is art tatum crossing his 5th finger over his thumb in this video at 2:30? it looks like he is...

wow, if he fingers that way on diminished arpeggios and pentatonic scales, i'm suprised that he was able to do that. i really never learned to finger that way. i never cross my fifth finger over my thumb. i only cross my 4th, 3th, and 2nd finger over my thumb, but no fifth!

i wonder if he might finger pentatonic scales this way too. so would he finger an ab pentatonic scale like this?

1 5 4 1 5 4 1 5 4 1 5 4 ...?

because i usually finger it like this:

1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3

if he fingers like this, i might think about changing my technique! :)
There are 23 comments, leave a comment.
wait a minute, what fingering is he using for that run?
i was looking at that the other day:

don't know what's it worth.
his hands are faster than my eyes!
sometimes what's on the page is good stuff.  if you find stuff you like, analyze it (this voicing sounds good with this chord; this comp rhythm works well with the melody, etc..)  find a lick or two that you like and try using them in different situations.  this is a language, so you must have vocabulary in order to use it...why not grab some vocab from those charts you're playing?

of course, the number one, two and three things to do  is listen, listen, listen
i'm way too old. trying new fingerings makes me nauseous
so you have a full big band to play along with?
if so, that is a great setting in which to develop ideas.
let us know how it works out.
there is a very good book entitled "the right hand of art tatum" with lots of transcriptions, fingerings, and analysis, including suggestions for incorporating them into your playing.  it's very extensive.  i would quote you some information from it but my copy was stolen :(
hey thanks heaps for the advice! for the latest update, i thought i was making good progress until our band played in the local big band competition...hmmm we kinda got thrashed, and watching all the other piano players, well i have a long way to go, but are now even more detirmened to make a go of what kind of playing do you guys do?
we do not think of it as crossing our fifth finger over our thumb.  that is how it is done.  in the same way i teach my students not to think of the thumb as coming underneath or over even on the simple major scale.
for example on the c major scale after playing the notes cde with fingers one two and three the thumb does not come under neath to hit f the entie hand changes position to set up to hit the notes f,g,a, b and c with the fingers 12345.    it is a similar situation with what you are seeing he is not thinking of a fingering per se but a hand position change which is really the way i think of all fingerings.
i don't do much anymore.  i did it for a living for about 30 years so i did many different types of gigs.  although i mainly practiced classical, i think i only had one or two classical gigs and they were wedding ceremonies.  most of my gigs were pop, dixie, jazz, country, shows and recording sessions...i took whatever i could get...

i now teach piano in my home and play in my home for my own enjoyment.  i still play 2 or 3 gigs a year as long as i don't have to haul, stay out late and i make sure i get at least $100 per hour...i sound like a picky spoiled snob, but i've been there and done that...

thanks for asking.  i think we all like to talk about ourselves- heh heh :)

what do you do?
at first, i was self taught the thumb over technique(where the entire hand changes position, you know). then later, i got instruction from my new teacher, who taught me that the thumb over technique was improper and the thumb underneath technique was proper.  

so mike, if there is a change in the hand position, then there must be a little "jump", right? you just have to get that little hesitance shorter to make sure every note is even.

isn't the thumb over technique used in fast runs? so maybe next time, i'll be using the thumb over technique in my art tatum repetoire.

in slow runs, you use the thumb-under technique, right?
that sounds like one remarkable carreer!

i am in my last year at school, but hope to one day make music full time, or at least to supplement my income, havn't yet worked out how. i've done a lot of music here and there, pretty much whatever music oppertunities i've come accross through school and whatever. got to grade8 classical a few years ago but got bored of learning classical and now  attempt to pick up jazz of my own accord. the task of actually mastering the whole jazz thing has since become at the top of my life to-do list!

it's good to hear from someone who plays both classical and jazz. it seems a lot of jazz pianists i've met fiercly flog off classical, and vice versa! i've never really go the point of the rivallary myself...
dick hyman's videos address a lot of those tatum runs.  worth checking out.
when it comes to comping, the main thing to remember is that the rhythm is much more important than the harmony.  i would focus mostly on trying to lock in with the band, and the notes will come along with that.  

for swing comping, i always find that practicing the charleston rhythm is a great way to get a good feel.  you might call a rhythm section rehearsal and just swing out....straight ahead.......walking "creative" stuff.  while the bass and drums are swinging, start playing the charleston rhythm.  if you don't know what that is, you just play a chord on beat 1 and then on the "and" of 2.  so, it sounds like "charle...ston.  charle...ston".  your hands should feel like they are digging deep into the the rhythms as long as they possibly can be played.  in other words, do not chop off the sound.  this is the worst mistake that pianists make.  i heard a highly regarded and recorded pianist on the jazz scene the other day doing exactly that........i couldn't believe it.  if you chop off the sound, you sound cheesy and overbearing.  the idea is for the chord on the & of 2 to propel the beat forward, so you really want to think of it as "ga (dah)".  the "ga" being the & of 2, and the "dah" being 3(on which you do not play...........but you should feel it).  the main thing to remember is to try to lock in a feel...don't worry about notes or anything....just play a blues.  you need to do this sort of thing with the rhythm section all of the time so you can get to know one another outside the context of the big band.

another thing to do is grab miles' kind of blue album and just play along with wynton kelly.  his comping is amazing.
thumb over and thumb under techniques are just something we use when teaching fingerings to chinlderen or beginers not ready to really understand how the mechanics of piano playing work.  another words..
we do have to teach a begginer that the correct fingering for the c major scale is 12312345.  it is easier to say that the thumb goes under or over after 123 than to explain what really should happen.  the whole hand does not change positions before you hit 1 again either.  it is on the way to this position change that 1 hits again.  so no there is no little jump.  if there is a "little jump"  your technique is flawed.
i also might add, when you do the charleston thing, have the drums just play straight quarter notes on the ride, and a cross-stick "crack" on beat 4.  the bass will simply walk.  this is all super simple stuff, but you must be able to swing out and make it feel good doing this before anything more complex will sound good.
i never use what youa are calling "thumb under technique".  i consider that something to use in the teaching of children the pianoforte.
i must admit he is fantastic ,however i would rather listen to bill evans  sorry
is there really a "right fingering" to certain patterns? e.g. i learned the pentatonic (rh) with 123-12 as the book says, but i can't do it fast no matter how i try.  

instead, i do most of my pentatonic runs (on c as an example) as follows: "do-re-mi, re-mi-so, mi-so-la, so-la-do, la-do-re, do-re-mi, do-re-mi, re-mi-so..." i can do it much faster this way than if i do a straight "do-re-mi-so-la, do-re-mi-so-la, do-re-mi-so-la...". in fact, i really have trouble with doing straight-up runs, unless i use both hands (crossover: l-r-l-r...)

am i doing it "wrong"?

try practicing different patterns using only fingers 123, both ascending and descending. for example, ascending pattern- cde - def - efg - fga - gab, abc , etc. or you could do this decending pattern - ededc - dcdcb, cbcba, babag, agagf, gfgfe, fefed, ededc, etc. you will probably master them quickly if you do this all the time - you don't have to be at a piano to do this. just tap at school, work, desk, lap, or when watching tv. :)

if you want to really see what i'm talking about, you can go to the technique and exercises section on ljp and download my exercises.
in art tatum, you usually have decending pentatonic runs(not ascending - which is a little bit harder to do) in the right hand and ascending pentatonic runs(not descending - which is a little bit harder to do) in the left. therefore, i always practice descending pentatonic runs in the right hand and ascending ones in the left hand.
basically, if you master all of tatum' runs and technique, you are basically prepared to play any difficult classical piece out there. but i'm not so sure about alkan and hamelin, i have been playing tatum for 6 months now and i can play as fast as alkan, but my accuracy decreases if i try to go that fast.
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