Arpeggios: a musical state that lies somewhere between melody and chord

May 22,2018

Consider on the one hand playing the notes of a melody in a slow, leisurely fashion and, on the other hand, sounding all the notes of the same melody simultaneously, mush-ing the melody into a single chord or cluster.   In between these two extremes there are many intermediary possibilities, each one blending insensibly into the next, and forming thereby a continuous spectrum.

At one end of this spectrum, the notes of a melody go by so fast that, like a rapidly arpeggiated chord with the pedal held down, the effect barely departs from that of a simultaneous chord.  The previous sounds spontaneously congeal behind the most recent sound to start, like the ice trail of a jet airliner.  At the other end of the spectrum, the melody slows down so much, that each of its notes sound for so long that we lose even the awareness that we are in a melody.*  We lose track of the current note’s relation with the previous one, and we cease to anticipate that another note might show up after the current.**  In other words, we are locked in the frozen presence of the current note.  This would be like observing a glacier in order to detect its movement.

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Smooth scales

Is there a motion, that lies entirely in the hand, which transcends the particular order in which the fingers articulate the notes of a scale?

Every time we play a scale, sooner rather than later, we come up against the physical limitation of there being only five fingers in the hand.  Either a thumb will have to cross under some other fingers, or a finger other than the thumb has to cross over the thumb.

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We always hold between our hands an unchanging sense of a lowest and a highest note 

May 08,2018

If we take a ‘vertical slice’ through any music score, chosen at any moment in the score, we will find various pitches being held by the hands.  Some will have just started sounding, others are in the process of being held after having started earlier.  Among this collection of notes, one will have the lowest pitch of the group and another the highest.

If we now advance, just a bit in the score, just one note further on, we can take a new vertical slice, and find that one note is the lowest in the new group and another the highest note.  There is a chance the group will be the same as before, but more likely there will be one or more changes in the pitches forming  the group.

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