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#2755188 08/01/18 01:06 PM
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Hi; Is this a forum to ask questions? I'll ask and find out. Let's say I'm improvising in F and coming down the scale. I end up with RH2 on C and the next note I want to play is Bb. How do I get to it? I seem to get stuck in a lot of keys this way.

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You need to start the descending F major scale with your 4th finger which will set you up to cross with your 4th finger onto the Bb from your thumb (1) on the C. Here's a major scale fingering chart for you to refer to:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/thinkific/...ts/36d/ad3/eb4/Major-scale-refresher.pdf

Let me know if I can help with anything else!


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Keith Jarrett once told a story about someone who watched him play...

"What he did notice, after coming to a lot of concerts, was that during these creative sections, I wasn’t using any logical fingering. He told me, 'The only thing I can figure out is, whatever is happening is faster than your ability to come up with any fingerings.' And I told him that he was exactly right."

When you're improvising in jazz, sometimes you won't use optimal fingerings. In this case, you would probably hit the Bb with your thumb, but you might use your 3rd or 4th finger as well depending on what you want to play next. Of course, you could always skip the Bb and hit an A (or other note) instead.

However, practicing different licks, arpeggios, and scales (pentatonic included) will help you get into the habit of using better fingerings. Transcribing solos and then figuring out a decent fingering and practicing it can also help. But when improvising, you must be prepared to use less-than-optimal fingerings. I had a teacher who had me practice arpeggios of all triad types in all three inversions starting on the thumb (pinky for LH). It gets pretty awkward, but you learn how to maneuver around those strange jumps.

One last thing...The more you can look (and hear) ahead when improvising, the easier it will be to avoid bad fingerings. If you can hear the melody you want to play a few seconds before you play it, you can then visualize the notes and let your good fingering habits take over!


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Originally Posted by prunenoveggie

When you're improvising in jazz, sometimes you won't use optimal fingerings. In this case, you would probably hit the Bb with your thumb, but you might use your 3rd or 4th finger as well depending on what you want to play next. Of course, you could always skip the Bb and hit an A (or other note) instead.

However, practicing different licks, arpeggios, and scales (pentatonic included) will help you get into the habit of using better fingerings. Transcribing solos and then figuring out a decent fingering and practicing it can also help. But when improvising, you must be prepared to use less-than-optimal fingerings. I had a teacher who had me practice arpeggios of all triad types in all three inversions starting on the thumb (pinky for LH). It gets pretty awkward, but you learn how to maneuver around those strange jumps.

Teachers always prepare us for finding the optimal fingering for a pre-known musical situation. For interpretation of other people's music, this certainly makes sense. However, with improvisation the situation is largely different: the improviser interprets himself in real time; in other words, an improviser is also a hundred percent teacher for himself. This requires maximum flexibility of thinking, including fingering. I personally have been working on it a lot, imagining that I had paralyzed one or the other finger, or even two - of my choice. In the end, I began to take an example from vibraphone players who play the piano with only two fingers:



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BTW , I liked the new expression Jazz fingerings .

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Thanks for the replies.
Originally Posted by JazzPianoOnline
You need to start the descending F major scale with your 4th finger which will set you up to cross with your 4th finger onto the Bb from your thumb (1) on the C.


Of course the above is logical, but hard to anticipate. Suppose I was starting with E4? I'd still end up on C1.
Originally Posted by prunenoveggie


When you're improvising in jazz, sometimes you won't use optimal fingerings. In this case, you would probably hit the Bb with your thumb, but you might use your 3rd or 4th finger as well depending on what you want to play next. Of course, you could always skip the Bb and hit an A (or other note) instead.


So if I did hit the Bb with the thumb, how do I get to A?
I'm a trumpet player and never learned piano correctly so I've been working hard this year. I'll never be Herbie but I know all my chords and scales and play well with others so I do play at the pro level and want to solo better.
My adopted philosophy on fingering has been "As long as I have a finger available, I don't care which one it is." Well the above example is one where there is no finger available and I seem to run up against when I am improvising. I can play things slowly really well, but that allows me to do things "wrong" that are impossible at faster tempi.
So if anyone has any particular exercises that they can point me to, I'd appreciate it.
Also any pentatonic exercises would be helpful as I see myself more in Blues and RnB than jazz as I may never have the chops to be a "real" jazz pianist.

Thanks everybody!!

Eb

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Originally Posted by joeyscones
Hi; Is this a forum to ask questions? I'll ask and find out. Let's say I'm improvising in F and coming down the scale. I end up with RH2 on C and the next note I want to play is Bb. How do I get to it? I seem to get stuck in a lot of keys this way.


Go from the third finger on D to the thumb on C

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I'd say that this is where the practice of scales becomes valuable. F major descending has the 4th finger crossing over the thumb on C and the 4th finger playing the Bb, then A - 3...G-2 and F-1 ....that is is you were continuing on down the scale.
You can figure out the optimal fingering by trial and error, although I would still say the traditional practice of scales should be done to burn this motor function into your brain.

And regarding landing on Bb with the thumb . It all depends on the context. Context in this case being - where are you going next. If you're ending the riff/melody/line/whatever on the Bb , the thumb might be OK. If you're going to follow the Bb with an A , this fingering is poorly designed. And in a sense this process is a sort of digital engineering - the digits in this case being your fingers. If I were going from a thumb on C - to an A, I'd generally play the A with the third finger.

I sight read thru some of the Well Tempered Clavier Bk 1 by Bach. The specific ones I read thru , I play very slowly - by no means at standard performance speed. But there are places in some of the fugues where a "voice" can't continue on it's musical path without being passed on the the other hand. This requires some trial and error , and when I come up with a fingering that seems to work, I write it in over the specific notes so I don't have to reinvent the wheel. I believe this process is beneficial to my overall playing.

But back to my original point. I'd start playing thru the main scals - F, G, A, Bb , Eb, C , D. All of them eventually. Like I said before, the practice will burn the fingerings into the motor section of your brain and they'll become automatic. The un-automatic part will be when the music you are playing doesn't conform to traditional fingering.

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Originally Posted by joeyscones
So if I did hit the Bb with the thumb, how do I get to A?
I'm a trumpet player and never learned piano correctly so I've been working hard this year. I'll never be Herbie but I know all my chords and scales and play well with others so I do play at the pro level and want to solo better.
My adopted philosophy on fingering has been "As long as I have a finger available, I don't care which one it is." Well the above example is one where there is no finger available and I seem to run up against when I am improvising. I can play things slowly really well, but that allows me to do things "wrong" that are impossible at faster tempi.
So if anyone has any particular exercises that they can point me to, I'd appreciate it.
Also any pentatonic exercises would be helpful as I see myself more in Blues and RnB than jazz as I may never have the chops to be a "real" jazz pianist.

Thanks everybody!!


Hey Joey, I was also a trumpet player for many years (not so much anymore).

As Dave noted, fingering always depends on where you want to go next. If you do hit the Bb with your thumb and want to go the A next, you can always use your third or fourth fingers (or slide your thumb down to the A, or slide into the A from an Ab with your 3rd finger, etc.). While it's far from an "ideal" fingering, and it would be better if you could avoid the issue (by using the previous suggestion of thumb on the C instead of pointer finger), you can make it work if you get used to it. In my experience, I find fingering in improvisation is more about habit than thinking, which is where exercises can really help.

I think the best place to start with fingering exercises would be scales/modes and arpeggios, as well as licks! Remember, the "standard" fingerings are not the only "good" fingerings! For example, if you're playing a c major arpeggio, you could easily use your thumb on any one of the three notes, and should be prepared to do so when improvising.

However, most jazz improvisation does not consist of running up and down scales/arpeggios (though that should NOT be an excuse to avoid practicing them). That's where transcribing and practicing jazz licks (and entire solos) in all keys really helps. This will not only help to develop solid fingering habits (assuming you figure out a decent fingering for each lick/key), it will help build a repertoire of jazz phrases that you can use in your solos (and develop your ear, of course).

If you're looking for jazz focused fingering/pentatonic study, check out the book "Wisdom of the Hand" from Sher Publishing. It has some nice two-octave pentatonic fingerings that are similar to what I use, and much easier to use for improvising than the standard pentatonic fingerings that repeat every octave. Many of the fingerings involve using your thumb on black keys and getting used to playing those positions. There's also a bunch of etudes that show you how to use these scales/fingerings/hand positions in a jazz context, as well as sections on slides/note-bending and other jazz/blues piano techniques.

Maybe you could try this...start with an Eb minor pentatonic scale (all black keys) going up and down 2 octaves. Try the fingering 1234 124 1245. You can play each group of notes as a single block, jumping your arm/hand from the first 4 notes to the next 3, then the next 4 and back down. The speed at which you can play the scale will be determined by how fast you can accurately jump your hand from one position to another. Once your hand gets used to these different positions, then try playing the scale one note at a time...Then try improvising with the scale. Remember, you do NOT need to cross your thumb under, you can just jump your hand to the next position.

I apologize for my long-winded replies. I hope they're at least somewhat helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.


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Thanks everyone for the replies!!

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If you approach strictly academically, then in improvisation you can find a lot of "wrong" fingering - from the point of view of adapting the anatomical features of hand to the keyboard; but the decisive moment is the sound result. If it sounds, then it's right! Here is an example of Dave Frank:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVS7FwTGWK0 - from 19: 01 . Here he uses 4 times the index finger: F-F-F-Eb , which is formally considered a non-pianistic technique. But ... it sounds? So, that's right! Improviser is obliged to prepare himself for a wide variety of performing situations that require a deliberate breaking of the usual fingering patterns: [Linked Image]

Fingerings
.


1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 etc
2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2 ...
3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3...
4-4-4-4-4-4-4-4...
5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5...


12-12-12-12-12...
21-21-21-21-21...


123-123-123-123-...
231-2231-231-231...
312-312-312-312-312 ...

1234-1234-1234 etc

12345-12345-12345 etc

Similarly in the performance of arpeggios .


Play in all keys , non legato , with flexible movements, without tension. .


Last edited by Nahum; 08/04/18 01:52 AM.
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Originally Posted by joeyscones
So if I did hit the Bb with the thumb, how do I get to A?

Most often it's done simply by sliding down from Bb to A with your thumb. It's worth practicing, because sliding from black key to white with one finger/thumb is required quite frequently.

And Nahum is right that it's very helpful to practice many kinds of uncomfortable fingerings. It is enormously beneficial technique-wise and it brings new degree of freedom at the piano.

Originally Posted by Nahum
If you approach strictly academically, then in improvisation you can find a lot of "wrong" fingering - from the point of view of adapting the anatomical features of hand to the keyboard; but the decisive moment is the sound result. If it sounds, then it's right!

I think the last sentence is equally true for academical music.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
[quote=joeyscones]t it's very helpful to practice many kinds of uncomfortable fingerings. It is enormously beneficial technique-wise and it brings new degree of freedom at the piano.


I would replace the term with "alternative non-pianistic fingering" , more connected with vibraphone and marimba.

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I remember Joe Zawinul said the best technical exercise he knew was playing the chromatic scale just using fingers 3 4 and 5. It is a real workout for the weaker fingers and playing other things afterwards feels very easy. Playing all the major scales with the C major fingering is another good one, all help in developing flexible hands.

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Lennie Tristano put us through years of torture doing major, melodic and harmonic minor scales using fingerings such as 3 4 5 , 45, 34545, etc..to this day I don't know why we did this. I spent 5 years doing one horrific scale exercise that took me through these types of fingerings plus having to do them all in 3 vs 2, 3 versus 4, 2 versus 5, and more. All at 60 on the metronome. Haha.

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Wow that is a lot of work.I suppose all the greats have their own methods or sometimes a lack of them. I remember an interview somewhere where someone asked Jarrett if he had any special exercises he did and he said that he didn't. Probably he just practiced everything (except transcriptions)

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Originally Posted by beeboss
I remember Joe Zawinul said the best technical exercise he knew was playing the chromatic scale just using fingers 3 4 and 5. It is a real workout for the weaker fingers and playing other things afterwards feels very easy. .
Of course - the view accordionist!


Originally Posted by Dfrankjazz
Lennie Tristano put us through years of torture doing major, melodic and harmonic minor scales using fingerings such as 3 4 5 , 45, 34545, etc..to this day I don't know why we did this.
That is, you never went to Chopin's etude op.10 â„– 2 !
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3j57AdHSvg


I always suspected that Tristano had steel fingers ...


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Originally Posted by Dfrankjazz
Lennie Tristano put us through years of torture doing major, melodic and harmonic minor scales using fingerings such as 3 4 5 , 45, 34545, etc..to this day I don't know why we did this. I spent 5 years doing one horrific scale exercise that took me through these types of fingerings plus having to do them all in 3 vs 2, 3 versus 4, 2 versus 5, and more. All at 60 on the metronome. Haha.


Hmmm...I've practiced the chromatic scale with fingers 3-4-5, and I did learn all the scales with the c major fingering when I was younger (though that was because I didn't know any better at the time). Could you tell us more about the fingerings you used for the major/minor scales? I'm not asking for a list of every fingering, but if you could tell me more about the finger groups/fingering concepts used to help me figure some of these out on my own, I would greatly appreciate it.


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Originally Posted by prunenoveggie
[Could you tell us more about the fingerings you used for the major/minor scales? I'm not asking for a list of every fingering, but if you could tell me more about the finger groups/fingering concepts used to help me figure some of these out on my own, I would greatly appreciate it.


[Linked Image]

Conformity of keyboard's construction to the limb anatomy begins with the fact that long fingers are naturally better for black keys, and short thumb and pinky - for white. Therefore, the grouping of black keys inside the octave C -C created the tradition of fingering in white key scales 123-1234 -123-1234 (5) (her adherent Carl Czerny).Hence, all scales that start with white keys-B, E, A, D, G, C, F, are played first with the thumb. All the rest starting with the second or the third finger. It turned out that the tonal basis of music and fingering were interconnected. With the evolution and decay of the tonality, the fingering principles inevitably began to change.
I also watched Keith Jarrett's fingering when I was at his concerts. His music at that time (1974) was very chromatic, and the thumb was used by him without limitation .

Naturally, the change in fingering at the beginning of improvised phrase changes its course.


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Great question, and you're in good company! Since our improvised lines are not pre-determined, there's no way to plan for this in way that will prevent it from happening in 100% of cases.

However... by practicing all 12 major scales, you'll gradually develop the instinct for playing the E with your 3rd finger if you're in the middle of an improvised line that seems like it will descend down to the Bb and lower.

But the thing you describe happens to everyone. One way to continue the descending scale is to simply play the the Bb with your 4th finger like you would with the traditional F major scale fingering. It won't be quite as smooth as if you had prepared for the crossover, but hey, it's worked for just about every great jazz pianist so as I said, we're ion good company!

The other aspect of this is that as you progress as a jazz pianist, you'll form a more direct relationship between your fingerings and the actual notes and rhythms of your improvised lines. So if you find yourself "running out" of fingers like this, you can alter your concept of the line in mid-stream by slowing down the rhythm and perhaps changing the direction of the line itself. I do this all the time and it sounds to me that the great jazz pianists have learned how to do this too. They do it so well, in fact, that the listeners can't tell that they ran out of fingers, because the line still sounds great.

Give this a try and see where it leads you.


Ron Drotos
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