Bulgarian Accordion Tutorial - Alternate Fingering

As one moves beyond the canonical Boris Karlov repetoire, one encounters passages that are very difficult to play using only the "Basic technique" summarized in the last lesson. Such problems occur:

Techniques we will discuss to address these problems are:

Problematic passages often admit several alternative fingerings, each using a different combination of the above techniques. Picking the one that works best for you involves a subtle balancing of mechanical pluses and minuses, based on how expert you are at each technique. You may decide to pick and choose amoung the techniques offered here, based on what works for you in the situations you encounter in your own playing.

Thumb on Black Keys

In the Boris Karlov repetoire, the thumb rarely needed to be placed on a black key - only when dropping to F# from B. In more complex repetoire, the thumb is used more often. For example:

When stroking a black key, the thumb uses the same motion as before, drawing straight away from the keyboard. Since black keys are much shorter than white ones, the stroke motion must be more compact.

Finger & Thumb Glides

Gliding a finger or thumb from a black key is a useful technique for facilitating legato is some passages:

Executing a glide, the two notes are played with a single stroke away from the keyboard. As the black key is depressed, the hand is glides slightly outward from the keyboard as the finger glides onto the white key and finally to release.

343 Pralls & Trills

The simplest alternative prall fingering is 343, as one might use is the passage below:

Execution of 343 pralls uses the same mechanical principles as 232 pralls: depress the base note in the standard manner with finger 3, then lightly brush finger 4 on the auxillary, briefly interrupting but then immediately redepressing the base note.

Like 232 pralls, 343 pralls can be played sharp or smooth and may be extended to trills. Clean execution of 343 pralls as usually more difficult than 232 pralls because finger 4 is weaker than finger 3 and more mechanically attached to the rest of the hand. (Note, for example that finger 4 can't be moving independently above the line of fingers 2-5, although all the others can.) Nevertheless, with practice, 343 pralls and trills can be made to sound perfectly acceptable.

A more interesting example using 343 is as follows (I learned this tune from Marcus Moskoff):

In the above examples, the 343 pralls are pretty much forced because of the Bb-C# augmented second in the scale. The following passage (from Boris Karlov) could actually be played with 232 pralls and trills, but I find 343 easier to execute because it requires less overall motion of the hand:

121 and 131 Pralls

Pralls fingered 121 and 131 are useful when a melody contains consecutive pralls. For example:

121 pralls are also useful when a prall precedes a large upward leap. The passage below (simplified from Kostadin Varimezov) will be elaborated further in the lesson on Gaida-inspired technique:

In the following passage (from Kosta Kolev's "Novozagorsko horo"), I prefer a 131 prall on F. Using a 232 prall instead is possible, but requires much more reangling of the hand, due to the awkward F-Gb-F key geometry:

Execution of 121 and 131 pralls has similar thumb mechanics to double drop notes (see Lesson 5). The first thumb key depression is in place (rather than drawn out the keyboard as usual). Finger 2 or 3 brushes the upper auxillary as the thumb bounces up and back down for the 2nd thumb note. The 2nd thumb note is drawn out of the keyboard as usual.

With practice, 121 and 131 pralls can be played sharp or smooth. Due to the geometry of the fingers, it's somewhat easier to play 121 pralls sharp and 131 pralls smooth.

231 Pralls and 23231 Trills

Sometimes it is convenient to end a prall or trill on a different finger that you started.

23231 trills are executed by substituting the thumb for finger 2 in the second brush-change. This motion is a hybrid between a standard trill and a 2-1 prall-triplet.

Note: Need example of 231 prall

Copyright 2015 Erik Butterworth. All rights reserved.