Practice Procedures: Part 16: The Personal History of a Finger
April 2, 2017
Ken Burns pioneered the technique of seeing an historical event through the eyes of several individuals. A Civil War battle would be narrated by a General, but also through the eyes of a Private who had no special claim to fame in the battle other than s/he was one of the many who was there.
We usually do not pay much attention to a finger that is not at that very moment pressing down a key to make a sound. However, for certain very complicated passages, there is an advantage to tracing the history of one particular finger, just a “Private” and noting the ‘scenes’ during the passage in which it takes action to depress a key. “Here, in a certain measure, on the first beat, it is playing a B. Nearer to the second beat of the measure it shows up playing a G#.” And so on. It gives us a thread to follow through the intricacies of the narrative. Following the history of just one finger gives us feedback, in the form of check-in points, as to whether we are still on the correct path through the passage.