July 11,2020

J.M  is having difficulty getting her F# Major Chopin Nocturne to sound the way she wants it to. She listens and re-listens to Rubinstein performing it but can’t seem to produce something that mimics his style, sound, or interpretation. 

Usually I encourage students to find their own sound and interpretation, and to not intentionally imitate others. However, in J.M.’s case, she is having difficulty finding her own unique musical voice. So this time we are making an exception and attempting to mimic the Rubinstein recording, but in a special way: 

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Never max out in volume, it leaves no room in which to maneuver musically

January 11,2020

This entry in the blog is related to an earlier one that spoke about how many small degrees of increments in loudness are perceptible by the ear between, say, pianissimo and piano, as against the number of such increments  between piano and mezzo piano, mezzo piano and mezzo forte, etc..

Two interesting facts emerged in that earlier blog.  1. When ‘shaping’ a phrase we should, from note to note, make use of every possible increment of relative loudness and softness, down to the most minimal ones that the ear can perceive.  2. That the number of these minimal subdivisions in loudness does not remain constant as we go from pp, to p, mp, mf, f, ff..  As we get louder, there are fewer and fewer minimally perceivable gradations in loudness before we have already spilledd over into the next ‘milepost’ of  loudness for which we have a notation symbol. That, for example, between f and ff there are fewer distinguishable degrees in loudness than there are between mf and f, which in turn has fewer than from mp to mf.

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The many “directions” of legato

December 04,2019

Part one:

Legato is the existential complaint and rebellion by the piano against its  mechanically percussive nature and thereby against the inevitable decline  in loudness of every note it makes once that note starts.

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