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 Post subject: Right Hand Fingering
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 4:38 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:26 pm
Posts: 899
Applying right hand fingering to repertoire is sometimes clearly dictated by the music. In other cases it will be a matter of personal choice.

I think it wise to spend some time in the classical period repertoire to better understand basic fingerings for the classical guitar. It was, after all, the pedagogical era when good composers were also good teachers and where the classical guitar technique began.

(Please note: the ‘slur’ markings over the right hand fingerings in the musical examples below indicate a sympathetic motion between those two fingers, the last of the two extends out farthest and is pulled into the hand by the previous. While not essential to understanding the fingering concepts that follow applying sympathetic motion will give the player the ability to put the right hand on ‘automatic pilot’.)

Fingering Basics
First, make sure that your left hand fingerings are done, including slurs. I give myself a few weeks of trying different fingerings for the left hand, (with some consideration to the right hand). Interpretation is affected by fingerings, especially the left hand, so its best to have a pretty clear idea of how the piece works musically. Once I've settled on the left I work on the right.

Basic Fingering Patterns
Look for fingering patterns. If there is the possibility of using repetitive right hand patterns then by all means, do so. Music from the classical period often uses repetitive fingering as a major point of the study. In these type of arpeggio studies patterns can be assigned by playing strings 3, 2 and 1 with the A, M and I fingers respectively.

Here’s an excerpt from F. Tarrega’s Study No 1 where it makes sense to assign fingers to strings.
Tarrega.png [ 28.5 KiB | Viewed 758 times ]

If you can find a pattern that works for all or most of the piece then I’d suggest using that fingering.

In Sor’s famous Bm Study the standard fingering consists of the melody being played sometimes with M and sometimes with A. But I like to use a consistent right hand pattern that can be maintained for all but a few of the cadential measures. In my method I teach a strict form of alternation whereby the fingers move simultaneously within a certain range of motion, passing at the neutral position. So perhaps my bias is towards a consistent fingering such as the one below because I can also work on my alternation technique while playing the piece.

SorBmSCORE-1.png [ 34.03 KiB | Viewed 737 times ]

Musical Voicing
Sometimes we are able to execute a right hand fingering that makes musical sense. When I first started to learn F. Sor’s Study No 7 I assigned the fingerings like most people do:

Sor 7 Trad.png
Sor 7 Trad.png [ 26.24 KiB | Viewed 758 times ]

But one day I was singing through the bass line and I realized how much fun it would be to be able to bring that voice out a bit. Since P naturally plays with a big more oompf I began playing the bass, regardless of the string where it resided, with P. The interval above the bass I play with the I finger. This not only allows me to bring out the bass note but I’m able to articulate the rhythm of the voices; the bottom voices I dampen and play as 8th notes while the top voice I play as a quarter note. This creates a nice interplay between the two voices. And, the fingering works throughout the piece! Yeah, I get to turn that part of my brain off!!

Sor 7 My fingering-1.png
Sor 7 My fingering-1.png [ 25.31 KiB | Viewed 737 times ]

Finger the Figures
Musical figures are the smallest musical idea of a phrase. Sometimes you can finger a figure with a consistent right hand fingering. For example, Fernando Sor’s Theme and Variations on the Magic Flute is imbued with figures that can be fingered with the I-M-A pattern. (I teach to play this pattern in ’Sympathetic Motion; I plays, M and A extend, A the farthest, M plays and pulls A into position, A plays and I extends and the pattern is ready to repeat) But even if you don’t sympathetic motion using this fingering can be fun and rewarding.

SorMozart.png [ 66.35 KiB | Viewed 758 times ]

Quick Tips for RH Fingering
- Quick musical figures often cause the player faster than needed and tense up. (The Mozart Variations above are a good example). Often the application of a sympathetic or compound motion (arpeggio) pattern on a single string or two keeps the pattern even, clear, and easier to execute.

- Avoid M/A alternation in faster patterns.

- Repeated fingers can be used. It’s especially advantageous when playing a slow melodic passage -it keeps the tone similar.

- If you get stuck, or RH fingering is ambivalent, find an anchor point in an upcoming phrase where only one fingering works. Now finger the phrase from there backwards. You’ve based the noncritical fingerings on the needs of the upcoming passage!

Have fun!


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