At the heart of Western music in particular there lies a curiously tight bond between two things that might at first seem separable: pitches and rhythm.
There are times when it is useful in our playing to not take this forced wedding for granted. That in spite of the strength of the bond between the two of them, there is a momentary advantage in performance to project the rhythm so that it shines through the notes, almost in spite of the notes, and there are times to coax the rhythm into the background so that it does not distract from the order of the pitches. Read More
What ways are there to determine whether the notes of a chord you just played were balanced with each other.
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When there is a series of rapid notes, or sudden embellishments or grace notes, that suddenly occur within a passage of relatively much slower notes, then the switch to the faster notes from the slower ones sometimes makes it harder to maintain control over each individual finger’s control over each of the faster notes.
The solution lies in slowness rather than in the perfection of speed. Each fast note must be allowed to express itself fully, in a way that does not allow them to be guillotined out of existence by the next fast note. The “Menuet” from Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin” begins with two grace notes (d5 e5) followed immediately by a series of expressive quarter notes. Slow or fast, every note deserves to use time in a way that allows them to fully express themselves. There must be a suggestion in a fast note of how that note would evolve in time if it were not truncated in duration but continued to sound for a second or more. In the Ravel I would suggest laying the two grace notes as quarter notes which are then followed by more quarter notes. Then, when playing the grace notes normally, do your best to still feel them happening slowly. even though on the clock of the outside world, they register as fast; as long as in your interior world they are still slow. As long as in the first moment of the sound you are thinking ahead to what the note will sound like a second later if you allowed it to resonate. If you do this, you will find that much of the expressive and tonal qualities you attained when playing the grace notes literally as quarter notes ‘persists’ into the faster rendition of those notes. Much of the qualities (and physical control) of the slow version will permeate into the faster version, without your trying to do anything special. Read More