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 Origin of key names?
Author: W&MClarinetist 
Date:   2010-10-25 20:18

I'm teaching a beginning clarinet student and when I was discussing the fork key she asked me why it was called a fork key. I did not have an answer which made me wonder: does anyone know the origin of key names? Thanks!

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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2010-10-25 20:57

I think the fork key's comes from the use of "fork" fingerings where non-adjacent fingers are the only ones covering holes. Now why that's a fork, I don't really know.

It's also called the sliver key (cause it looks like a little sliver) or a banana key (cause it's curved like a banana).

The ring keys on the clarinet are called "Brille" in German, which translates as eyeglasses! :)

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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: GBK 
Date:   2010-10-25 21:00

The fork key got it's name (from what I assume) from the resemblance to one of the tines on a fork.

More importantly is to use it in the correct circumstances...


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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: concertmaster3 
Date:   2010-10-25 21:13

I agree with Katrina's assumption. The forked F fingering on oboe is in the same manner ( x x x | x o x ) with the 2nd finger on the right hand lifted.

Ron Ford
Woodwind Specialist

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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2010-10-25 22:43

I've heard of fork fingerings but never a fork key. Some fork fingerings involve a sliver key (and I guess one could use a fork to eat a sliver of banana).

Best regards,

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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2010-10-25 23:05

The "sliver" key is NOT a fork key so who ever started calling it that is totally incorrect.
As noted above a fork fingering is XOX e.g. xxx/xox for RH B/F# or xox/ooo for forked Eb/Bb on clarinets with RH ring 3 mechanism.
The sliver key fingering is the normal non-forked fingering (and often gives a better tuned note for low B in particular.

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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-10-26 03:20

As long as I've taught, about 50 years, I've heard the key that is used for the fork fingering, which in some fingering charts is noted as the K fingering, called the sliver and banana key very often. As a matter of fact I learned those two terms from students because I've always referred to that fingering as "The Fork" fingering and the sliver key as the fork key just to keep it simple. In the left hand I write it as the F1, in the right hand as F2. Fork one and Fork two. I believe both should be learned in the chromatic scale to become comfortable with both of them. I have told students that it's also referred to as the other names as well. I think the banana key usually gets a good smile. ESP http://eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2010-10-26 04:59

>> forked <<

Oh I thought "forked" was just the way some English accents pronounce...

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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: Ian White 
Date:   2010-10-26 07:58

I like it Nitai!

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 Re: Origin of key names?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2010-10-26 16:22

Fork fingerings are with fingers 1 and 3 only of any hand - on Oehler/Albert systems there's forked Fs and Bbs (Bb/F xxx|xox and top Bb xox|ooo), likewise with Boehms there's the LH forked Eb/Bb if the mechanism is fitted.

B or F# played as xxo|xo/o isn't strictly speaking a forked fingering as it's opening a tonehole for the note to issue from and all other toneholes below it are open.

A true forked fingering has a tonehole closed below the open tonehole where the note issues from, so real forked fingerings are found on recorders, Baroque woodwinds, modern oboes, bassoons and non-Boehm system clarinets. On saxes, one good fingering for altissimo C has forked fingerings for both hands - 8ve xox|xox.


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