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 Post subject: "Open Scale" fingering?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:26 pm 
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At the end of the Clarke book there is a fingering chart for the "open scale."

Do people actually use this fingering much in practice?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:52 pm 
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I've never seen a piper use entirely open fingering. But I have seen pipers use a more open fingering for particular notes during a tune for a change in tone. For example, I use a more open fingering for low F# rolls occasionally for emphasis (two fingers open instead of one and off the leg).

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:23 pm 
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Certain pipers use it more than others. In my mind Jimmy O'Brien-Moran & Ronan Browne both have styles in which they'll open up the chanter while still using tighter fingering in certain places & chanter stops to embellish phrasing. (Both are used to playing older flat sets & have an affinity for Willie Clancy's playing... )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4OiAVa21lg

Apart from the air playing, watch around 1:50 when he starts getting into the jig.
Here's one where you can watch Ronan do his thing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9dgA6JHOPk

It's usually not a case of one way vs another, at least not really anymore. I also want to say that I don't consider a definite 'fingering chart' with an open style. The A could be played with just one finger lifted, or two, or three etc. and each chanter will respond differently.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:12 pm 
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the late Peter Hunter used to call open playing 'all vowels with no consonants' - as far as i can tell jimmy and ronan open extra holes and lift the chanter to derive more tonal colour - the diagram in the clarke book, if i remember correctly, shows all the holes open below those which would be required for closed fingering - i don't think i can think of a player who plays what i understand to be a strict open style but i have heard some very legato playing from leo and leon rowsome, and, i think as well, felix doran and johnny rooney


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:02 am 
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Here's a clip of a young Finbar. Some of the close ups show open fingering very well.

http://www.rte.ie/archives/2013/1104/48 ... hers-1963/


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:09 am 
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OK, that clip of Finbar sure seems to show lots and lots of fingers in the air!

Thanks.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:24 am 
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[Edited]

The open scale sounds quite different. You might make an artistic choice to use it - it doesn't have to be a matter of accessing the regs (mainly as it doesn't make a huge amount of difference on lower hand notes anyway).

The open fingerings are also part of the very fast, fluid style demonstrated by Finbar Furey in that clip - to my ears the notes aren't articulated quite the same way when closed fingerings are used, even if a 'closed' player has a particularly legato style.

Having said all that a lot of Finbar's piping, even on his older records, has a good dose of crisp staccato phrasing in it. Like all good players it's just one technique among many...


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:53 am 
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Historically, open fingering was often associated with Traveler pipers, some of whom played very fast (i.e, Johnny Doran, Paddy Keenan, Finbar Furey, etc.). Nowadays, I would agree with the others that say it is an artistic choice, that works particularly well to colour certain notes on flat chanters especially. In my opinion, a beginning piper would be well-served to learn the tighter fingering and playing first, and experiment with the more open fingerings later as he/she gets more experience.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:54 pm 
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To me it seems to be something that mainly concerns the lower notes G F# and E in the low octave when played off the leg. (Though Denis Brooks gives an entire legato scale.)

What I use is

x xxx ooox (o)
x xxx xoox (o)
x xxx xxox (o)

I use them in certain situations where it avoids having to repeatedly move the chanter on and off the leg in succession, and in general makes alternations of those various low notes easier.

For example

A F# E F# D F# E F#

Paddy Keenan uses in a reel where instead of cranning Bottom D he plays legato F# E D triplets, the whole phrase done off the leg.

Many years ago I heard Liam O Flynn in concert and I was surprised to see him play G in the low octave off the leg most of the time.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:18 am 
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For the sake of clarity it is probably a good idea to distinguish between 'open fingering': leaving the minimum number of fingers on the chanter to play a note (opposed to 'closed' fingering, opening only the minimum required number of holes to play a note) and 'open' playing or 'legato' playing ie not closing the chanter between notes. They are really two different things flying under the same name even when it is eminently possible (and far from uncommon) to either take more fingers off the chanter than strictly required and still play 'non legato' or to play fully legato while opening the minimum number of holes.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:37 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
For the sake of clarity it is probably a good idea to distinguish between 'open fingering': leaving the minimum number of fingers on the chanter to play a note (opposed to 'closed' fingering, opening only the minimum required number of holes to play a note) and 'open' playing or 'legato' playing ie not closing the chanter between notes. They are really two different things flying under the same name even when it is eminently possible (and far from uncommon) to either take more fingers off the chanter than strictly required and still play 'non legato' or to play fully legato while opening the minimum number of holes.



Yup - the original question was about open *fingering,* specifically.

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