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Expression in Gymnopedie #2721077
03/14/18 08:59 AM
03/14/18 08:59 AM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 328
Netherlands
H
hyena Offline OP
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hyena  Offline OP
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H

Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 328
Netherlands
So I'm doing this piece. The notes are very easy, though it's the expression that gets me. According to my teacher this piece is very easy to play, but very difficult to play 'right'. The melody must be like a violin playing, and the notes must have a very full yet soft texture. Any tips for this piece?


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Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: hyena] #2721087
03/14/18 09:25 AM
03/14/18 09:25 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,795
Florida
dogperson Offline
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dogperson  Offline
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Florida
Several suggestions:
Play the right hand melody alone, listen for tone. Do you hear it the way a violin would play it? Is it phrased the way it would be done by a string instrument? The notes need to be very legato Sing it and then try to reproduce the sound on the piano.

Practice the Left hand, but only press the keys very softly so that they do not sound. This is quite tricky but you will get better at it. Practice it some more but slightly louder but still soft.

Put both hands together and listen; is the right hands melody still singing above the accompaniment?

I have found this Graham Fitch video useful

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eNGWFxnA_SQ

Last edited by dogperson; 03/14/18 10:44 AM. Reason: Typo as usual
Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: dogperson] #2721095
03/14/18 10:15 AM
03/14/18 10:15 AM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 328
Netherlands
H
hyena Offline OP
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hyena  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 328
Netherlands
Thanks a lot! I'll try and practice with these techniques!

Is this in most romantic pieces? For some reason my teacher doesn't give me any romantic repertoire yet. Mainly Sonata's and Bach at the moment (And a piece of Satie or Debussy.)

Last edited by hyena; 03/14/18 10:18 AM.
Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: hyena] #2721099
03/14/18 10:28 AM
03/14/18 10:28 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,795
Florida
dogperson Offline
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dogperson  Offline
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Florida
Yes, this is true for romantic pieces.... but really for any period of music where you have a melody that needs to be emphasized.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: hyena] #2721127
03/14/18 11:42 AM
03/14/18 11:42 AM
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 253
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GoldmanT Offline
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A piano can't play like a violin, it's a percussive instrument as opposed to a bowed instrument, so you/your teacher will need to be clearer on what that means.

What does full yet soft mean? How can you play a thin soft note and then a full note at the same softness level? You either press the key harder or softer, there's very little else you can do with an individual note.

Ask your teacher to give you feedback with her back turned, by just listening to what you're playing, you'd be surprised how much people 'hear' with their eyes.

For this tune, I would take your time, try to be consistent with your right hand, i.e. either the same velocity level or gradual changes in velocity, try not to jump up and down in volume in the same phrase. And observe the expression markers, they don't always peak and trough where you might expect them to.

And if you're doing the traditional pedalling, i.e. pedal for a whole bar and then re-pedal at the start of the next bar, you don't have to worry about finger legato as the pedal will blend the notes together anyway. So your pedalling technique inbetween bars is key.

Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: GoldmanT] #2721181
03/14/18 03:44 PM
03/14/18 03:44 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,579
Warsaw, Poland
Qazsedcft Offline
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Qazsedcft  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,579
Warsaw, Poland
Originally Posted by GoldmanT
A piano can't play like a violin, it's a percussive instrument as opposed to a bowed instrument, so you/your teacher will need to be clearer on what that means.

Well, when someone talks about "playing like a violin", "signing tone", "cantabile", and other such terms they usually mean "very legato" where the notes overlap a bit. But you really have to use your ears for that rather than trying to be scientific about it.

In general, to achieve the effect you want you have to use more imagination and less focus on the technical aspect of the playing. Technically easy pieces like this one are good for this. Try to imagine the sound and the atmosphere you want to convey before playing and as you play. Record yourself and listen. Did it sound like you had imagined it?


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Working on:
Bach French Suite no. 2 mvt. 4
Debussy Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
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Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: hyena] #2721195
03/14/18 04:47 PM
03/14/18 04:47 PM
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 253
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GoldmanT Offline
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GoldmanT  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 253
But a singer can't overlap notes and a violin generally doesn't - and the piece is pedalled anyway so most of the notes are greatly overlapped. Non-decaying sustain and vibrato are two key aspects of a violin and voice sound that a piano can never recreate.

I find these videos to be good for talking about tone and performance in a straightforward way, this guy is probably the most underrated piano tutor on YouTube:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VDQuX8omGRs

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YIUXBhw-7Wo

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b3NwqECGKkA

Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: hyena] #2721203
03/14/18 05:16 PM
03/14/18 05:16 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,579
Warsaw, Poland
Qazsedcft Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Qazsedcft  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,579
Warsaw, Poland
I'm familiar with Mortensen and have seen all these videos. He does make some good points. I don't disagree but I think he's too analytical about it. Maybe that's just his way of teaching.

I don't belive one can make great music by calculating the speed of decent and timing of every key press. That's not how you play the piano even if that's what physically happens. You make great music by first imagining the music you want to make and then using your ears and adjusting your movements based on what you hear.


[Linked Image]
Working on:
Bach French Suite no. 2 mvt. 4
Debussy Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
Field Nocturne no. 10
Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: Qazsedcft] #2721215
03/14/18 06:01 PM
03/14/18 06:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,955
Midwest USA
Stubbie Offline
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Stubbie  Offline
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Posts: 1,955
Midwest USA
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I'm familiar with Mortensen and have seen all these videos. He does make some good points. I don't disagree but I think he's too analytical about it. Maybe that's just his way of teaching.

I don't belive one can make great music by calculating the speed of decent and timing of every key press. That's not how you play the piano even if that's what physically happens. You make great music by first imagining the music you want to make and then using your ears and adjusting your movements based on what you hear.

Yes, but you can't adjust your sound after the fact, which is what "using your ears and adjusting your movements based on what you hear" seems to require. You "imagine the music you want to make" and adjust your movements to make that sound before you strike the key.

Mortensen analyzes what is going on, but he's not advocating analytical playing.


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Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: Stubbie] #2721370
03/15/18 09:27 AM
03/15/18 09:27 AM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,652
Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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JohnSprung  Offline
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Reseda, California
Originally Posted by Stubbie

Yes, but you can't adjust your sound after the fact, which is what "using your ears and adjusting your movements based on what you hear" seems to require.


But you do adjust how you play the next note based on what the last one sounded like. If you play a variety of different pianos and keyboards, you get better at adapting like that.


-- J.S.

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Re: Expression in Gymnopedie [Re: JohnSprung] #2721424
03/15/18 11:28 AM
03/15/18 11:28 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,955
Midwest USA
Stubbie Offline
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Stubbie  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,955
Midwest USA
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Stubbie

Yes, but you can't adjust your sound after the fact, which is what "using your ears and adjusting your movements based on what you hear" seems to require.


But you do adjust how you play the next note based on what the last one sounded like. If you play a variety of different pianos and keyboards, you get better at adapting like that.



Yes, you will make adjustments to your playing after playing a few notes on a particular piano or keyboard. The OP's question (as I understood it) was about expression (and musicality). In order to transfer that from one piano to another, you have to know how to play expressively in the first place. Imo, that involves knowing--ahead of time--what you have to do physically (for example, using more arm weight or lifting the hand or playing staccato or using the pedal, etc) to make that sound happen.


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