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Posted By: Alston9981 Piece for piano beginner - 10/17/19 08:03 AM
Hi, pianoworld,

This is part of the music of Passacaglia, I found that this piece is short and beautiful, I think it's quite suitable for piano beginner player! Personally love this kind of music so much! Although I didn't play it perfectly, but I hope you will enjoy for this! and I will be very happy if any advise given! eek


Passacaglia

Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/20/19 07:07 PM
Nice performance.

I first heard this version sometime last year and only recently rediscovered it with Kassia's performance last month:



However, I have issues sourcing the piece.

G.F. Handel's Passacaglia is mvt. 6 in his Suite in G minor. Centuries later, Johan Halvorsen adapted it for the violin and viola.

What people are playing as Handel-Halvorsen's Passacaglia for piano solo is measures 41-44 in the Handel version and a slightly longer section from the Halvorsen version. Someone, and I am not at all certain that it is Halvorsen, has created an extended version in C major with a lot of repetitions.

If the piece was not instantly recognizable within Handel's original composition, I would have assumed that this is another case of "Chopin's Spring Waltz":

Posted By: JazzyMac Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/20/19 09:05 PM
This is no way shape or form a beginner piece.
Posted By: treefrog Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 05:22 PM
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
This is no way shape or form a beginner piece.


Thanks for putting my mind at rest.

Being a beginner myself, after watching that, I was starting to feel very inadequate.
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 05:30 PM
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
This is no way shape or form a beginner piece.


It is a beginner piece in that:

  • It's in C maj. So those weird, black keys are rarely encountered. That also makes the sheet music readable.
  • It's extremely repetitive and follows a definite pattern. You can learn entire measures by reading them only once.
  • It's not a boring exercise and actually sounds very good when played. So you tend to put more effort into it.


BUT, you need some level of finger independence and the hand span to reach an octave. Otherwise, you will struggle. If you are comfortable with something like page 1 of Schmitt's preparatory exercises, then I think this piece should be quite playable.


Posted By: cmb13 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 06:01 PM
It’s nice. Minimalistic ala Glass. I agree it’s certainly not a beginner piece.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 06:41 PM
Originally Posted by cmb13
Minimalistic ala Glass.

Those Baroque composers were centuries ahead of their time, weren't they? 😁
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 06:53 PM
Quote
you need some level of finger independence


I just got the score this (thanks to this thread, I wasn't familiar with this piece before) and played through it. Based on that, I would say you need a fairly well-developed level of finger independence to play this piece. Sure it's in C, and sure there aren't tricky rhythms, syncopation or big block chords. But, unlike page one of those Schmitt's exercises you linked to, with Passacaglia, I found that I can't put either hand on auto-pilot and getting it up close to the marked tempo will be an additional challenge. Well, ok, maybe I will be able to get the RH into auto-pilot relatively quickly, but since it's more common to have pieces where you can put the LH on auto, this is another feature making this piece more challenging.

Oh, and it's not that you need to be able to reach an octave so much as you need make smooth transitions beyond an octave and be comfortable with keyboard geography enough to play arpeggios in one hand that go beyond an octave, the left hand moving up and down the keyboard the way it does will be quite difficult for a lot of beginners.

So I would say that the LH or RH part on its own might be upper-beginner level, but the technique needed to put the two hands together pushes this piece up into the intermediate level, and possibility upper intermediate.

Having said that, I'm going to put this piece into my practice menu and see how long it takes me to get it up close to the metronome marking of MM=130.

Maybe I'll change my mind after working on it for a few days, but at first read-through, I would say this is definitely not a beginner piece.

ETA: how do you pronounce the name of this piece? I don't think I can include it in my repertoire if I can't pronounce the name!! whome
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 07:02 PM
Also, I think it's a misconception that repetitive pieces are easy or easier. Repetitive pieces can sometimes be more difficult, and playing them well and evenly without sounding robotic requires more skill than just getting your fingers on the right keys at the right times.

Sorry to go on...
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 07:32 PM
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Also, I think it's a misconception that repetitive pieces are easy or easier. Repetitive pieces can sometimes be more difficult, and playing them well and evenly without sounding robotic requires more skill than just getting your fingers on the right keys at the right times.

I learned a minimalism piece about 4 months ago for the PW recital and it was definitely one of the hardest pieces I've learned so far. Not only for the reasons you said, but it is also very hard to memorize because contemporary music often doesn't follow traditional patterns of harmony, etc. Makes it super difficult to memorize too. (Just saying since usually repetitive pieces are contemporary minimalism - in this case of course, it's not - it's Baroque.)
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 07:55 PM
I remember that, very nice!
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 07:58 PM
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro

Oh, and it's not that you need to be able to reach an octave so much as you need make smooth transitions beyond an octave and be comfortable with keyboard geography enough to play arpeggios in one hand that go beyond an octave, the left hand moving up and down the keyboard the way it does will be quite difficult for a lot of beginners.

So I would say that the LH or RH part on its own might be upper-beginner level, but the technique needed to put the two hands together pushes this piece up into the intermediate level, and possibility upper intermediate.


I pick pieces to learn based on whether I can hold the melody at a decent tempo without it sounding too terrible (I suck at hands together, so let's not even go there). The underlying assumption is that given enough time and effort, and identifying and fixing mistakes, the playing will improve.

If you compare this piece to something like, say, Mozart's Symphony in G minor (arranged for piano solo) which the beginner can start quite nicely and then watch with horror as everything falls apart around measure 14, you can see the simplicity of the former.



Quote

ETA: how do you pronounce the name of this piece? I don't think I can include it in my repertoire if I can't pronounce the name!! whome


I did it as paesa-kay-lee-a with a silent g as I thought the word is similar to Tattaglia (from The Godfather). But Wikipedia says it's /pæsəˈkɑːliə/ which I would read as Pasa(dena) + ca(r) + (Ta)lia.
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 08:09 PM
Quote
then watch with horror


Who's been spying on my practice sessions!! j/k grin

So, actually, I agree with you that Passacaglia is "simple" -- especially conceptually, it's very simple.

But still, that doesn't make it a beginner's piece. The only reason I keep going on about that is that I think it's important to avoid labeling it as such given the context, namely, the Adult Beginners Forum, where most people have an "ear" for music that's fairly conceptually advanced, just by virtue of beginning grown-ups and having listened to music our entire lives etc.

But it can be demoralizing to be told that something like Passacaglia is a "beginner's piece" and then try to play it and realize that it's completely be out of your grasp.
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 08:11 PM
I am also not sure it's helpful to compare it to a Mozart symphony as a way to argue whether or not one or the other is (or is not) accessible to beginners. The styles and the necessary techniques are too different.

ETA: I play music that's similar to the Passacaglia all the time, and many pieces which are stylistically similar but musically much more challenging, so I expect to be able to get that piece up to playability fairly quickly, and (again just going off of one read-through) the Passacaglia will probably end up being easy for me. But I never play Mozart or other pieces in the standard piano repertoire, so even a simpler piece would likely be more difficult for me.

Perhaps the OP plays this style of music all the time, and thus why s/he thought to describe it this way?
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 08:13 PM
P.S. thanks for the pronunciation hints! smile
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 09:34 PM
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
But it can be demoralizing to be told that something like Passacaglia is a "beginner's piece" and then try to play it and realize that it's completely be out of your grasp.

I don't know how other beginners pick the pieces they play. I prefer to play music that I enjoy listening to rather than following some syllabus or grading.

If I like something, I locate the sheet music and see if I can read the first few measures without it giving me a headache. If it looks like something I can play, I then print the entire thing even if I might only be able to play the first N measures today.

This is why I have sheet music tutorials for Chopin's "Waterfall" etude (by Paul Barton) in my folder even though the etude itself is something far beyond what I am capable of.

Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 10:02 PM
Originally Posted by kj85
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
But it can be demoralizing to be told that something like Passacaglia is a "beginner's piece" and then try to play it and realize that it's completely be out of your grasp.
I don't know how other beginners pick the pieces they play. I prefer to play music that I enjoy listening to rather than following some syllabus or grading.

I think this approach might sound good, but imagine how it would work in school? If children decided to only read the things that interested them? A lot of manga comics and comic books would get read for class smile And afterwards, would they come out the other end, "better off"?
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 10:38 PM
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by kj85
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
But it can be demoralizing to be told that something like Passacaglia is a "beginner's piece" and then try to play it and realize that it's completely be out of your grasp.
I don't know how other beginners pick the pieces they play. I prefer to play music that I enjoy listening to rather than following some syllabus or grading.

I think this approach might sound good, but imagine how it would work in school? If children decided to only read the things that interested them? A lot of manga comics and comic books would get read for class smile And afterwards, would they come out the other end, "better off"?


I cannot speak for others. But I know that it is not for me.

From personal experience, I know that things like finger independence matter a lot. So I do those exercises even if they are not particularly enjoyable. But following a syllabus is a bridge too far.

Just compare the Handel-Halvorsen piece in this thread with something similar (And Now Let's Handel) being used in the Trinity syllabus. It doesn't take a lot to see that the former version is musically far superior to the one in the syllabus.

Posted By: JazzyMac Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/21/19 11:56 PM
Is that the Alberti Bass?

Originally Posted by kj85
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by kj85
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
But it can be demoralizing to be told that something like Passacaglia is a "beginner's piece" and then try to play it and realize that it's completely be out of your grasp.
I don't know how other beginners pick the pieces they play. I prefer to play music that I enjoy listening to rather than following some syllabus or grading.

I think this approach might sound good, but imagine how it would work in school? If children decided to only read the things that interested them? A lot of manga comics and comic books would get read for class smile And afterwards, would they come out the other end, "better off"?


I cannot speak for others. But I know that it is not for me.

From personal experience, I know that things like finger independence matter a lot. So I do those exercises even if they are not particularly enjoyable. But following a syllabus is a bridge too far.

Just compare the Handel-Halvorsen piece in this thread with something similar (And Now Let's Handel) being used in the Trinity syllabus. It doesn't take a lot to see that the former version is musically far superior to the one in the syllabus.



Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/22/19 12:05 AM
Originally Posted by kj85
Just compare the Handel-Halvorsen piece in this thread with something similar (And Now Let's Handel) being used in the Trinity syllabus. It doesn't take a lot to see that the former version is musically far superior to the one in the syllabus.


In my mind sometimes using a simpler arrangement or a different arrangement has a pedagogical purpose. Otherwise, arrangements would never be used where there was an original piano solo, and even if there wasn't an original piano solo, there would still be a tendency to use the most beautiful (which is often the most elaborate) arrangement...

...and then all versions of I Saw Three Ships which people would play would sound like this or better:



I am not very happy to play ugly or simplified arrangements of pieces either. But I do recognize the educational purpose, just like there is a purpose for children's versions of adult stories/novels.

It reminds me of physics. There was the physics taught in grade school, with balls rolling down ramps and little stick catapults. There was the physics taught in high school, sometimes more than one version. There was the physics taught to undergraduates of the 1st and second year at the university. But for something like mechanics, the real physics wasn't taught until you got to courses with names like "classical hamiltonian mechanics" or "theoretical mechanics" or "general relativity". Yet those earlier classes all had a sound educational purpose. And jumping straight to a hamiltonian least action principle in high school, for example, would have been "putting the cart before the horse."
Posted By: Charles Cohen Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/22/19 02:19 AM
Originally Posted by Alston9981
. . . and I will be very happy if any advise given! eek


My first thought:

. . . Too much pedal !

It's muddy, to my ears. At the very least, it would be good to lift the pedal (and "clear" the sound) when the harmony changes.

I suspect that, if you recorded it with _no_ pedal, you might hear that it's not as legato as you want it to be. Somewhere in between, lies the _right_ pedalling.

PS -- and I'm not claiming that I could play it any better -- you've done nice work!

Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/22/19 09:52 AM
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
Is that the Alberti Bass?

Originally Posted by kj85





LH plays a 1-2-3-2 pattern. So I guess it is?
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/22/19 10:10 AM
It is well played; though personally I find this arrangement of an arrangement (the original arrangement by Halvorsen was for violin) pretty bland. Kind of wishy-washy mix of sound. It is also quite remote from the original and the Halvorsen arrangement which had both a strong character. This version on piano is just using the base (beautiful) melody but the passacaille character has disapeared.
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/22/19 10:31 AM
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
In my mind sometimes using a simpler arrangement or a different arrangement has a pedagogical purpose. Otherwise, arrangements would never be used where there was an original piano solo, and even if there wasn't an original piano solo, there would still be a tendency to use the most beautiful (which is often the most elaborate) arrangement...

I am not very happy to play ugly or simplified arrangements of pieces either. But I do recognize the educational purpose, just like there is a purpose for children's versions of adult stories/novels.


I think it really depends on the learner/student, their motivation and intent. Someone who intends to study music for professional reasons, or to perform in public, or to take and pass relevant music exams might need to approach this in a more structured manner.

I don't want to do any of these things. My requirements as a learner are simple:

  • I want to play some of the pieces that I enjoy.
  • I want to avoid boring/terrible music designed for students as much as possible. I believe Chang recommends something similar in his book, Fundamentals of Piano Practice.
  • I want to develop skills that allow me to compose music that makes use of the entire keyboard instead of the octave or two that I am currently stuck at because I never did learn to play those longer pieces.


Some of these objectives may clash with each other, but I can live with any adjustments that fix it.
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/23/19 02:53 PM
Leaving aside the debate about how to pracitce...

I've now been casually working on this piece for I guess three days, and I will say that it's really fun to play. I feel like this is what Hanon would be like if it were more musical and more fun. whome

The piece is indeed "easy" in that there are only four variations of the theme, the LH is the same throughout, and there is no section that is radically different or more difficult than any other. If you can play the first 8 measures (well 10 if you could the two intro measures) then you can easily play the whole piece.

Having said that, it might be fairly challenging for the average adult beginner, but the skills required are highly relevant for anyone who likes contemporary piano along the lines of Einaudi, George Winston, David Nevue, Michele McLaughlin... So if you can play something like I Giorni or Le Onde, the Heart Asks Pleasure First or River Flows in You, Passacaglia will be easy. Alternatively, if those pieces are ones you hope to be able to play in the future, Passacaglia would be a good piece to start with.
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/24/19 04:10 PM
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
it might be fairly challenging for the average adult beginner

I have looked at the sheet music for lot of pieces, and, for someone like me, this is one of the few that looks somewhat approachable. It might take some time, but I think I should be able to play it in a month or two.
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/24/19 08:43 PM
I wonder if we have the same arrangement. I’ll try to figure out where I got mine. If we do, I can give you some ways to make it a little easier in spots, a little funner in others. The arrangement I have is almost, though not exactly, the same as the video in the first post.

I’m really enjoying it, I may try to get the other arrangement that’s in one of the other videos someone posted here, the one that’s the “Let’s Handel” version, I could see mixing these two arrangements....
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/24/19 09:04 PM
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
I wonder if we have the same arrangement.

This is the one I am using: Passacaglia. While it is not exactly the same as what Kassia is using in her performance that I have linked to (it ends differently; longer pause), I think it is close enough.
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/24/19 09:12 PM
Yep, that’s the one I have. I haven’t compared it to the Kassia video, but I did compare it to the video in the first post in this thread, played by Alston9981. One thing you can do imago up an octave when the first pattern repeats in measure 27. Also if you go up an octave in the pattern that starts in measure 43, you can avoid the problem of the left and right thumbs wanting to be in the same note. And moving up an octave for those sections adds a little variety which is nice.
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/24/19 09:38 PM
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
One thing you can do imago up an octave when the first pattern repeats in measure 27. Also if you go up an octave in the pattern that starts in measure 43, you can avoid the problem of the left and right thumbs wanting to be in the same note. And moving up an octave for those sections adds a little variety which is nice.


I'll try the measure 27 part in the evening and see how that goes.

Haven't really played this piece beyond measure 18 because of weak fingers 4 & 5.
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/25/19 12:34 PM
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Oh, and it's not that you need to be able to reach an octave so much as you need make smooth transitions beyond an octave and be comfortable with keyboard geography enough to play arpeggios in one hand that go beyond an octave, the left hand moving up and down the keyboard the way it does will be quite difficult for a lot of beginners.

You are right. I was able to play the entire RH part at a normal speed without too much trouble. I fixed the weak finger(s) issue by rotating the wrist. But... the LH is a big problem.

I looked at the first few measures, and, while the fingering is exactly the same (5-1-2-4-1-4-2-4), there is a big jump that has to be navigated consistently. And that I am unable to do.

Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
One thing you can do imago up an octave when the first pattern repeats in measure 27. Also if you go up an octave in the pattern that starts in measure 43, you can avoid the problem of the left and right thumbs wanting to be in the same note. And moving up an octave for those sections adds a little variety which is nice.

Those parts are already playing in the 6th octave. You suggest taking it to the 7th?
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/25/19 12:45 PM
I’ll write later about those octaves just to make sure (I’m not in front of my piano right now) but I think that’s right.

Re the LH jumps, I experimented with a couple different fingerings and what I settled on is actually to play the first note with 5 and then also play the second note, which is an octave up, with 5. I find I can do this more easily and then the LH is in place for the rest of the notes up there before the next measure.

I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m doing. whome I’ll write again later after I get in some piano time today smile
Posted By: ShiroKuro Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/26/19 02:47 PM
Ok, I was using this fingering for the LH, across two measures:

5-5-2-4-1-4-2-4

But I think I am actually going to switch to what you were probably describing:

5-1-2-4-1-4-2-4

I think that will be smoother at the higher tempo I am aiming for.

Aslo, for the part that starts in measure 39, it's written as starting on C5 and going up to C6, and then down from there in octaves. If you play it like that, your left and right thumbs will want to play the same note at the end of each run. In order to avoid that, you could play the LH

5-1-2-4-2-4-2-4

But I don't really like that. So what I've been doing is moving the RH part up one octave, so you start on C6 and go up to C7, and then down in octaves from there.

Let me know if you adapt any of these into how you play this piece.
Posted By: kj85 Re: Piece for piano beginner - 12/27/19 05:04 PM
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro

Also, for the part that starts in measure 39, it's written as starting on C5 and going up to C6, and then down from there in octaves. If you play it like that, your left and right thumbs will want to play the same note at the end of each run. In order to avoid that, you could play the LH

5-1-2-4-2-4-2-4

But I don't really like that. So what I've been doing is moving the RH part up one octave, so you start on C6 and go up to C7, and then down in octaves from there.

Measure 43 has an 8 over the treble clef. So if you were to play it as written, it would be in the 6th and 5th octaves and the thumbs should not meet each other. This is the way Alston has played it.

But Kassia plays this differently. She starts on the 7th octave and continues her descent to the 4th octave. This way, her thumbs meet only once: on A3. And, in my opinion, it sounds better.

Quote

Let me know if you adapt any of these into how you play this piece.

Will do. Until I land that jump, I won't be able to play the LH. So it's the RH for now.
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