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Fingerings and Alternate Fingerings

So you can go right up the C scale in the higher octave with this simple
fingering: C = 0 / D = 1 / E = 0 / F = 1 / G = 3 / A = 3 / B = 3 / C = 0. What a
useful trick!

This example of false fingering now seems to me to do no harm and to bring


the required result. Unfortunately, the discovery came too late to affect my
own playing. The classical rules were ingrained and I was too old to learn new
tricks.

Here's another example of false fingering. The higher 'D' within the stave is
correctly played with first valve only; and that's how I was taught to play it.
But you can also get it (ever so slightly sharp) with a combination of first and
third valves.

As you probably know, when you use the second valve, you are lowering an
open note by a semi-tone; when you use the first valve, you are lowering the
note by a tone; when you use the third valve, you lower it by one and a half
tones. This suggests that the third valve can at any time substitute for the first
and second together, as either fingering lowers the note by one and a half
tones. However, manufacturers do not make the third valve slide exactly the
same length as the two other slides combined. That's why the tuning of
falsely-fingered notes is not absolutely spot on.

Apart from most of the harmonics (notes played without depressing any
valves) all notes in most keys are ever so slightly out of tune and theres no
way of avoiding this. The designers of brass instruments have to compromise
in the lengths of the tubing (just as pianos are tuned by equal temperament).

But enough of this heavy stuff. If you want to study the subject further, start
by looking up equal temperament on the Internet.

I just want to make a point about the consequences for cornets and trumpets.
For every note, we have a correct fingering (making the best use of the
instruments design) but most notes also have at least one false fingering
which produces the note very slightly sharp or flat but only to the extent that
a passer-by would hardly notice.
I said above that it is possible to play G and A and B above the stave all by
depressing third valve alone. In fact you can get any of the following eight
notes on a trumpet or cornet with third valve alone:

At a pinch, you can even get the high C above these notes with 3rd valve only.

But please dont tell anybody this little secret. You would get me into big
trouble with serious trumpet tutors. Lets just keep it between ourselves.

Its not just third valve that provides some useful false fingering, of course.
Here are the third and fourth bars of the most famous cadenza in all jazz
Louis Armstrongs introduction to West End Blues. I am showing here the
classically-correct fingering for the bar of descending quavers.

But if you have trouble playing that, just consider this: you can use first valve
alone on five successive notes!