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#1222142 - 06/24/09 01:23 PM Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm  
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sotto voce Offline
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Some pieces have a uniform character throughout, while others have contrasting episodes, passages or sections. Sometimes the transitions in tempo, dynamics and figuration are gradual, but occasionally the contrasts are abrupt or even immediate.

How do you manage sudden changes? Does anyone else find it challenging, for instance, to make an instantaneous leap from dense fortissimo chords to pianissimo scalar passages? How do you deal with halting the intense buildup of momentum and energy that must cease at once and be replaced by a delicate, subtle, graceful touch?

An abrupt change in the other direction isn't a problem for me; I can summon the necessary vigor on the spot without building up to it. When there's no transitional passage to facilitate a cooling off or calming down, though, it's not so easy to halt the impetus of exertion and make it dissipate immediately.

Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions.

Steven

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#1222176 - 06/24/09 02:17 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: sotto voce]  
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Well, I think understanding what the reasons for it helps (or at least coming to some understanding of that yourself, whether or not it is what the composer may have thought). If there is a purpose for it, then that always makes something easier to convey musically. Sometimes in our thought patterns, we go over and over something in our minds, until it gets pretty intense, and then suddenly, we can shift to a feeling of say, despair over the situation. Having the thought process behind what the score says makes it much easier to accomplish.


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#1222255 - 06/24/09 04:30 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: Morodiene]  
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Steven :

Would you please cite some examples of this type of transition?

Regards,


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#1222308 - 06/24/09 06:56 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: BruceD]  
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I don't know about Steven, but the second and third movements of the Tempest give me a trial with all the piano sub.

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#1222322 - 06/24/09 07:39 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: jtattoo]  
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I've just wrestled with this problem in the 4th variation from Schubert's op 142 no 3.I can't offer any insights but sheer repetition showed me the way in the end.
On second thoughts, the only thing I would say is that it seemed to help to push off of the last note of the forte sections somewhat, if that makes any sense.

#1222334 - 06/24/09 08:17 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: timmyab]  
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Is that the minor key variation? Yes I can envision the presence of something like the issue Steven reported in that section of 142/3.





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#1222351 - 06/24/09 08:57 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: sotto voce]  
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Originally Posted by sotto voce
SNIP How do you deal with halting the intense buildup of momentum and energy that must cease at once and be replaced by a delicate, subtle, graceful touch?
SNIP
When there's no transitional passage to facilitate a cooling off or calming down, though, it's not so easy to halt the impetus of exertion and make it dissipate immediately.


A suggestion: try starting a measure or two before the subito change and just the first measure or two of the slower, more quiet, section. RELAX as much as possible in the first phrase after the change point. FOCUS on slowing your breathing, be very deliberate about the first few notes; try to get the FEELING of the change.

Once you've done that a few dozen times and can make it happen without any strain at all, back up to the beginning of the louder, more yang, section - take a running start, and stop a phrase or so into the yin, reflective, quieter section that follows.

Once that works, extend the quieter section as well.

I think you should be able to play things just fine after all that.

Best of luck.


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#1222353 - 06/24/09 09:00 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: gerg]  
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Might have known some of you would mention Schubert. I just went through something similar in the 2nd movement of his Sonata in E minor D. 566. Triplets in right hand alternating up and down an octave with octaves in left marked forte and then dropping down to a trill in the left against continuing triplets in right maked p. (He repeats this twice with the left hand descending.)

Took quite a while to get it. (My teacher really wanted to hear the contrast.) Lots of slow practice, extremely clean pedalling and a slight pause/breath before the p, which you needed anyhow to clear the sound.


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#1222356 - 06/24/09 09:05 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: gerg]  
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Originally Posted by gerg
Is that the minor key variation? Yes I can envision the presence of something like the issue Steven reported in that section of 142/3.


No it's the tricky little devil in G flat major that follows it.

Last edited by timmyab; 06/24/09 09:07 PM.
#1222401 - 06/24/09 11:38 PM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: BruceD]  
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Steven :

Would you please cite some examples of this type of transition?

Regards,

These are two spots where I'm currently having the experience I described. (The images are from the Mikuli edition of Chopin's Allegro de Concert Op. 46.)

Here, the G-sharp octaves in both hands at bar 164 punctuate the climax of a crescendo with escalating tension; the ensuing piano subito passage commences without missing a beat:

[Linked Image]

In the next instance, the two bars of fortissimo chords (190-191, marked stretto in at least one other edition) conclude with the thunderous downbeat in bar 192, and several measures of quiet staccato chords suggestive of a distant drumbeat follow immediately thereafter:

[Linked Image]

The physical sensation I experience in these spots is akin to having exercised vigorously and then suddenly stopping and needing to return to a normal state—or having roller-skated for a long period, stopping and continuing to feel impelled by forward motion—or being all dressed up with nowhere to go. smile

I don't mean to overstate the nature of the technical issue here, which I think can be reduced to the fact it feels so strange to proceed directly from blunt force to delicate finesse without any kind of rallentando to separate the passages. The sort of control needed is so different in each case, and there's simply no time available to adjust to the immediate change.

I figured there must be numerous examples of such sequences in the standard canon (though I couldn't think of any), and I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one who's felt challenged by them.

Steven

#1222415 - 06/25/09 12:21 AM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: sotto voce]  
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You have no idea how much I've thought about how to phrase going from measure 104 to 105 in Beethoven's Op. 10 No. 3, first movement.

I'm thinking just take a deep breath and go with it? laugh

Matt

#1222421 - 06/25/09 12:52 AM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: Seeker]  
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Originally Posted by Seeker

A suggestion: try starting a measure or two before the subito change and just the first measure or two of the slower, more quiet, section. RELAX as much as possible in the first phrase after the change point. FOCUS on slowing your breathing, be very deliberate about the first few notes; try to get the FEELING of the change.

Once you've done that a few dozen times and can make it happen without any strain at all, back up to the beginning of the louder, more yang, section - take a running start, and stop a phrase or so into the yin, reflective, quieter section that follows.


Well stated and that should help us make the transitions.

I tend to live the piece, like becoming an actress, so can change the moods pretty easily. In fact I rather like quick mood changes. Love the romantic classics. I often feel like I become the composer himself instead of being the pianist.


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
#1222957 - 06/26/09 07:20 AM Re: Abrupt transitions - reaching calm after the storm [Re: lilylady]  
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Thanks very much to all who responded.

Steven


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