[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Advocating Research on Fingering Practice

From: Erik Sandberg
Subject: Re: Advocating Research on Fingering Practice
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 21:05:25 +0100
User-agent: KMail/1.7.1

On Friday 21 January 2005 20.57, David Raleigh Arnold wrote:
> Quoted w/o permission:
> [quote][i]Originally posted by donaldsauter[/i]
> [br]Jan de Kloe's article "A House Style for Engraving
> Guitar Music" in the most recent Soundboard
> prompted me to get some more thoughts down on the
> subject of guitar fingering notation.
> ...
>   Richard Long,
> editor of the Soundboard, told me the Letters to the
> Editor column is "defunct" because of the potentially
> large lag between a letter and the article it responded
> to.  He suggested I put my thoughts on the web, and I
> appended them to my page:
>   http://www.geocities.com/donaldsauter/gfing.htm

Looks interesting at first glance; I added this link to the previous report in 
case someone will want to implement those rules sometime.

There might be some copyright problems; that page states explicitly:
but I guess this isn't legally binding since (AFAIK) a method cannot be 

> I looked, but not very far.  You don't have anything.  You cannot
> justify the notion that fingering "note stacks" is the best way.  You
> should look at engraved guitar music pre-1880, or faithful copies.  No
> forward progress has been made since well before that time.  Before
> 1880, guitar music was extremely important in music publishing.  By
> 1890, there was practically none published at all. The Reads and 
> Stones, the notation police, having never looked at any of it, know
> nothing of the rules of fingering any of it, because piano fingering
> is such a rare occurence that the knowledge just disappeared with the
> engravers.  Furthermore, the Reads and Stones are blissfully unaware
> that guitar music *formed* fingering practice.  Consequently none of
> their pronouncements on the topic are worth spit, and mid-twentieth
> century practice is not worth much either.  Modern practice is a
> disaster.

> If you are not using the first finger, your hand is not in a position,
> so a string indication should be used instead of a position
> indication.  You ought not to base practice on finger placements that
> don't happen.  These things were thought through long ago.  A careful
> study of scores will reveal what rules there were.  One, right off, is
> that a finger indication *never* directly follows a note.  Some
> editions liked fingers at 4:30 to 5:00 instead of 6:00 when the stem
> was down, but even that did not become best practice *IMO*.
> A few of the rules appear to be, in no particular order:
> 1.  A finger indication should be as close to its note as possible.
> 2.  Better close to note head than stem.
> 3.  The fingering indications should lead the eye from one to the
> next.  This is the part a computer will never do satisfactorily, so it
> should not even be tried until everything else works for all cases
> without problems or errors.  Flow is difficult for rests, let alone
> fingering.
> 4.  Fingering on staff lines is fine, but never on leger lines.
> 5.  A finger never directly, meaning at 3:00, follows its note.
> 6.  You can stack two numbers above or below thirds on the same stem,
> not
> otherwise, but it is better before the notes if there is room.
> Often, as now, fingering was an afterthought, and that is a source of
> many errors of all sorts.  The space should be allotted in advance of
> the notes being placed horizontally, whether done by hand or computer.
> I would have much more toleration for stacking right hand fingering
> than left, because correct assumptions about it can quickly and easily
> be made, because it is one-dimensional, not two-dimensional.  I
> didn't find this reflected in old music to any degree, but that means
> nothing.  I haven't looked at enough of it.
> I want to suggest that you trash all your work so far, and Jan de
> Kloe's, and start over with some research to see what *was* done.
> Sometimes the baby has to be thrown out with the bath water, or it
> just dies and rots.  Welcome to the world of creative people.  "Kill
> your darlings", as Mencken said.  If you do otherwise, you are
> rejecting at least a century of tradition and expertise in favor of
> twentieth century ignorance and know-nothingness.  Certainly it is
> possible to suss out the rules and prioritize them.  It needs doing.
> You appear to be interested, bless you for it.  Do it.

I can only speak for myself, but I don't have the time & motivation for it 
right now. Fingering notation is on the long-term todo, but much more urgent 
issues exist IMHO. If you need these features very much, you are very welcome 
to start hacking lily & implement the system you propose. It would be 


reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]