Very basic CBA fingering question

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mitchnc
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Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by mitchnc » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:18 pm

I found all my old Palmer-Hughes accordion books and I figured I can work my way through the easiest ones using the CBA simulator app on my tablet.

Here's my basic question. If the passage is G-F E, F-E-D, C...using the thumbless method, would the fingering be 4-3-2, 4-3-2, 2? So the 2 jumps from D to C?
Or is this an instance where you would use the thumb?

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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by maugein96 » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:46 pm

Providing you are not considering going lower than C you can hit it with 2 or more probably 3. If I was going below C I'd probably use the thumb cheat here, depending on what the tune demanded of me next. Try not to work on the principle that you absolutely need to follow any definitive method of placing your fingers on certain buttons. There is no absolute correct fingering method for CBA. Some work better than others in various situations, but it's often a case of experimenting until you find the one that works best for you.

Some players would do 4-3-2, 5-4-3-2 for the notes you list, but I suppose that would be sacrilege for an ex PA player, especially if you have big fingers. In situations where you might find you don't have enough room to comfortably place your fingers in a cramped position it is sometimes wiser to try options on other rows, but that is probably not recommended in the early days.

Aimable, one of the biggest name French musette players, never used anything other than fingers 2-3-4 to play his whole repertoire. He devised various methods of crossing over and switching fingers so that he did everything including arpeggios spanning two or more octaves without using his thumb or his little finger. He obviously wasn't going to win any prizes for technical ability, but became a millionaire by playing simple music on which which he placed his own indelible stamp. He usually played 5 row chromatics and made good use of all 5 rows, consistent with his non-standard approach to fingering.

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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by mitchnc » Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:05 pm

Thanks Maugein!

One thing I notice as I play simple melodies:

-My fingers are already moving to the keys as I read the notes
-My fingers are choosing to relocate or not based on whether the melody is continuing upward or coming back down.

So I'm optimistic. Just want to start with good habits.

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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by maugein96 » Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:30 pm

With your previous musical knowledge and playing experience I suppose it's just a case of transposing what you already can play onto another system. I started on CBA with a guitar background, and that helped me to find my way around the treble fingerboard, although the bellows and basses continue to be a bit of a challenge, even after 30 odd years of playing. I can manage alternate basses without too much trouble, but I've never really mastered those little runs that are a feature of a lot of tunes. Some people just get on with it and it seems to come naturally to them, but I find playing guitar chords interspersed with single note melodies are about the limit of my musical ability.

The concept of playing two keyboards at the one time is the hardest thing for me with accordion. Treble side is not a big problem, just those basses. I couldn't even think about playing chords on a piano whilst trying to play a melody, so I suppose the accordion is a bit easier for us all.

Keep at at. Sounds like you're making good progress.

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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by debra » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:32 am

mitchnc wrote:I found all my old Palmer-Hughes accordion books and I figured I can work my way through the easiest ones using the CBA simulator app on my tablet.

Here's my basic question. If the passage is G-F E, F-E-D, C...using the thumbless method, would the fingering be 4-3-2, 4-3-2, 2? So the 2 jumps from D to C?
Or is this an instance where you would use the thumb?
There is no good reason for ever avoiding the thumb. It's as good a finger as all the others, and I do not hesitate to use it on all rows (but mostly only on the first three rows). I would probably play G-F E, F-E-D, C with either 4-3-2-4-3-2-1 or even 3-2-1-4-3-2-1 of perhaps even 3-2-1-2-1-2-1. (This is all on C-system.) I'm sure that my wife would consider the first fingering but not the other two (she uses the thumb less). It's all personal. After learning the basics, dump the textbooks and use whatever comes natural to you. It is often sad to see people sticking to a textbook against better judgment, even with PA where people were taught for decades to use the same fingering as piano players (for the right hand). Sometimes that does also not make sense because an accordion really is not a piano. (The position of the wrist and thus fingers to the keyboard is different, and less force is needed so the little finger does not need a different treatment like it does on a piano.)
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)

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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by maugein96 » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:50 am

Paul's advice sums it up. Use the textbooks as a beginner's tool, then find out what suits you best. You might even find that certain music styles are better played using different fingering. The arguments often broached with regard to CBA fingering is the cause of a lot of anxiety and lack of confidence amongst even experienced players. Modern school says get that thumb working, as there is no point in making things difficult just for the sake of it. In the days when the thumb was regarded by some CBA teachers as "the enemy", popular mainstream accordion music was probably less demanding, and four fingers were usually enough to get by on. Even some of the most complicated popular pieces like "La Migliavacca" can (rather uncomfortably) be played without the thumb, albeit by very experienced and accomplished players. However, why waste a lot of time trying that, when you have that extra finger sitting in the "sin bin" on the edge of the keyboard?

As a glaring example of the confusion that can arise, in my last post I said hit the C with finger 2 or 3, when I meant 3 or 4. The method I learned referred to the digits as
0-1-2-3-4, with 0 being the thumb, so I reverted to that terminology in one phrase then went modern in another. The number 5 would only apply in the notation I learned by if you had 6 fingers on your right hand!

Another famous pro player, Joe Rossi, lost his third finger during WW2, and had to re-learn the whole shebang with the fingers he had left. He was a top recording artiste for years. Yet another, Daniel Colin, who is of extremely small stature, devised his own fingering method so that he could make use of his thumb.

To go on, a lot of self-taught CBA players here in Scotland tend to mainly use their thumb and first two fingers across all 5 rows, and I know a pro player who plays that way, and has made several commercial recordings on cassette tape and CD. I for one wouldn't dare tell him he isn't using the correct fingering!

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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by Pat S. » Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:34 pm

Why not 5 4 3, 4 3 2, 1 ?
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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by mitchnc » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:55 pm

Ok, great advice. I was just trying to make sure that when I did progress to music that had fast passages I hadn't set myself up with bad habits, but it looks like I'm overthinking it.

Thanks!

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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by debra » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:57 pm

Pat S. wrote:Why not 5 4 3, 4 3 2, 1 ?
Good suggestion. I tend to avoid 5 but that's just personal because my little finger does not seem to work as well as the other fingers.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)

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Re: Very basic CBA fingering question

Post by maugein96 » Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:01 pm

Simon's suggestion for 5 to be used first rather than later in the run is way better and more practical than mine, which was purely hypothetical.

I've noted that a lot of PA players, and some CBA players, don't tend to make much use of their little finger.

If you use an instrument with the largest treble buttons the span between an octave is not so much of a problem for the thumb to work across the rows. However, when you get down to the typical French button size some people with larger hands have difficulty getting all of their fingers to work properly, as they can all end up bunched together. The old French way of thinking was to get the thumb out of the way, as after all the small buttons and spacing were made that way so that players with average sized hands and fingers could comfortably play octaves using only fingers 2 and 4. Most of the older French methods got players to start using the little finger straight away so that strength could be gradually built up. Problem is that for some people that strength in the little finger never actually materialises past an elementary stage, and people like me who started off learning by an Italian method then switching to a French "no thumb" method begin to hit problems.

The usual remedy is to "revert to type" and get the thumb back on to keep the music flowing as an alternative to maybe waiting several months until the strength in your little finger gets better, if it ever does. Young French kids who were taught under the "no thumb" regime, and who make the grade, usually manage to achieve what is expected of them, as they started off before they had any hang ups about the instrument, and were young enough to build up that little finger strength naturally. Those of us who start late (I was over 30), or convert from PA need to find the most workable fingering that will be ultimately possible for us to achieve, otherwise playing "Three Blind Mice" for a few months until you are confident you are doing it by the book is all that is on the cards.

Keep playing with whatever fingers you can manage.

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