Joe's Blog

Where have all the fingers gone?

March 23, 2021


Disclaimer: this post has extreme abstract thought!


Bach: Goldberg Variations: #1 : measure 1

How far apart can a g4 seem from an fs4?  For example, if I use fingers
3 and 2 on those first two notes, can I lose all awareness that there
exists a thumb to the left of the second finger.  Can I feel that the
hand ends at the second finger.  That the left side of the right-hand
ends at the second finger.


Bach: Goldberg Variations: #1 : measure 5 : left hand

if i use 3 4 3 on b2 a2 b2, can i forget that there is a pinky to the
left of the fourth finger.  Like the soldier in a reference by the
philosopher Henri Bergson, who came home from the war with a brain
injury causing a reduced span to his visual field.  The interesting
things was that the soldier was not consciously aware of that loss, the field of vision seemed as wide as it always had.


This can be generalized to: there is no consciousness of any finger to

the left or right of the finger I am using.  or at most that and the next
finger I’m using.


Bach: Goldberg Variations: #2 : measure 29 : the left hand

Consider using the fifth finger then the thumb, or vice versa.  A good
example would be playing two notes one octave apart.  In this case I
want to become unaware that there is anything existing in space
between those two fingers; no fingers in between them, even the space
in which those fingers would exist doesn’t exist – it’s not that the
space is there but it’s empty, even our awareness of there being empty
space is gone.  The middle part of my hand does not exist.


Bach: Goldberg Variations: #5 :

Still the same thing.  It is as if there is no space between
the fingers … because there is no awareness of the next fingers to
the right or left of the current finger.  They do not exist; there is
no object there but blank space.  the hand simply ‘ends’ at the
left/right location where the finger is that I am currently using


What I have said above seems to me to be somewhat crazy.

I find that I get partial views on things.  They come without warning.
My hands suddenly go into some ‘altered state’ and things are and
sound different as I play.  Each partial view seems to get into the
essence of piano playing, brings me into the center, where all is held
together, and in which I stay awhile until the experience is over.
Then it is patience until the muse takes me over again.

I admit that each such view alone is not a full view.  I go through
the decades finding more unexpected inroads to the center, but each
one ends up being partial, all that I can see at the moment.  but
valuable in its own way.  I don’t think I could see it all at once,
and understand all about piano playing.  Such a view would dazzle
me and blind me.  Makes me wonder how Dante found words with which to
describe the conclusion of the Divine Comedy: when he was in heaven.  Was he wearing thick sunshades?


I find a connection here about my momentarily valid partial
perspectives, none ever giving me the whole inside at any one time,
and why I have never developed a complete “system” or “method” of
piano playing.  Because I would have to keep adding things to fill in
the gaps and pores, find and fill all the missing logical links.  This
would actually replace the true insights I have had, with a system
that, in its completeness, does as much to withhold a view of the
center of the subject, as it would lead towards it. The stuff I would
add on to complete the logical fabric of a method would only serve to
dissipate the concentration of the essence.


Here’s a possible connection between the stuff that I’ve been saying
the past few days about: listen to pitches as pure qualities as much
or more than as things that sort themselves in some order of higher or
lower: not to think of two pitches as a quantitative, somehow measurable
distance on the keyboard.  This seems to fall in line with what I’m
saying today about “no notes between the notes I’m playing” / “no
fingers between the fingers I’m playing”.  And it is also consistent
with my ideas about always using the hand as a whole.  It’s just
that I have eliminated from the ‘whole’ hand, stuff that would actually
dissipate the integrity of the hand as a single organism, and thereby
alter the desired, unobstructed flow of the main energy from the arm,
though the hand, through the finger into the key.

I could even hallucinate further so that when considering two fingers
that are physiologically adjacent to each other, I can imagine a room
where other fingers interpose themselves/


This is ancillary but ties in with the desired sound that comes from
these considerations of voids in the hands.  What if, between the
fingers, in particular in the grooves between adjacent fingers near
their common vertex near the third knuckles, my physical imagination
has ‘placed’ little, springy objects that compress with lateral
pressure from the fingers and then rapidly expand to their original
shape when released from that pressure.


Brahms: Op 116 / 7 : Capriccio in D Minor : 3/8 section near the end.

Can I expand the usefulness of today’s concepts to include multi-note
simultaneous chords?  For in this section of the Brahms there are a
constant stream of six, seven and eight-note chords. The answer is
that I think I can.  The image that enables it is related to the
notion of “I’m falling off of a cliff”.  The fingers that are playing
the ‘highest’ pitches in each hand are falling off into an abyss,
leaving the next finger, then the next finger, in the hand as being
temporarily the ‘end’ of the hand, there is only one finger, with
no more hand after that.  This way I seem to be able to get that
effect of the hand ends at the single finger that is playing the
(single) current note, and yet also play several, or many, notes at


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