29. July 2006 · Comments Off on The F Words · Categories: imported, Ramble

If you have an oboe that I’ve not suggested be dumped, you have an oboe with a left F key. Some of my students arrive at their first lesson having never played or learned this fingering even if they have the key. Why? Because nearly every book I’ve ever seen doesn’t include it on a fingering chart!

I didn’t learn it either. I, in fact, learned the forked F fingering with the E-flat key first. (The E-flat key was added, I believe, because the F resonance key either hadn’t been added to oboes yet or because the folks making fingering charts didn’t know about it. I’m guessing the former.) I wonder, also, of left F had not been put on the chart because … well … maybe it hadn’t been invented when these books were written …? Anyone know? That would be my guess.

I can promise you that a fingering you learn when you are first discovering oboe can haunt you for nearly forever. So learn your F fingerings in this order: regular F ( XXX | XX F key 0 ), left F ( XXX left F key | XX0 ), and forked F ( XXX | X0X ). Really. It’s the best order for most everything, although not all.

When not to use regular F: If you can use regular F, you want to use that, but if your right hand ring finger is used before or after F you move to left F. But of course sometimes you can’t do that, because you are playing a combination of keys before or after that requires the left pinkie for a note. So move to forked F.

And of course these rules can be broken. I sometimes use forked F because of the way it responds, or because of its slightly different tone. (On my Marigaux the note is nearly the same as the other fingerings, but I’ve noticed Lorees aren’t quite that way. My old oboe—a Loree—had a stuffy forked F which came in handy for a pianissimo low F when necessary. Sometimes I use forked F when I’m playing D before or after just because that combination is easy to work for me.

The truth? I do what works best for me, and provides the smoothest and cleanest results. Make sense? I think so.

In fact, even if we learn all the rules—and I do think they should be learned!—we often then break them. That’s how it works. So there you go.

Or not. You can disagree with me if you’d like. 🙂

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