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Posted By: lubim1 rythm - 12/30/09 11:11 PM
I am new to this forum. I have been looking on line to find something that can tell me how to play the Polyrythm of Chopin Etude OP. 25 NO. 2. I have no problem with 2 against 3, but this one is a mystery to me. I can't seem to get it right. Is there some mathematical way to count it or a drawing of where the notes are to come in or some other reasoning that I can use. Any help would be more than greatfully appreciated.
I am lubim1@aol.com

Thanks
Posted By: sotto voce Re: rythm - 12/30/09 11:36 PM
There are 12 notes per measure in the right hand's voice, and 6 notes per measure in the left hand's. Each quarter note played by the left hand has the duration of two eighth notes played by the right hand; therefore, each left-hand note is played simultaneously with every other right-hand note.

The alignment of the notes seems straightforward to me. Could it be that you're overthinking the issue? Of course, I may be I'm misunderstanding your question. smile

Steven
Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 12/30/09 11:38 PM
There is, really, no complex polyrhythmic pattern in this Etude; it's a relatively straight-forward six against three. For every left hand quarter-note there are two right hand eighth-notes. If you think of it as two beats per measure (three notes in the left hand and six notes in the right hand for every beat) it should come more easily than if you try to think of it as four beats per measure. In other words, it's the left hand that is the "leader" in this Etude; the left hand sets and maintains the tempo.

Try practicing it hands separately, slowly, in very strict tempo, and make sure that you practice both hands at exactly the same tempo, perhaps even using a metronome for your initial practicing.

As Eleanor Bailie points out in The Pianists' Repertoire: Chopin, A Graded Practical Guide it is the right hand that has to fit into the left hand's pattern, not the other way around.

Does this make it any easier?

Regards,
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/30/09 11:48 PM
He's not exactly "overthinking" it. If anything, you guys are sort of "underthinking" it, although what you're saying is 100% right 'for practical purposes.'

I think sotto voce and Bruce are at the 'disadvantage' of KNOWING THE PIECE VERY WELL, if that makes any sense. It seems like y'all may have forgotten Chopin's quite odd notation for the rhythm. And I must admit I've never understood what Chopin was driving it. In any event, it's Chopin's odd notation that confused Lubim, and really with good reason.

If it were as simple as the two above replies indicate, Chopin wouldn't have gone to the trouble of indicating each 6 notes of the R.H. as two triplets; he would have given the usual and 'more normal' indication of just a group of 6. (Which, among other things, is easier to write.)

So, if you don't know the piece (like you guys do), at first blush you don't know what the heck to do, because it seems like "certainly" you don't just do what you'd do if it were a normal group of 6.

Even though really you DO do that same thing -- or at least so it seems from every performance of it that I've ever heard, plus what I've ever been able to do when I've tried to play it. The notation makes it seem like Chopin wants you to play each 6-note group in the R.H. as though it consists of "two 3's," rather than the usual "three 2's." But in practice, people generally think of it and play it like the latter, as far as I've ever been able to tell -- and which is in line with the above two replies.

It's a little mystery. I don't see how you can do anything like how the score "looks" and still make musical sense. If anyone has a clue, please chime in.

P.S. For what it's worth, this exact issue has kept me from ever working on the piece, because I wouldn't know what I'm doing and even though I often say that we needn't drive ourselves crazy over what the score says, I couldn't comfortably play a piece while being completely stumped about something so major about it.
Posted By: sotto voce Re: rythm - 12/30/09 11:59 PM
I think you're overanalyzing it, Mark.

In most editions, this etude's time signature is alla breve. There are two strong beats per measure, and each of them is a two-against-three figure: two quarter notes in the right hand against three quarter notes in the left hand.

I think even that is pretty prosaic, but I wasn't sure it would helpful to the OP to think of in that way. For someone who thinks he needs a graph to figure out "where the notes are to come in," the simplest answer may be that there's nothing to figure out after all.

If you don't agree, that's fine! I'd prefer to agree to disagree right now and obviate the predictable back-and-forth. I wouldn't see any point to that; whether one thinks of the figures as six-against-three or three-against-two, everything still lines up precisely.

Steven
Posted By: Phlebas Re: rythm - 12/31/09 12:30 AM
The rhythmic difficulty is not in whether the notes line up, it's more where the triplet notes of the rh line up with the lh notes. I hear a lot of people play the rh sounding like groups of two notes - to match each note of the lh - instead of each measure as 4 sets of triplets.

When I learned it the proper rhythm was the most difficult aspect of it.

What makes it easier is if you divide the measure into two beats - which is what the time signature indicates anyway - and play two groups of triplets as one group of 6 notes. However, that's not the way it was notated.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 02:27 AM
Originally Posted by sotto voce
I think you're overanalyzing it, Mark.
In most editions, this etude's time signature is alla breve. There are two strong beats per measure, and each of them is a two-against-three figure: two quarter notes in the right hand against three quarter notes in the left hand.

I think even that is pretty prosaic.....

It's not. It's an extremely unusual rhythmic notation which takes some mental gymnastics to explain. If you think you can, I'd love to hear it. And remember, you'd need to explain why Chopin went to the trouble of notating it in this unusual, more arduous manner than in the usual simple way.

Quote
.....For someone who thinks he needs a graph to figure out "where the notes are to come in," the simplest answer may be that there's nothing to figure out after all.....

As I acknowledged, that's true. But I say if we're a bit more serious about it, we want to know more than 'where the notes come in.' We want to know what Chopin was trying to say with this odd notation.

If you want to agree to disagree, that's fine. But there was a clear reason why this rhythm was unclear to the OP, rather than that he was "overanalyzing" it -- and IMO it's serious food-for-thought even if we know very well how the notes line up.

Otherwise, you're figuring it means nothing that Chopin went to that unusual trouble, which I would say is impossible.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 02:29 AM
Originally Posted by Phlebas
The rhythmic difficulty is not in whether the notes line up, it's more where the triplet notes of the rh line up with the lh notes. I hear a lot of people play the rh sounding like groups of two notes - to match each note of the lh - instead of each measure as 4 sets of triplets.

When I learned it the proper rhythm was the most difficult aspect of it.

What makes it easier is if you divide the measure into two beats - which is what the time signature indicates anyway - and play two groups of triplets as one group of 6 notes. However, that's not the way it was notated.

Yes -- you are recognizing the specifics of the notation.

But, the way you say you've 'sometimes' heard it played is the way I've invariably heard it played, including by the greats. Have you really heard it played the "right" way, i.e. truly sounding like 2 triplets rather than three 2's? I sure haven't. But the most puzzling thing about it, to me, is that even in the ivory tower of my mind's ear, I can't make any sense of it the "right" way (i.e. how you said); it just doesn't seem to work.

The earlier replies seem to feel it doesn't matter than Chopin wrote it as 2 triplets rather than three 2's. It MUST -- but I have no idea exactly what.

This isn't "overanalyzing"; it's recognizing that when a great composer went out of his way to write something very unusual, it wasn't for nothing.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 02:54 AM
Originally Posted by lubim1
.....I can't seem to get it right. Is there some mathematical way to count it or a drawing of where the notes are to come in or some other reasoning that I can use....

Please ignore everything I said, and listen to Sotto and Bruce. smile

I mean, what I said is true, but not necessary for what you're asking.

Just forget that the right hand is written as triplets, and 'pretend' that each group of 2 triples is just 6 ordinary notes being played against each 3 notes in the left hand. It'll sound just as good as if you didn't pretend. smile
Posted By: Horowitzian Re: rythm - 12/31/09 03:37 AM
[Linked Image]
Posted By: Orange Soda King Re: rythm - 12/31/09 03:45 AM
For a very very condensed explanation, click here:

There are many "X against Y" rhythms happening, but it basically boils down to the 6 against 3 sotto and Bruce were talking about.


If you REALLY want to know why I believe what I do, click here (at your own risk):

-With left hand, use your ring, middle, then index (or vice versa order) fingers to tap the rhythm of the left hand triplet quarter notes (not full tempo of course).

-With right hand, use the ring, middle, index (or vice versa order) fingers to tap the rhythm of the right hand triplet eighth notes.

-Now for each hand, "ACCENT" the ring finger (or if you used vice versa order, the index finger) and eventually phase out the other fingers until you have only the ring finger (or index finger) tapping.

<>What you should now hear is the right hand tapping at twice the rate as the left hand. This is a very roundabout way to say that what sotto and Bruce are saying is correct.
_______________________________________________________________

-NOW, go back to doing the tapping again.

-This time, tap only the ring (or index) finger of your right hand, but all three fingers of your left hand, and have equal emphasis on all three left hand notes.

-You hear a 2 against 3 rhythm, right?

-And now, to REALLY confuse things, internalize the "duplet" rhythm coming from the one finger in your right hand, and tap the left hand triplet quarter notes and right hand triplet eighth while counting out loud "1, 2, 3, 4" the duplet rhythm. This is what duplet quarter notes would sound like in this piece.

<>We now see that there is a straight 6 against 3 rhythm, but also a 2 against 3 rhythm going on at the same time! This goes to support MarkCannon.
_______________________________________________________________

-Count the "1, 2, 3, 4" duplet quarter note beat and do the triplet eighth note rhythm with your right hand fingers. We have a 6 against 2 rhythm.

-In the right hand, tap only the ring (or index) finger while counting "1, 2, 3, 4."

-Interchange the single note tapping of the ring/index finger with the three-note triplet eighth note pattern. This goes to show that the emphasis in the 6 against 2 rhythm is on the 1st and 4th note of every right hand triplet eighth note.

-Count the "1, 2, 3, 4" duplet quarter notes with your mouth again, and this time, tap the left hand triplet quarter notes with the three fingers you were using. We hear a 3 against 2 rhythm again.

-Let's make it 6 against 2: tap each left hand finger twice instead of once so we have double the notes. The left hand is accenting the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes, but our counting is falling on the 1st and 4th notes! Equal emphasis in both of the conflicting rhythms! Neither rhythm wins in this case, unless you intentionally emphasize one over the other.

<>The discovery of all of these polyrhythms (and there are more than I won't bother to post because they are way less important and may not even be relevant) also supports MarkCannon.
_______________________________________________________________

-From what I can tell at my sleep-deprived perspective, the first section of this spoiler is the only actual relevant point to make.

-I believe Chopin notated the music how he did because it would be even more awkward and even contradictory to have it in a 6/8, 12/8, 3/4, or 6/4 time signature.

-A 4/4 (or in this case 2/2) time signature with triplets takes away the "contradiction" of what a 3-based meter would pose, and is only partly awkward. It's basically the lesser of two evils: there isn't a less-awkward way to notate this piece!

-The only way it COULD be notated less awkward would be to take out the emphasis Chopin wants on the first note on all the triplets and have either a straight single 3/4 or straight single 3/8 sort of meter throughout. However, that would be MUCH less interesting.


HOLY BANANAS that was the most epic post of my life to this date! Ever, on any forum. confused crazy sick
Posted By: Kreisler Re: rythm - 12/31/09 04:04 AM
Here's how I learned it:

1) Just get the notes in your hands at a good tempo. Get nice and comfortable with the technique, without fussing too much over the rhythm. I basically ended up matching the 6 of the LH in the RH.

2) Next, to get the polyrhythm to come out, I turned it into a counting exercise. As I was playing, I'd focus my attention on the LH and count "1-2-3-4-5-6" (every quarter) or "1-2" (the two large beats.) Then I'd shift my focus to the RH and count "1-2-3-4", with strong accents in the appropriate place.

3) After doing a LOT of that, I started to be able to hear the larger 2-against-3 feeling.

In other words, I don't think it's really possible to achieve the kind of rhythmic complexity from the beginning. Because the polyrhythm in this piece is very nuanced, I think technical comfort has to come first. Otherwise you end up trying to paint the house with a trim brush. Just get the paint up on the wall and worry about the petty details later.

On a side note, I sort of stole this idea from John Perry. I once heard that he wouldn't hear a piece until a student pretty much had it in their fingers - the reasoning being that it's easier to work on something when there's something tangible to work on, even if it's a bit of a rough draft.

What I'm suggesting is that you not worry about the rhythmic nuance until you get a working draft in your fingers. Having it in your fingers will give you something to really work with, and may even suggest some solutions to the problem itself.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 04:10 AM
OK...... smile we've got 2 completely different schools of thought, plus 2 addenda:

1. As per the first couple of replies, it's no issue and they don't understand what was puzzling to the OP -- it's just 6 notes against 3, like any other 6 notes against 3.

2. Your idea and phlebas', which, if I get it, is basically the opposite of the above: It's a complex thing that's sort of 2 sub-beats in the R.H. against 3 sub-beats in the L.H. (but don't worry about it at first) -- which is exactly like the weird thing that it looks like on the page, and which I think theoretically it should be.

Then there's two other views:

3. Mine, which is that while #2 is correct, it's never really achieved, so you might as well do it according to #1, although I never would because I think it's gotta be just wrong.

And finally.......

4. People who feel they know that the whole thing is stupid and just blow it off. ha
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 06:02 AM
P.S. to Kreisler and Phlebas, who talked about playing it with the "cross rhythm" exactly as written.....

I've done a little "compilation."

While I agree that your suggested goal would seem to be what Chopin meant, I said that I've never actually heard it carried off that way, even by the greats, and frankly I can't make that idea "work" even in my mind's ear, even though it seems like Chopin would have had to mean something like it.

Here are some performances on YouTube. Do you really hear the right hand as 2 groups of triplets, rather than 3 groups of 2's?
I sure don't.
If you say you do, I couldn't argue against it, because this is subjective.

I don't hear it in any of these, and I've never heard it carried off by anyone.

Earl Wild
Sokolov
Cecile Licad
Lisitsa
Cziffra

P.S. I'm not arguing that all of these people are "great" (nor that they're not), and I didn't cherry-pick. I just looked for the "biggest names" among the recordings of the piece on youtube. I'd love it if someone could find or mention a performance that does achieve the impression that Kreisler and Phlebas talked about.
Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 12/31/09 06:38 AM
Originally Posted by MarkCannon
[...] Do you really hear the right hand as 2 groups of triplets, rather than 3 groups of 2's?
I sure don't.
If you say you do, I couldn't argue against it, because this is subjective.
[...]


I hear the right hand as two groups of triplets per beat.

Regards,
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 06:40 AM
Originally Posted by BruceD
....I hear the right hand as two groups of triplets per beat....

In which recording? Everyone's?

I mean, I said I couldn't argue against it, but we gotta know what you're talking about, don't we..... ha
Posted By: wr Re: rythm - 12/31/09 08:37 AM
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by MarkCannon
[...] Do you really hear the right hand as 2 groups of triplets, rather than 3 groups of 2's?
I sure don't.
If you say you do, I couldn't argue against it, because this is subjective.
[...]


I hear the right hand as two groups of triplets per beat.



I try to hear it as a perfectly smooth molto legato line without any bumps that would indicate any mental grouping at all. I always thought that was one of the main points of the etude, in fact. It has never even occurred to me that there might be a polyrhythm involved, given the molto legato indication together with the long phrase marks of the right hand. I think if Chopin wanted a 2 against 3 feeling, he probably would have been more explicit about it. Op. 10, no. 10 provides examples of how he shows it when he really wants that kind of thing.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 09:37 AM
Originally Posted by wr
......I think if Chopin wanted a 2 against 3 feeling, he probably would have been more explicit about it....

You puttin' us on? smile

I know you mentioned that other etude, but I gotta tell ya, this is absolutely as explicit as you can get without writing some of the notes big and the others small.

Absolutely as explicit.

BY THE WAY: I agree with you that it is mainly heard as "just 6" -- mainly. But, such groups of 6 are almost always also heard, in a lesser manner, as one of those other things: two 3's, or three 2's -- and it's very important which one.

For example, and a famous one: Last movement of Beethoven's Tempest sonata. Yes, it's groups of 6. But, unless you're careful, it will absolutely sound like two groups of 3 -- and that's wrong. It's 3 groups of 2, and the ability to convey this impression is a huge thing separating the [whomevers] from the [whomevers].

And here, unless the performer very actively "does" something, it will absolutely be heard as three groups of 2, because of what the L.H. is doing. The "default" in such a situation is for the ear to hear it in terms of the other hand's beat.

I promise you that if you think about it enough, you'll realize that in addition to mainly hearing it as "just 6," you're also hearing it as one of these other things, even if ever-so-slightly -- and I'd bet it's three groups of 2.

Which Chopin went way out of his way to tell us it shouldn't be. If you don't think so, why do you think he went out of his way to indicate it as he did?
Posted By: Phlebas Re: rythm - 12/31/09 11:44 AM
Originally Posted by Kreisler
Here's how I learned it:

1) Just get the notes in your hands at a good tempo. Get nice and comfortable with the technique, without fussing too much over the rhythm. I basically ended up matching the 6 of the LH in the RH.

2) Next, to get the polyrhythm to come out, I turned it into a counting exercise. As I was playing, I'd focus my attention on the LH and count "1-2-3-4-5-6" (every quarter) or "1-2" (the two large beats.) Then I'd shift my focus to the RH and count "1-2-3-4", with strong accents in the appropriate place.

3) After doing a LOT of that, I started to be able to hear the larger 2-against-3 feeling.

In other words, I don't think it's really possible to achieve the kind of rhythmic complexity from the beginning. Because the polyrhythm in this piece is very nuanced, I think technical comfort has to come first. Otherwise you end up trying to paint the house with a trim brush. Just get the paint up on the wall and worry about the petty details later.

On a side note, I sort of stole this idea from John Perry. I once heard that he wouldn't hear a piece until a student pretty much had it in their fingers - the reasoning being that it's easier to work on something when there's something tangible to work on, even if it's a bit of a rough draft.

What I'm suggesting is that you not worry about the rhythmic nuance until you get a working draft in your fingers. Having it in your fingers will give you something to really work with, and may even suggest some solutions to the problem itself.


That's how I learned it as well, but I wasted a lot of time before deciding - point # 1 - getting the notes in my hands at a good tempo, without fussing too much over the rhythm.
Posted By: DragonPianoPlayer Re: rythm - 12/31/09 12:43 PM
How about in Arrau's version?



I hear a very subtle interplay between the left hand and right hand in his version.

Rich
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: rythm - 12/31/09 01:06 PM
I haven't been able to follow all the above posts completely but are the rhythmical problems/discussions here similar to those that would apply to Schumann's Des Abends?

Quite a while ago I remember asking why Schumann didn't notate that piece in a different rhythm like 6/8. I remember Kreisler gave the answer that made the most sense at the time. Unfortunaltely, I can't remember his explanation.
Posted By: Thracozaag Re: rythm - 12/31/09 01:37 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I haven't been able to follow all the above posts completely but are the rhythmical problems/discussions here similar to those that would apply to Schumann's Des Abends?

Quite a while ago I remember asking why Schumann didn't notate that piece in a different rhythm like 6/8. I remember Kreisler gave the answer that made the most sense at the time. Unfortunaltely, I can't remember his explanation.


Because clearly (I think) Schumann wanted the piece to feel in 2, not 6 (unfortunately, most people end up playing it in 6 anyway).
Posted By: sotto voce Re: rythm - 12/31/09 02:04 PM
Originally Posted by MarkCannon
Originally Posted by BruceD
....I hear the right hand as two groups of triplets per beat....

In which recording? Everyone's?

I mean, I said I couldn't argue against it, but we gotta know what you're talking about, don't we..... ha

Isn't the essence of polyrhythm that it can be heard and understood in more than one way? To that extent, we can hear it the way we want to hear it.

The Waltz Op. 42 comes to mind, and maybe the first of the Trois Nouvelles Etudes is a better example still. In most editions, it's notated in common time. I wonder if most people tend to hear four beats per measure ... or two ... or three.

Steven
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: rythm - 12/31/09 02:57 PM
Cortot explains it the best here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua8BuCEV9ck
Posted By: Kreisler Re: rythm - 12/31/09 03:20 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Quite a while ago I remember asking why Schumann didn't notate that piece in a different rhythm like 6/8. I remember Kreisler gave the answer that made the most sense at the time. Unfortunaltely, I can't remember his explanation.


It invites the player to give the melody a floating feeling, drifting outside of the notated meter.

Or at least I think that's what I said. laugh
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: rythm - 12/31/09 03:58 PM
Originally Posted by Kreisler
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Quite a while ago I remember asking why Schumann didn't notate that piece in a different rhythm like 6/8. I remember Kreisler gave the answer that made the most sense at the time. Unfortunaltely, I can't remember his explanation.


It invites the player to give the melody a floating feeling, drifting outside of the notated meter.

Or at least I think that's what I said. laugh


Actually, I think you said something(?)about the bass but I'm not sure.
Is the rhythmical situation in Des Abends related at all to the one in Chopin Op. 25, No.2?

Also any relation to this piece, where Rachmaninov notates triplets in the inner voices but they seemed to be performed at least sometimes in groups of 2? (I don't undertand why sometimes the triplets seemed played as triplets and sometimes in 3 groups of 2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjiFuafbxt8&feature=related












Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 04:21 PM
Originally Posted by DragonPianoPlayer
How about in Arrau's version?.....
I hear a very subtle interplay between the left hand and right hand in his version.

You know, there could be! I don't really "hear" triplets in the R.H. -- like, if I try to focus solely on the R.H. (which is extremely hard to do) and try to hear it in groups of 3, I just can't, even if I try very hard, which I did -- but yes, "something" is going on there, and I think the way you put it really describes it.

I'm willing to declare Arrau the champ as of now. smile
It's the only one so far that doesn't sound just like a simple/usual 6-against-3.

(Great get!)
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 04:28 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
......are the rhythmical problems/discussions here similar to those that would apply to Schumann's Des Abends?
Quite a while ago I remember asking why Schumann didn't notate that piece in a different rhythm like 6/8. I remember Kreisler gave the answer that made the most sense at the time. Unfortunately, I can't remember his explanation.

GREAT other example. Of course the pieces are extremely different, and I hope people won't be making too much of an analogy because the issues aren't exactly the same......but absolutely.

BTW.....I don't know the answer on Des Abends either, but there had to be something Schumann meant. Besides the fact that it has the extremely unusual meter of 2/8, and despite how the L.H. is pretty clearly 2 beats per measure, it usually sounds like 3, and really I've always heard it in 3, not 2. So, why didn't he just notate it in 3?

I saw Kreisler's later post. Sounds pretty good to me.

I'll be hearing Emmanuel Ax play it on Saturday. We'll see how he does. ha
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: rythm - 12/31/09 04:30 PM
Mark,

I think your experience is common. I remember working very hard on this piece to get a triplet feel in the right hand. It would come and go, and then I had it. It felt clearly like triplets, and it sounded to me like triplets. When I played it for others who knew the piece, they could hear it. When I played for others who didn't know the piece, they could only hear it the way you hear it, until I slowed it down and exaggerated everything for them in an extreme way. Then they could hear it. When I played it for them again at tempo, they no longer could hear triplets in the RH.
It is one of the easiest of the etudes to play the notes, and one of the most difficult to play beautifully at speed, especially if you are obsessing about getting others to feel the RH the way you want them to. Some of the patterns lend themselves more obviously to a triplet feel and others don't, so even when I am listening to Cortot's masterful recording, it goes in and out of triplets for me as well. Then, I just listen to the overall effect he creates, and the expression, and I am very satisfied.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 04:31 PM
Originally Posted by Thracozaag
[about Schumann's Des Abends].....Because clearly (I think) Schumann wanted the piece to feel in 2, not 6 (unfortunately, most people end up playing it in 6 anyway).

Well sure, that's the logical answer.
But the main question is "why" and how do we achieve it. As I think you sort of meant when you said "in 6," we usually hear it in 3, not 2, don't we? Which would mean that most performers don't do it, and so we don't hear it.

Any idea how you would make it in 2? Not really "do" the melody in the R.H.? Put sort of a stress on the 2nd beat in the L.H.? I'd play around with both of those, but I'm not sure either is a good idea......
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 04:52 PM
Originally Posted by sotto voce
Isn't the essence of polyrhythm that it can be heard and understood in more than one way?.....

I don't think so; it depends. The essence is just that more than one rhythm at a time is going on, and I don't think the usual concept of it includes what you said. But anyway, in the Chopin example, the first couple of replies didn't seem to feel there was any polyrhythm going on, and the main reason I replied was to note that there is, and to point out that this was what legitimately caused the OP to have trouble seeing what was going on. It seemed that people initially were at a loss to see what made it hard for him.

Quote
The Waltz Op. 42 comes to mind.....

Very good other example too. In the waltz there isn't near as much of an issue about expressing the different rhythms in the two hands, but yes, the same basic thing is going on. Most performers do it real well, and while we might not really "hear" any beat of 3 going on, at least in a subtle way we do feel the 3 in the L.H.

Quote
......the first of the Trois Nouvelles Etudes is a better example still. In most editions, it's notated in common time. I wonder if most people tend to hear four beats per measure ... or two ... or three.

I thought it was in "cut time." If it's in common time, then yes, there's some of the same issue, it would perhaps suggest that Chopin means something even more than meets the eye.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 04:53 PM
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Cortot explains it the best here.....

LOL! Maybe he does. smile
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 05:01 PM
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
I think your experience is common. I remember working very hard on this piece to get a triplet feel in the right hand. It would come and go, and then I had it. It felt clearly like triplets, and it sounded to me like triplets. When I played it for others who knew the piece, they could hear it. When I played for others who didn't know the piece, they could only hear it the way you hear it, until I slowed it down and exaggerated everything for them in an extreme way. Then they could hear it. When I played it for them again at tempo, they no longer could hear triplets in the RH.
It is one of the easiest of the etudes to play the notes, and one of the most difficult to play beautifully at speed, especially if you are obsessing about getting others to feel the RH the way you want them to. Some of the patterns lend themselves more obviously to a triplet feel and others don't, so even when I am listening to Cortot's masterful recording, it goes in and out of triplets for me as well. Then, I just listen to the overall effect he creates, and the expression, and I am very satisfied.

Great post, well said. I'm glad anyway that people aren't any longer making out like there's just no issue. smile

Even knowing the piece, I'm not able to hear the triplets when it's at tempo, not even in the Arrau recording which I think gives the greatest impression of "something going on." I think the Cortot gives the best impression of just total continuity, which after all may have been the main thing Chopin was going for.

Which I suppose is what WR said. smile
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 05:06 PM
WR,

I tried to edit my earlier reply but couldn't.
As per my above post to Keith, I decided you had it basically right. smile

I still mean all that little stuff I said, but I think it's quite possible Chopin's main intention was to convey what you said -- and I think the Cortot performance basically does exactly that.
Posted By: btb Re: rythm - 12/31/09 06:00 PM
Chopin’s Etude Opus 25-2 (senza ped)

The time signature could have been 12/8 ... 12 representing the number of 8th-notes per measure ... instead Chopin’s signature is 4-time with each treble beat split into triplets.

Too many get into a hobgoblin flap at the sight of triplets ... and yet the treble is merely a continuous flowing single note outline ... 12 notes per measure against a regular 6-note chime by the LH.

Measures 1-18 get repeated at m20-37 ... Chopin uses a set LH note pattern ... the six notes follow a similar format with repeating notes at a and b ...

- a b - - a b

Here is a MIDI diagram of the opening 40 measures ... underlining the unbroken flow of the RH outline and supported by the regular pulse of the set LH rhythm.

[Linked Image]

Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 12/31/09 06:11 PM
Originally Posted by btb
.....Too many get into a hobgoblin flap at the sight of triplets ... and yet the treble is merely a continuous flowing single note outline ... 12 notes per measure against a regular 6-note chime by the LH.

You're wrong. smile

If that were true, Chopin wouldn't have wasted his ink and time to write it as he did.
You're ignoring the fact that he went out of his way to do an unusual indication.

As per what WR and Keith said, that might be essentially the desired effect. But you're not right about the basic thing being simple in the way that you said.
Posted By: Horowitzian Re: rythm - 12/31/09 07:37 PM
WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!
Posted By: Orange Soda King Re: rythm - 12/31/09 10:26 PM
Did anyone check out my spoilers on the first page?
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 01/01/10 12:04 AM
Originally Posted by Horowitzian
WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!

It is -- if you can understand it.
Posted By: Michael Darnton Re: rythm - 01/01/10 12:25 AM
Without reading ALL of the posts above, I wonder if this is part of the problem: in the non-piano musical world I come from, a triplet isn't just any old three notes with a slur over them, it's three notes whose value is written as for instance, a value of 1.5 beats (say, three eighth notes), but which cover only 1 beat (a quarter note).

I never heard what I would call three full-value slurred notes called a "triplet" until I started piano. And in my world, a slur isn't really a phrasing mark as it is in piano, but a direct indication to blend the three notes together in one bowing or breath (something you can't do on a piano).

From the bowed instrument perspective, I'd call this two pairs of slurred notes, each given it's normal value, not a "triplet" as other are calling it. And I'd play them three-notes legato, a slight break, and three more notes legato again, but all with normal values and beat relationships.

In short, I think using the word "triplet" is confusing the issue but degrading it's usage to simply mean any three notes. At least outside of the piano world it would be.

Or do y'all call ten slurred notes a "decilet", for short. :-)
Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 01/01/10 12:33 AM
In this context, "triplet" is the correct nomenclature.

Regards,
Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 01/01/10 12:34 AM
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Did anyone check out my spoilers on the first page?


I did, indeed. Concentrating on the exercises that relate directly to the Etude under discussion, I found your "spoilers" quite brilliant! I saved them, printed them out, and will insert a copy into my Chopin Etudes volume in the event that ...!

Thank you!

Regards,
Posted By: Michael Darnton Re: rythm - 01/01/10 12:37 AM
So, Bruce, you're saying this music has three against two? Because I'm reading that it's a 1:1 ratio all the way.

Nice definition of triplet here:
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory15.htm
Posted By: Damon Re: rythm - 01/01/10 12:39 AM
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Did anyone check out my spoilers on the first page?

I did, and this is still the first page.
Posted By: Kreisler Re: rythm - 01/01/10 12:44 AM
It depends. Not everybody sees the same number of posts per page. You can set it differently in the preferences. For me, this is quite a ways down page 2.
Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 01/01/10 12:48 AM
Originally Posted by Michael Darnton
So, Bruce, you're saying this music has three against two? Because I'm reading that it's a 1:1 ratio all the way.


Eleanor Bailie [1] says it better than I :

The ostensible difficulty is that of the synchronising of the differently 'paced' LH and RH triplets, which create a continual cross-rhythm effect. However, provided that the rhythmic and melodic shape of each hand is thoroughly studied alone[2], and the shapes maintained when the hands are put together, it will be found that the individual flow of the two hands, apparently at cross-purposes, will merge quite happily - any conscious manipulation of the cross-rhythm will be unnecessary and indeed disastrous.

Cortot says [3] : "Before combining the two hands for the final practise of these pages, it will be necessary to get accustomed to the minor difficulties arising from the superposition of two different rhythms :
[illustration showing four groups of eighth-note triplets over two groups of quarter-note triplets, with accents on the first of each triplet in both hands]
the triplets in crotchets should be placed strictly regularly in spite of the discreet part played by the left hand as it is they which create its individual rhythm."

[1] Eleanor Bailie. The Pianist's Repertoire : Chopin, A Graded Practical Guide. London, Kahn & Averill, 1998 (p. 422)
[2] my emphasis.
[3] Chopin : 12 Studies Op 25 (Study edition commented by Alfred Cortot, translated by M. Parkinson.) Paris, Salabert, 2000 (Original copyright date: 1914).

Regards,
Posted By: sotto voce Re: rythm - 01/01/10 01:44 AM
Originally Posted by Michael Darnton
So, Bruce, you're saying this music has three against two? Because I'm reading that it's a 1:1 ratio all the way.

Nice definition of triplet here:
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory15.htm

Yes, it has three against two. There are two quarter notes in the right hand (divided into two sets of triplets) coincidental with three quarter notes in the left hand.

Steven
Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 01/01/10 03:57 AM
As Steven says, but put another way :

For every two quarter notes in the right hand (written as triplet eighth-notes) there are three quarter notes (played in the time of two quarter-notes) in the left hand.

This is not meant to contradict - I hope - what I stated in my first post, where I was commenting solely on how the notes in the right hand coincide with those of the left. In that post, I stated that "simply" there are two notes in the right hand for every note in the left. Once that is mastered, then the fun begins, but as the quote from Bailie points out, it shouldn't be as complex as it initially seems.

Did you see OSK's helpful spoilers?

Regards,
Posted By: Michael Darnton Re: rythm - 01/01/10 04:30 AM
Ah, I went and actually looked at the music. 3:2 it is. Sorry--I should have done that first, rather than listening to what people were saying. :-)
Posted By: AZNpiano Re: rythm - 01/01/10 05:09 AM
I don't hear 3-against-2 at all, and I don't understand why anyone would even consider that. Since the piece is written in cut time, I'd think it's 6-against-3. If I were to speculate on Chopin's "intent" of this etude, I wouldn't think rhythm would be the focus. To me, this is a study in fast R.H. runs with tricky fingering choices.
Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 01/01/10 06:05 AM
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I don't hear 3-against-2 at all, and I don't understand why anyone would even consider that. Since the piece is written in cut time, I'd think it's 6-against-3. If I were to speculate on Chopin's "intent" of this etude, I wouldn't think rhythm would be the focus. [...]


May I suggest that you have a look at it again; better yet, try playing it.

Regards,
Posted By: btb Re: rythm - 01/01/10 06:52 AM
Succinctly put BruceD ... "there are two notes in the right hand for every note in the left."

It takes a while for some of our respected company to get past the notation "hobgoblin triplet" detour ... and cotton on to the continuous flow of the Presto RH single-note outline ...

Thanks for your down-to-earth comment to one of our catch-ups

" may I suggest that you have a look at it again; better yet, try playing it."

Happy New Year chaps!!

Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 01/01/10 03:37 PM
My comment to AZNpiano was not meant to be as flippant as some may take it. While the note values show that the putting together of the two hands is "simply" two notes in the right against one in the left, the final realization is not as simple as that. For, if one is to play this as written - and how else would one play it? - one needs to think two triplets in the right hand against one triplet in the left hand. The result is that the first note of the second triplet in the right comes between the second and third notes of the triplet in the left, and even lightly accenting the right hand triplets brings one up against the two-against-three rhythmic challenge of this piece.

Regards,
Posted By: ChrisKeys Re: rythm - 01/01/10 05:05 PM
When I originally learned this piece, I played it the "simple" way: 2 notes in the RH per each note in the LH. But when I finally re-learned it the way Chopin notated it, it resulted in the melody smoothing out and becoming nearly pulse-less, sort of like floating outside the time signature (to borrow a phrase from Kreisler, I think). Perhaps that was Chopin's intent?
Posted By: Orange Soda King Re: rythm - 01/01/10 05:52 PM
BruceD, was that sarcasm or are you serious? I mean, I think they make sense but I see how they may be very confusing...

But it is definitely more than just 6 against 3.
Posted By: BruceD Re: rythm - 01/01/10 06:06 PM
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
BruceD, was that sarcasm or are you serious? I mean, I think they make sense but I see how they may be very confusing...

But it is definitely more than just 6 against 3.


No, not meant to be at all sarcastic, although perhaps my hyperbolic use of "brilliant" led you to feel sarcasm. I was, nevertheless, impressed with the practicality of your comments and suggested exercises. Moreover, the exercises showed - without one's having to struggle with the notes - that the Etude is, as you say, more than just 6 against 3.

Again: thanks!

Regards,
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 01/01/10 06:50 PM
Originally Posted by Chris W_dup1
When I originally learned this piece, I played it the "simple" way: 2 notes in the RH per each note in the LH. But when I finally re-learned it the way Chopin notated it, it resulted in the melody smoothing out and becoming nearly pulse-less, sort of like floating outside the time signature (to borrow a phrase from Kreisler, I think). Perhaps that was Chopin's intent?

Yes -- that seems to be a good way to put it together, and the Cortot recording seems to follow it. I think the Arrau performance follows the indication in a more thorough and complex way, but what you said "works."

I don't think it's quite what Chopin "meant," though, because there would seem to have been easier and more obvious ways of indicating it -- but it works. What doesn't work (not really) is just playing 6-against-3 in the 'normal' way, or thinking that there's no issue.
Posted By: Mark_C Re: rythm - 01/01/10 06:54 PM
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
BruceD, was that sarcasm or are you serious? I mean, I think they make sense but I see how they may be very confusing...

His post looked pretty serious to me......
Posted By: Orange Soda King Re: rythm - 01/01/10 07:05 PM
Oh, awesome! I feel useful (hehe).

After looking at the score for a while, I started pondering why Chopin didn't write the piece in a 3-based meter instead. Then I saw that with triplet 8th and quarter notes, there were multiple X-against-Y rhythms going on, and in a 3-based meter, the emphasis would be on ONLY the 1st and 4th eighth notes or the 1st, 3rd, and 5th eighth notes, which is less interesting. In 4-based meter, there is MUCH more rhythmically you can explore, as well as it is much more interesting with all these different rhythms going on.
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