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legato #2701997
01/04/18 04:44 AM
01/04/18 04:44 AM
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iamanders Offline OP
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From what I understand you can play repeates chords legato. An example would be Pastorale (Burgmüller). The G chord is repeated but great pianist actually play it legato although it's difficult.
When you have a single note being repeated there is a need for changing fingers in order to play legato.
So the question is: why can you play a chord (three notes) legato but a single note require changing of fingers for legato.
What are your thoughts?

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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2701998
01/04/18 04:57 AM
01/04/18 04:57 AM
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Offline
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You can play single note legato with one finger, it's just a little bit more difficult to do than changing of fingers.

Re: legato [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2702002
01/04/18 05:12 AM
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kevinb Offline
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
You can play single note legato with one finger, it's just a little bit more difficult to do than changing of fingers.


I don't believe you can play a single repeated note, or the same repeated chord, legato with any combination of fingers. The hammer has to fall and hit the note again.

Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2702003
01/04/18 05:20 AM
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dogperson Offline
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Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
You can play single note legato with one finger, it's just a little bit more difficult to do than changing of fingers.


I don't believe you can play a single repeated note, or the same repeated chord, legato with any combination of fingers. The hammer has to fall and hit the note again.


Hi Kevin
I think that you can have the sound of connectedness needed for legato even though the hammers do need to strike the keys again. The way my teacher instructed to do this is by keeping the fingers on the keys and pressing the note again. I hope this makes sense what I’m saying, but what you don’t want to do is remove your hand completely from the keys and restrike with a separation in movements.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: legato [Re: dogperson] #2702009
01/04/18 05:59 AM
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kevinb Offline
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Originally Posted by dogperson
I think that you can have the sound of connectedness needed for legato even though the hammers do need to strike the keys again. The way my teacher instructed to do this is by keeping the fingers on the keys and pressing the note again.


Fair enough -- I guess what you or your teacher means is to keep the key depressed sufficiently to prevent the damper falling. I can see how that would produce a better illusion of legato than allowing the damper to come down.

In the end, however, genuine legato of the kind that can be achieved on a flute or a violin is impossible on the piano, because of the percussive nature of the sound generation. Even with the damper up, the sound intensity dies away very quickly after the hammer strikes. There isn't a huge amount you can do with finger action to change this basic physical limitation. Just my $0.02, of course.

Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702061
01/04/18 10:53 AM
01/04/18 10:53 AM
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JohnSprung Online content
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Here's something to try: Play a key rather loud, and slowly let it back up until the damper just starts to contact the strings. Press down again. Does the note play again? It depends on how well the particular piano is regulated.

Hold several keys down -- a chord -- while you repeat another. Sympathetic vibration will keep a little of the sound going between repetitions.

And of course you can also just pedal it..... ;-)


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Re: legato [Re: JohnSprung] #2702559
01/06/18 04:06 AM
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kevinb Offline
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Here's something to try: Play a key rather loud, and slowly let it back up until the damper just starts to contact the strings. Press down again. Does the note play again? It depends on how well the particular piano is regulated.


On my acoustic piano -- which is very old and hasn't had a lot of maintenance -- it's exceptionally difficult to play the same note twice without the string being damped. I don't think it's something I could really learn to exploit, to improve the illusion of legato on single notes.

My digital piano, however, does it rather well. I only just discovered that when I tried it in response to your post. I guess I've had the acoustic piano a long time, and the digital only a few months, so I just assumed that the digital would play the same way as the acoustic.

So I'm curious now, whether better-quality, or better-maintained, acoustic pianos would allow better control of the string damper than mine does. I shall try this when I next get an opportunity to play on better pianos.

Still, my concern is that if one developed a playing technique that depended on the fine details of a piano's regulation, things could go badly wrong when playing a different piano.

Or do all quality pianos behave the same in this respect? To be honest, I don't play enough different pianos to have given it a lot of thought.

Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702574
01/06/18 05:57 AM
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It's due to the repetition mechanism of the piano action and, yes, all good accoustic pianos have it. My teacher recommended trying to feel that mechanism when playing Chopin to improve legato and signing tone.

I don't think it's a bad idea to depend on the features of a good piano for technique. You can learn on an accoustic and still have a very good technique when playing on a crappy synth-action keyboard even though the keyboard doesn't have all the nuances of the real piano. Doing it the other way is bound to produce very bad technique.


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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702709
01/06/18 05:40 PM
01/06/18 05:40 PM
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hreichgott Offline
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In a sense, legato repeated notes are only truly possible if the pedal is down -- the damper doesn't touch the string between notes.
But we all learn to play legato repeated notes with no pedal first. You allow the key to come up to the top for the barest blink of an eye, then play the note again. With kids I have them imagine glue on their fingers to get them to do similarly to what dogperson describes. It is an illusion, sure, but if you do it right it's so close to a true legato that it's hard to tell the difference. (And the sound waves are still bouncing around the room during that very brief period of time that the key is up, so the sound doesn't truly stop.)
This works the same way whether you are playing chords or single notes, and the same way whether you keep the same finger or change fingers.

(It is possible to do what JohnSprung suggests, where you only let the key come up to the point where your piano's hammer is ready to play again, but that point is different on every piano -- it would require completely re-learning your legato technique every time you went to play on a different piano.)

Last edited by hreichgott; 01/06/18 05:44 PM.

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Re: legato [Re: hreichgott] #2702769
01/06/18 10:50 PM
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Whizbang Offline
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
With kids I have them imagine glue on their fingers to get them to do similarly to what dogperson describes.


...and you wait patiently until the film dries and then you oh so carefully pull the membrane from each of your fingers and get that perfect transparent fingerprint...

Sorry, was just having a moment there.


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Re: legato [Re: hreichgott] #2702790
01/07/18 02:49 AM
01/07/18 02:49 AM
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kevinb Offline
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
(It is possible to do what JohnSprung suggests, where you only let the key come up to the point where your piano's hammer is ready to play again, but that point is different on every piano -- it would require completely re-learning your legato technique every time you went to play on a different piano.)


That's my worry. When I play piano in public settings, it's usually in "village hall" environments. I count myself lucky if all the keys sound a note. I certainly wouldn't want to have to find a one millimetre point in the travel of each key where it's possible to resound the note without the hammer falling.

Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2702796
01/07/18 03:49 AM
01/07/18 03:49 AM
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
You can play single note legato with one finger, it's just a little bit more difficult to do than changing of fingers.


I don't believe you can play a single repeated note, or the same repeated chord, legato with any combination of fingers. The hammer has to fall and hit the note again.

You are correct.

The idea that you can connect anything repeated on the piano is magic thinking.

The best you can do is to narrow the gap as much as possible between when the dampers stop the vibration and when it starts again, with the next striking of the hammer.

Change of fingers for one repeated note is not for legato. It is for speed.

There is nothing I can think of that causes unnecessary tension quicker in developing players than trying to connect things, with the fingers, that no top pianist would ever do.


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Re: legato [Re: Gary D.] #2702798
01/07/18 04:17 AM
01/07/18 04:17 AM
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outo Offline
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
You can play single note legato with one finger, it's just a little bit more difficult to do than changing of fingers.


I don't believe you can play a single repeated note, or the same repeated chord, legato with any combination of fingers. The hammer has to fall and hit the note again.

You are correct.

The idea that you can connect anything repeated on the piano is magic thinking.

The best you can do is to narrow the gap as much as possible between when the dampers stop the vibration and when it starts again, with the next striking of the hammer.

Change of fingers for one repeated note is not for legato. It is for speed.

There is nothing I can think of that causes unnecessary tension quicker in developing players than trying to connect things, with the fingers, that no top pianist would ever do.

That is so true! The problem is that so many adults start playing the piano and listen to recordings and try to play in the way that they think the pianist is playing. If one is lucky one gets a teacher who will demystify all those things and show you how much in piano playing is make believe rather than literally doing everything as written.

Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702802
01/07/18 05:02 AM
01/07/18 05:02 AM
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Nahum Offline
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Double escapement already mentioned?

Last edited by Nahum; 01/07/18 05:07 AM.
Re: legato [Re: Nahum] #2702807
01/07/18 06:11 AM
01/07/18 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Double escapement already mentioned?

Yes, and there seems to be disagreement regarding it.

Originally Posted by hreichgott

(It is possible to do what JohnSprung suggests, where you only let the key come up to the point where your piano's hammer is ready to play again, but that point is different on every piano -- it would require completely re-learning your legato technique every time you went to play on a different piano.)

Every piano also has different key weights, a different half-pedal point, a different decay time, a different dynamic range, etc. Not to mention differences due to room accoustics. Does it mean you have to "completely re-learn your technique" when you switch pianos? You have to adjust for sure but I disagree that you have to re-learn anything.

I'm sure many of us played on a bad upright where it's hard to even do a proper trill because the keys don't come up fast enough. Would you dismiss trilling as an essential technique because of this possible limitation?


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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702809
01/07/18 06:43 AM
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Judicious use of the double escapement enables a pianist to play really sotto voce (- and good digitals also simulate the same thing reliably) as well as legato on the same note without pedal, by re-striking the same key before it has returned beyond the point of damper release (i.e. before the 'notch' feel).

But it's only possible on a piano you're very familiar with and when playing slow music, and it requires great control (as it's very easy to get 'silent notes': you actually have to play 'louder' to achieve the effect). However, when used appropriately, it can be very effective.


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Re: legato [Re: Qazsedcft] #2702812
01/07/18 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I'm sure many of us played on a bad upright where it's hard to even do a proper trill because the keys don't come up fast enough. Would you dismiss trilling as an essential technique because of this possible limitation?


I guess it depends on what work you're willing to do, to become reasonably competent on the kinds of pianos you're likely to play. I once played as an accompanist on an upright piano, that went completely silent when the soft pedal was depressed. That was a nasty experience, but I guess that doesn't mean that I should never use that pedal again.

On the other hand, if use of the soft pedal was likely to take me weeks and weeks of diligent practice, I'm not sure I'd want to invest that time, given my experiences. I've played on pianos where some of the keys don't sound at all, but I'm doubt I would want to avoid learning to play music that uses those keys.

It's really a matter of the environment you work in, and the time you're willing to commit. For me, there's absolutely no mileage in spending hours learning to do something that is only possible on top-quality instruments, because I'm rarely called on to play on one.

Re: legato [Re: Gary D.] #2702813
01/07/18 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
The best you can do is to narrow the gap as much as possible between when the dampers stop the vibration and when it starts again, with the next striking of the hammer.

Change of fingers for one repeated note is not for legato. It is for speed.


That's my understanding, also.

But...

Quite a lot of the music I have shows fingering that changes on successive, repeated notes, even in slow passages. Even semibreves. Sometimes that's because it's necessary to get the hand ready for a later note; but it's hard to understand why an editor might write fingering 2-3-2 (for example) on repeated semibreves, unless he thought there was some benefit to this change of fingering.

My view is that it isn't reasonably practicable to try to improve the illusion of legato by very fussy and technical finger changes, but I think that some music editors believe it is.

Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2702821
01/07/18 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by kevinb
Quite a lot of the music I have shows fingering that changes on successive, repeated notes, even in slow passages. Even semibreves. Sometimes that's because it's necessary to get the hand ready for a later note; but it's hard to understand why an editor might write fingering 2-3-2 (for example) on repeated semibreves, unless he thought there was some benefit to this change of fingering.

My view is that it isn't reasonably practicable to try to improve the illusion of legato by very fussy and technical finger changes, but I think that some music editors believe it is.

That's a different matter. The reason for finger changes is not necessarily for legato but for the difference in tone you get with different fingers.


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Re: legato [Re: Qazsedcft] #2702822
01/07/18 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
That's a different matter. The reason for finger changes is not necessarily for legato but for the difference in tone you get with different fingers.


Why? Does the hammer hit the string differently?

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