When somebody is playing a piano they occasionaly increase or decrease the distance between their fingers so to reach farthest notes or closest ones. What are these two finger positions and actions called?

Clarification: when the fingers are very close to each other you can play notes that are byside each other. When the fingers are far from each other (depending on the hand) you can play notes that have a larger interval than a second.

Edit: I've noticed "gather" being used to get the fingers closer and "stretch" to get them further from each other. Would that be correct?

  • Spread (or stretch out), contract? Not sure Aug 25, 2017 at 19:18
  • @laugh Neither am I. That's why I am asking. Aug 25, 2017 at 19:21
  • 1
    Do you have terms for these actions and positions in your native language? Aug 25, 2017 at 19:33
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    Spread is the term that is used in sports. I don't think that there is a specific term for moving the fingers closer together: that's regarded as the 'normal' position for fingers.
    – JavaLatte
    Aug 25, 2017 at 20:01
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    I believe the nouns are adduction and abduction. Aug 25, 2017 at 20:09

2 Answers 2


A practised piano player's fingers can easily span an octave - sometimes more.

  • Most players can span at least a minor tenth, maybe a major tenth.
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 25, 2017 at 20:37
  • @ColinFine yes, but my answer was the usage of word span, not a comment on the player's ability. Aug 25, 2017 at 20:39

adduction - to adduct - To draw inward toward the median axis of the body or toward an adjacent part or limb.

abduction - to abduct - to draw or spread away (as a limb or the fingers) from a position near or parallel to the median axis of the body or from the axis of a limb

From Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th Ed.


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