186 • Local clusters

The reason for so much attention to ornaments in the early piano schools is based on the fact that there was not much else to occupy and train fingers with in order to improve dexterity - a time before large scales and arpeggios. The thumb was rarely used for transition and because of the pivotal importance of the thumb in piano technique, the only options was to exercise trills, mordents, slurs, appoggiaturas, acciaccaturas, arpeggiation, larger ornaments, and up to five note cluster runs. Ornamentation was conceived so that any two fingers within a cluster could be used without changing the position - e.g. r.h. 5,4,3,2,1 on g,f,e,d,c: any note could be ornamented by mordent, trill, double trill, slur (turn), or double slur without changing the fingers laying on the local cluster. Take the first invention by Bach and play c,d,e,f,g with 1,2,3,4,5, play the entire piece with 5 finger cluster positions, and experiment with ornamenting any of the notes; Bach himself left two versions suggesting more variations.


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