Joe's Blog

How to manage, mechanically, counterpoint among three or more voices. 

February 19, 2017

How to manage, physically, counterpoint among three or more voices. 

I am speaking of some very specific techniques that the pianist can have in her bag of tricks to allow the hand the fingers to manage detailed moments in the piece in the most ergonomically efficient way, and therefore the fastest and most reliable way.

Technique No 2:  the fingers springing apart or suddenly snapping together.

This motion occurs mostly in a horizontal plane.  And is for use when changing from one interval, or triad or chord, to another, in a situation where good voice leading is occurring, and it is difficult to find your way from one note to another by considering how far any one individual finger or voices needs to move.

Sometimes the notes that are currently in three or more voices all change pitch and at the same time.   The fingers do not need to take the only role.  There is a spring-like action that hand as a whole is capable of making in the process of  which the mutual distances between the adjacent fingers, which may be currently relatively smaller distances, can suddenly widen with the result that an entirely new hand position results – containing none of the previous notes.  It is a propulsive horizontal motion where by the finger tips spread apart from each other, in a sudden gesture rather than through a series of closely timed gestures.   It is like a coiled spring whose normal length has been compressed and which suddenly resumes its normal size.

An analogous motion of the hand in its entirety can occur when the mutual distances between the adjacent fingers are currently larger, an within an instant be relatively smaller.  It is a sudden gesture, as in the above case, but is more like a spring that is overstretched rather than compressed suddenly releases its energy and resumes its normal size.

The key point in both actions is that the total energy stored in the spring is released instantaneously.    the actions that compress or stretch the spring happen relatively slower, but still in a very short time, between holding the current note(s) and sounding the next note(s).

🙂 thanks for reading.  I would love to start accumulating info from other pianists regarding a similar technical situation.



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