While the Janko pattern is cool, it flopped a century ago, and perhaps not all the blame lies in greedy piano teachers. After all, pianos are hard to lug around, and an reduction from learning 12 (!) fingering patterns to just 1 streamlines only one part of the playing experience. After all, the simple alternative is to just learn one pattern as was often done.
Can we do better? Can we take advantage of the fact that some notes are physically adjacent? Normally on a piano you’d seldom play adjacent (Black and white) notes.
Lets look at the important notes in the scale. In all scales there’s a special note, the Root, it’s odd twin the Octave, shown in green on the right.
They have special partners the 5th and the 4th, also know as the dominant and sub-dominant.
Practically every musically useful chord pairs a root or the octave with the 4th or 5th. With a linear layout, the useful notes are spread out and you have to bop around a lot: great, big hand motions are needed, and the piano keys are big and heavy because the thumb also has to be able to play them.
If we slide the notes in the second row over a bit, the 4th and the 5th can be put right above the root.
Consequences both simple and a bit bizarre
And there's more:
So there you have it – here’s an instrument that you can play in any key, significantly faster, and as I show in the next segment, also allows you to jam, improvise, arrange, understand and therefore teach music far faster.
So how do you get one? You either join the ThumClub, and lobby for a Thummer(tm) (joining does not seem to get you more than 2 emails a year, for those spam-shy), or build one. I, naturally, recommend both.
* We'll deal with thirds later; they are a fully a topic on their own.
* Also note the this idea is not unique, a guitar's strings mostly go up in fourths (4th, 4th, 4th, 3rd & 4th to be precise), and some guitarists tune all their strings up in perfect fourths, violins strings are always tuned up in perfect 5ths. Finally, European accordions (concertinas) have this precise layout, known formally as Wicki-Hayden.
Gavin Healy, one of the world's first jammer players, wrote: