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#2703873 - 01/11/18 03:12 AM Re: legato [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There has been a lot of discussion of this topic in the past at PW. I don't remember how many people felt one way or the other, but I think there were high level pianists on both sides.


Sure. I'm aware that there is disagreement. What I don't really understand is why. It's as if a whole bunch of people had grown up thinking that grass was pink, and were prepared to argue in the teeth of the very obvious evidence that this was so.

I can only imagine that there is some deep peculiarity of human psychology at work here. If we want something to be the case, and if we've been led to believe from an early age that it is, then perhaps it's hard to accept otherwise. Perhaps we all have hang-ups like this. I continue to believe as my mother told me, that I am a smart, handsome fellow, when all the evidence suggests otherwise.

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#2704017 - 01/11/18 02:41 PM Re: legato [Re: iamanders]  
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Does this sound satisfactory?

https://yadi.sk/d/iE-ixBhO3RNoa2

#2704092 - 01/11/18 07:13 PM Re: legato [Re: iamanders]  
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Staccato marks don't always mean real "detachment".

More often than not, they are simply a type of emphasis (usually done to clarify the integrity of a line vs another via contrasting articulation); hence, any argument over the overlap of staccato notation with pedal notation misses the point entirely.

The dampers being up doesn't prevent the various dynamic articulation effects ones has access to and even some agogic effects (we still have control over timing of onsets and thus the overall sense of a note's literal timespan), although obviously more attention has to be paid to accumulation of sonority/texture and cleanliness of playing.

#2704147 - 01/12/18 12:47 AM Re: legato [Re: anamnesis]  
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Originally Posted by anamnesis
Staccato marks don't always mean real "detachment".


staccato
[stuh-kah-toh]

1.
shortened and detached when played or sung:
staccato notes.
2.
characterized by performance in which the notes are abruptly disconnected:
a staccato style of playing.
Compare legato.
3.
composed of or characterized by abruptly disconnected elements; disjointed:




Definition of staccato
1 a : cut short or apart in performing : disconnected staccato notes
b : marked by short clear-cut playing or singing of tones or chords a staccato style
2 : abrupt, disjointed staccato screams


staccato
adjective, adverb UK ​ /stəˈkɑː.təʊ/ US ​ /stəˈkɑː.t̬oʊ/

used to describe musical notes that are short and separate when played, or this way of playing music:

The music suddenly changed from a smooth melody to a staccato rhythm.
She played the whole piece staccato to improve her technique.

used to describe a noise or way of speaking that consists of a series of short and separate sounds:

She gave staccato replies to every question




Music
With each sound or note sharply detached or separated from the others.

as adjective ‘a staccato rhythm’

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#2704149 - 01/12/18 01:00 AM Re: legato [Re: iamanders]  
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Very much agree with anamnesis:
Whatever staccato means in the dictionary, sometimes the composers clearly used it to indicate something else than just legato versus detached in a pedalled section, like suggesting for a lighter touch on those notes. We must remember that in the 19th century people knew what the composers meant from other sources than the notation itself. If we just look at the notes we will find many things that do not make sense, because the "silent knowledge" behind it is lost.

#2704165 - 01/12/18 03:30 AM Re: legato [Re: outo]  
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Originally Posted by outo
Very much agree with anamnesis:
Whatever staccato means in the dictionary, sometimes the composers clearly used it to indicate something else than just legato versus detached in a pedalled section, like suggesting for a lighter touch on those notes. We must remember that in the 19th century people knew what the composers meant from other sources than the notation itself. If we just look at the notes we will find many things that do not make sense, because the "silent knowledge" behind it is lost.


I don't think anybody would dispute this. The point at issue, I think, is whether 19th century composers used staccatto marks in pedaled sections to indicate particular a particular rhythm or form of emphasis, as you say, or whether they really thought (incorrectly) that keypress duration affected note tone in a pedalled section. Many pianists do believe this today, for reasons that baffle me, and it's certainly possible that people believed it in the 19th century, even pianists who ought to have known better.

#2704236 - 01/12/18 10:37 AM Re: legato [Re: outo]  
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Originally Posted by outo
. We must remember that in the 19th century people knew what the composers meant from other sources than the notation itself. If we just look at the notes we will find many things that do not make sense, because the "silent knowledge" behind it is lost.


Same for the 20th century. Recordings were the main other source. Use a notation program to play the exact written durations, and it sucks the life out of Gershwin, Porter, Warren, etc.


-- J.S.

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#2704249 - 01/12/18 11:15 AM Re: legato [Re: Nahum]  
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by anamnesis
Staccato marks don't always mean real "detachment".


staccato
[stuh-kah-toh]
1.
shortened and detached when played or sung:
staccato notes.......

(and lots of other definitions taken from on-line dictionaries).....

Anamnesis is correct. It's important to note that he said "staccato MARKS" (for piano), and not just "staccato" - this is key. If going the dictionary route, it would be better to use a specialized dictionary rather than on-line sources, and even better than that, a specialized resource specifically for piano. [i]For piano what anemnesis wrote is correct, even if the myriads definition of staccato are generally true in a general way, usually.

In piano music, staccato marks can indicate what kind of sound is wanted (as per the dictionary sources), or they can indicate a physical playing action with your hands ----- what you would do with your hands for timing of release, which, if you omitted pedal, would produce a staccato sound. Chopin does this in his music, where he showed staccato and at the same time pedal blending those same notes - an impossibility if both simultaneous markings were to indicate a desired sound. But if you take it as physical instructions, if you have the pedal down and poke the notes per staccato, the physical movement in your hand is likely to be different, so you may get a different type of sound affects rising up out of the pedal.

I once asked if this phenomenon is only true for piano, and apparently it is. For other instruments, markings indicate desired sound at all times, not desired action afaik.

Whether this is necessary or whether it might actually create problems is another question. Chopin (as one of the composers who does this) was a pianist, so he'd write in the actions that he knew would get the effects he want. But experienced, well-trained pianists understand their instrument, and they would automatically do what is needed. They would know enough to release a note early since the pedal is holding it, or what type of touch to employ to get an effect that is likely the desired one in that music.

I think that in most cases, I would prefer music notation to show the desired musical sound, rather than a desired physical action, so that I could experiment various physical ways of achieving that desired sound.

#2704260 - 01/12/18 11:59 AM Re: legato [Re: kevinb]  
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Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by outo
Very much agree with anamnesis:
Whatever staccato means in the dictionary, sometimes the composers clearly used it to indicate something else than just legato versus detached in a pedalled section, like suggesting for a lighter touch on those notes. We must remember that in the 19th century people knew what the composers meant from other sources than the notation itself. If we just look at the notes we will find many things that do not make sense, because the "silent knowledge" behind it is lost.


I don't think anybody would dispute this. The point at issue, I think, is whether 19th century composers used staccatto marks in pedaled sections to indicate particular a particular rhythm or form of emphasis, as you say, or whether they really thought (incorrectly) that keypress duration affected note tone in a pedalled section. Many pianists do believe this today, for reasons that baffle me, and it's certainly possible that people believed it in the 19th century, even pianists who ought to have known better.

But you stated earlier:
Originally Posted by keinb
......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.

Nobody here is arguing that tone can be influenced after the hammer has struck the key. Whether Chopin believed it was possible we can never know with certainty, but we do know that he was knowledgeable about piano mechanism and that he used the available notation marks to indicate a particular effect he wanted the listener to hear.
Originally Posted by keystring
........Chopin (as one of the composers who does this) was a pianist, so he'd write in the actions that he knew would get the effects he want. But experienced, well-trained pianists understand their instrument, and they would automatically do what is needed. They would know enough to release a note early since the pedal is holding it, or what type of touch to employ to get an effect that is likely the desired one in that music.


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#2704277 - 01/12/18 12:37 PM Re: legato [Re: iamanders]  
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In regard to some of the things that have gotten discussed recently, I think that rather than deriving hard and fast rules from some of the devices put forth, it would be good to do some solid experimenting.

Take for example the fingering in the Tchaikovsky Sweet Dreams (a piece that I have played and am fond of). The poster found that when he used that fingering, he ended up getting certain effects because of the different strengths of the fingers or something like that. What types of actions can affect quality of sound? For example, raising the wrist up as you play, playing "upward-forward" or "downward-backward". Down on one note (louder) and up on the next (softer). My ring finger and pinky are not only successively shorter and "weaker" than the middle finger, but they are also further toward the edge of my hand. What about rotation or rocking? I can actually get a loud sound from the "weak" pinky by tipping into it, so to say, with a kind of rotation and movement toward that side. Like, the mere choice of given fingers don't just passively "make things happen", because there are other elements to play with. I'm not finding the words. Maybe somebody can do better.

#2704328 - 01/12/18 03:29 PM Re: legato [Re: iamanders]  
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Suppose I record one note played multiple times, all mf, with different fingers. Does anyone think they can tell which fingers?


-- J.S.

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#2704359 - 01/12/18 05:04 PM Re: legato [Re: JohnSprung]  
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Suppose I record one note played multiple times, all mf, with different fingers. Does anyone think they can tell which fingers?


This risks getting some odd answers, and it's a tricky question all round since there is a lot of chicken and egg here, plus technical considerations.

- The technique side goes to things that I mentioned: what you're doing with your arms, wrists, rotation, and so forth.
- If you were to hold your hand frozen over the piano and poke down at the keys, you might get a louder sound with the thumb and a weaker sound with the little finger, but that's not how the piano is played (unless one doesn't know better). You are also no longer aiming for (reaching) the same dynamics.
- If you just let the finger govern what the hand and body passively do, you might get different sound qualities, but here too you are no longer aiming for, or reaching, those same dynamics.

Conversely: I can aim for a particular effect - dynamics, legato, etc. - through various physical means - AND reach them. But I will have tension and strain some of those ways and not in others. In fact, I have just summarized the history I'm coming out of because I had no idea about technique.

Nobody will hear your discomfort if you play in awkward manners. No particular rule such as changing fingers will necessarily lead to such awkwardness or rule. It depends on the music, and a host of things.

#2704361 - 01/12/18 05:07 PM Re: legato [Re: iamanders]  
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It's the same with Nahum's recording which I think nobody commented on, and I wouldn't, because it doesn't tell me a thing. I can't hear how comfortable or uncomfortable he was; I have no idea about the quality of instrument he was using and how the keys worked; I can only assume about what he actually was doing.

I've come from a low end Yamaha to an excellent Kawai CA97 where the key action has been finely balanced and designed, and the electronic sensors well placed. There is no way I could do on the Yamaha what I can do on the present piano.

#2704367 - 01/12/18 05:34 PM Re: legato [Re: iamanders]  
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But I do mean aiming for the same dynamics -- all mf -- all the same note duration, say half notes. I suspect that most of us could do that with excellent consistency and minimal effort.

My experience so far is that fingers may feel different, but they don't sound different. I choose fingerings for comfort and convenience. So far I've never heard anyone say that a particular note should have a "pinky sound" or a "thumb sound" to it.


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#2704377 - 01/12/18 06:10 PM Re: legato [Re: JohnSprung]  
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

But I do mean aiming for the same dynamics -- all mf -- all the same note duration, say half notes. I suspect that most of us could do that with excellent consistency and minimal effort.

My experience so far is that fingers may feel different, but they don't sound different. I choose fingerings for comfort and convenience. So far I've never heard anyone say that a particular note should have a "pinky sound" or a "thumb sound" to it.



Ideally the default, normative adjustments one makes with the arm "evens out" all the morphological differences between the fingers in the hand with respect to their interaction with the hammer mechanism of the keyboard . (It also adjusts for differences in keyboard contour, and the tendency of passing or crossings to bring in discontinuities.)

This combined with the proper timing, minimizes the differential in dynamic gradation and also gives you full control over every articulation even in extremely fast passage-work.

An overt "thumb sound" or "weak pinkie" is the result of deformity in one's actual technique by not knowing how to make those adjustments. It's essentially as sign of not being able to optimize leverage on every note due to not properly accounting for those morphological differences between fingers, the interruptions caused by "passing/crossing", or not being able to properly navigate the contour of the keyboard.

Once the adjustments and timings are made, other than the limitations of the instrument, the only other limitations come from one's aural imagination and listening skills. Being able to imagine the hammer-mechanism with respect to keystroke timing (and its relation within the context of the horizontal distance/phrase rhythm control) is extremely useful in mastering articulation control.

Last edited by anamnesis; 01/12/18 06:20 PM.
#2704393 - 01/12/18 06:48 PM Re: legato [Re: JohnSprung]  
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

But I do mean aiming for the same dynamics -- all mf -- all the same note duration, say half notes. I suspect that most of us could do that with excellent consistency and minimal effort.

My experience so far is that fingers may feel different, but they don't sound different. I choose fingerings for comfort and convenience. So far I've never heard anyone say that a particular note should have a "pinky sound" or a "thumb sound" to it.

I doubt anyone will claim that different fingers played at the same dynamic levels sound different. But that doesn't mean the natural strength or weakness of some fingers shouldn't be used to make it easier/more natural to get a desired effect/dynamic. If I remember correctly it was Chopin that felt strongly about doing this. Maybe that's the reason he sometimes recommending playing consecutive notes with the same finger if he wanted the notes to sound very even.

Another example would be what I previously said regarding the editor's fingering in the Tchaikovsky piece discussed earlier in this thread:
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 in a very similar passage the editor uses 1,2 probably because the next note is below the repeated notes,i.e. the editor was more concerned with having the best hand position for the music after the repeated notes.

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Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/12/18 06:49 PM.
#2704424 - 01/12/18 08:22 PM Re: legato [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[]I doubt anyone will claim that different fingers played at the same dynamic levels sound different. But that doesn't mean the natural strength or weakness of some fingers shouldn't be used to make it easier/more natural to get a desired effect/dynamic.


Then we agree -- choose fingerings that are natural, comfortable, and convenient to get the results you want. Playing repeated notes with the same finger may also require you to stop and reverse direction, which helps if you want a little gap in between -- just a clear non-legato, rather than a big time staccato.


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