Joe's Blog

Enumerating some of the Springs

March 1, 2017

Originally published on Facebook on 2/13/16

A few days ago I introduced the notion of “springs” as being something that can produce prodigious technical effects on the piano through the storage and then sudden release of energy.

Today, without going into a description of each, I have compiled a first, tentative, and as yet incomplete, list some of the many ways of creating springs in the body. I plan on having a separate energy about each one.

FINGERS:

1. “bunching” the fingers and snapping them apart

2. juxtaposing fingers and then allowing then to spring apart

3. opening then closing lateral spaces between fingers

4. spring-like unfurling (unflexing) of a finger in the direction of the fallboard.

5. Distension of the thumb, or other finger, in the third dimension, away
from the other fingers

6. squeezing two fingers laterally together and let them spring back apart.
for a series of notes: squeezing all the fingers laterally together and
releasing the tension suddenly, but time-wise have it parse out into a
series of notes.

7. lay a flat palm on a horizontal surface. use the other hand to lift and
hyperextend the finger tips of the first hand. then let go.

8. juxtaposing the tips of the thumb and pinky is also compressing a spring, which will fly apart when the muscles holding them together suddenly relax.

9. causing or imagining a torsion at the finger tip which rotates the length of the finger around its long axis, and then release suddenly.

THE THUMB IN PARTICULAR:

1. move the thumb under the other fingers, PAST the pinky, and then suddenly remove any muscle tension holding the thumb in that position.

HANDS:

1. spring-like motion of the palms towards the fallboard.

2. “bowing” the palm backwards (convex downwards), then release, and let the fingers spring onto their intended notes.

3. springing from the thumb to the pinky when playing a simultaneous octave.

WRISTS:

1. sudden upward motion of the wrist

2. hyper-extending the wrist upwards, rightwards, downwards or leftwards, and then suddenly releasing the stored up energy

FOREARMS:

1. a rotational twist in the forearm, hyper-extended, that is then suddenly released.*

* I make the distinction between using a rotational motion to get from one note to another, and first storing up rotational energy and then releasing it suddenly. Moreover, the action of fully releasing a spring does not have to end in the sounding of the next note, but can pause just short of that so the amount of energy can be ‘stepped down’ to what is just requisite for pushing the key down.

UPPER ARMS:

1. Using the underarm muscles to separate the arms, slightly hyperextended, and then spring back inwards

2. Hyperextend the arms upwards into the air, then derive velocity from the spring eleasing back downwards (for fast double octaves)

THE ENTIRE ARM:

1. making repetitive warm up circles (of any type) is like coiling up a spring, like the main spring of clock. and if it is released, without there being an escapement, there will be explosive speed. If released through a weak escapement, a series of notes will result from the release of energy

2. for sudden arm motions. press the upper arms against the sides of the chest. Then, due to the elasticity of the skin, compress the arms further. Then spring back open as the compression vector is halted.

3. using all the joints of the arm, turn the hand all the way over from palm up, then through 60 degrees, to palm up. Feel that motion as constituting a winding up of a spring, and then suddenly release the spring into the next series of notes. This works for any sort of pitch-oscillation including trills, neighbor notes, tremolos, etc..

SHOULDERS:

(will get to this soon I hope)

TORSO:

1. pull the arms into the body while the finger tips adhere to the keys, then a sudden release of energy when the adhesion is broken.

GENERAL:

1. any part or sub part of the body, wishing to travel in one direction, can be temporarily opposed by an equal and oppositely directed force. Then, the opposite pull is suddenly removed causing a sudden lurch in the originally intended direction.

2. any two parts of the body can be compressed and then suddenly released.

3. store up energy for a short spurt of notes (the principle of the aft-burner or turbo-charger)

4. while pausing on the current note, store up energy to spring to the next note (an attentive energy within the stillness of the form).

5. any unaccustomed state of the body can create a need to restore the body to a more natural state

6. any motion will be more powerful and faster if it is preceded by a slower motion in the opposite direction. This operates at every level of anatomy. Examples: approach a wider interval from a smaller, a smaller from a wider. More examples: move past where we need to get to, and then return to where we want to go. If moving left to right, go further right than is necessary and catch the note on the rebound of the spring. The same idea for right to left.

7. think of the keyboard as a trampoline. If you let the upweight in the key mechanism remove the finger from the note, the finger can spring up and be more alert for its next note.

TETHERS: ELASTIC BANDS:

Elastic tethers are similar to springs. Example: if the lh needs to ‘stride’ from left to right and back again, leave a memory marker at the lower pitch, and imagine, that as the arm moves rightwards, you are stretching an elastic tether which is anchored at the lower pitch. when the elasticity of the tether causes the arm to spring back leftwards, there is greater certainty of it springing back to the correct place.

FIGURATIVE:

1. permit myself to forget things so that I can re-discover them, which releases sudden mental energy of the epiphany.

2. treating the air between the hand and the piano as being elastic, compressible, and then capable of quickly expanding again.

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