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Author: Subject: Avoiding second finger - why?
Schralpski
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[*] posted on 9-6-2017 at 06:55 AM
Avoiding second finger - why?


Hi,

I've been a lurker here for a while, but a burning question has led me to post.

I am working through John Bilezikjian's Oud Method book and I notice the fingering largely avoids the use of the 2nd finger in the left hand. For example, moving from a C to C#, the recommended fingering is 1 to 3.

I have seen this approach in some other oud instructional materials (especially among Armenian players) and was wondering - why avoid the 2nd finger?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Matt
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 9-6-2017 at 07:51 AM


1) In the Mid 20th century amongst Armenian-American oud players there existed the belief, unsupported by empirical evidence, that the middle finger was not sufficiently flexible and should be avoided when playing oud. Somehow whenever Armenians played violin this belief vanished. Perhaps this belief persists.

2) there may be sense to the fingering recommendation in the book you are using. There are C-s and C sharps all over the oud fingerboard. Which string are you talking about and what is that string tuned to when open? And what is the context? What note was played before the C natural?
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Schralpski
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[*] posted on 9-6-2017 at 12:48 PM


Thanks, Jody.

I see from some videos of Armenian players (like Richard Hagopian) that the middle finger seems to be avoided all together, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRupW1_sG0Q. Interesting that perceived lack of flexibility is the reason. Have you heard of this approach being used outside of the Armenian American community?

The book I mentioned also almost always avoids the use of the middle finger, regardless of interval. The example I mentioned was on the A string, the phrase starting on C. But avoiding finger 2 is really all throughout the book.
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 9-6-2017 at 01:11 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Schralpski  
Thanks, Jody.

Have you heard of this approach being used outside of the Armenian American community?



I haven't.
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charlie oud
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[*] posted on 9-7-2017 at 12:38 AM


I remember from many years ago attending a masterclass for classical guitar players and the tutor made reference to a greater efficiency between fingers which were not next to each other. 1st and 3rd therefore being more physically suited for alternate use rather than 1st and 2nd. The reason given was that the tendons and muscles involved were more independent from each other and allowed greater rhythmic and clearer alternation, and it was implied that there is clinical/anatomical evidence to back this up. This efficiency makes good sense when playing the oud as there is lot of decorative and expressive playing to be mastered between adjacent notes in any 3 or 4 note maqam.



Best Wishes, Charlie
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Schralpski
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[*] posted on 9-7-2017 at 05:38 AM


That's really interesting, Charlie. Makes sense to me.

I took classical upright bass lessons several years ago and was told it is advisable to avoid using the third finger when possible, maybe for similar reasons.
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Jason
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[*] posted on 9-10-2017 at 02:45 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Schralpski  
That's really interesting, Charlie. Makes sense to me.

I took classical upright bass lessons several years ago and was told it is advisable to avoid using the third finger when possible, maybe for similar reasons.


The ring finger isn't used outside of thumb position if you're playing based on the Simandl method. It is really more due to the scale length of the instrument, most people's hands are not large enough to comfortably span a half step between each finger. Very generally speaking, you will naturally span a half-step between the index, middle, and pinky when your hand is on the fingerboard.

You actually will see some people (especially Italian players) use the ring finger outside of thumb position once it can comfortably reach a half step away from the middle finger. In my case, if my index finger is on the D on the G string I can play D E F and hit the F with my ring finger easier than using the pinky.
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hartun
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[*] posted on 9-18-2017 at 12:37 PM


As a member of the Armenian-American community i'll chime in....

I was aware of the tradition of not using the middle finger only from that Hagopian video. Having been self taught when I started out I quite naturally used my first two fingers and as my playing has not progressed very much I still use primarily those fingers.

I asked a friend who is a much better player than me "which fingers are you supposed to use" and he said "all of them" looking at me like I was crazy. He studied under John Berberian, who I guess does use the middle finger, which makes sense since he started out on violin and also is much less of a traditionalist than Hagopian.

I also took lessons from a middle aged player who himself didn't use the middle finger but told me it didn't matter. I said "but Richard Hagopian does that too," and he said "the reason Richard and I both do that is because we have short fingers. To get the interval you need it's easier to go to the ring finger." My fingers being long, it makes more sense for me to use my middle finger.

This explanation made a lot more sense to me.

On the other hand there's an interview with John Bilezikjian online where he says something along the lines that it's forbidden to use that finger and makes a joke about flipping the bird, so it could be some kind of cultural reason, but I have no idea.

In any case Richard says in the video that he learned this from the old masters by which he must mean Kanuni Garbis and possibly Hrant. The Armenian violin tradition comes much more from Western classical training rather than Ottoman methods so it makes sense that the non-usage of the middle finger "disappears" among Armenian violin players.
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[*] posted on 9-19-2017 at 03:20 AM


It reminds me a story that wrote Alejandro Jodorowski about his japanese Zazen teacher in Mexico : he noticed that his master was making a very strange and unusual knot to close his kimono. He thought that this knot was part of the knowledge of his master. One day he dared to ask his teacher why he was doing this knot, the master answered : I do this knot because iI dont want my kimono to open.
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