CHOPIN: SECOND SCHERZO. ALBENIZ: EVOCACION
February 16, 2017
Lesson with “B.A” on Thursday, Feb 16, 2017, 12:30 – 1:30
Sumary of the things we did at the lesson:
Chopin: Second Scherzo in B-flat Minor – the long passage with sextuplets in the left hand.
Of the various techniques we tried, these seemed to work the best for B.A.
TAG: SEPARATING FINGERING FROM PITCHES (ISOLATING A PARAMETER)
Play c3 e3 f3 g3 f3 e3 | c3 with the fingers that you are going to use for the real notes – probably 5 3 2 1 2 3 | 5. do it once, in same the tempo you want the piece go, pause on the 7th note, then after that note stops sound, pausing
again for a second-long ‘breath’ in the hand and your lungs, play it again but use the notes from the score. This breath is to allow the hand to go back into an entire neutral and relaxed state.
TAG: PULSES: FILLING IN NOTES PARENTHETICALLY BETWEEN TWO PULSES.
Play two df3 -s spaced out from each other by the full time duration of the measure. Those are the “pulses” – the rest of the notes fill inas a trivial parenthesis.
TAG: THE VIRTUE OF VERY SLOW PRACTICING
For the sextuplet that goes: df3 cf3 df4 f4 …. Go very, very slowly and observe from one instant to the next instant what each of the five fingers is doing. if you go slowly enough chances are your hand and fingers are going to behave in the way that makes the measure easiest.
TAG: ONE HAND HELPS THE OTHER BY MANIPULATION OF A FINGER
You may want to help the left hand in the previous case by taking the right hand, place it on the left side of the third finger in the left hand, and pull on the finger precisely right-wards along the keyboard. when the pinky is no longer ‘inclined’ (pun) to remain on the df3 let it come off that key as a secondary effect of the pulling of the third finger to the right.
TAG: ALWAYS GO BACK TO THE SOURCE
For each of the above methods, alternate between playing the brief passage in the way described above, and, as if you were perform-ing it. But keep going back and forth! always ‘go back to the source’.
Albeniz: Evocacion –
TAG: HAVING THE NOTES SOUND FLOWING AND NOT AS ABRUPT HALTS IN THE FLOW
The lips. He moved his lips as he plays, and what is most noticeable about it is that there is one relatively sudden motion of the lips for each note he play. Substitute, if possible, a more gradual motion of the lips: slowly parting … then slowly coming back together, and repeating this alternation until you are satisfied with how the passage sounds.. while you did this while playing, I voiced out loud something like:
mmmm ooooo vvvvv …….y o—-> u ….. rrrrr….LLLL…..iiiii…..pppp….ssss….ssss….LLLL….ow —-> llll…….eeee.
In other ‘words’ I did it as one continuous stream of sound and not as separate syllables or words. This is how to get to the heart of sound as it exists in music.
TAG: SOUND AS SOUND: MOLDING SOUND THROUGH TIME.
Molding soft clay in ‘time’, rather than in space. As your hands change the shape of the clay during the passing seconds, at no point does the amount of matter (the mass of the matter) change. Only its shape changes. At the beginning of Evocacion, the entire first measure, more if possible, is an extrusion of a single ‘sound’ that is being molded through time. “Sound”, as a single entity, shaped with the passing of the beats in the measure.*
*Almost like a very versatile trombone player who never stays on a pitch but is constantly in the process of doing a slow glisanado from one pitch to the next. In this instance it is correct to say that the player is playing only one sound: “the sound”. “The” sound is what is left if you ignore the pitch of the sound, the timbre of the sound and loudness of the sound. what’s left?…the generalized notion of sound.
TAG: DOING A “COMPARATIVE ANATOMY”
Comparative anatomy. what to do when there are two or more disparate locations in the piece that all do something similar, but the details of the pitches and/or the fingering are different. play the first instance, pause, leave out everything that is in the music between it and the second instance, play the second instance, etc.. You will be surprised how the hand remembers what precisely to do in each instance even though the interconnecting measures are played.
It works because there is a curious distortion in the flow of time. As you get to the second instance, the first instance, which is technically now in the past tense, sudden is partially reincarnated in the present tense, just enough for the new notes to stand out ‘in relief’ to the old notes.
THE VIRTUE OF PRACTICING SLOWLY ENOUGH TO SUPPRESS MUSCLE MEMORY.
When a group of notes doesn’t sound with complete clarity and confidence.
Switch to a tempo that is at least 3 or 4 times slower than the very first time you read the piece. Put the muscle memory into the background, and instead be highly aware of the “name” of the note you are playing and the name of the finger you are using to play the note.
Do this for a measure (maybe a measure and a half at most). Then pause for a second, and play the passage normally.
Go back and forth between these states, rather than reiterating the second state to ‘practice’ it. Again, always go back to the ‘source’. Never get in your consciousness, too far (in time) from the source. That way the first way playing spills over into the second way of playing.
TAG: PRODUCING BEAUTIFUL LOUD SOUNDS.
Think of Charles Loughton in the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” ringing the largest bells by jumping into the air and pulling down on ropes connected to the bells. The result you will get, sound-wise, is the rich and gloriously riotous sound of church bells, instead of a sound that is loud but brittle, loud but unpleasant to hear.
🙂 all feedback, positive and negative is much welcomed