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Thought I'd share a few notes on what I'm trying here.

The first thing I did with the score was just to sit down and try to read it all the way through once, trying to hear the shape, and, in particular, the movement - trying to hear the hands trade off, for instance. Of course the first thing that jumped out was the repeat on beats 3 & 4 of the first two beats, but an octave lower. The other thing, as I read it and "heard" parts of it, it really did sound Baroque and like it would be fun on a harpsichord with the parts going back and forth. That may seem obvious, but it was fun to discover my internal hearing would do that.

Then I noticed all the C#'s - oh yeah, leading tones smile Then I went looking for the first motif in all the other places I could find it, and the first 4 note run happens again in the second measure, but as 8th notes, and one finds it often - it's imbedded in the 1/16th note "waggles" in the right had in measure 8, for instance (I don't know if there's a name for those alternating 3rds, so you'll have to put up with the honky tonk vernacular laugh ). I found lots of other patterns that repeat in different octaves and at a different pace, or turned upside down, too, or, as the measure with the formata and the last measure, in Amaj and Dm. The first 4 measures toggle between Dm and Amaj within the measures.

I decided to first read the whole thing thru each day, and then try to memorize a little of the beginning on one day, a little of the end on the next, and work back and forth, on the theory that the measures in the middle would echo those at the beginning, and if I knew I had a good handle on the end it would give me some confidence as I struggle thru the first time I try to play it. It was *really* hard to not run to the piano and try something as I figured it out.

On the first few measures I tried it was relative easy to conjure up the sheet music in my head. But since it seems to me that relying on the sheet music has always stood in the way of making something musical, for me, I tried to visualize the keyboard itself. It was kind of interesting to watch my brain trying to see the keyboard right up underneath the sheet music - but what was really a surprise as I tried "playing" the first few measures was that I originally was visualizing the left hand an octave below where it is written. I attribute that to being an oom pah pianist in my regular playing life. When I "moved it up" I could "feel" how much closer together my hands were going to be than I'm used to.

This is pretty fun for the minute, and it will be a real laugh I'm sure a week from now when I actually try to record.

Cathy


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Hi all,
It took me a while to get this thread, and it's already filled up so much!
Unfortunately, I'm in South America on an intense tour, and won't have time to do the Scarlatti with you all. But I think the initiative is great, and I've downloaded the score and will follow along.

Advice to all who want to get the most out of this: don't listen to it, don't sing it, don't play it on the table. Write it out on manuscript (copy will do, not from memory!). Take in the info in layers. Look for patterns. Meditate on how it might sound, how it might feel. Imagine fingering through imagery. And take more time, postpone your "performance", if you feel like you are continuing to learn about the piece after a week. The effect will only be more striking.

Here's another idea to keep in "mind": if you are working out at the gym, and your muscles get sore, isn't that a good thing? Well, in mental practicing, if you get mentally fatigued or sore, it's a good thing! What does that mean? If you start to yawn while you look at your score, if you get sleepy, if you are confused, if your thoughts are agitated, those are great signs of mental fatigue! They are actually desirable! Push yourself to those limits, and then do one final push, and you'll know that you've really exercised your mental muscles. Then take a break. Go to bed. It will work on its own overnight, and you'll see things differently in the morning!

I guarantee that all of you will be able to learn more of this piece this way than you think now, but you won't play it as well as you think you will by the end! The goal is not to play it perfectly (although I've had one DPS workshop participant do just that!), but rather to observe where you are on the spectrum of mental application and adapt your practicing accordingly.

Good luck!
Frederic

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Hi all,
It took me a while to get this thread, and it's already filled up so much!
Unfortunately, I'm in South America on an intense tour, and won't have time to do the Scarlatti with you all. But I think the initiative is great, and I've downloaded the score and will follow along.

Advice to all who want to get the most out of this: don't listen to it, don't sing it, don't play it on the table. Write it out on manuscript (copy will do, not from memory!). Take in the info in layers. Look for patterns. Meditate on how it might sound, how it might feel. Imagine fingering through imagery. And take more time, postpone your "performance", if you feel like you are continuing to learn about the piece after a week. The effect will only be more striking.

Here's another idea to keep in "mind": if you are working out at the gym, and your muscles get sore, isn't that a good thing? Well, in mental practicing, if you get mentally fatigued or sore, it's a good thing! What does that mean? If you start to yawn while you look at your score, if you get sleepy, if you are confused, if your thoughts are agitated, those are great signs of mental fatigue! They are actually desirable! Push yourself to those limits, and then do one final push, and you'll know that you've really exercised your mental muscles. Then take a break. Go to bed. It will work on its own overnight, and you'll see things differently in the morning!

I guarantee that all of you will be able to learn more of this piece this way than you think now, but you won't play it as well as you think you will by the end! The goal is not to play it perfectly (although I've had one DPS workshop participant do just that!), but rather to observe where you are on the spectrum of mental application and adapt your practicing accordingly.

Good luck!
Frederic

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Thanks, Zac, for starting us off, and thanks, Frederic, for all your input. I'm going to start work on this this afternoon. This is going to be interesting (and fun!)...

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Frederic - In your comments here, you have suggested writing out the score on manuscript paper. When I analyze music I find it very useful to write out a "reduction." This allows me to simplify the score by seeing the notes in logical groups. So, for instance, instead of seeing a descending sequence of four notes F, D, Bb, G, as four separate notes, instead I see (and write) a Gm7 chord. It has the wonderful effect of simplifying and giving a "bird's eye" view of the music. The actual sequence of notes and it's rhythm are distractions from what turns out to be much less complex than it looks, and I wind up with a clear "schematic" of the piece.

So, I'm posting this to ask you: Is this "cheating" in this exercise, or is it permitted? (I hope it's OK, because I've already done it for half the piece) cool

Even if my goal is to be able to write out the score note for note as written from memory, for me a reduction is a huge help as an intermediate step.

I realize that this only addresses a few "layers" in our analysis (mainly harmonic, but I think I one can use a reduction to analyze other aspects of a piece). I intend to analyze others as you have suggested as well.

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how is everyone going with it?

Zac


"I don't think I handle the notes much differently from other pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, there is where the artistry lies" - Artur Schnabel

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My time has been very limited, but I've been working on it. I may only be able to do the first section because of limited time. I've done 1) a reduction, 2) a full written version part from memory, part from score, (I plan to do this a couple of more times) and 3) a bar by bar description of what's going on in each bar. Each time I look through it I notice more! At first I identified 2 figures, then 3. I should have started out just looking at form - for repeating sections. I did on a superficial level, but today when I was doing my bar by bar description I started noticing exact repeats of certain phrases, some at different octaves. The most challenging parts to memorize I think will be the cadences - the rest of the piece relies heavily on sequences, but the cadences are more "free form," although they make use of the same figures as the rest of the piece. I am still focused on the harmony, motifs and sequences, but I plan to go through the other filters frederic listed soon.

How are you doing with it?

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I'd like to hear how some others besides JerryS88 and me have been doing, too. I'm going out of town this weekend, and taking it with me. I hope to record Monday evening.

JerryS88 - I like your idea of writing out a "reduction" very much!

Cathy


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I'm really enjoying this process - discovering new things each time I re-examine the piece. Tonight I discovered the most glaringly obvious thing about the piece - what my composition teacher calls the "cell" - usually a short series of notes that reoccurs throughout the piece in different guises. Very cool! I can't wait to play it. I think doing analysis before playing it is really a neat idea. I've written it out 2 more times - it's getting easier and more completely memorized (only working on 1st half) each time. But how will it be to play it???

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Sorry I didn't get around to doing this -- how did the playing go for others?


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I'm definitely ready to play the first half of the sonata, but this morning I decided why not finish learning the whole thing? So I'm going to take this week to learn the 2nd half. I'll write about the playing next weekend. The sonata is actually rather simple - lots of sequences and very repetitive - I can see already that a lot of the second half repeats what happened in the 1st half at different pitches and introduces another sequence (and a new figure). If I wasn't so busy I'd have it all learned by now - sorry for delay.

I've written my own thoughts (in threads about memorizing music) about analyzing and memorizing music right away as a first step to learning pieces we play - I do it all the time - and how helpful it is to the memorization because, lacking tactile memory, you are forced to rely on the analysis, i.e. understanding of what is going on in the piece. I've always done my analysis at the piano, though, so I've always had at least a little tactile experience of the piece. This is taking the idea to the extreme - full reliance on being cognizant of what is going on in the piece without any tactile memory to rely on whatsoever. I love that! I'm thinking I may just do this with other pieces I learn to play as well. Personally, I think you can never know a piece well enough intellectually. Maybe I'm a strange bird, but I love figuring out what makes a piece tick even just for it's own sake.

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I'm not sure if anyone else is still participating in this thread, or interested in it, but just in case, I just posted some of my notes in a new thread . I put it in a different thread so that if there are others who are still participating, you can choose whether or not to view them.

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I'm still here - behind, but here smile I am going to try to record what I can tomorrow evening. Thanks, JerryS88 - I'll go check out the other thread.

Cathy


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As promised, here's a link to my attempt of the first nine measures: http://www.box.net/shared/cz8q0h1k44

What an interesting experiment. I found many of the same patterns Jerry did, and I liked his idea in the other thread of mapping the sequence of patterns and repeats, tho I didn't do that. I also didn't actually write out any of the music (I *do* have a day job, and a couple of gigs coming up soon laugh ) I think I have a fairly good intellectual understanding of these first measures, and some idea of where I might find "land marks" in knowing where I am. But there sure seems to be, for me, no substitute for hearing a piece as I play! I think having done what study I could really helped in having an idea of how the music was shaped, so that I could, as Lily Tomlin might say, more accurately mis-play it.

As I was playing (and this was the very first take) I was kind of surprised at how much trying to *think* about what I had learned - which note to start on, which notes began patterns, etc - got in the way of actually moving my fingers, and how that got in the way of remembering what I knew. When I'm reading music it goes straight from the sheet to my fingers, and the patterns, etc, are sort of "noticed" but not really in the forefront. But because I've read music for so long there is, as Sam pointed out, more space available for noticing patterns, etc - there wasn't much, if any, space available for playing when what I knew was only intellectually where the patterns were.

Then I did play the first 9 measures with the sheet music, and found, as Sam said, that I didn't feel like I was playing it for the first time really, but that it felt more familiar - "oh yes, that's *that* pattern".

I think it was worth the effort just to find that that kind of effort really made a difference even without actually playing. I usually do analysis as I'm actually sitting at the piano, and will play short sections while noting the cadences or patterns, or will go look up previous patterns that were similar. This experiment really reinforced for me the usefulness of doing that analysis.

It was fun, and I'm looking forward to reading on the other thread how Jerry does when he plays it for the first time, and what his discoveries are.

Cathy


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Congratulations on completing this experiment, Cathy! Unfortunately, I can't listen to your recording yet - I don't want to hear the piece played until I've played it myself! I can related to feeling like you've already played it before - I feel that way, even though I've not yet played it at all. I'll post notes about my first time playing sometime over the weekend.

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Thanks. I know you won't want to listen until you've done yours -

but I warn you - you won't really hear the piece played when you *do* listen to mine laugh

Cathy


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Quote
Originally posted by jotur:
Thanks. I know you won't want to listen until you've done yours -

but I warn you - you won't really hear the piece played when you *do* listen to mine laugh

Cathy
LOL - I'm not expecting a great performance from myself either!

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I'm back from travels! Very excited to see the results, to hear Cathy's recording, see Jerry's analysis. All great initiatives!

Cathy, your feeling of "knowing" the music even though you never played or heard it before is an important sensation. It is like meeting a celebrity in person, someone you "know" but who may be different on paper and in person.
The difference between what you think you know and what you really know is also an important distinction that needs to be made, and which will move closer to each other as you continue this kind of exercise.
The cringing you feel when you hear your voice on a recording is also an example of this. You "hear" yourself differently. But if you continue to listen to your own voice on a recording, eventually, you come to recognize yourself, and soon, what you hear in your head is very close to what you hear on a recording.
I'm back at home for a couple of week's, and I'm going to study this sonata myself. I will give you all a peek into some of the techniques I use.

Congrats to all of you for doing this.

Frederic

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Welcome back, Frederic - I'm thrilled that you will be participating in this project and look forward to your comments.

Last night I started copying out the 2nd half of the Sonata and started noticing even more things. One thing that struck me is that, while there are no dynamic markings, you can see how Scarlatti increases dynamics by adding notes or doubling notes in repeated sections. I believe that device is typical of harpsichord music, where increasing volume is accomplished by increasing density of notes.

There are so many different ways to look at a piece of music. I plan to look at my harmonic analysis and the reduction to see what features I've overlooked. I suspect that I've ignored some obvious ones. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the details that you don't notice "big picture" things.

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OK, here's a blow-by-blow of what I looked at, things I am looking for with the first part of the Scarlatti.

1) looking for recurring blocks. This is key to me. Finding blocks allows me to learn one thing and remember 2, or 3 or 4. I want to create a mental "reflex" that launches without my conscious effort, grouping many things together. This is like Jerry's "cells", although they are not just note blocks, but can incorporate other information, and transcend local events also.
The first block I find is the rising broken thirds figure:
- m2
- m6
- m7-8 extended
- m10 twice
- m11 once and then extended
- corollary m 12 going down, m13 going down.

One thing I notice about this block is that it is only in the RH (for now) that has the broken thirds and the LH that has the parallel line. Exception: in m13 it shifts for the first time.
I notice that the thirds are always in the current harmony, without alterations. Exception: m12 starts with a 4th, not a 3rd.
The parallel line begins on the lower note of the broken third. Exception: m12-13 RH parallels on the 5th (a 3rd above the top note).

This way I can remember one thing: "3rds going up in d-min starting on D" and get a whole set of notes.

Note that I always look for exceptions. This is because what is easy for the mind is not necessarily easy for the body and the heart. Great example: m1. The LH plays the "same thing" as the RH, from the mind point of view. Mind moves on. However, if Body takes Mind literally, it will certainly be happy playing the LH an octave lower (that's good synergy between Body and Mind), but it will naturally want to finger 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-1-3, just like the RH. However, it actually needs to finger 5-4-3-2-1-5-3-5-2, something totally different.
Likewise, Heart takes Mind literally, but emotionally reacts differently because the LH is lower (stronger? heavier? more resistant?) and is an echo. Mind doesn't necessarily feel the impact of that as strongly as Heart does when it actually hears the two figures side by side. Also, the RH interrupts the LH with the beginning of the next figure, which also feels differently to Heart than it does to Mind, which groups the E pickup with the next notes, as something independant. FOr Heart, that E is an integral part of the emotion of the moment.
With each of these gaps in perception, there is a risk of error. This is a simple passage, so the disjunction is easily dealt with. The Body quickly learns to play parallel and not mirror image. And Mind and Heart work out the emotions of the passage as an intellectual understanding. And we move on to m2!

More later!
Frederic

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