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#2216335 - 01/17/14 05:57 PM An observation on technique I just came across.  
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ChopinLives81 Offline
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Today I was practicing this section of Liszt's legend no.2

[Linked Image]

And I was having a really and I mean really difficult time playing the arpeggios even slowly. Each hand separate is no problem, but together is an issue. Of course after a while I began to notice improvement, but then it occurred to me to try something.

In the thread about "curled fingers, sham competitions, and other BS" Pianoloverus mentioned how most pianists play with curved fingers except for Horowitz who plays with flat fingers. I decided to put my typical technique aside and try the section with flat fingers ala-Horowitz and voila, suddenly I could play the arpeggios accurately and at speed.

Now I'm not saying this would work for everyone, but I think it's worth looking into since I believe most people (like myself) would never really try to play the way Horowitz plays.

Just a thought.

Last edited by ChopinLives81; 01/17/14 06:00 PM.

"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

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#2216340 - 01/17/14 06:04 PM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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Dwscamel Offline
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Ha! I like where this is going.

Horowitz knew what he was doing.


Beethoven - Op.49 No.1 (sonata 19)
Czerny - Op.299 Nos. 5,7 (School of Velocity)
Liszt - S.172 No.2 (Consolation No.2)

Dream piece:
Rachmaninoff - Sonata 2, movement 2 in E minor
#2216344 - 01/17/14 06:08 PM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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TwoSnowflakes Offline
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I'm at a lower level than you, but I am still taking lessons and I can say that when, last week, I struggled to pick up the speed on a particularly difficult arpeggio, my teacher suggested, "flatten it out, just a tad" and there it went.

So I'm sure there's something to it, but I'm pretty sure it is but one tool in an arsenal of many.

#2216347 - 01/17/14 06:16 PM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: TwoSnowflakes]  
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ChopinLives81 Offline
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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
I'm at a lower level than you, but I am still taking lessons and I can say that when, last week, I struggled to pick up the speed on a particularly difficult arpeggio, my teacher suggested, "flatten it out, just a tad" and there it went.

So I'm sure there's something to it, but I'm pretty sure it is but one tool in an arsenal of many.


I'm glad someone else has some experience with this. It really makes me wonder what other "tools" exist out there that are contrary to conventional wisdom.


"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
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#2216351 - 01/17/14 06:20 PM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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If the notes are spread out in a passage(like arpeggios) and one is trying to "cover" them I think this automatically means one has to play with flatter fingers then one would use in playing a scale, for example. When one's fingers are spread out they are automatically flatter. I think all pianists, not just Horowitz, would do this.

But I also think Horowitz's flat fingered approach was used where many pianists wouldn't use it or necessarily benefit from it.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/17/14 06:23 PM.
#2216352 - 01/17/14 06:29 PM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: pianoloverus]  
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ChopinLives81 Offline
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If the notes are spread out in a passage(like arpeggios) and one is trying to "cover" them I think this automatically means one has to play with flatter fingers then one would use in playing a scale, for example. When one's fingers are spread out they are automatically flatter. I think all pianists, not just Horowitz, would do this.

But I also think Horowitz's flat fingered approach was used where many pianists wouldn't use it or necessarily benefit from it.


It could just be me, but I know whenever I play anything I try and "maintain" as much of a curved form on my fingers/hands as possible under the assumption that I'm keeping "proper" form. What you're saying is true and it does happen inevitably, but I think a lot of people will still think about "i need to keep a curved form" as opposed to "I need to flatten my fingers for better execution". I think the mental aspect hinders a lot in cases like this.

Last edited by ChopinLives81; 01/17/14 06:30 PM.

"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81
#2216369 - 01/17/14 07:29 PM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I use flat fingers during the downward arpeggios at the end of Chopin 36. That's the only way I can.

#2216440 - 01/17/14 10:35 PM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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phantomFive Online content
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It's likely easier for you because there are a lot of black notes. Hitting the black notes quickly on curved fingers takes a lot of mental precision, because they are skinny.

As Liszt said, use whatever technique works for you (or something like that). However, I would bet that if you go through the effort to play it with your finger tips, you will be rewarded with higher skill.


Poetry is rhythm
#2216444 - 01/17/14 10:41 PM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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In general, I've found that the more my fingers are curved, the more 'marcato' the sound is. There's a certain point where you get jeu perle, and then past that you're almost on the fingernails and it gets harsh again. With flatter fingers, you can get more of a 'wash' of sound which works in a passage like this.

When I was playing the Liszt Ballade No. 2 I did the same thing with the opening chromatic scales. The tendency would be to play a passage like that with curved fingers for accuracy, but that didn't seem to fit where the music was going. So I worked out how to do it with flat fingers so that the sound had more of a rushing or surging quality, even if I sometimes fudged a note or two.

#2216633 - 01/18/14 10:57 AM Re: An observation on technique I just came across. [Re: ChopinLives81]  
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I sometimes lock up my hand a little too much when playing arpeggios, playing too much from the wrist. Could this also be your problem and that flattening brings back a little more finger action?


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