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Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2702857
01/07/18 11:05 AM
01/07/18 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by kevinb
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?

Physically, no, the only thing you can affect is the speed and acceleration of the hammers. But you're not a robot. Humans don't control the sound by calculating how much acceleration of the arm and the hand and the finger is necessary for each note. We do it by imagining the effect we want to produce and then moving our hands as naturally as possible to produce that effect. Changing fingers is sometimes the most natural way to do that.


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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702868
01/07/18 11:54 AM
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Teachers often teach student to change fingers whenever there are repeated notes, to get them used to doing so in slow music, before they have to do it in fast music, when it's the only way to repeat notes quickly.

If you are advanced, of course, you change fingers only if there is a reason to, or you like the effect better.

This great pianist doesn't change fingers on the repeated note theme in the slow movement (starting at 7:00):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V4bGocFwnE


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: legato [Re: Gary D.] #2702878
01/07/18 12:39 PM
01/07/18 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
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.

The last line in this post is especially important. It was also the point in the video that Tubbie linked to a week or so ago (Mortensen?), and I'm not sure that the point there was gotten.

As per Mortenson, and also what I have learned, the piano is much an instrument of illusion, and the pianist is an illusionist. The point is not to literally create a given effect, but to give the impression of such an effect upon the audience. In this instance, if you strive to literally created legato by connecting all the notes - for adjacent notes you have a slight overlap of sound, one blending into the next in "true legato", if you strive to do this you can introduce a lot of tension (Gary's point above). You also limit what you might be able to do. True legato on repeated notes and chords can only be achieved through pedal. The impression of legato through some of the devices described here, such as the timing of release and repeat along the escapement path of a well set up good piano, that can be done. But is it necessary?

I was once newly in a choir where we would be performing Brahms. Our choirmaster knew the church had a huge echo. He had us sing a given passage very staccato. It sounded horrid in our non-acoustic practice room. He explained that it would sound perfect in the church, because the echo would create just the right blend of sound. In the church our staccato singing created a legato effect.

I used to get tension in my hand because my movements literally reflected how I heard the music. I.e., if a note lasted 4 beats, I "held down" that note for 4 beats, just like I wouldn't let go of a sung note - except that in piano you do have to let go. Your actions don't literally match the intended sound in such instances. It still feels weird to me at times.

Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702887
01/07/18 01:24 PM
01/07/18 01:24 PM
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Yes, a lot of playing is an illusion, and that includes holding down the the notes where you’re still using the pedal. I don’t see any reason for this to create tension, as you can keep your hands on the keys maintainIng the illusion that you are pressing the note But playing with no pressure and therefore no tension. If you’re playing for an audience, this illusion is important, particularly on the end notes of the piece: The pedal should be released at the same time as the hands are released.


"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: kevinb] #2702899
01/07/18 01:59 PM
01/07/18 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by kevinb
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.

Changing fingers on every note that is repeated, regardless of speed, has nothing to do with the way the piano works. It is a sort of belief system, and you see it front and center with certain editors. For instance, you will see three repeated notes, rather slow, shown changing fingers, then those same notes will be repeated in octaves, nothing else different, quite obviously not with changing fingers on the octaves. And remember small hands can't even physical play many octaves even with finger 4.

A perfect example of this idea of always changing fingers is in Fuer Elise, the C section, where you have repeated notes almost for a page. In most editions you will see changing fingering shown, something like 321 321. A student will think that changing fingers there is better, smoother, more even.

Watch the left hand here:

https://youtu.be/n7JcSyZMBvA?t=2m8s

The repeated As in the LH. Changing fingers? No. She is lightly tapping the repeated notes with the same finger, just as any beginner would do, or any child. Why? Because just riding the key is easiest to control with one finger, and changing fingers makes the notes harder to keep at exactly the same volume, or gently increase and decrease.

Is it the pedal?

No, because you can control it better, slowly without pedal too.

Great composers and pianists are not immune to magic thinking. You have to keep an open mind and try things both ways. For myself I find that using the same finger for repeated notes is always easiest and most natural with the same finger unless I am moving, which is an entirely different thing. You will see this reflected visually when watching to players, but you won't see it reflected in popular editions, which tend to endlessly repeat what has been done, for only that reason.

Last edited by Gary D.; 01/07/18 02:00 PM.

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Re: legato [Re: dogperson] #2702901
01/07/18 02:07 PM
01/07/18 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
.... If you’re playing for an audience, this illusion is important, particularly on the end notes of the piece: The pedal should be released at the same time as the hands are released.

Or thereabouts. And especially at the end, because you don't want to destroy the illusion for the audience. But you yourself, as the student, need to know of the early release, that it is possible, that it may be needed in some instances, otherwise you yourself are caught up by the illusion as a reality, and get trapped. You have to take that freedom and use it, while at the same time apply a sleight of hand to keep the audience under your spell.

Re: legato [Re: dogperson] #2702903
01/07/18 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Yes, a lot of playing is an illusion, and that includes holding down the the notes where you’re still using the pedal. I don’t see any reason for this to create tension, as you can keep your hands on the keys maintainIng the illusion that you are pressing the note But playing with no pressure and therefore no tension. If you’re playing for an audience, this illusion is important, particularly on the end notes of the piece: The pedal should be released at the same time as the hands are released.

That's fine at the close of a piece, but too often students are told to hold down notes - including when other notes are being played with the fingers of the same hand - when it's totally unnecessary because the pedal is depressed for the duration. Or having to do near-impossible finger switching to achieve continuity of melodic line at fast speeds when they're already doing legato pedalling.

For example, in this piece, the pianist does finger switching at first, then abandons it, quite rightly:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd6BVTCM-YA


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: legato [Re: Gary D.] #2702934
01/07/18 03:59 PM
01/07/18 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by kevinb
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.

Changing fingers on every note that is repeated, regardless of speed, has nothing to do with the way the piano works. It is a sort of belief system, and you see it front and center with certain editors. For instance, you will see three repeated notes, rather slow, shown changing fingers, then those same notes will be repeated in octaves, nothing else different, quite obviously not with changing fingers on the octaves. And remember small hands can't even physical play many octaves even with finger 4.

A perfect example of this idea of always changing fingers is in Fuer Elise, the C section, where you have repeated notes almost for a page. In most editions you will see changing fingering shown, something like 321 321. A student will think that changing fingers there is better, smoother, more even.

Watch the left hand here:

https://youtu.be/n7JcSyZMBvA?t=2m8s

The repeated As in the LH. Changing fingers? No. She is lightly tapping the repeated notes with the same finger, just as any beginner would do, or any child. Why? Because just riding the key is easiest to control with one finger, and changing fingers makes the notes harder to keep at exactly the same volume, or gently increase and decrease.

Is it the pedal?

No, because you can control it better, slowly without pedal too.

Great composers and pianists are not immune to magic thinking. You have to keep an open mind and try things both ways. For myself I find that using the same finger for repeated notes is always easiest and most natural with the same finger unless I am moving, which is an entirely different thing. You will see this reflected visually when watching to players, but you won't see it reflected in popular editions, which tend to endlessly repeat what has been done, for only that reason.


Not that I am really qualified to talk about it amongst the illustrious teachers here, just some thoughts I have.

I sometimes feel that changing fingering can be a worthwhile thing to do, in terms of making subtle changes in voicing on repeated notes ... for deliberate effect, it somehow feels ( to me ) more natural to switch fingers in some scenarios where you may not want successive notes to sound exactly the same. This is a good example, end of bar 2 and 4 where, I play it as indicated in the score.

[Linked Image]


I am not saying it as a hard rule, but in this case it helps me to naturally alter the voice/sound/timing in a subtle way that somehow feels more natural to me when I switch (but perhaps I am just being weird smile ).

I have watched different pianists play this piece, Lisitsa has a rendition of that entire album for the young on her channel and she always sticks to the same finger in this piece, but other don't. I feel equally comfortable doing it with the same fingers or switching over in this case, but the effect is subtly different. If I want to create the same effect with the same finger I have to be deliberate about it, with a switch it just ... happens.

Interestingly, the album for the young by Tchaikovsky is full of those kind of situations where this arises, and finger switching is commonly indicated in the edition I use anyway ( not that I follow it to the letter, and I experimented with both.) depending on the situation and the sound/effect one is after and what feels like the most natural thing to do.

Am I making any sense ?

Last edited by Alexander Borro; 01/07/18 04:18 PM.

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Re: legato [Re: Qazsedcft] #2702942
01/07/18 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
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.


Sorry, I had not absorbed the entire thread and missed that when I posted, so much for replying in a rush, but yes, it's what I am getting at, with a specific example, but as you say, somewhat off-topic in relation to the main topic here.


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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702943
01/07/18 04:48 PM
01/07/18 04:48 PM
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I cannot think of a single piano work where one would want to create an extreme legato sound on a single note or chord and not do this with the pedal. I have never seen a discussion of how to or the need to create a legato sound on a single note without using the pedal.

Can some give a specific example of where one would want this effect? My thinking is that the question posed in the opening post is an unnecessary one.

If one needs a somewhat connected sound between two of the same notes one just times the key rise so one will immediately depress it and keeps one's finger close to the key. I don't think the idea of using the repetition mechanism and not letting the note rise completely as someone suggested is needed. The purpose of repetition mechanism is to allow faster repetition than one could do before this mechanism was introduced.

I see two main reasons for changing fingers on the same note but both are optional:

1.Most people find it technically easier to play repeated notes this way especially when the tempo is fast and.or the the number of repeated notes is large. Very few pianists would play the repeated notes in a fast Scarlatti Sonata with the same finger although I have seen it done this way on a harpsichord.

2. It can be a question of voicing. In the Tchaikovsky piece mentioned earlier, the editor may have chosen the 2,1 fingering in measure 2 so that the second note would have the automatic accent from the thumb. But notice that in measure 4 the editor uses 1,2 probably because the next note is below the repeated notes.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/07/18 05:36 PM.
Re: legato [Re: dogperson] #2703052
01/08/18 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Yes, a lot of playing is an illusion, and that includes holding down the the notes where you’re still using the pedal. I don’t see any reason for this to create tension, as you can keep your hands on the keys maintainIng the illusion that you are pressing the note But playing with no pressure and therefore no tension. If you’re playing for an audience, this illusion is important, particularly on the end notes of the piece: The pedal should be released at the same time as the hands are released.

Because most people hear with their eyes. As a performer you can never forget that.


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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2703080
01/08/18 03:57 AM
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Is it possible to achieve true Legato playing on say a Kawai CS10 or would one be wasting his time?


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Re: legato [Re: pianoloverus] #2703081
01/08/18 04:11 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus

1.Most people find it technically easier to play repeated notes this way especially when the tempo is fast and.or the the number of repeated notes is large.


I agree, but I suspect that it might be a learned effect. I never had a teacher until very recently, so I always played fast repeated notes with the same finger. I didn't have a teacher to tell me that there might be an alternative, and it simply never occurred to me. So now I play repeated notes with the same finger much more quickly than by changing fingers.

My point is that while it might be easier to play fast repeated notes with different fingers, I think it's just as likely that this is a self-perpetuating belief. I don't have any hard evidence one way or the other, though.

Re: legato [Re: Gary D.] #2703083
01/08/18 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Great composers and pianists are not immune to magic thinking.


I'm glad to hear you say that. One of the most frustrating things I face when talking about music is the number of things people believe that simply can't be true. I've had people tell me, for example, that pressure on a key after it has been struck affects the tone of a note. I've seen composers write a pedal indication and a staccato dot for the same note. And so on.

It would make communication a lot easier if people were simply to abandon these false beliefs. But I guess that's true in many areas of life.

Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2703091
01/08/18 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Great composers and pianists are not immune to magic thinking.


I'm glad to hear you say that. One of the most frustrating things I face when talking about music is the number of things people believe that simply can't be true. I've had people tell me, for example, that pressure on a key after it has been struck affects the tone of a note. I've seen composers write a pedal indication and a staccato dot for the same note. And so on.

It would make communication a lot easier if people were simply to abandon these false beliefs. But I guess that's true in many areas of life.


I've specifically asked about the pedal/staccato thing a few times because I'm working on a lot of Debussy and he did this a lot. It seems to be widely accepted that if you play staccato with the pedal down then it produces a bell-like tone, even though there is no explanation as to why this might happen - the view in the tech forum here was that it was just in the performers minds and if they played a staccato note that sounded different they were just playing with a different velocity (probably lighter) than if they had played the note legato. It's the different physical motion that means the key/hammer are moving at a different speed - if you played a staccato note and then a legato note and the hammer hit the string at the same speed both times there would be zero difference in the tone with the pedal down. One forum comment (not here) even said something like 'just because physics can't explain it, doesn't mean it doesn't happen'!

Anyway, digression over. smile

FWIW, I find it very easy to play repeated notes with the same finger and get exactly the same dynamics each time - it's almost impossible to do that playing repeated notes with different fingers, so doing the latter can add a bit of extra expression to a phrase.

I don't see how anyone can play repeated notes with the same finger at the same quick tempo as playing with multiple fingers - drum a 3-2-1 pattern on a table and you can get it way faster than repeating 3-3-3 over and over again, and with almost zero tension in the hand.

Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2703097
01/08/18 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by pianoloverus

1.Most people find it technically easier to play repeated notes this way especially when the tempo is fast and.or the the number of repeated notes is large.


I agree, but I suspect that it might be a learned effect. I never had a teacher until very recently, so I always played fast repeated notes with the same finger. I didn't have a teacher to tell me that there might be an alternative, and it simply never occurred to me. So now I play repeated notes with the same finger much more quickly than by changing fingers.

My point is that while it might be easier to play fast repeated notes with different fingers, I think it's just as likely that this is a self-perpetuating belief. I don't have any hard evidence one way or the other, though.

Here's your evidence wink :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjghYFgt8Zk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLuYLN_k4lA

OK, you might say that's an unfair comparison, because one is playing a piano, the other is playing a harpsichord which has a different action, but I couldn't find any YT performance where the pianist uses the same finger on the repeated notes, on piano. But most harpsichordists change fingers too.

See if you can play those notes at anything approaching the speed in the piano video on your piano using the same finger. Or even, at a slower speed, sustain those repeated notes for the duration of the piece.......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: legato [Re: GoldmanT] #2703098
01/08/18 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by GoldmanT
It's the different physical motion that means the key/hammer are moving at a different speed - if you played a staccato note and then a legato note and the hammer hit the string at the same speed both times there would be zero difference in the tone with the pedal down. One forum comment (not here) even said something like 'just because physics can't explain it, doesn't mean it doesn't happen'!


To be fair, there's a great deal that isn't readily explicable in terms of physics, including our appreciation of music. However, the physics of a piano action is simple, and perfectly well understood in scientific terms. Since the hammer drops after hitting the key, whether the note is held or not, to claim that the sound is different whether the note is played legato or staccato with the damper up is to claim that the sound can be influenced by the power of the mind, or some such thing. While I'm open-minded enough not to rule out such a possibility without due consideration, it's certainly something that I'd want to see very firm evidence for.

I suspect that when composers wrote staccato and pedal together, they were trying to communicate some general information about the character of the passage, rather than specific instructions on fingering. I think that the further back in time we go, the more information about the notational conventions of the day we have lost.

Originally Posted by GoldmanT
I don't see how anyone can play repeated notes with the same finger at the same quick tempo as playing with multiple fingers - drum a 3-2-1 pattern on a table and you can get it way faster than repeating 3-3-3 over and over again, and with almost zero tension in the hand.


I agree with you, when it comes to drumming on a table-top. But how often does real piano music require actions similar to drumming on a table-top? In particular, how often is it the case that you need to play three repeated notes in quick succession, without other, different notes in the same passage needing to be played at the same speed? For me, the speed at which I can play a passage is dictated by my ability to perform the complicated finger actions needed to play successive, different notes, and never by the speed of playing the same note repeatedly. Other people might be different, of course.

Re: legato [Re: GoldmanT] #2703133
01/08/18 09:41 AM
01/08/18 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by GoldmanT

I've specifically asked about the pedal/staccato thing a few times because I'm working on a lot of Debussy and he did this a lot. It seems to be widely accepted that if you play staccato with the pedal down then it produces a bell-like tone, even though there is no explanation as to why this might happen - the view in the tech forum here was that it was just in the performers minds and if they played a staccato note that sounded different they were just playing with a different velocity (probably lighter) than if they had played the note legato.

That's exactly correct. I keep saying that people hear with their eyes. They also see with their ears. That means that what people THINK they hear is influenced by the visual, and what they THINK they see is influenced by the aural.

But Debussy, in general, was a very practical person, and many of his staccatos, with the pedal down, were about getting to what comes next in the easiest possible way.

There are places in some of the Chopin Nocturnes where the bottom, bass notes in measures are written staccato. That most likely is his attempt to tell students to catch those notes on the pedal and move as quickly as possible to the next position. It has nothing to do with the sound of the notes, which hold for the complete measure.


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Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2703137
01/08/18 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by kevinb

For me, the speed at which I can play a passage is dictated by my ability to perform the complicated finger actions needed to play successive, different notes, and never by the speed of playing the same note repeatedly. Other people might be different, of course.

Kevin, for the most part I was not taught to change fingers on repeated notes, and although it is true that this technique is not used a lot, when you need it it's the only one that works. Think of it as a special tool.

Here is a true freak of nature - and I mean that in a very positive way - fanning repeated notes at speed that would make me jealous if she were doing this at the age 30.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjghYFgt8Zk

You might say, "Fine, I'm never going to play something like that." But sooner or later you will run into something that needs this skill, and nothing else will work.

Think of it as a special tool that some people use way too much, when they don't even need the tool. But overusing a tool doesn't mean the tool isn't necessary.

By the way, I don't LIKE Argerich's performance. It does exactly what I criticize most in the playing top virtuosos. It make speed the most important thing, and then you have competing "artists" all trying to out-gun each other.

I much prefer this, which is clean.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdF_S57fyK8

But you can't play harpsichord at the same insane speed. Note that the repeated notes sound a lot cleaner, because you are not dealing with the velocity of keys. They either go down all the way, or they don't.

I'd like to hear just ONE famous pianist play this a this speed on the piano, with all the piano's extra possibilities with dynamics.



Last edited by Gary D.; 01/08/18 09:57 AM.

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Re: legato [Re: Gary D.] #2703158
01/08/18 11:23 AM
01/08/18 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
There are places in some of the Chopin Nocturnes where the bottom, bass notes in measures are written staccato. That most likely is his attempt to tell students to catch those notes on the pedal and move as quickly as possible to the next position. It has nothing to do with the sound of the notes, which hold for the complete measure.


I see this notation in the Eb and Fmin nocturnes, for example; but I don't see it in his waltzes that have similar LH patterns. I interpret the staccato in the nocturnes to mean that it's OK not to hold the bass note, because you've got the pedal down, and it's going to take some time to get to the next LH position.

I speculate that we don't see this in the waltzes and mazurkas because the faster tempo means that the performer would be able even to attempt to hold the note. But who knows? This is just my guesswork.

Originally Posted by Gary D.
You might say, "Fine, I'm never going to play something like that." But sooner or later you will run into something that needs this skill, and nothing else will work.


Sure; I'm not dismissing the applicability of finger-switching during fast passages completely. I can see why there might be some occasions when it's necessary. I just don't see many of them in my future; in the situations I encounter in practice I can still play more quickly with the same finger.

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