Stephan Blezinger

Meisterwerkstätte für Flötenbau


Fingering on my instruments 

 

There are different fingering systems, some of which I use for my instruments. Individual models, however, may show some deviations from the norm.

 

About the individual  fingering standards:

 

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The German Fingering  System

This fingering system was developed by Peter Harlan in the first half of  the 20th century and was used predominantly for school recorders in  German speaking countries. Its apparent advantage of making the fourth step (f on a descant) playable without forked fingering has been compromised by major disadvantages and even some unplayable notes. For this reason it hasn’t been used for better quality recorders for a long time. I do not use this system as  a matter of principle. 

 

The Baroque (English)  Fingering system

Despite its name this fingering is also an invention of the 20th century. Developed by Carl Dolmetsch in England it makes playing the main scale including the major semi-tones possible without the need for half-holing. This fingering system is used for all major mass produced recorders and forms the basis of modern recorder teaching.

I use this fingering system for all my late baroque instruments at 440 hz, also, unless otherwise requested, for those at pitch 415 hz although these may deviate slightly in  some notes. 

 

The historic  fingering systems

In the past recorder fingerings often varied in detail but agreed on using a simple forked fingering (that is without right hand little finger / hole 7) for the fourth step (f on descant) in the  lower octave, and in the second octave half-holing the right hand ring finger. The semitone above the 4th step (descant: f-sharp) requires adding  the little finger in the lower octave as well as adding half of the right hand  ring finger (hole 6). These fingerings apply to almost all historic recorders  from the Early Renaissance through to the late Baroque. There are, of course, differences in other notes between the instruments of various eras,  particularly in the high register.

With the exception of Baroque recorders in 440 Hz all my instruments are available with historic fingerings on request if I don’t use this as standard on a particular model.

 

Now: 

 

The fingering patterns  of the various models in detail:

 

Ganassi recorders

The fingering of my Ganassi recorders is broadly based on the fingering system of Sylvestro Ganassi. Standard historic fingering is used up to the high 6th. In deviation to many original Renaissance instruments, however, the ninth step (descant: d) is played by closing the left  middle finger-hole as is customary today. Other than that the special Ganassi fingerings apply. These are completely different to other fingerings as they follow a different acoustic principle. A table of Ganassi fingerings can be found here. 

 

Early Baroque  Recorders

For my early baroque recorders I use the historic baroque fingering as standard, corresponding to most originals. The third register usually works by using fingerings that are known from the (modern) baroque fingerings although some alternatives are possible and more reliable,  especially in descants and trebles. Thus the double octave (descant: c) speaks  much more easily when adding the left ring finger (hole 3) and half-holing right hand middle finger (hole 5). The tone above (descant: d) often works better using left hand middle finger instead of index finger (covering 2 instead of 1). In some instances individual semitones might require slightly modified fingerings, including some half-holing, but these can easily be worked out by trial and error. 

 

High Baroque  Recorders in 440

The fingerings of these instruments usually follow the modern baroque (English) fingering system. Of course, individual models may display some peculiarities which an experienced player will easily identify and adapt to. As in nearly all baroque recorders (usually those with a short bore) F-sharp (treble) in the third octave cannot be played using normal fingerings without also covering the bell end. High G (treble) requires the addition of the right  hand little finger (hole 7), especially on recorders after Denner. 

 

Descants and Trebles  of the High Baroque and Voice Flutes in 415 or 392 Hz

Generally I tune these instruments to use modern baroque fingering and add double holes for the two lowest semitones. However, some variation to modern baroque fingering is usually necessary by adding some or all of the  right hand little finger for the lower seventh of the second octave (descant/tenor: high B-flat, treble: high E-flat) as it will otherwise be too sharp. This fingering also applies to most baroque originals. Some or all of the right hand little finger also needs to be used for the high G on the treble; and like the instruments in 440 high F-sharp (treble) requires covering of the bell end.

The raised fourth step on the voice flute (G-sharp) might need shading with the right hand little finger if it appears to be too high.

On request I can adjust these instruments to use historic fingerings (after  Hotteterre) and single holes instead of double holes. This fingering system requires half-holing of several notes (see above). Treble high C-sharp in particular is really only playable by leaking the right hand index finger  slightly – as with the baroque originals it is a rather tricky note. 

 

Tenor in 415 Hz after  and Italian original

What has been said about trebles applies to the tenor as well (see above). Additionally, F-sharp in both octaves requires half covering the bottom hole (little finger) in both modern and historic fingerings as it will be too high without. This was a compromise in the adaptation to modern fingering that minimised changes in copying this first class original instrument. 

 

Bass Recorder in 415  Hz after J. Chr. Denner

I make this instrument in both historic and modern baroque fingering but always with single holes and only one key. Therefore low F-sharp is not possible on this recorder.

All other notes up to high G can be played using standard fingerings – despite the fact that the middle joint does not have any keys.