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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.


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