General thoughts on top three thumb positions
I've been working on learning my left thumb positions on the octave indentations.
It looks to me like the three indentations are set up in a semi-circle, making the assumption that the thumb will naturally rest horizontally on the middle one.
With this assumption, the three indentations each feel the same to the thumb, as they are arranged in a slight semi-circle.
However, what I've noticed is that my natural hand position lands the thumb horizontal to the lower indentation.
Because of this, each indentation feels different and makes it a bit harder to gauge if I've securely landed on them.
My question - does anyone else notice that this gives them trouble finding the octave indentations? I'll be interested in hearing where other folk's thumbs land naturally.
And also, what kind of work have you done to learn the positions of the indentations? Any particular exercises, etc.
@wwoodard8 You can stick a small piece of copper tape on the centre circle/key of the top three octave keys, or any of the other keys to give your thumb a 'home key' you can feel. In my pic, I have used copper tape to effectively increase the size of the first of the lower two octave keys, which makes the transition from top three to bottom two octave keys easier and smoother. I have also used copper tape to 'expand' the placement of the pinky keys, as I have very large hands. Also do exercises such as moving the thumb up and down to play all 5 octaves of a note smoothly and consciously always placing your thumb on the middle of the upper three first, before adjusting to play the octave you want.
@wwoodard8 I don't own a sylphyo but octave buttons are always a problem. Having to move your left thumb around isn't really natural and means that fingerings in one octave are more comfortable than the same one in another. The EWI4000s, with its octave rollers, is the worst I've encountered, so far.
On my Yamaha WX5, I've stuck a small self adhesive felt disk on the larger central left thumb position, which helps a little. Raising it above the buttons seems to help, but also the roughness of the felt means I can get a better idea of where my thumb is. On my Roland Aerophone AE-10, I've cut a thin crescent shaped piece of self adhesive cork, to cover the first octave up button.
I don't know if that's practical on the syphyo, but maybe you could stick something to the left of one of the indentations, that you can feel as a reference.
As both of you have suggested, I'm trying to think of what I could add to the indentations to make finding them easier. I'm going to try the tape and felt and cork - they all sound like great ideas!
Playing around more this afternoon, I've come to the conclusion that I don't want the movement of my thumb to ever modify the positions of my front three fingers - no matter what octave I'm in, I'm going to keep the position in front the same. That way I can be confident of my front fingers in any octave since they will always be the same. So it seems I'll be forced to move the thumb in an arc across the three dents. They will all feel different to my thumb, but maybe I'm hoping they will start to feel natural after some more time.
Ok, so after a bit of work I came up with this setup -
My thumb is horizontal across the bottom indentation, making for the most comfortable position for my front three fingers.
Then in position two and three, I naturally hinge up from my thumb joint, keeping the front three fingers in the same position, no matter where the thumb is. This makes for a standard position for the front three fingers.
I added the copper tape on the top indentation since my thumb in that position eneded precariously perched on the left edge of the indentation - just a little insurance :)
I think its working well!
@wwoodard8 Nice. Yes, that looks like it's much better for ergonomics.
One more addition (thanks, Paul!)
Aaaand, one more time. Hopefully last... :)
Peter Ostry last edited by
Thanks for the lab work, I think that's exactly what I want too :-)
One more post - the last lower octave tape position I posted doesn't activate the lower octave consistently. Not sure why - maybe the tape didn't cover the indentation enough?
Anyway, I reverted back to Paul Flute's suggested position and it seems to work consistently now...
Clint last edited by
Could someone suggest a source for this tape??
@Clint Some electronic parts suppliers sell self adhesive copper tape, in a few different widths. It's also sold for shielding electric guitars, but more often in sheet form. A while ago, I saw it in pound shops (discount / clearance shops) being sold as slug tape / slug repellent tape, so garden centres might have some. You can find it sold on eBay too, of course, as some variation on "adhesive copper tape" or just "copper tape".
@Clint Here's where I got the tape - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06VX1Y5BC?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details
They have many different widths, but this 1/2" size seemed the best - just a little narrower than the indentations...
@Paul-Flute Cool! Modifying the Sylphyo is a lot of fun :)
This just points out one of the fantastic benefits of breath synth instruments.
With acoustic flutes the holes have to be in a very specific position, therefore your fingers have to conform to the dictates of physics.
With a breath synth instrument however, you can put the sensors for the finger anywhere you want, in any configuration. You can make the instrument conform to your fingers' best natural positions, making articulating over the instrument much easier. (Copper tape helps in this!)