The development of exercises and technique for 2D:4D>1 hands

I really want to work more on this, just doing exercises or refingering them for people with (2D:4D)>1. I think the central part of it would be rocking the hand back and forth around 2-3, which are placed on the strings as a unit.

I really do want to work on those exercises, like the Salzedo “conditioning” exercises (although the Taubman fan in me still cringes at the idea of building “endurance”), and see how to go about making them work without destroying my hands. I just can’t stop thinking about this, and if I just hole up and work on it myself, knowing damned well that if my hand hurts, it’s time to find another way to do it, I think that would be the only real way to crack this nut.

I’m seriously going to commit harp heresy and just blow his fingering advice out of the water where my hand decides, through discomfort, that it needs to be done. I just want to see what happens, just tweak the dials on this bastard’s stuff that seems so hell-bent on destroying hands.

I mean, if I feel that the typical harp pedagogy hasn’t matured yet, is too narrow, and is probably focused on the wrong 2D:4D ratio for the majority of harpists, and that different techniques need to be applied to different hands, then damn it, I’m going to have to be the one to look into this. No right or wrong, no measuring up, no assumed correct answer, not even actual music beyond what I want to do myself, just mechanical exploration, like in science. Let’s see how this goddamned thing, be it harp or hand, actually works.

I’m doing it. I’m exploring — alone. No one will guide me because no one else has done this, either.

Every single time I’ve tried to yoke myself to conventional wisdom, it’s never worked out well for me. When I go my own damned way, that’s when things begin to happen. The harp is no different, and it even appears to be far more urgent that I go my own way on this, just as a purely mechanical device, because the traditional ways of doing things are so badly matched to my hands.

The foundational assumptions of this technique will be:

  1. 2-3 are treated are treated as a unit where possible and as the fulcrum of the hand, and 1 and 4 the ends of the plank. Never have them down at the same time if you can avoid it. (Corollary: Music that requires that is to be considered poorly written and as ignorant of the mechanics of the hand as music requiring a stretch of a 16th in one hand would be on the piano.)
  2. This will require the hand to rock back and forth, especially the left hand.
  3. Because of this, forearm rotation is to be assumed part of the technique, where possible (a borrowing from Taubman).
  4. The 4th finger, especially on the left hand, should only ever be played as part of a rotation to a higher finger.

That’s it. Those assumptions are the starting point. Now to develop exercises. I will grab a copy of Salzedo. I already have Friou and Kondonassis. Then, I go from there, and I come up with my own goddamned way of doing this, which hopefully will be useful to others with similar digit ratios.

I think a major consequence of this is that the fourth finger never plays through its own independent movement but only ever through the rotation of the entire hand toward a higher finger. Most playing should be done through forearm/hand rotation I think (more Taubman), but most especially with the fourth finger, it must adhere to this more strictly than any other finger. It reminds me of Taubman’s fierce statement that most injuries she saw in her career revolved around the use of the fourth finger on a black key.

Like it or not, finger independence is nonsense, and the fourth finger must be treated specially. If we insist on behaving as if it’s got its own independent tendon and we can pretend it’s just another index finger only further back, we will damage ourselves. Period. Denial of the facts has never once solved a single problem in the history of life on Earth and in fact only creates problems.

On every instrument ever played, finger independence is nonsense.


Cross-strung harps and 2D:4D>1

I admit that I am curious about how the 2D:4D>1 hand would fit on a cross-strung harp, especially since a non-trivial point of fingering technique on a cross-strung is placing the fingers in the order 2-3-4-1, where the hand is “cupped” in a very natural and comfortable position while playing 4-string chords and arpeggios.

I prefer the darker, more chocolatey sound of a pedal harp over the lighter, more citrus sound of a cross-strung, but I admit that the cross-strung is looking like an excellent option for people with unusually high 2D:4D ratios if they like how it sounds.