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Author Topic: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers  (Read 2149 times)

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mselic

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One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« on: February 27, 2017, 07:48:56 PM »

I've been playing (mostly) one row, 4 stop melodeon for the last two years. In that time I'd say I've become a moderately proficient player. I play mostly Irish and Newfoundland music, with a little bit of Quebecois. The music is fast, with a lot of notes, and playing style is obviously up and down the row with a lot of in and out.

I play with all four RH fingers; it seemed to make sense to me, and it's just what developed naturally as I learned to play the instrument. At times I have struggled with the pinkie finger; I have less control and precision with this finger as compared to the others, which I think is normal. Recently, I've noticed from watching many YouTube videos that many one-row melodeons players seem to only use 3 fingers! I will often favour the first three fingers, but will resort to using the pinkie as necessary. I'm asking for the opinion of one-row players as to what it is they do? I'm at a point where I really want to expand on my abilities as a player of Irish music on the one-row, and I'm evaluating different aspects of my playing style to see where improvement can be made. Any feedback is appreciated.

I have read a few others threads pertaining to this topic, but I'm interested in hearing from one-row players, as that is (or can be) a very different style of playing as compared to 2 or more rows.
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george garside

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2017, 08:04:42 PM »

using 4 fingers makes sense to me particulary on tunes that use 4 5 or 6 adjacent buttons, On 4 button tunes I rest 4 fingers on the 4 buttons ready for action. 5 or 6 note tunes rest on 4 most used buttons and just move whole hand up of down a button as required. As to week little fingers the more you use it the stronger it gets!

george
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TomBom

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2017, 09:24:51 PM »

So far I am playing with 4 fingers. I want to play more Irish tunes and sometimes I feel my fourth finger is keeping me from playing faster. Playing cuts works quite well with middle and ring finger - but obviously not well enough using the pinkie. So I am testing playing with 3 fingers. Position shifts are getting easier. I've not decided yet what's better for me.
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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2017, 12:04:32 AM »

Although four fingers makes generally good sense, I will also reiterate what I tell my students and workshop attendees:
There are no rules - do whatever is comfortable for you and which allows you to play the music in the easiest way.
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george garside

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2017, 08:41:11 AM »

agreed!. I would add that how many fingers to use can also depend on the particular part of a particular tune that is being played so a flexible approach is useful

george
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Bob Ellis

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2017, 09:03:14 AM »

I would agree with both Steve and George. However, whether I use three or four fingers depends on the nature of the tune: if only the occasional note requires the little finger, then I will use it rather than move my hand position, but if there is a whole sequence of notes requiring the third and fourth fingers, then I will usually move my hand position to put them under the second and third fingers. Another factor that influences whether or not to use my little finger is how easy it is to change my hand position at that point in the tune.
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Howard Mitchell-Borts (Mitch)

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2017, 09:41:50 AM »

I've only recently started to play a one row and I draw from the Quebec tradition and the East Anglian style.
I do tend to use 4 fingers but some tunes fall under three fingers quite nicely and I concur with others on this thread.

Take a look at Susie Lemay playing using 4 fingers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKzqCQuJdEE
and then Marie Jeanne Brousseau playing this difficult piece using mostly 3 fingers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8iv-wNxjSE


Mitch

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911377brian

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2017, 10:57:51 AM »

Amazing playing from both young ladies,Mitch. Interesting to see how straight their fingers are on the buttons. Never given it a lot of thought before but I've just realised that my elderly fingers are like bent savaloys when I play. Too late to up the technique now I fear :-\
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george garside

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2017, 11:34:53 AM »

very nice indeed and good to see their fingers coming right off between strikes

george
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fc diato

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2017, 01:02:47 PM »

I just started on one-row, but the guy leading the AQLF workshops I go to (for non-Quebecers, that's the Quebec folklore association) definitely advises like Bob Ellis, adding that if that doesn't work, do what works for you. He does advise us, though, to exercise the 4th finger (as in, don't give up on the 4th finger without trying).  My impression is that you have to be very good indeed to give up a finger without that affecting speed and breaking tempo.
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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2017, 01:14:13 PM »

My impression is that you have to be very good indeed to give up a finger without that affecting speed and breaking tempo.

On the question of speed: I don't play one-row but on C#/D my ability to play at speed and most of all my accuracy ("sure-fingeredness"?) increased very significantly when I followed a good player's solemn injunction to drop the little finger - completely. These days I do allow myself to use it occasionally (but only when nobody's watching  (:) ).

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Andy Next Tune

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2017, 01:21:16 PM »

I remember this question being asked of a well-known one-row player of this parish at a workshop in Mendlesham many years ago.

He preferred to play the melody with three or sometimes just two fingers, which he said leaves one or two fingers free to prod around and add other interesting stuff, such as adding octaves, chords etc.

So perhaps the question isn't just how many fingers, but also what they are doing!!!!!
And that will depend upon what type/style of music you are playing.
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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2017, 02:28:55 PM »

my ability to play at speed and most of all my accuracy ("sure-fingeredness"?) increased very significantly when I followed a good player's solemn injunction to drop the little finger - completely.

I suspect that the "do what you feel comfortable with" approach will usually lead to the use of four fingers, while those who use 3 fingers do it because they've been taught to do so and made to practise that way. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that dropping the pinkie, once one had got out of the habit of using it, resulted in better (as described above: more accurate) playing for most of us.
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mselic

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2017, 03:56:37 PM »

I would say that I currently do as Bob Ellis has suggested. I certainly favour the first three fingers, but resort to using the pinky as necessary in places where it seems to make sense (to me). I reposition my hand if, as he said, there are a whole sequence of notes that would otherwise require extensive use of the third and fourth fingers.

Another aspect of my playing that I still struggle with sometimes is single note repetitions. These I find easier with the first two fingers and then progressively harder with the fingers three and four. Often I will use two fingers for a single note (I know this topic has been explored at length in other threads). In Quebecois music there are often many single note repetitions, continuously, throughout a song which require a kind of constant, steady, machine-gun approach. The structure of these tunes involves the use of all four fingers (for me), and single note repetitions which end up falling on fingers three and four! Some days I am able to better play these tunes, and other days I really struggle. There are even some tunes which I've put off to the side for the time being as being outside my ability to play with the kind of grace and flow (or bounce) required.
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Stockaryd

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2017, 04:32:09 PM »


Take a look at Susie Lemay playing using 4 fingers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKzqCQuJdEE
and then Marie Jeanne Brousseau playing this difficult piece using mostly 3 fingers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8iv-wNxjSE

Mitch

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The others use shoulder strap.

No one is particularly active on the left side.

This might affect the playing?

But still, - it was great! .
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Sage Herb

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2017, 05:31:22 PM »

I play much less single-row than I did in the past, so I had to get out a box and see what I do! In contrast to my two-row playing (mostly 4 fingers) I mainly use three fingers, with fourth just to grab the odd note. It's maybe worth mentioning that one-row buttons can be harder to shift because of the greater spring tensions used to return longer pallets; that might favour predominant use of the three stronger fingers.
Cheers
Steve
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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2017, 06:31:51 PM »

I mostly use 4 fingers on the one-row. But then, I tend to use a lot of RH harmonies. I especially like the push octave spacing which comes naturally between index and little fingers, and then the remaining  arpeggio notes with the middle and ring fingers in the gap. Also the see-saw harmonies which arise when the following sequence is played in the home position:

Index and little finger PUSH
Index and little finger PULL
Middle and ring finger PULL
Middle and ring finger PUSH

Try it - it is especially good e.g. for the start of the B-music of Winster Gallop.

In other instances - having been inspired often by the playing of Jeannie Harris - I often play a sustained melody on my little finger (skipping about as needed) and use the other three fingers to improvise an arpeggio-based counter-melody underneath. Those of you who have attended my one-row workshops in Witney and Whitby will know what I mean.

...It's maybe worth mentioning that one-row buttons can be harder to shift because of the greater spring tensions used to return longer pallets; that might favour predominant use of the three stronger fingers.
I think that might be a feature of Hohner 114 one-rows, but on a more carefully designed and set-up box e.g. Castagnari Max, Wesson Clipper, etc. the spring tension is certainly not an issue.

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Rees

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2017, 07:21:22 PM »

I can offer different spring pressures - strong springs for bellows thumpers, light springs for finger dancers.
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Howard Mitchell-Borts (Mitch)

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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2017, 09:07:04 PM »

... In Quebecois music there are often many single note repetitions, continuously, throughout a song which require a kind of constant, steady, machine-gun approach. The structure of these tunes involves the use of all four fingers (for me), and single note repetitions which end up falling on fingers three and four!

I quite often see Quebec players simply repeating the note with the same finger.  Take a look at another piece by Carmen Gerard -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfPgbHppGv0
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Re: One row playing - 3 or 4 fingers
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2017, 09:19:54 AM »

1 row is my box of choice though I do dabble in the d/g for morris. I'm pretty much self taught so probably full of bad technique. I experiment with all kinds of things (thumb strap, single v double straps, playing standing up v sitting down... etc) I've never even thought about not using 4 fingers and was suprised to see this thread. Having read it I can see there may be some merit to only using 3 fingers on occaison.
I have to say I've not noticed any particular failings in my punky though I suppose the other 3 fingers are more dominant. I DO think a lot about hand positioning and will play notes with a less obvious  finger because that moves my hand into a better position for the next bit of the tune

3 fingers? My first thought is why limit yourself but I guess I'll give it a go and see what differences it makes

AND great to know there are so many 1 row players out there  :||:
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