Fingering Charts

Update (6/25/2014): Find the lat­est ver­sion of my fin­ger­ing charts here: http://davidawells.com/resources/fingering-charts/

E-flat fingering

My favorite fin­ger­ing. No, really…

A cou­ple of weeks ago, I started teach­ing a high school vio­list who decided that she’d like to play the bas­soon. Not know­ing if she’d got­ten her hands on a fin­ger­ing chart or not, I decided to take one to her les­son. I have quite a few charts lying around, but as I looked through them, I real­ized that I didn’t com­pletely agree with any of them, at least not for use by a begin­ning stu­dent. I ended up tak­ing her a copy of a chart that I’d got­ten from the Conn-Selmer web site, but only after I’d marked it all up with a pen. It turned out that she did have a fin­ger­ing chart already, but I didn’t com­pletely agree with it, either. As I was dri­ving home from her first les­son, I thought to myself how silly it is to give a stu­dent a fin­ger­ing chart that I’ve marked all over, espe­cially since this cer­tainly isn’t the first time I’ve done so. I resolved then and there that I’d make my own fin­ger­ing chart.

Awhile ago, I’d come across the very cool and well-thought-out Fin­ger­ing Dia­gram Builder built by Bret Pimentel, multiple-woodwinds teacher at Delta State Uni­ver­sity. (You can read more about the FDB here). But until now, I hadn’t done any more than just play around with it. I used Bret’s FDB to crank out an image for each of my basic fin­ger­ings. I included my most com­mon alter­nate fin­ger­ings, but didn’t get into slur, muted, trill, or other variations.

Once I had all of the images, I had to decide how best to lay them out within a score. I’ve been using Finale for years, but I’d recently started play­ing around with Lily­Pond. Lily­Pond is an open-source music engrav­ing pro­gram that pro­duces very nice-looking scores — far closer in appear­ance to good old-fashioned hand engrav­ing than Finale’s often jagged and weirdly-spaced out­put. The down­side (if you choose to see it that way) is that Lily­Pond has no graph­i­cal user inter­face; it gen­er­ates scores from spe­cially for­mat­ted text files, and is in that way more like a pro­gram­ming lan­guage than a tra­di­tional nota­tion pro­gram. But, I’d been look­ing for a project to under­take with Lily­Pond, and this seemed like just the thing.

It took awhile to get the hang of Lily­Pond, and some for­mat­ting things I only ever got by trial and error. But, I finally ended up with two ver­sions of my per­sonal fin­ger­ing chart. The first is the one I’ll hand stu­dents. It cov­ers the more-or-less stan­dard range of the bas­soon (Bb1 — E5), uses only bass and tenor clefs, and includes a dia­gram with key names. The sec­ond, which I’ve dubbed my “Pro” chart, dis­cards the key dia­gram and switches to tre­ble clef at the top end. Oh, it also goes up to Bb5 (although I don’t yet have a reli­able fin­ger­ing for A5 — anybody?).

Since Bret has made the dia­grams gen­er­ated by his FDB avail­able under a Cre­ative Com­mons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license, I’ve done the same with my charts. Please, take a look and let me know what you think. Is there any­thing I could do to make them eas­ier to read, eas­ier to use, or just plain look nicer? Or do you spot any fin­ger­ings that I’ve ren­dered incorrectly?

  • Bret Pimentel

    February 1st, 2012

    Reply

    Great post! I always love to see peo­ple mak­ing good use of my fin­ger­ing thing. I had a sim­i­lar story with a par­tic­u­larly bad bas­soon fin­ger­ing chart that I was try­ing to use for a wood­wind meth­ods class–that expe­ri­ence led directly to the cre­ation of the fin­ger­ing dia­gram builder.

    I have also been exper­i­ment­ing with Lily­pond lately, so I was espe­cially pleased to see you get such nice results using the dia­grams. Lily­pond is an incred­i­bly pow­er­ful tool (and multi-platform and FREE), but a chal­lenge to use.

    These charts look great–I’ve down­loaded them for my own use and for shar­ing with my stu­dents. Thanks so much for mak­ing them available!

    • David A. Wells

      February 1st, 2012

      Reply

      Thanks! Hope you get some good use out of them.

      I’ve often heard peo­ple com­par­ing Finale and Sibelius by say­ing that Finale is much more pow­er­ful, but harder to use as a result. I think the same thing could be said about Lily­Pond com­pared to Finale. Lily­Pond can pro­duce just about any­thing you’d want in the realm of musi­cal nota­tion, and do it beau­ti­fully, as long as you’re will­ing to spend time fig­ur­ing out how it works.

      Two cur­rent lim­i­ta­tions of Lily­Pond that I ran into with this project are lim­ited sup­port for embed­ding graph­ics files and pre­cise align­ment of notes. For instance, there’s no way to sim­ply cen­ter a whole note in a bar — some of my spac­ing is a lit­tle odd as a result. Noth­ing that really offends the casual eye, but it’s enough to bug me :-).

  • Paul

    February 19th, 2012

    Reply

    Found this post on Red­dit — thanks for the resource! I played bas­soon for six years in uni­ver­sity and high school and am plan­ning on return­ing to the study soon but my resources will be lim­ited by my sit­u­a­tion, so things like this are a real help. I’ll need to check out the links in your side­bar too :)

    • David A. Wells

      February 20th, 2012

      Reply

      Glad to be of help!

  • Nadya

    July 11th, 2012

    Reply

    Thank you for post­ing the fin­ger­ing charts. I’m a third year bas­soon­ist but I for­got how to play some of the higher notes and I lost my chart. All the other chart’s I found had wacky fin­ger­ing for the notes I can remem­ber, so they were no help but yours helped.

  • Lindsayheesom

    October 26th, 2012

    Reply

    Can any­one assist me with a good qual­ity trill c# 2nd space bass clef to d nat­ural ie the fingering

  • Kevin Raftery

    July 10th, 2014

    Reply

    Prob­a­bly too late to help — and you may dis­agree — but Lind­say­hee­som, you might sim­ply use the C# trill key on top of the C# fingering.

  • Amazing1Der

    July 18th, 2014

    Reply

    Hello Sir,

    Gra­zie! I am an aspir­ing junior at col­lege and con­sulted the web for excerpt woes :).

Leave a Comment

* are Required fields