Flat versus ‘Rounded” fingers: the real dirt!

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

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    carl-swanson on #88891

    Someplace on this site there was a discussion about playing with the knuckle

    nearest the fingernail “flat” rather than rounded.

    unknown-user on #88892

    Interesting to know, thanks for sharing.

    Did you have a chance to ask Ms Jamet for the list of piano pieces which Debussy wrote and approved as harp music? I am the most curious to know. Thanks!

    unknown-user on #88893

    My understanding is that Mr. Grandjany had very long fingers and his 4th finger “collapsed” when outstretched. He didn’t necessarily teach it, but his students tended to copy it. I believe Salzedo would also flatten his inner fingers when necessary to avoid buzzing, but he also wasn’t afraid to buzz a little. Guitarists certainly do it a lot, along with some other instruments. So it seems to be typical of all the French harpists, perhaps all over.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #88894

    Sometimes I flatten my fingers to avoid buzzing, or to get a different tone quality when I

    play a chord. It is, however, mainly because my fourth finger is rather short, and when my

    fourth finger is placed in a widely-spaced chord, my third finger’s knuckle is pulled right

    up against the strings. If they are supposed to be vibrating, this can create a problem of

    unwanted buzzing or dampening.

    erin-wood on #88895

    I have had teachers insist that the fingers stay rounded all the time.

    alexander-rider on #88896

    Well personally I don’t understand this concept or what it looks like without someone showing me or seeing a picture! But I presume I play with round fingers! Can someone elaborate?

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #88897

    When we refer to “round” fingers, we mean when both the knuckles are curved in a convex

    way. “Flattened” means when, as Carl said, the knuckle nearest the fingernail is flat or

    slightly concave instead of curved.

    alexander-rider on #88898

    Oh! Thanks Elizabeth!I think Skaila Kanga plays with flat fingers sometimes. Though that was just one photograph….I had pictured something like having the fingers horizontal to the strings!! How stupid, because that’s not really possible, is it? Alex

    unknown-user on #88899

    I would posit that a finger where the knuckle is bent inward will present a bit of inertia that must be overcome to close the finger into the hand, thus slowing down the movement at least slightly. I knew a good professional harpist who bent in each finger’s knuckle and had noticably limited speed.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #88900

    Well, actually, Saul, I know it seems counter-intuitive, but it really doesn’t limit your speed.

    I’ve tried it both ways. And, of course, there are many lightning-quick harpists from both

    schools of thought. I really think it comes down to hand and finger sizes and shapes. What

    works well for one person doesn’t always work well for another.

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