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Re: How to finger written music, please

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Posted by Rich Laird on February 14, 2001 at 17:22:30:

In Reply to: Re: How to finger written music, please posted by Ed on February 08, 2001 at 09:44:56:

: No quick and easy answer Omar. This is where having a good background in the basics comes inb handy. If you know your key signatures, can hear harmony, and can sight read well, you just put all of that together.
: If you've been practicing your scales in all positions, then being in the key of Eb major and seeing a line of eighth notes ascending starting on an F it shouldn't really matter what finger or position you start on, right?

: Just keep working at it.

Omar....I would say that Ed is right on the money....there is no quick and easy answer. But you must be used to looking for patterns such as scales, arpeggios, alternating thirds, etc. from learning solfege. The next step is knowing fingerings for as many of those patterns - in as many keys as you can - that's the whole basis for it.

Another thing...good sight-reading isn't a matter of using the "perfect" fingering for everything - it's a matter of recognizing patterns and quickly relating them to whatever you can think of that will get the job done. (The patterns you use may not even make theoretical/harmonic sense all the time). Don't try to be too meticulous unless you're studying something, rather than just trying to sight-read it.

That reminds me - I recently got a six-string for the first time and I've been using the Bach 'cello suites just to get familiar with the C-string and the B-string (mostly the C-string 'cause I've been trying 'em in the original keys.) I dunno - there's something about that music that challenges your ability to derive fingerings that are both logical and also emphasize the aesthetics of the music. It's a gas because 1) the music is so truly beautiful and 2) it's the kind of thing that you can approach a lot of different ways - and still be legitimate. You can interpret them in ways that make very much your own personal statement. I read an article by a double bass player who said that the goal should be to make them sound like they were written for the double bass - or in our case the electric bass. So, it's an opportunity to really experience something aesthetically - as well as work on your chops. Probably more for your fingering than your sight-reading.

Also, you might be familiar with a solfege book by Gaston Dufresne - I forgot the name....the cover fell off mine a loooong time ago - but I think it's just called "Sight Reading". Dufresne was prinicpal double bassist of the Bostion Symphony - back in the 50s and 60s, I think. This is a really widely studied book for developing sight-reading - throws all kinds of curves at you. I've seen players of all kinds of bass clef instruments using it.

I would also suggest getting some books that have scales and arpeggios and all that stuff written out....and practicing from that - maybe writing different fingerings in (one of my double bass teachers used to make me learn four different fingerings for every might wonder why - but that really helps!) Doesn't have to be a bass book necessarily - who cares...anything in the bass clef - trombone, 'cello, whatever looks like it covers the right range. I think it's important to learn your scale fingerings from written music - if you want to be a good sight reader.

And just pick stuff up and try to read it - then be honest with yourself about what you did well...and what you could have done better - that will point you to what you need to work on next.

Hope that helps - hang in there and just keep woriking at it - it'll come - just takes time and effort.

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