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#2924248 12/18/19 10:37 AM
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Who has tackled this one? It's on the docket for 2020. It's certainly playable from a measure to measure standpoint, and my teacher thinks it would be a good piece to work on, yet what worries me is the length and the speed.

The length concerns me because there are a lot of measures to learn. I envision this as a three month project, yet what tends to happen with a piece this long (107 measures) is that it becomes hard for me to maintain sections I've learned while spending enough time to learn new sections, and by the end I feel burned out.

The tempo concerns me because of the frequent, rapid changes in hand position, in the midst of multiple voices, active dynamics, and poly-rhythms. There's a lot going on. So again, I feel I can learn this, but it would be a lot easier if it were about half as long! lol

Any thoughts or experiences on this one?


Last edited by cmb13; 12/18/19 11:57 AM. Reason: Clarified which Arabesque

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I assume you mean the better known & more popular of the two, No.1 in E?

It's cast in ABA with a coda, but much of the two A sections are identical. You definitely need to be secure with 3:2 polyrhythm. And there's no need to play it as fast as some concert pianists play it - I heard a performance once that was half the speed of someone else. I'd learn to play it all at the same speed with secure rock-solid rhythm & voicings before doing all the tempo changes & 'rubato' (rit. etc) that Debussy marked.

The most difficult section is the ascending figuration in RH leading to the middle section, where the tune is in 5 (or possibly 4, if you prefer) and your other fingers play the triplets.


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I assume you are referring to Arabesque I (Arabesque II has 110 measures)? My teacher assigned Ara. I about two months ago and I haven't started it yet, except to look at the score and read through bits here and there.

I haven't started it yet because I think it's too hard for me, although after just now looking through the score again, I may reconsider. I've been working on Chopin's Nocturne in C minor (Posthumous), and find the first half manageable, but then comes some crazy poly-rhythms that I find daunting to even contemplate.

As for Ara. I and getting burned out on it due to its length, for me, I'd keep play-throughs of the already-learned sections to a minimum and accept that I'd loose a bit of those sections while working on a new one and hope that everything would quickly come back when I joined the sections together.

As for tempo--for faster pieces in general, the designated tempo is aspirational, for me. I think and hope quicker tempos will come with time, with coming back to the piece several times, and with being very, very comfortable with the piece.


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I clarified which one in the title.


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I’m fine with polyrhythms, having encountered them in many pieces now. The multiple voices in the R hand is newer but I’ve encountered that in Clair De Lune and in the Grieg Sonata in Emin as well (Adagio), so hopefully that will be possible. Maybe I will just play it slowly and take my time.

Stubbie let’s work through it this coming year on here.


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I've worked on this, and would enjoy revisiting it with you in 2020!
I never got it to a fast tempo, but it is very enjoyable to work on at a slower tempo and let the speed come very gradually.
It is generally regarded as easier than Clair de Lune I believe, so if you've worked on that then this should be v doable. I agree with bennevis about the most difficult section, and then there is another section towards the end which I found difficult to voice the way I wanted while doing the polyrhythm correctly for some reason (from 2 bars after the a tempo to the 2:4 bar).


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Yeah, well about Clair De Lune...that's a perfect example of why I'm afraid of a long piece. Although I learned each section, I finally put it away before putting it together. I was able to play through it but not fluently enough to, say, record it. I just needed to move on, but plan on finishing it within the next year.

Regarding the Arabesque, maybe I'll try to divide it into three stages, the A, the B and the second A section. Or possibly B then A to keep it interesting. Do you know exactly where that break occurs? There is a change in key, so maybe it's there? I briefly pursued the score today during a few free minutes but, other than briefly toying with it a few weeks ago, I haven't brought it to the piano yet.


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Originally Posted by cmb13


The length concerns me because there are a lot of measures to learn. I envision this as a three month project, yet what tends to happen with a piece this long (107 measures) is that it becomes hard for me to maintain sections I've learned while spending enough time to learn new sections, and by the end I feel burned out.



I believe you have played clair de lune which is nearly as long (70 bars). So that would not be significantly longer and the piece is easier.

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Originally Posted by cmb13
I’m fine with polyrhythms, having encountered them in many pieces now. The multiple voices in the R hand is newer but I’ve encountered that in Clair De Lune and in the Grieg Sonata in Emin as well (Adagio), so hopefully that will be possible. Maybe I will just play it slowly and take my time.

Stubbie let’s work through it this coming year on here.
I'm game!

The first thing I'll do is study the score--make sure I'm clear on the ABA pattern, then maybe work out some fingering and write in the count where I think it'll help me get started. Lately I've been seeing the benefits of spending a fair amount of time studying the score, rather than just jumping in (I know, but better late than never). When I find repeated measures or repeated patterns I might jot down a note to that effect. It will save me time when I get to them.


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Originally Posted by Stubbie
The first thing I'll do is study the score--make sure I'm clear on the ABA pattern, then maybe work out some fingering and write in the count where I think it'll help me get started. Lately I've been seeing the benefits of spending a fair amount of time studying the score, rather than just jumping in (I know, but better late than never). When I find repeated measures or repeated patterns I might jot down a note to that effect. It will save me time when I get to them.
I don't think studying the score before you play makes much sense except possibly for very advanced pianists who can clearly hear the score in their head. My guess is a significant majority of even those pianists don't study the score ahead of time. I think they do study the score after they have learned the notes, and I think that makes sense for all levels of pianists.

The simplest way to be sure on the ABA pattern is simply to play the piece and you can hear it. I don't think one can know where the counting is complex enough to benefit from writing in the beats until one tried playing a piece.

Fingering the score before playing it definitely doesn't make sense because one has to try out a fingering to know if it works and several or even many attempts may be needed in complicated spots. If the fingering in some spot is so obvious that one can figure it out before playing the notes then most wouldn't even write that fingering down. If by studying a score beforehand you mean things like looking at the time signature or key, I don't think those qualify as studying the score.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Stubbie
The first thing I'll do is study the score--make sure I'm clear on the ABA pattern, then maybe work out some fingering and write in the count where I think it'll help me get started. Lately I've been seeing the benefits of spending a fair amount of time studying the score, rather than just jumping in (I know, but better late than never). When I find repeated measures or repeated patterns I might jot down a note to that effect. It will save me time when I get to them.
I don't think studying the score before you play makes much sense except possibly for very advanced pianists who can clearly hear the score in their head. My guess is a significant majority of even those pianists don't study the score ahead of time. I think they do study the score after they have learned the notes, and I think that makes sense for all levels of pianists.

The simplest way to be sure on the ABA pattern is simply to play the piece and you can hear it. I don't think one can know where the counting is complex enough to benefit from writing in the beats until one tried playing a piece.

Fingering the score before playing it definitely doesn't make sense because one has to try out a fingering to know if it works and several or even many attempts may be needed in complicated spots. If the fingering in some spot is so obvious that one can figure it out before playing the notes then most wouldn't even write that fingering down. If by studying a score beforehand you mean things like looking at the time signature or key, I don't think those qualify as studying the score.




So very positive and supportive as usual. wink

Last edited by John305; 12/18/19 08:19 PM.

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Originally Posted by John305
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Stubbie
The first thing I'll do is study the score--make sure I'm clear on the ABA pattern, then maybe work out some fingering and write in the count where I think it'll help me get started. Lately I've been seeing the benefits of spending a fair amount of time studying the score, rather than just jumping in (I know, but better late than never). When I find repeated measures or repeated patterns I might jot down a note to that effect. It will save me time when I get to them.
I don't think studying the score before you play makes much sense except possibly for very advanced pianists who can clearly hear the score in their head. My guess is a significant majority of even those pianists don't study the score ahead of time. I think they do study the score after they have learned the notes, and I think that makes sense for all levels of pianists.

The simplest way to be sure on the ABA pattern is simply to play the piece and you can hear it. I don't think one can know where the counting is complex enough to benefit from writing in the beats until one tried playing a piece.

Fingering the score before playing it definitely doesn't make sense because one has to try out a fingering to know if it works and several or even many attempts may be needed in complicated spots. If the fingering in some spot is so obvious that one can figure it out before playing the notes then most wouldn't even write that fingering down. If by studying a score beforehand you mean things like looking at the time signature or key, I don't think those qualify as studying the score.
So very positive and supportive as usual. wink
So no ideas people have should be discussed or disputed?? Wrong idea should be supported?

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Stubbie
The first thing I'll do is study the score--make sure I'm clear on the ABA pattern, then maybe work out some fingering and write in the count where I think it'll help me get started. Lately I've been seeing the benefits of spending a fair amount of time studying the score, rather than just jumping in (I know, but better late than never). When I find repeated measures or repeated patterns I might jot down a note to that effect. It will save me time when I get to them.
I don't think studying the score before you play makes much sense except possibly for very advanced pianists who can clearly hear the score in their head. My guess is a significant majority of even those pianists don't study the score ahead of time. I think they do study the score after they have learned the notes, and I think that makes sense for all levels of pianists.

The simplest way to be sure on the ABA pattern is simply to play the piece and you can hear it. I don't think one can know where the counting is complex enough to benefit from writing in the beats until one tried playing a piece.

Fingering the score before playing it definitely doesn't make sense because one has to try out a fingering to know if it works and several or even many attempts may be needed in complicated spots. If the fingering in some spot is so obvious that one can figure it out before playing the notes then most wouldn't even write that fingering down. If by studying a score beforehand you mean things like looking at the time signature or key, I don't think those qualify as studying the score.
I do both--study the score for repeated patterns and listen for the same. I am probably better at visual pattern recognition that aural pattern recognition. I finger the score at the first iteration by playing it HS, and then will fine tune HT for subsequent iterations.


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Of course ideas should be discussed, but you have a proclivity for posting negative responses. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to a percentage but it sure seems far more frequent than your positive posts, far more frequent. One only needs to look at your list of posts to see that I’m not exaggerating. And as for your “wrong ideas should be supported?” comment, I didn’t know you were the arbiter of what’s wrong and what’s right around here. You should make that fact known in your signature line to avoid confusion in the future.


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Originally Posted by John305
Of course ideas should be discussed, but you have a proclivity for posting negative responses. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to a percentage but it sure seems far more frequent than your positive posts, far more frequent. One only needs to look at your list of posts to see that I’m not exaggerating. And as for your “wrong ideas should be supported?” comment, I didn’t know you were the arbiter of what’s wrong and what’s right around here. You should make that fact known in your signature line to avoid confusion in the future.
I think the overwhelming percent of my posts are not negative, whatever that means. Disagreeing with a poster isn't even negative which is what you seem to imply.

Your comment about what I should put in my signature is nasty and sarcastic, what I would call "negative". If you check my posts you'll see I'm particularly careful, far more than most posters, to include phrases like "I think" or IMO. In fact, I did so in the post you criticized.

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I have not tried any Debussy yet. Perhaps I'll start with this one smile


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by John305
Of course ideas should be discussed, but you have a proclivity for posting negative responses. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to a percentage but it sure seems far more frequent than your positive posts, far more frequent. One only needs to look at your list of posts to see that I’m not exaggerating. And as for your “wrong ideas should be supported?” comment, I didn’t know you were the arbiter of what’s wrong and what’s right around here. You should make that fact known in your signature line to avoid confusion in the future.
I think the overwhelming percent of my posts are not negative, whatever that means. Disagreeing with a poster isn't even negative which is what you seem to imply.

Your comment about what I should put in my signature is nasty and sarcastic, what I would call "negative". If you check my posts you'll see I'm particularly careful, far more than most posters, to include phrases like "I think" or IMO. In fact, I did so in the post you criticized.



To be more specific I should have said your posts in the ABF that pertain to people’s practice habits or how they go about learning a new piece. Your posts on other forums seem to be somewhat less negative. To be honest, what I perceive to be negativity in your posts rubs me the wrong way which is why I said what I did. You say you’re not negative, so I guess we can agree to disagree.

As far as the sarcastic comment about your signature line, I apologize, that was not necessary. That was a product of me being irked at what I perceived as negativity coming from you. I am sincerely sorry and would edit my post accordingly if I could, but it’s too late to do so.


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I might join you on this one. I played it several years ago and it has been on my list of pieces to relearn. I absolutely love this piece! I did not find it that hard to learn the first time. There is a lot of repeated material, so if you get the first page down, the last section is easy. The second section has some fast runs, but everything fits the hands well. I do not remember how long it took to learn the first time. but hopefully some of that will come back to me!

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That would be great, SwissMs and B#.

Maybe we can start in Jan, after the holiday? I will hope for 3 months to learn but expect another 3 to finish. Getting a few of us on board will certainly help with motivation.


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I might join you, too. I started working on it just a little bit last fall but then decided to go for something very different and learned Ginastera's first two Argentinian Dances instead. I'd never played any Debussy (or any Impressionist music in general) and I love this piece, so this would be both enjoyable and useful.

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