Joe's Blog

Truffaut’s “Day for Night” transmogrified into “Slow for Fast”

October 12, 2019

When there is a series of rapid notes, or sudden embellishments or grace notes, that suddenly occur within a passage of relatively much slower notes, then the switch to the faster notes from the slower ones sometimes makes it harder to maintain control over each individual finger’s control over each of the faster notes.

The solution lies in slowness rather than in the perfection of speed.  Each fast note must be allowed to express itself fully, in a way that does not allow  them to be guillotined out of existence by the next fast note. The “Menuet” from Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin” begins with two grace  notes (d5 e5) followed immediately by a series of expressive quarter notes. Slow or fast, every note deserves to use time in a way that allows them to  fully express themselves. There must be a suggestion in a fast note of how that note would evolve in time if it were not truncated in duration but  continued to sound for a second or more. In the Ravel I would suggest laying the two grace notes as quarter notes which are then followed by more  quarter notes. Then, when playing the grace notes normally, do your best to still feel them happening slowly. even though on the clock of the outside world, they register as fast; as long as in your interior world they are still slow. As long as in the first moment of the sound you are thinking ahead to what the note will sound like a second later if you allowed it to resonate.  If you do this, you will find that much of the expressive and tonal qualities you attained when playing the grace notes literally as quarter notes ‘persists’ into the faster rendition of those notes.  Much of the qualities (and physical control) of the slow version will permeate into the faster version, without your trying to do anything special.

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