Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2.7 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
Find a Professional
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers

Advertise on Piano World

(ad)
Accu-Tuner
Sanderson Accu-Tuner
Who's Online Now
59 registered members (Animisha, 5150917069, Arty Movie, Chris Vitale, apianostudent, beginer, BeeZee4, AZNpiano, 12 invisible), 10,069 guests, and 5 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Directory/Site Map
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords & Scales
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3
Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? #1479832
07/23/10 11:53 AM
07/23/10 11:53 AM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 18
N
nauru Offline OP
Junior Member
nauru  Offline OP
Junior Member
N

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 18
I was just thinking today about perceived difficulty and actual difficulty of various pieces for the piano.

I'm sure we've all sat down at the piano and played something relatively straight-forward for some non-pianist, only to find that they are mightily impressed. And conversely I bet a lot of us have played something generally considered quite challenging, only to get a reaction from the person that the piece was not so tough.

1. So if I would ask for some pieces which have a particularly large discrepancy between perceived difficulty and actual difficulty, which ones come to mind?

Either solo or concerto is fine for the list. Could be either "sounds hard, but is actually not that hard" or "sounds fairly simple but is actually quite tough".

2. Second level of this question would be whether there are certain demographic groups who might tend (on average with a large sample) to have a difficulty perception skewed toward or against certain types of classical music (baroque vs romantic, for example) or certain composers. It's difficult to research this conclusively, but I'd be interested to hear people's hypotheses, speculations and conjectures.

I have some ideas in mind for both 1 and 2, but thought I'd leave these questions neutral and get a few comments here before adding my .02.

***Note for nitpickers! Before calling this thread out for the sweeping generalization fallacy, please bear in mind that it is obvious that generalizing the music tastes of large groups is very difficult; however I invite people to try anyway. Obviously there are always exceptions, and I doubt anybody actually believes all people with demographic characteristic x consider music category y more complex/challenging/enjoyable. I'm simply asking for guesses as to the locations of probability distributions for different groups.***

Last edited by nauru; 07/23/10 11:55 AM.
Piano & Music Gifts & Accessories (570)
Piano accessories and music gift items, digital piano dolly, music theme party goods
Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: nauru] #1479843
07/23/10 12:13 PM
07/23/10 12:13 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 833
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
500 Post Club Member
WinsomeAllegretto  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 833
As for question 1, when I have played Bach Prelude in B flat major (from WTC book I) for some non-pianist friends, they have been very impressed and thought it must be really hard. But in reality, it is quite easy.

And then of course whenever I play anything, hard or easy, my little brother always scoffs and says he could do it easily :P

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto] #1479862
07/23/10 12:35 PM
07/23/10 12:35 PM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 758
Northeast Pennsylvania
M
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member
moscheles001  Offline
500 Post Club Member
M

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 758
Northeast Pennsylvania
So can he?

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: moscheles001] #1479869
07/23/10 12:41 PM
07/23/10 12:41 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 833
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
500 Post Club Member
WinsomeAllegretto  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 833
haha, not him! I taught him lessons for like 2 months and then he gave up.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto] #1479881
07/23/10 01:00 PM
07/23/10 01:00 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 751
S
Skorpius Offline
500 Post Club Member
Skorpius  Offline
500 Post Club Member
S

Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 751
Grieg Concerto...1st movement. I looked at the cadenza and the runs, was terrified, and I played them...I sightread a lot of it XD


Working On-

Deux Arabesques, Debussy


On Queue-

Danse Russe from Petroushka, Stravinsky
Toccata, Ravel




Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto] #1479882
07/23/10 01:01 PM
07/23/10 01:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 4,728
not somewhere over the rainbow
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Pogorelich.  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 4,728
not somewhere over the rainbow
Bach c sharp minor from book I. So difficult, like all Bach, of course doesn't sound hard because it's a slower one. But the 5 voices are not easy!

And then everybody hears rach 2 and gives it a title of insane difficulty. I'll just say, it easier than any Bach..



"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."
Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: Pogorelich.] #1479889
07/23/10 01:18 PM
07/23/10 01:18 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,065
Evansville, Indiana
JdhPiano924 Offline
1000 Post Club Member
JdhPiano924  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,065
Evansville, Indiana
This thread reminds me of when I played the Brahms D minor concerto. It was my first concerto, my teacher said to me, I will not teach you the Grieg or Schumann I am sick of them. Then he said, you should play Brahms First. It is not difficult at all, except for a horrendous octave passage.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: JdhPiano924] #1479924
07/23/10 02:09 PM
07/23/10 02:09 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 98
Q
Quickster94 Offline
Full Member
Quickster94  Offline
Full Member
Q

Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 98
I think a lot of Bach fugues would fall into the "harder than they appear" category due to the the immense difficulty of voicing the (2)3-5 parts correctly.

Fugue 8 from WTC 1 comes to mind, its extreme slowness makes it seem even easier (it's probably one of the most difficult and frustrating pieces I have ever played, though I'm not really a Bach person).

In general I think fast pieces always seem harder and slow pieces easier to the untrained ear. Beyond that, I'm not sure I can think of a more specific generalization, though the Bach fugues seems right to me.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: Quickster94] #1479931
07/23/10 02:18 PM
07/23/10 02:18 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 833
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
500 Post Club Member
WinsomeAllegretto  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 833
Originally Posted by Quickster94

In general I think fast pieces always seem harder and slow pieces easier to the untrained ear. .


Yep, I think you've hit the nail right on the head. For example, I used to think that the tarantella by Pieczonka sounded really hard, though my teacher told me it wasn't as hard as it sounds. Then when I saw the actual score I realized that, though it isn't the easiest piece ever, it really isn't that horribly difficult either.

PS, I'll admit that I've never learned a 5 part fugue, but Bach has never seemed very hard to play...

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto] #1479933
07/23/10 02:23 PM
07/23/10 02:23 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,065
Evansville, Indiana
JdhPiano924 Offline
1000 Post Club Member
JdhPiano924  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,065
Evansville, Indiana
Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
Originally Posted by Quickster94

In general I think fast pieces always seem harder and slow pieces easier to the untrained ear. .


Yep, I think you've hit the nail right on the head. For example, I used to think that the tarantella by Pieczonka sounded really hard, though my teacher told me it wasn't as hard as it sounds. Then when I saw the actual score I realized that, though it isn't the easiest piece ever, it really isn't that horribly difficult either.

PS, I'll admit that I've never learned a 5 part fugue, but Bach has never seemed very hard to me...

I think another nail in the coffin for Bach difficulty is the simple fact they were not written as piano pieces, the piano only came into existence towards the end of Bach's life.

Last edited by jdhampton924; 07/23/10 02:23 PM.
Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: JdhPiano924] #1479936
07/23/10 02:27 PM
07/23/10 02:27 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,654
New York City
Phlebas Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Phlebas  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,654
New York City
Chopin 10/2. I've told a number of non-pianists that this is one of the hardest etudes - without explaining why - and they think it sounds easy compared to - say - the Revolutionary.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: Phlebas] #1479940
07/23/10 02:36 PM
07/23/10 02:36 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 6,876
Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Orange Soda King  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 6,876
Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Sounds hard but isn't quite as difficult as people make it out to be: Most of Alkan's music.

Sounds easy but is actually hard: Middle movements of Beethoven's Sonata in B Flat Major Op. 22.

I'm learning Ravel's Concerto in G (all 3 movements), and I don't know how much harder or easier it is than it sounds. This one may be even. I wonder what its difficulty is compared to, oh I don't know, maybe Schumann's, Rachmaninoff's 2nd, or Tchaikovsky's 1st?

Last edited by Orange Soda King; 07/23/10 02:42 PM.
Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: JdhPiano924] #1479960
07/23/10 03:22 PM
07/23/10 03:22 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 833
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
500 Post Club Member
WinsomeAllegretto  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 833
Originally Posted by jdhampton924
Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
Originally Posted by Quickster94

In general I think fast pieces always seem harder and slow pieces easier to the untrained ear. .


Yep, I think you've hit the nail right on the head. For example, I used to think that the tarantella by Pieczonka sounded really hard, though my teacher told me it wasn't as hard as it sounds. Then when I saw the actual score I realized that, though it isn't the easiest piece ever, it really isn't that horribly difficult either.

PS, I'll admit that I've never learned a 5 part fugue, but Bach has never seemed very hard to me...

I think another nail in the coffin for Bach difficulty is the simple fact they were not written as piano pieces, the piano only came into existence towards the end of Bach's life.



What I'm saying is that Bach is NOT as hard as it seems. I mean it seems like it would be hard to play all the different lines, but once you work out a method of practicing it, it just takes time. It doesn't have a lot of big leaps or other difficult technical things, and the melody is mostly stepwise or skips close together. The only hard thing is bringing out whichever line you want to bring out.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: WinsomeAllegretto] #1479998
07/23/10 04:14 PM
07/23/10 04:14 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 35
A
Afterthought Offline
Full Member
Afterthought  Offline
Full Member
A

Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 35
To me, Bach sounds simple. Of course, I realize that a five-part fugue is far from easy, but to the untrained ear, his works sound simple. Since there is not much texture, people automatically assume it's easier, when in reality, it just brings out your flaws when playing.

Poulenc's Concerto for piano and orchestra is a lot more difficult than you'd think. (I'm not talking about the more well-known one for two pianos, but the lesser-known one.) The first few months I worked on it, I didn't find it particularly difficult. Sure, there were some technical difficulties, but it wasn't that bad. But now that I've known it for about a year now, I've started realizing that there are many hidden melodies that Poulenc throws in. The accompaniment has the melody most of the time, so I thought, but then I found seemingly random notes that added to the melody. It was like he took the melody, put it threw a paper shredder, scattered it amongst the piano solo, and put in a fake melody for the orchestra to throw you off. A lot more difficult.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: Afterthought] #1480191
07/23/10 10:02 PM
07/23/10 10:02 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,941
Australia
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Canonie  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,941
Australia
I've had the experience of getting "wow that's amazing" from a Bach Invention in only 2 parts. The untrained ear may be able to hear the 2 lines, realise the "impossibility" of the player's brain being able to follow both at once, and delight in the complexity. I've been surprised a few times by this positive reaction (I had assumed that listener wouldn't especially like this music). It was no 8 and 13 btw.

A fugue in 4 voices on the other hand is perhaps too complex for a new listener, so they miss the "wow" and it just sounds like a generally busy piece.


[Linked Image]
Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.
Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: Canonie] #1480209
07/23/10 10:35 PM
07/23/10 10:35 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,623
New York City
pianoloverus Online content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
pianoloverus  Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,623
New York City
Kreisler's Easy Piece is not as hard as it sounds.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: pianoloverus] #1480213
07/23/10 10:38 PM
07/23/10 10:38 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 6,876
Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Orange Soda King  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 6,876
Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Kreisler's Easy Piece is not as hard as it sounds.


um well just let me say something YEAH it is its a harder song then you think.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: Orange Soda King] #1480221
07/23/10 10:51 PM
07/23/10 10:51 PM
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 2,194
Canada
K
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Kuanpiano  Offline
2000 Post Club Member
K

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 2,194
Canada
Scriabin's 42 no.5 comes across as less difficult than it really is. I think also the etude op.65 no.1? If you just listen, you don't realize how impossible it is, with all of those ninths flying everywhere.

With Liszt, the opposite is true, where the "hard" parts are easier than what they sound like. Like how in Chasse-Neige, once the theme comes back Fortissimo after the chromatic section in alternating octaves, it's actually easier than before.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: nauru] #1480245
07/23/10 11:53 PM
07/23/10 11:53 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 969
California
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member
Ferdinand  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 969
California
Any Mozart sonata.

Re: Difficulty, perceived vs actual. Largest discrepancy pieces? [Re: Ferdinand] #1480250
07/23/10 11:58 PM
07/23/10 11:58 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 219
C
cast12 Offline
Full Member
cast12  Offline
Full Member
C

Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 219
Fantasie Impromptu is so much easier than it sounds.

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

Shop our Store for Music Lovers!
PianoSupplies.com is Piano World's Online Store
Please visit our store today.
(ad)
Pianoteq
PianoTeq Bechstein
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
homage to bach
by OscoBosco. 09/18/19 11:53 PM
Kawai CS8 and ES8
by Dkrs60. 09/18/19 08:39 PM
Yamaha Motif XS8
by P W Grey. 09/18/19 08:22 PM
Rhetorical Question about Piano Placement
by Deltajockey. 09/18/19 08:04 PM
What's Hot!!
Our August Newsletter is Out!
------------------
Mason & Hamlin Piano Factory Tour!

-------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
Forum Statistics
Forums41
Topics194,100
Posts2,870,918
Members94,446
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers


Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers


 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2019 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.1