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legato #2701997
01/04/18 05:44 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 05:57 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 06:12 AM
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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 06:20 AM
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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
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Re: legato [Re: dogperson] #2702009
01/04/18 06:59 AM
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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 11:53 AM
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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 05:06 AM
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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 06:57 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 06:40 PM
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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 06:44 PM.

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Re: legato [Re: hreichgott] #2702769
01/06/18 11:50 PM
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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 03:49 AM
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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 04:49 AM
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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 05:17 AM
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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 06:02 AM
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Double escapement already mentioned?

Last edited by Nahum; 01/07/18 06:07 AM.
Re: legato [Re: Nahum] #2702807
01/07/18 07:11 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 07:43 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 08:12 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
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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 09:51 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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Heller op. 45 no. 12
Re: legato [Re: Qazsedcft] #2702822
01/07/18 09:55 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?

Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2702857
01/07/18 12:05 PM
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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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Chopin Raindrop Prelude
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Heller op. 45 no. 12
Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2702868
01/07/18 12:54 PM
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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


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Re: legato [Re: Gary D.] #2702878
01/07/18 01:39 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
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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.


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Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2702899
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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 03:00 PM.

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Re: legato [Re: dogperson] #2702901
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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
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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


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Re: legato [Re: Gary D.] #2702934
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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 05:18 PM.

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Re: legato [Re: Qazsedcft] #2702942
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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
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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 06:36 PM.
Re: legato [Re: dogperson] #2703052
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.......


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Re: legato [Re: GoldmanT] #2703098
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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
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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
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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 10:57 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.

Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2703167
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Originally Posted by kevinb
......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.........
Certainly at the indicated fast tempos of his waltzes and mazurkas the LH notes can't help but be played staccato, while at the same time pedaling is indicated (at least for beat one on modern pianos). I'm not so sure Chopin would have had the needs of us mere mortals in mind with the nocturnes where LH staccato is indicated because we need time to get to the next note. Chopin was more likely indicating a different sound he had in mind, imo.


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Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2703172
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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.
Or, since you've played repeated notes with the same finger most of your life that approach is easier for you because it is a learned effect. I think changing notes is easier for most people even when they first try it and is not just due to practice.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/08/18 01:04 PM.
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Chopin was more likely indicating a different sound he had in mind, imo.


Possible so. He wouldn't have got it, though, unless his piano has some long-forgotten mechanism to change tone with keypress duration.

Ironically, a modern digital piano could be programmed to change the tone of the note according to keypress duration, and so match what some pianists and composers erroneously believe happens with an acoustic piano.

Re: legato [Re: pianoloverus] #2703361
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Or, since you've played repeated notes with the same finger most of your life that approach is easier for you because it is a learned effect. I think changing notes is easier for most people even when they first try it and is not just due to practice.


Could be. It would be an interesting thing to research systematically. I think it would need to be done with real, representative musical passages though -- I don't think we learn much by asking people to tap on a table-top, or even to strike the same key repeatedly for long periods of time.

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Originally Posted by Stubbie
I'm not so sure Chopin would have had the needs of us mere mortals in mind with the nocturnes where LH staccato is indicated because we need time to get to the next note. Chopin was more likely indicating a different sound he had in mind, imo.

That's magic thinking on the part of Chopin if you are correct. The bass notes have to be hit long enough for the pedal to grab them, but no longer. The sound is not going to change otherwise.

We have to keep in mind that musical geniuses are not necessarily very logical, and they can be dead wrong about HOW things work or WHY they work, while being absolutely correct in getting the right sound.

Are these markings for students or other players, to show them what to do? Maybe, maybe not. We just don't know.

But I do know that as a teacher I tell students to release those notes as quickly as possible to glide to the next position. It's about ease of playing.


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Originally Posted by kevinb

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.

I can only tell you this: the idea of practicing a technique, before you need it, in the hope that you will EVENTUALLY be able to use it, is a very tricky thing. So as teachers we try to give students at least some pieces, early, using this technique in places where it has to be used.

Then if they reject those pieces, all of them, then we just let it go. wink

For instance, if you just loved that Scarlatti I linked to, and if you were determined to play it, even if it took you 10 years, you'd learn the changing finger technique. Then you'd have that skill for the rest of your life.

If you never play anything with that style, you don't need it.

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Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Chopin was more likely indicating a different sound he had in mind, imo.


Possible so. He wouldn't have got it, though, unless his piano has some long-forgotten mechanism to change tone with keypress duration.

Ironically, a modern digital piano could be programmed to change the tone of the note according to keypress duration, and so match what some pianists and composers erroneously believe happens with an acoustic piano.
He was after some change in technique which would have resulted in a different sound to the listener's ears. A different sound to the listener's ears results from the combination of tone (speed and duration of keypress), timing, and pedal. No need to invoke a long-forgotten mechanism. How Chopin notated this desired different sound has left us with questions as to what that sound was intended to be and how we are to go about it. Gary indicates how he does it with briefly grabbing the note with the pedal.

Chopin was quite knowledgeable about the mechanism of producing tone on the piano. He scoffed at piano players of the time who pressed the key and moved their finger around with the intention of producing vibrato.


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Originally Posted by kevinb
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.


This, in part, is why it's a good idea to get a little practice time on as many different pianos as you can. To learn to adapt, you have to do it.


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Originally Posted by Gary D.
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.


+1, and it's an opportunity to relax for a split second. It's a useful thing to know for all music, not just Debussy.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Or, since you've played repeated notes with the same finger most of your life that approach is easier for you because it is a learned effect. I think changing notes is easier for most people even when they first try it and is not just due to practice.


I was a same-finger guy for a long time until I learned about finger changing from a Robert Estrin video. Now I use either, depending on what else has to be done. But if it's a close decision, I tend to go more with changing. Another thing changing can do is help you move your hand sideways to get to where you need to go next.



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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2703526
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Quote
. . . Chopin was quite knowledgeable about the mechanism of producing tone on the piano. He scoffed at piano players of the time who pressed the key and moved their finger around with the intention of producing vibrato. . . .


Musing . . .

I don't think any DP's (even stage pianos) support "aftertouch" (sensitivity to pressure on the key, after it's been struck), but a fair number of synths have it. And some of them even support "polyphonic aftertouch".

Linking aftertouch to "vibrato depth" would be easy, I think. And polyphonic aftertouch would let you have a piano sound, with the freedom of pitch of a clavichord.

Chopin might be pleased, or not.<G> I suspect that, if he had such an instrument, he'd figure out a way to use the feature.


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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2703536
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Although I think it's not totally agreed on by knowledgeable pianists that a note or chord played with pedal and staccato sounds different than a note played with pedal and a non staccato touch, I think many/most professional think this is the case. I am virtually certain that Debussy or Chopin wrote it that way for this reason.

I don't think it's correct to assume pedal with staccato notation is used to make it easier to perform a passage. If that was true why did Debussy include examples like this in, for example, his first Prelude Book I where there is plenty of time to go from one chord to the next one? In the typical Chopin Waltz left hand pattern one has to move quite quickly from the low bass note to the higher chords but Chopin typically doesn't mark those notes staccato.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Although I think it's not totally agreed on by knowledgeable pianists that a note or chord played with pedal and staccato sounds different than a note played with pedal and a non staccato touch, I think many/most professional think this is the case..


This hypothesis could certainly be tested empirically. All we have to do is record several examples both ways, choose the ones where the amplitude matches, and see if a listener can tell the difference.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Although I think it's not totally agreed on by knowledgeable pianists that a note or chord played with pedal and staccato sounds different than a note played with pedal and a non staccato touch, I think many/most professional think this is the case. I am virtually certain that Debussy or Chopin wrote it that way for this reason.


There are a great many people who think that astrology, mental telepathy, and crystal healing are all effective. That doesn't mean they are right.

The idea that the sound of a piano tone can be influenced after the hammer has struck the key and fallen, with the damper up, is as unscientific and plainly wrong as the idea that the positions of the planets influences my fate.

It doesn't matter how many people believe it, or how fervently they believe it -- they are all wrong. This isn't opinion; it's a fact in the same class as heavy objects fall, or hot things cool.

Being slightly less dogmatic one could, as JohnSprung says, test this empirically. However, it would be like testing for telepathy -- the amount of evidence needed to prove something so unscientific would have to be truly colossal.

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Holding the pedal down on makes the action lighter because the damper is already lifted. That could explain the effect.


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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2703603
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I posted a link about some of this 'magic' thinking on Reddit, and got a few other links in response, talking about keybed noise and the bending of the hammers under acceleration, even the lack of clean hammer contact at high speed producing harsh overtones. I think those are both probably valid parts of the overall piano sound, but the difference between players and techniques is going to be tiny.

Qaz, the damper is already lifted in both examples given both, legato and staccato playing, so that isn't relevant to the supposed pedalled staccato bell-like effect.

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Originally Posted by GoldmanT
I posted a link about some of this 'magic' thinking on Reddit, and got a few other links in response, talking about keybed noise and the bending of the hammers under acceleration, even the lack of clean hammer contact at high speed producing harsh overtones. I think those are both probably valid parts of the overall piano sound, but the difference between players and techniques is going to be tiny.


It's going to be tiny even if these hammer phenomena happen, and experiments done with high-speed filming show that they don't happen. The action "throws" the hammer at the string so, when the hammer strikes, it is not in contact with anything that can be influenced by the key. I seem to recall that there was at one time a fashion for explaining the (non-) effect by claiming that the duration of key-press influenced the amount of vibration of the hammer on its shank, and this different vibration could cause a different tone. However, even if this were true, attempts to capture this effect of shank vibration using high-speed photography failed.

Certainly listeners can perceive key-bed noise, but only the strike of the key on the bed, not the release. This has been shown by experiments where key-bed noise was artificially removed from recordings.

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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Although I think it's not totally agreed on by knowledgeable pianists that a note or chord played with pedal and staccato sounds different than a note played with pedal and a non staccato touch, I think many/most professional think this is the case..

This hypothesis could certainly be tested empirically. All we have to do is record several examples both ways, choose the ones where the amplitude matches, and see if a listener can tell the difference.

This is quite easy to test. I've done it in a casual manner, with one pianist (myself) and one listener. We did as much as we could to make the test fair: the listener could not see me at all, to rule out any visual clues I might be giving, and I threw a coin to determine if I would use a staccato or a legato touch. The results were interesting:

- If I kept the pedal depressed and played a single note, my listener was incapable of telling if I had released the key straight away or held it down for a longer period. She was right about 50% of the time, no better than random guessing.

- If I kept the pedal depressed and played a series of notes (a short melody or an arpeggio), my listener had a reasonable degree of success hearing if I was using a legato or a staccato touch. She was right about 75% of the time, much better than random guessing.

So what was going on? Magic? No: when I was playing a series of notes with a staccato touch, I was playing more regularly, both in dynamics and rhythm, than when I played with legato touch. The legato playing induced more shaping of the phrase.

I found out that I could trick my listener: if I played the notes staccato, but concentrated on shaping the series of notes as if it was a sung legato phrase, my listener heard it as legato. It was also possible to play legato and make my listener believe I was using a staccato touch, but I did find it a bit harder this way round because I needed to play very evenly, giving each note the same weight.

So yes, playing staccato with the pedal down has its uses, but you need to know that all you are doing is refining the control of the dynamics of each note.


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With the sustain pedal down, play it as a staccato, and it will happen (even if it won't).
True Kantianism for pianists.


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Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2703750
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Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Although I think it's not totally agreed on by knowledgeable pianists that a note or chord played with pedal and staccato sounds different than a note played with pedal and a non staccato touch, I think many/most professional think this is the case. I am virtually certain that Debussy or Chopin wrote it that way for this reason.


There are a great many people who think that astrology, mental telepathy, and crystal healing are all effective. That doesn't mean they are right.

The idea that the sound of a piano tone can be influenced after the hammer has struck the key and fallen, with the damper up, is as unscientific and plainly wrong as the idea that the positions of the planets influences my fate.

It doesn't matter how many people believe it, or how fervently they believe it -- they are all wrong. This isn't opinion; it's a fact in the same class as heavy objects fall, or hot things cool.

Being slightly less dogmatic one could, as JohnSprung says, test this empirically. However, it would be like testing for telepathy -- the amount of evidence needed to prove something so unscientific would have to be truly colossal.
I happen to strongly agree with the thinking in your second paragraph. OTOH I'm virtually certain that Chopin and Debussy wrote those staccatos because they didn't agree with you and they are not exactly nobodies in terms of understanding piano technique and sound. They were also both very precise in their noatation. OTOH they may not have been concerned about comparing the sounds produced by staccato and non staccato at exactly the same volume which I think is what you're talking about.

I think the truth may be closer to what MRC posted a few posts before this one. Or it may be that the staccato touch with the pedal allows one to control the speed of the keystroke more easily/appropriately in the passages where Debussy and Chopin marked staccato.

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.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/10/18 05:55 PM.
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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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Does this sound satisfactory?

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.


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Re: legato [Re: Nahum] #2704249
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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.

Re: legato [Re: kevinb] #2704260
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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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Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2704277
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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.

Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2704328
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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?


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Re: legato [Re: JohnSprung] #2704359
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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.

Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2704361
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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.

Re: legato [Re: iamanders] #2704367
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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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Re: legato [Re: JohnSprung] #2704377
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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 07:20 PM.
Re: legato [Re: JohnSprung] #2704393
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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 07:49 PM.
Re: legato [Re: pianoloverus] #2704424
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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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