Rasputin wrote: ↑
Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:39 am
I don't think PeteJ is saying the stemming is random - he is saying that it shows which voice or part or line a note belongs to. I think you may have misunderstood what it means for a note to belong to a given voice - just because a note is the lowest one sounding at a given moment, for example, it doesn't mean that it is in the bass voice. If you have a specific measure of a specific piece in mind, maybe we could look at it.
It's not that there is no connection between down stems and the use of the thumb - it will often make sense to use the thumb for lower voices. It's just that stem direction is not a direct indication of what fingering to use. You still should ask yourself what fingering works best, even if - 9 times out of 10 - the answer is to use the thumb.
When you say Sor wrote about this in his method, which opus is that, and do you have a page ref?
I wouldn't say that I believed his comment was that the stems were random, but until you mentioned this, I didn't entertain the thought that a single "voice" may cross over another and stems could follow the "voice" and not the bass... which is an interesting thought. However, I maintain my position that the down-stems indicate thumb notes regardless of voice. Sometimes they are accented middle and upper voice notes, sometimes they are bass notes.
When I refer to "Sor's Method", I mean the written treatise titled "Sor's Method for the Spanish Guitar" which is available from multiple publishers. Mine is the Tecla printing of the original translation to English by A. Merrick but there is a good quality online .pdf of the same translation here:
http://www.crgrecordings.com/Sor-PDF-Fi ... glish).pdf
Specific passages that talk about his use of the thumb are in several places within this work. Here are two:
Use of the Fingers of the Right Hand
I have already explained, in the first part, the reasons which induced me to lay down, as a general rule, to employ commonly but three fingers. In consequence, I always hold my hand elevated, so as to enable the thumb to pass over four strings, and the other two in front of the other two strings, so that, without shifting the hand, I may find the strings which are to produce the notes of the twentieth example, plate V., which is only the detailed expression of a chord.
This fingering has for its object, not only to economise as much as possible the number of fingers, but to make my operation conduce to the expression of the musical accent, which is nothing else than the commencement of each of the aliquot parts of the measure. The exercise, example the twenty-first, as music, differs in nothing from the preceding; but, if my opinion were referred to, I should very particularly recommend the learner not to practise it till after having acquired great certainty in the other, because the two fingers having already acquired the habit of always answering in a uniform manner to the motions of the thumb, would experience greater difficulty in choosing the moment wherein each should answer to it. But in the habit, once acquired, the other exercises will no longer appear difficult. …
here the two examples #20 and #21 are short phrases of first pmpipmpi… and then pmipmipmi… with the thumb ranging over the 5th, 4th and 3rd strings)
Fingering for the Right Hand
The common position of my fingers places my first below the second string, the second below the first string, and the thumb within reach of all the other strings, without displacing the hand. If the melody is lower than the note of the open first string, I pass my first and second fingers to the third and second strings. I touch every base note forcibly with the thumb, which I likewise employ very frequently to play notes not belonging to the base, but which mark an accented part of the measure, or the commencement of an aliquot part. If the melody is doubled in sixths, I remove a little my second finger from the first, elevate the hand a little (not by contracting the wrist, but by slightly depressing the elbow), and my first and second fingers are found each by its respective string. If the intermediate part has more motion than the upper part, and the intermediate string is to be played, I always employ the first finger, because my fingers have less facility of action in proportion as they approach the fourth. It is for this reason, that, when I have a succession of sixths to make, without being accompanied by a string, I use the thumb for all the notes belonging to the fourth string, and even for several of those belonging to the third. ...
(he goes on to say more about the thumb in this section including use of alternating pipipi…, and how he composed his “19th lesson and 5th study to habituate the learner to this…” as mentioned in Brian Jeffrey’s intro to Carcassi that I alluded to earlier in this thread)
My take from the reading of the monograph from which the above is excerpted, is that Sor's method was to use his thumb freely and over all the strings, for purposes of its particular tonal quality. I believe Mr. Jeffrey agrees with this based on his writing as well.
For reference, the excerpt of interest from Mr. Jeffrey's introductory passage to the Tecla edition of Carcassi's opus 60:
FINGERING AND TECHNIQUE
The right hand ring finger (a)
Today the right hand ring finger (a) is commonly used a great deal, but it wasn’t in Carcassi’s time. Here is Carcassi writing about right hand fingering in about 1836 in his Method:
“Les 6me. 5me. et 4me. cordes, sur lesquelles s’exécutent le plus souvent les notes appelées basses, se pincent du pouce; les trois autres cordes se pincent, dans les gammes et les phrases de mélodie, avec l’index et le médium alternativement en changeant de doigt à chaque note. Le doigt annulaire ne pince que dans les accords et arpèges composés de 4 5 et 6 notes.”
(‘The 6th, 5th and 4th strings, on which the notes called bass notes are usually played, are plucked with the [right hand] thumb. The three other strings are plucked, in scales and melodic passages, with the index and middle fingers alternately, that is, changing the finger at each note. The ring finger [of the right hand] is used only in chords and arpeggios which contain four, five or six notes.’)
I played and play a lot on guitars of the time, and I find that the use of mostly the thumb, index and middle fingers (p i m) without much ring finger (a) is perfectly practical. Also as a bonus, I find it much, much easier.
In the time of Carcassi and Sor the right hand ring finger (a) was not generally used for scales. Instead, sometimes the index and middle fingers were used in alternation (imim), as Carcassi said in the passage quoted above.
But as well as that, another practice, going back to old lute technique, was to use the right hand thumb and index fingers in alternation, right up to the top two strings. Carcassi doesnt mention it in his method, but Sor does. In his Method of 1830 Sor writes about rapid scale passages as follows:
“Cette observation m’a décidé à exécuter les traits de cette espèce avec le pouce et l’index, et c’est dans cette intention que j’ai fait ma dix-neuvième leçon.”
(‘This observation [of the anatomy of the hand] determined me to execute passages of that kind [scale passages] with the thumb and first finger, and with that view I made my nineteenth lesson’) (English translation, from Sor’s Method for the Spanish Guitar published by Tecla).
Sor says that while some players, especially Aguado, use the index and middle fingers in alternation, he prefers to use the thumb and index fingers in alternation, and he gives detailed anatomical reasons why, and even says that he composed his 19th Lesson specifically to give practice in doing this. (This is his op. 31 no. 19, the well-known piece beginning with four demisemiquavers (sixteenth-notes), which Segovia included in his selection of Sor studies as his no. 10, but Segovia gave a modern fingering which did away with the very purpose for which Sor says he composed this piece).
Again my personal experience is that alternating right hand thumb and index finger (pipi) in scale passages works just fine, and indeed the strength of the right hand thumb gives an added punch, a zest, to them.
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." -Sir Isaac Newton
Armin Hanika 56PF