. To my idea this is possible on a Crane for two buttons in the same column, for example for playing chords on the left hand side. But diagonally it seems difficult to me (related to button spacing and finger size). I don´t know if Kurt plays a MacCann or a Crane?

 

Another thing is the little finger for bass notes, this works on a Crane for a low C, but for a low Es or Gis I think I would need a rubber pinky extension to reach the button. I'll give it a try anyhow...

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The diagonal pair of buttons is just OK for me; if I had slimmer fingers I wouldn't get away with it.

 

Unlike Kurt (who plays Crane, by the way) I almost always use one finger for two adjacent keys in the same row; it feels more comfortable and works for me (personal choice - or bigger fingers perhaps); but the diagonal pair is a desperate measure to aid fingering yet to come, definitely not my preferred technique, but sometimes a useful step to playing smoothly.

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  • 2 years later...

I know this thread has been dead a long time, but it has been haunting me lately and I'd like to add a few comments.

 

On reflection, I use the technique of pressing two keys with one finger more on the upper reaches of the keyboard much more than in the middle of the keyboard. I find it impossible to accomplish pressing two keys with one finger on the lower row(s).

 

As mentioned elsewhere, I frequently play closed 3 and 4 note chords high up on the left side. Sometimes, rather than just hitting the chord all at once, I'll use a sort of waterfall effect where I play the upper note of the chord, then add the next note down, then the next until I have all 3 or (more usually) 4 notes sounding. If one of the notes is just below a note, I add that note to the finger playing the note above. Over time, I have noticed that I'm able to do this with enough speed and force that it sounds as if I pressed the lower note with a new finger. I mention this because there was a time when attempting such things was not something I would consider. Now, I'm rather practiced at it and enjoy the new capability and have also added it to cascading chords on the right hand side as well.

 

Kurt

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I play Anglo, but some have said that I play it like duet so I'll put in my two cents worth here.

 

I often play more than one button with a single finger. Esp. when it comes to fifths on the left hand which are particularly obvious on the Anglo. As for cascading chords, I've been playing a song with a few dramatic arpeggios of ten notes all over a singe beat. It can be a very cool trick. Check out this amazing performance by Thelonious Monk of Don't Blame Me

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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