Fingering in 17th-century keyboard music (Scheidemann) by Pieter Dirksen

by Pieter Dirksen | Het ORGEL | Year 100 | (2004) | Issue 5

Pieter Dirksen Fingering in 17th-century keyboard music (Scheidemann)
Het ORGEL 100 (2004), nr. 5, 10-19 [summary]

Heinrich Scheidemann A little-studied tablature with domestic keyboard music from Brussels (B-Bc, MS 26.374/ii), which originated close to Heinrich Scheidemann (ca. 1595-1663), contains an important fingering chart, which is published here for the first time. The fingering instructions show that the ‘centre of gravity’ in the right hand is in its middle (2 3 4), while in the left hand it is ‘off-centre’ (1 2 3). The corresponding difference in feeling between the two hands is of central importance in playing the music of Sweelinck and his school. ‘Brussels’ also offers alternative fingerings in specific situations: parallel thirds do not always have to be played with 2 and 4, nor a main-note trill always with 3 4 (right hand) or 2 1 (left hand): 3 2 might be used as well. Series of four descending sixteenth notes (right hand) can be played with the usual paired fingering as well as with 4 3 2 1 or 5 4 3 2. The information from this fingering chart is supported and supplemented by several fragments of fingerings in Scheidemann sources, some of them clearly of a professional outlook. These bits of evidence suggest that Scheidemann, on the firm basis of the principles learned from Sweelinck, varied his fingerings to achieve a widened palette of articulation, and thus are able to give us a glimpse of his ‘kunstreiche Manuduction auf dem Clavier’ [artistic use of the hands at the keyboard].