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Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
johnstaf #2947873 02/17/20 03:51 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Finger tapping is a practise method and not a playing technique.

So...how's the end result different? You use a practice technique to form your playing style, I would assume.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
pianoloverus #2947876 02/17/20 04:03 AM
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Finger tapping uses fingers from one hand to press down the fingers of the other.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
johnstaf #2947877 02/17/20 04:06 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Finger tapping uses fingers from one hand to press down the fingers of the other.
Right. To what purpose? It still didn't answer the question. I can rephrase it: did Gould's technique derived from the finger-tapping practicing exercise differ from the "flat-finger" playing talked about regarding Horowitz? Good grief.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
pianoloverus #2947887 02/17/20 04:29 AM
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Gould didn't use flat fingers like Horowitz. Finger-tapping is beside the point.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
johnstaf #2947888 02/17/20 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Gould didn't use flat fingers like Horowitz. Finger-tapping is beside the point.
I don't know, I think the pedantic hair-splitting was what's beside the point.
Even so, Gould's playing fingers usually look pretty flat to me. But I'll defer.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
rmns2bseen #2947895 02/17/20 05:08 AM
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The finger tapping was mainly to get the music securely into your fingers, especially for a performance, not to form the style in which you would play.

In fact, if you look at (or try) the technique, you'll see that in a physical sense it really has no resemblance to how Gould played or how anybody plays. It's a totally artificial thing.

I've assumed actually that the fact of it being so totally different from how we actually play the piece is the very point of it: doing the notes in a way that's totally different from how you've ever played or practiced the piece, in order to sort of force the concept and memory into you in an additional and more intense way, from a totally different direction. An analogy might be.....let's see......like (just making this up right here) .....If you were practicing for a spelling bee, that you might make yourself do the spelling out loud, repeating each letter 3 times and with pauses in between the different letters.... or something like that. It's not how you'd ever actually spell the words, but a way to reinforce the spelling.

BTW I don't think anybody actually does that on spelling.
But I don't know, maybe they do. smile

And y'know, even this exaggerated example with spelling isn't as much different from the usual way of spelling as the finger-tapping is from any actual way of playing, because you'd still be using the same vocal mechanism as what you do when you're in a spelling bee.
It would maybe make this analogy be more accurate if I said that while you're saying each letter, you also have to form it with your fingers, or something like that -- some extra thing involving a physical action that isn't at all part of the usual activity.

P.S. I wonder, rmns -- are you sure that you know exactly what the "finger tapping" is?
It isn't a thing that's obvious just from the words.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
pianoloverus #2947956 02/17/20 09:37 AM
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I think Horowitz is a composer with no (released) opuses. He often ignored dynamics marked by the composer, where it was a crescendo he'd diminuendo, sometimes he'd add notes. Sometimes he'll 'octave' a bass note without it being scored.

I think you hit the nail on the head in your first sentence. He is unique. I think his Pathetique, his Beethoven Op 10 no 3, his Schubert Impromptus and a few Scarlatti Sonatas are unparalleled. I know he is highly revered for his Hungarian Rhapsody playing in his early years too, but I'm not really a fan of them so much. I appreciate the work, but it's not my style.

Last edited by WTM; 02/17/20 09:39 AM.

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Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
pianoloverus #2948146 02/17/20 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
P.S. I wonder, rmns -- are you sure that you know exactly what the "finger tapping" is?
It isn't a thing that's obvious just from the words.
This video clip provides a pretty succinct explanation, although I've never tried the thing myself:
https://youtu.be/MkI-aKqQ1kI

I asked a genuine question, in a compare/contrast way. But in true Internet passive-aggressive points-scoring style, my ignorance of all things pianistic has to be assumed and highlighted. I know the game fairly well. It isn't really important anyway.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
rmns2bseen #2948159 02/17/20 04:30 PM
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I wasn't meaning to do that at all.
I gave a serious and thorough answer to what you were asking, and since truly it appeared that you might have misunderstood what the thing is (which is easy to do, because what it's called isn't real helpful), I asked.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
Mark_C #2948190 02/17/20 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
I wasn't meaning to do that at all.
I gave a serious and thorough answer to what you were asking, and since truly it appeared that you might have misunderstood what the thing is (which is easy to do, because what it's called isn't real helpful), I asked.

According to the clip though, from someone who was apparently actually trained via that technique, it's about getting the music in your fingers *and* about finger placement. But I won't argue the point.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
pianoloverus #2948202 02/17/20 06:31 PM
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I hope this doesn't muddy the waters too much, but is finger tapping the same as playing staccato? Is it more likely to be used in the music of Bach, then say Chopin?

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
Numerian #2948220 02/17/20 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Numerian
I hope this doesn't muddy the waters too much, but is finger tapping the same as playing staccato? Is it more likely to be used in the music of Bach, then say Chopin?

I've never tried the technique, but it looks to me like it results in playing with your fingers relatively straight and with your hands parallel to or even below the keyboard rather than slightly above it. Whether it's more conducive to playing Bach rather than the Romantics, I wouldn't know. And the precise difference between that and "Horowitz flat fingers" I don't know either. Hence the question.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
Numerian #2948221 02/17/20 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Numerian
I hope this doesn't muddy the waters too much, but is finger tapping the same as playing staccato? Is it more likely to be used in the music of Bach, then say Chopin?

No worries about it muddying the waters. It will help.
I'm glad you're asking, because maybe it'll bring some neutrality into it.

(By the way, it's great to see you here. I don't think we've seen as much of you on here lately, but then again we haven't seen as much of me either. grin
Your contributions are invariably splendid.)

Back to the question:
What you said is pretty much what I wondered if rmns might have thought, because what he was saying was consistent with that (and, I thought, not real consistent with what the thing is).

Gould's "finger tapping," which to me is an unfortunate mild misnomer, is an odd but (to me) actually very useful technique that goes like this:

In brief, you practice the piece without striking the keys with the fingers that plays the notes, or even (ideally) without letting those fingers exert any striking-movement on their own, but just by placing each finger on its key, one at a time, in sequence -- and taking one finger of the other hand and pressing the playing-finger down with it; making the finger of the other hand do the movement, and having the 'playing' hand be basically a passive participant.

(It takes much less time to do than to describe.) grin

It's an odd thing, and I never imagined it would be a thing that I'd find useful to do, but heck, I figured I'd try it just to see what this crazy thing feels like -- and, whaddaya know, I quickly saw that it would be very useful. For the last few years I've done it with most pieces that I've worked on. I've never done it for entire pieces, as Gould supposedly did routinely, and I don't do it extremely often, but that's not because I don't find it useful enough. It's because of how time-consuming it is, and also because I don't often get to the stage of working on a piece where I'd start doing it. (To me it's one of the final stages -- when I've already 'finished' a piece and am wanting to really cement it.)

Another thing: I've assumed that what Gould meant (and did) was to do it with just one voice at a time.

If any of this wasn't clearly enough, please anyone say so.


Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
.....it looks to me like it results in playing with your fingers relatively straight and with your hands parallel to or even below the keyboard rather than slightly above it....

Now I can better understand where you were coming from.

Indeed it somewhat requires at least some flattening of the fingers to do the technique -- I mean, while you're doing it -- but this isn't at all for the purpose of actually playing that way -- totally not at all.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
Mark_C #2948256 02/17/20 08:28 PM
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......Actually, thinking back, I'm realizing that this part of what I said isn't so:

Originally Posted by Mark_C
.....I've assumed that what Gould meant (and did) was to do it with just one voice at a time.

While it's more complicated to do it with chords, I sometimes do.

Mostly I do it just with "passage work" which is (usually) just one voice. But sometimes indeed I'll do it with chordal things -- still just one hand at a time, and using fingers of the other hand (placed atop the 'playing' hand) to do the downward movement.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
pianoloverus #2948385 02/18/20 05:47 AM
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I adore Horowitz for pretty much the same reasons as you do, pianoloverus.

I remember what his wife said in that documentary, "The Last Romantic", that she used to be bored to death by piano recitals before she met Horowitz, but when she heard him, she found it exhilerating. I understand exactly what she means, although this is a quality that's a little harder to pin down and put into words. It's a kind of electrifying spark that some pianists have and some don't (at least in their effect on me). Horowitz most definitely had it.


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Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
Mark_C #2948906 02/19/20 07:38 AM
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Thanks Mark. I understand the finger-tapping discussion now, and it does sound like it's worth a try. It's possible that Gould's rapid-fire, highly articulate passagework in Bach was built on this technique, and maybe it helps to accentuate the different thematic lines in polyphonic music.

I don't get around here as much because life intrudes, as they say, and the older I get the more uncertain I am about my own opinions.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
Mark_C #2948934 02/19/20 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C

Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
.....it looks to me like it results in playing with your fingers relatively straight and with your hands parallel to or even below the keyboard rather than slightly above it....

Now I can better understand where you were coming from.

Indeed it somewhat requires at least some flattening of the fingers to do the technique -- I mean, while you're doing it -- but this isn't at all for the purpose of actually playing that way -- totally not at all.

I'd have to say that's a little confusing though. According to the pianist in the video snippet I posted (who, like Gould, apparently studied with finger-tapping originator Alberto Guerrero), the aim of the technique is to gain finger independence; there's "no lifting of the fingers; the finger just bounces back by itself". It would seem that the goal is to eliminate what's felt to be wasted movement in the hands, i.e. to gain more efficiency (perceived, anyway). Ultimately I think that seems to have been the purpose of Horowitz's so-called "flat fingers", perhaps just arrived at by different means. At any rate I don't think after these many years of playing in a more "traditional" way that finger-tapping would do me much good. This is something that I would see working better for a young learner. But I might try it sometime anyway, what the heck.

Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
3am_stargazing #2949052 02/19/20 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 3am_stargazing
Argerich has a witty comment.

"He has five different interpretations for each piece and he plays them at the same time" .

I love this! (Also loved the clip that went with it.)

For me, just about everything that is magical in Horowitz's piano playing and performance style is encapsulated in his well-known interpretation of the Gb Schubert Impromptu, which is as near to perfection as anything I've ever seen or heard in the performing arts.


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Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
SiFi #2949078 02/19/20 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by SiFi
Originally Posted by 3am_stargazing
Argerich has a witty comment. "He has five different interpretations for each piece and he plays them at the same time" .

I love this! (Also loved the clip that went with it.)
I interpreted her comment as a negative (saying it was an inconsistent interpretation)although I didn't watch the video so maybe the video shows it's a positive. I also don't see any plus in having five interpretations as opposed to one.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/19/20 01:17 PM.
Re: How would you describe Horowitz's playing?
pianoloverus #2949135 02/19/20 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by SiFi
Originally Posted by 3am_stargazing
Argerich has a witty comment. "He has five different interpretations for each piece and he plays them at the same time" .

I love this! (Also loved the clip that went with it.)
I interpreted her comment as a negative (saying it was an inconsistent interpretation)although I didn't watch the video so maybe the video shows it's a positive. I also don't see any plus in having five interpretations as opposed to one.

I believe she's talking about different layers or dimensions, the sensation of a kind of aesthetic multiplicity when you hear him perform at his best. What she most certainly is not saying is that his interpretations are a jumbled mess.


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