How did Italian late Renaissance and early Baroque organ composers play scales? Certainly not using modern fingering, like 1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5. They applied a system today known as Paired Fingering. In various European Baroque organ schools it was different from country to country.
In Italy it basically meant, that accented notes on the beat should be played with the "good" fingers 2 and 4 in each hand. This way the scale could look like 2-3-4-3-4-3-4-3-4 (r.h. ascending or l. h. descending) or 4-3-2-3-2-3-2-3-2 (r.h. descending or l. h ascending).
Such a piece is for today's sight-reading: Intonazione del Primo Tono (p. 3) by the Venetian organist and composer Andrea Gabrieli (1532-1585) from the collection of various Italian, German, Dutch and English authors of the day "Liber Fratrum Cruciferorum Leodiensium" (1617 or before).
Intonations were used to introduce the mode prior to the choral composition. The piece in the first tone basically consists of the mode of D (Dorian) with the excursions to the mode of a (3-2-2), F (3-3-4), and d (3-5-1). As usual, there is a plagal extension at the end (line 6).
Play this piece with paired fingering as described above using articulate legato touch. Notice how the alternation of "good" and "bad" fingers create gentle accents on the stronger notes. Keep your fingers in contact with the keys at all times and play on the edge of the keys.
Would you like to say "Thank You" to us? Buy Us Coffee.
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Do you have a unique skill or knowledge related to the organ art? Pitch us your story to become a guest on Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.