Joe's Blog

TRANSLATION OF AXES

March 1, 2017

Originally posted on Facebook on 2/4/16

Sometimes, when we have technical difficulty doing a particular series of notes in the horizontal plane of the keyboard, we can remove some of the difficulty by changing this horizontal axis into a vertical axis that goes up and down from the keyboard rather than side to side.

We need only to repeat the same series of muscular gestures that we would have made in order to play the passage on the horizontal keyboard, but now executing them in a vertical plane. The sensations in the muscles will change in character.

These changes are due to the reorientation of the hand muscle movements relative to the pull of gravity. They are also due to the fact that the measured distance of the hands from torso, instead of varying when moving left and right on the keyboard, now remains fairly constant.

Just wiggle the fingers in the air, first with the palms down, and then with the palms sideways. Attentive introspection will show that the sensations are different. And not only in the fingers but throughout the arm lever.

The key here is not that the gestures are easier or harder in one orientation versus the other, although that too is probably true. It is simply that the sensations are different, and our hand and fingers feel them afresh, in a new light.

We can then go through the same series of motions that we would on the keyboard, the same series that we would enact on the keyboard horizontally, but do it in the air with the motions, now ranged up and down from each other than side to side.

Once we do this, if we then return to the horizontal plane of the keyboard, we will find that we have more facility doing the passage. Things feel fresh, new and different, and the feeling lingers through the return to horizontality.

There are many applications to this spatial reorientation which we will describe in more detail in later blog entries. Among these are arpeggios, repetitive triads played as a sequence of three melodic notes, trills, and broken octaves.

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