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#543121 - 12/11/07 10:22 PM Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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David Grant Offline
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I'm working on a Divertimento in G major by Haydn for my upcoming Grade 6 Royal Conservatory exam.

There are frequent descending groups of 4 32nd notes. For example, from D to G. The tempo of this piece is pretty fast, minimum speed is supposed to be 76 for a quarter note, max is probably 10 higher.

So anyways, I'm having trouble playing these fast 32nd notes, mostly seems to be a problem with my 4th finger not sounding the note, or perhaps being so far behind that it get left behind and doesn't play the note. The good thing is that I can do it at slow speed, 50-60. Also in the cases where my fingers can sit on the keys waiting to play those 32nd notes I usually have better luck, but when there is a quarter noted simultaneous B and G right before hand with no rest between, I have to move my pinky to the D to play the D->G 32nd notes and on this ones I have a bit more trouble, especially with the 4th finger again.

I've tried lots of exercises like double-hitting the notes, accenting every second node (ie. the 4th finger to strenghthen it) and the first Hanon exercise which has 4 descending in it. And of course I have tried repeating the specific bars over and over again ad nauseum. Can anyone give me any specific advice to speed up progress?


Bio: quit Grade 4 RCM in 1992 at age 13. Restarted Grade 4 RCM in 2007 at age 28. Am working towards Grade 8 RCM exam.
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#543122 - 12/11/07 10:26 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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xtraheat Offline
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WV
If someone could tell me how to post notes from a finale score I might be able to help


Currently working on
Prokofiev Piano Concerto 3
Beethoven Sonata Op.109
Chopin Op.10 No.1
Bach WTC II no. 15

--Sam--
#543123 - 12/12/07 04:10 AM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
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Instead of 54321 for quick downward scalar passages, try 43213 or even 32132. Depending on context these alternatives can sometimes help if you are encountering problems of irregularity.

-Michael B.


There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.
#543124 - 12/12/07 04:36 AM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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David Grant Offline
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xtraheat, you can use a site like http://www.mediafire.com to upload it and share it. But I don't have Finale... can you export to PDF?


Bio: quit Grade 4 RCM in 1992 at age 13. Restarted Grade 4 RCM in 2007 at age 28. Am working towards Grade 8 RCM exam.
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#543125 - 12/12/07 04:38 AM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Sounds like your 4th finger isn't strong enough. It would have been written for clavichord or harpsichord so require much less strength but more agility (though it's not quite as simple as that). What Hob is it? Which bars?


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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#543126 - 12/12/07 06:15 AM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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David Grant Offline
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keyboardklutz, it is Hob. XVI:G1.

The worst bars are probably 57, 60, 62, and 64. Although I am getting better now and the trills are probably the hardest part in the piece for me now...followed by the ascending scales (eg. bar 22-23)

I think my 4th finger is definitely too weak. When I put my hand in playing position on table and lift individual fingers while keeping the other ones down, the fourth finger makes the least audible sound (in fact much less audible).


Bio: quit Grade 4 RCM in 1992 at age 13. Restarted Grade 4 RCM in 2007 at age 28. Am working towards Grade 8 RCM exam.
#543127 - 12/12/07 06:36 AM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Nikolas Offline
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Well... fourth digit shares the same muscles with the 5th. This is why it's weak. I doubt anything you will do will make tremendous change really (nia.. .scrap that. It actually will make big impact on how it was and how it is), but it will never be as strong as the rest.

What I would suggest is either change the fingering, as PoStTeNeBrAsLuX suggested, or maybe try something like this:

When I try to play fast 32nds on the table 5-1 fingers, I find that I lift my palm and fingers 1-3 while playing the first note (with the 5th digit) so that to give more "velocity" to the fourth which is weak either way. Making a small "turn" or "twist" from 5 towards 1 will give the... extra velocity needed to make it, I believe.

but then again I don't have you next to me to show you... wink

Finale files: google "pdf converter" or "pdf driver". I use primopdf, which is free. You go to the print page, and instead of sending the file to the printer (any printer) you choose the pdf drvier (primoPDF in my case). It will not print in physical paper, but instead will create a lovely PDF for all of us to view. laugh

But finale's free version (notepad I think :S) is capable of opening all finale files really, so...

hope it helps.

#543128 - 12/12/07 12:59 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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Sorry, thats one of the few I haven't got. I you can post it, I'd be happy to advise.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#543129 - 12/12/07 01:33 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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David Grant Offline
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Nikolas, you mean maybe a small hand rotation clockwise? And then rotation the other way when playing 5 down to 1? I have actually done this instinctively a bit, it seems to make it easier. I hope that doesn't count as "cheating."

Actually I tried varying the fingering, and while it is a great idea (it made it easier to play if I started on 4 for example rather than 5) it means a) some of the fingerings have to be 43213 and some have to 32132 to avoid thumb on black key and b) it means a late finger change, ie. I am almost done this piece and changing fingering now will surely frustrate me.

I'll scan it and post here tonight.


Bio: quit Grade 4 RCM in 1992 at age 13. Restarted Grade 4 RCM in 2007 at age 28. Am working towards Grade 8 RCM exam.
#543130 - 12/12/07 01:42 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Great. As you say maybe best not change fingering now. The thumb on a black note is no problem though. Haydn said himself he learnt to compose from CPE Bach's book/examples. CPE had plenty of thumbs on black notes.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#543131 - 12/12/07 01:49 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Nikolas Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by David Grant:
Nikolas, you mean maybe a small hand rotation clockwise? And then rotation the other way when playing 5 down to 1? I have actually done this instinctively a bit, it seems to make it easier. I hope that doesn't count as "cheating."
nothing is cheating realy wink

Yes, this is what I mean. "visualise" in your head a very small crescento between those 5 notes. Put a tiny "goal" in your head to reach the last one, which will make it easier, I think.

#543132 - 12/12/07 02:27 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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David Grant Offline
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keyboardklutz, Ok here is the piece: http://www.box.net/shared/ibrnli9dgo


Bio: quit Grade 4 RCM in 1992 at age 13. Restarted Grade 4 RCM in 2007 at age 28. Am working towards Grade 8 RCM exam.
#543133 - 12/12/07 03:13 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Quote
Originally posted by Nikolas:
Yes, this is what I mean. "visualise" in your head a very small crescento between those 5 notes. Put a tiny "goal" in your head to reach the last one, which will make it easier, I think.
This is practical advice; aim for the last note of the group by practicing a slight crescendo towards the last note.

Many students who struggle with passages like this are trying to practice them too fast. A slow approach to them is the surest way of mastering them and getting them even.

Something that is often helpful is to practice the five-note pattern in reverse; make an exercise of it: D, C, B, A, G, then: G, A, B, C, D. Do that with each group.

You can also practice these five-note groups - in printed order and in reverse order - in two hand unison. That sometimes helps in getting them even.

The simplest technique for mastering passages like this, I think, is to play them slowly and precisely with a metronome and only gradually increase the tempo until you arrive at performance tempo.

Combinine all these elements into various practice exercises may help you master these passages. Remember, though, to start slowly and work up to speed gradually; impatience will never lead to mastery and precision.

Regards,


BruceD
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#543134 - 12/12/07 03:35 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Now I see your problem. I don't suppose it makes you feel any better if I say on my clavichord the runs are like a light whisk? I can see what Haydn's up to. The runs are a flashy gesture. To do that on my digital keyboard it begs for strong fingers.

The big difference is that Haydn (and Mozart) would have curled their fingers in from 5 - 1 for the run (a quintuple scratch). I get the impression you use a hammer touch from the knuckle - that makes it extremely hard. What you need to do is what my fingers are doing at the top of this exercise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw4pZtKCP5s
But that's a totally different touch than you've been taught.

So, not quite sure what to say - I would change the fingering in RH bar 10 so you land with your thumb on C# in bar 11. Then the end of bar 11 2&4, beginning of bar 12 2&4, then 1&3 - that's how Haydn would have done it.

Sorry that's not a lot of help.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#543135 - 12/12/07 03:49 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Try practising that part an octave or two lower for a heavier workout, works for me eventually thumb


Will
#543136 - 12/12/07 04:10 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Maybe BruceD hasn't looked at the music - the last note of the run is the quietest, even though it's on beat one.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#543137 - 12/12/07 04:19 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Bruce & Nikolas hinted at what I was thinking. A lot of times when you have fast passages, you can lock up by overthinking the individual notes. Something like this requires the thought of the entire gesture as one idea, rather than 5 individual ideas. By focusing on where this leads you (to the G in the case of descending 5 notes pattern), the rest is just a light, quick embellishment to the G, drawing attention to it, and not to quick notes preceding.

In order to help you get to this point, I highly recommend practicing in rhythms. Long-Short, then Short-Long, 3 quick then the last 2 quick, 4 quick then the last one, then finally all 5 quickly.


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#543138 - 12/12/07 04:26 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Thanks for all the great advice, and the fingering change on bar 10-12 is interesting. Makes sense. I probably shyed away from it because of thumb-on-black and because of the fingering the publisher had written in.


Bio: quit Grade 4 RCM in 1992 at age 13. Restarted Grade 4 RCM in 2007 at age 28. Am working towards Grade 8 RCM exam.
#543139 - 12/12/07 06:10 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Maybe BruceD hasn't looked at the music - the last note of the run is the quietest, even though it's on beat one.
I did indeed look at the music, but what I said was - for practice purposes, and to get the passages even - one should aim for the final note of the group. When the execution is even, then one can adjust the dynamics accordingly.

I don't see anywhere in the score where it is specifically indicated that the note that falls on the first beat is necessarily the quietest note of the group.

Regards,


BruceD
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#543140 - 12/12/07 06:39 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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it's the aim and the goal that matters, more than dynamics. Either way if you look at it for analysis, those 5 notes have the bottom 5th note as the aim. The finale of that very short phrase, which is always on the first beat. It does make sense to slightly accent that 5th note and lead the other 4 towards the 5th. But I neither see anything on the score to show that the 5th note of the pattern is the quitest...

After looking at the score I do think that apart from everything else said, and like Bruce says, slow practice and tons of repetition will solve the problem "automatically" in the end. I mean just pick up bars 1-2 and play them 10 times very slowly, then bring the speed a bit higher, in 5 different "levels" reach the right tempo. That would equal 50 times of repeatitions of 2 bars, so around 5 minutes of practice in total. But it's pretty much the same figure for half the piece, so you would be fine.

#543141 - 12/12/07 06:47 PM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Nikolas, thanks and thanks to all. I feel motivated now, more than anything else.


Bio: quit Grade 4 RCM in 1992 at age 13. Restarted Grade 4 RCM in 2007 at age 28. Am working towards Grade 8 RCM exam.
#543142 - 12/13/07 02:28 AM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Nicholas and Bruce, you can't start a phrase with a dominant to tonic downward run (that's an ending). The phrase in this piece starts on beat two. That is the charm of the Bachs - they lack the hegemony of beat one (it's a 18th century ting).

Thanks for sharing it David. It's a delight to discover - such perfect early Haydn in so many ways.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#543143 - 12/13/07 09:49 AM Re: Playing 4 32nd notes in a row  
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Two more practice techniques that might help are "subsets" and "clusters".

By "subsets", I mean that you don't play all the notes. First try playing just the first and the last note of the group and leave out everything else. Then try some different patterns: 1st, 3rd and 5th (it's a 5 note pattern, right? four fast and one slow at the end?), or 1st, 4th, 5th, or 3rd, 4th, 5th. Keep each note in its correct place rhythmically--so when you play the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the group, you're effectively playing 16th notes; or when you play 3rd, 4th, 5th you're putting a 16th rest at the beginning.

By "clusters", I mean to play all the notes simultaneously. Again there are variations: you can play all five notes at once, or you can play the first four as a cluster then the last one, or you can play the first two notes together, then the next two then the last one, and I'm sure you can invent more permutations.

The point of both these practice methods is that you can practice while playing the whole phrase at the correct performance tempo, hands together. So you can practice it in a way that makes musical sense--but with enough variation that you can repeat it many times without going crazy!

I hope this helps.


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