AskDefine | Define fingering

Dictionary Definition

fingering

Noun

1 the placement of the fingers for playing different notes (or sequences of notes) on a musical instrument
2 touching something with the fingers

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. the act of using one's fingers in the playing of a musical instrument.
    • 1813 CE: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
      She has a very good notion of fingering, though her taste is not equal to Anne's.

Verb

fingering
  1. present participle of finger
    • 1898 CE: H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
      "They have done a foolish thing," said I, fingering my wineglass.

Extensive Definition

Fingering is the choice of which fingers and hand positions to use when playing a musical instrument. For example, when playing the piano, chords or melodies can often be played with a variety of different assignments of fingers to played keys. Fingering, in this context, is the choice of which finger to use for which key, for each note. Fingering typically changes throughout a piece; the challenge of choosing good fingering for a piece is to make the hand movements as comfortable as possible without changing hand position too often. A fingering can be the result of the working process of the composer, who puts it into his manuscript, an editor, who adds it into the printed score, or the performer, who puts his own fingering in the score or in his performance.
Fingering also applies to other instruments, such as woodwind instruments and stringed instruments.
Small numbers are often written next to selected notes on musical scores as a fingering guide, with the numbers 1 to 5 representing the fingers of the appropriate hand, with the thumb being counted as 1, counting outward toward the little finger of each hand. On string instruments fingers are numbered from 1 to 4 where the thumb isn't counted because it doesn't play on a string. In those cases on string instruments where the thumb is used (such as high notes on a cello), it is represented by a 0 with a vertical stem below (somewhat similar to Ǫ, for instance) .
The classical guitar also has a fingering notation system for the plucking hand, known as pima (or less commonly pimac), where p=pulgar (thumb), i=indio (index finger), m=medio (middle finger), a=anular (ring finger) and, very rarely, c=chiquita (little finger). It is usually only notated in scores where a passage is particularly difficult, or requires specific fingering for the plucking hand. Otherwise, plucking-hand fingering is generally left at the discretion of the guitarist.
Johann Sebastian Bach introduced an innovation in fingering for the organ and the clavier. (A similar, although according Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach less radical, innovation was introduced by François Couperin, at roughly the same time in 1717, in his book L'art de toucher le clavecin.) Prior to Bach, playing rarely involved the thumb. Bach's new fingering retained many features of the conventional fingering up until that point, including the passing of one finger under or over another (Playing many of Bach's works requires such fingering, especially passing the third finger over the fourth or the fourth finger over the fifth.), but introduced the far greater use of the thumb. Modern fingering also uses the thumb to a similar extent, and involves the passing of the thumb under the other fingers, but does not, as Bach's did, generally involve the passing of any other fingers over or under one another.

See also

References

fingering in German: Fingersatz
fingering in Spanish: Digitación
fingering in French: Doigté
fingering in Italian: Diteggiatura
fingering in Hebrew: אצבוע
fingering in Dutch: Vingerzetting
fingering in Polish: Aplikatura
fingering in Portuguese: Digitação (música)
fingering in Russian: Аппликатура
fingering in Simple English: Fingering
fingering in Finnish: Sormitus

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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