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Author Topic: Glissando...  (Read 2159 times)
miss_music
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« on: October 02, 2003, 05:12:48 PM »

Hi all,

I've been playing the piano for a few years, but a can somebody tell me how to to a glissando? I know it sounds stupid but everytime I try it doesn't sound like it should (I think  Grin)

thank you!
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pskim
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2003, 06:50:47 PM »

In general, if you are doing a gliss from the lower register to the upper register, you use your finger nails of your right hand, usually the nails of finger numbers 3 and 4.  Gliss isn't easy.  You'll have to practice until you get the hang of it and also so that you won't have bloody fingers and keyboards.  You will skin your fingers, well, I sure did when I practiced them.  But once you have it down, it won't be a problem.

If you are going from upper to the lower register, I personally use my right hand using the side of my index finger.  Get the hand flat enough so that you won't take out chunks of your skin off your index finger.  Hope this helped.

Octave gliss is another thing.  There was a topic on this a while ago.
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miss_music
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2003, 12:26:39 AM »

thanx Smiley
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allchopin
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2003, 04:30:05 AM »

Who says that you will "tear chunks" out of your hand if you simply slide them along the keys?? Are your keys some sort of metal composite or unfinished wood?  How could this possibly happen?  I usually justy slide my finger tips on the keys, no harm done.  I think it is actually worse to try to avoid this with your nail, because then your cuticle gets this unneeded pressure, which is weaker skin.  
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Wired
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2003, 04:58:05 AM »

I agree with Allchopin. That must be a really harsh piano Wink Although I did once play on a piano in a basement of our church that had a few chipped corners that literally did cut me once. Not badly, but it caused a pause in my playing Tongue

I recently acquired Vladimir Horowitz playing the Rach 3 on DVD. There's a glissando in there that starts low and ends high (partial keyboard, not the whole thing). He seems to (recalling from memory) use the outside edge of his pinky, reinforced by his other fingers. That's also what I do. As I rub my hand over it right now, I can confirm that I have some callus there Wink

As for going downwards, I slant my hand the other direction and use the side of my index finger to do the slide. Basically, practice is the only way to make them sound better.

Also, do the recordings sound like they use any pedal at all? I've noticed some people lightly depress on the pedal to very lightly sustain the notes without mudding the sound too much.

And one more thing -- it could be the piano. I don't blame the piano much, but a glissando on a cheap upright compares nothing to that of one on a nice grand.

-Jon
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kevink
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2003, 05:21:23 AM »

Generally a more brilliant sound can be attained by using the nails.  It also helps you go faster.  It takes practice.  And skinned fingers (even bloody ones) are inevitable if you practice them a lot.
RH going up, I use 2, 3, and perhaps 4, on the nails; going down, I use the nail of the thumb.  LH is variations of 2, 3 and 4, both ways, both on the nails.

If you have to stop on a particular note, catch it with the thumbs on the way up, and the LH thumb/RH index finger on the way down.
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Hmoll
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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2003, 05:38:30 PM »

PSkim is, as usual, correct. The only difference I have with his technique is using the nail of the thumb on glissandi that move toward the body (i.e. right hand moving from higher register to lower register, or left hand moving from lower register to higher register).
The reason using the nails is better than using the skin of your fingers is because the gliss will be more even.

There is absolutely no reason for anyone to draw blood when playing any kind of gliss, if they practice it correctly and carefully.

There are several ways to practice glissandi, and one of them is as follows:
1) Start with your hand in position at the beginning note, but do not depress any keys. "Play" the gliss by sliding your hand up or down the keyboard, but do not depress the keys. It should feel light,  you should be gliding your hand and your nails should be making an even clicking sound as you go from the starting note to the ending note. What this does is reinforces the proper movement and speed, and practices beginning and ending on the correct note in time, so make sure you end on the right key.

2) The next step is to depress the first note, make the gliss movement but do not play the other notes until you get to the last note of the gliss, which you should depress. In other words, it's the same as step one, but you sound the fist and last notes only of the gliss.
An intermediate step - if you are having trouble with this - might be to sound the first note only - with the entire gliss movement,  practice that until it is comfortable, then sound the last note only - with the entire gliss movement, and finally sound the first and last notes with the rest of the notes silent.

2) The final step is to play the first and last notes of the gliss, and each time you practice it depress the middle notes more and more. At first a few of the notes might sound, and later more notes might sound. What you are trying to establish is the proper depth you need to depress the keys in order for all the notes to sound.

Note the key does not have to be depressed all the way to the keybed for all the notes of a glissando to sound, and if you try to play a gliss by depressing the keys all the way, you could end up drawing blood. On any piano there is a point before the bottom of the key where the note will sound, and finding that is important in playing a glissando without hurting your hands.

The disadvantages of hurting your hands by playing glissandi improperly are 1) It causes pain, which will cause tension, which will translate into tension in other parts of your playing. 2) Because of pain and injury, you may not be able to practice the gliss with the repetition necessary to master the passage in question.
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willcowskitz
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2004, 08:10:51 PM »

Excellent advice Hmoll!

I have, however, problems with pressing the keys with my fingernails because the pressure is painful as that area of my fingers is very sensitive (I'm a nail biter, wonder if that has got anything to do with it?). If I play glissandi with the touch side of my fingers then the sound is not, as you say, even. Plus, my finger burns from the slide. Could my fingers harden up if I start practicing glissandi with the method you presented, since at the moment its impossible for me to play even a few notes with my fingernails due to pain?
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Goldberg
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2004, 04:05:00 AM »

These are all great, helpful posts (I've been working on some glisses myself lately, and have nearly mastered the octave gliss now)! Something I have often wondered about, however, is how to play a chromatic glissando. I've seen it in a few pieces (particularly, a Chopin-Godowsky waltz transcription) and I've been more or less boggled about the mechanics of it, though I haven't exactly tried it yet myself. Anyone have experience with these?
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matt_black
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2004, 08:00:50 PM »

Hoctave glissando - hit the white keys with thumb and black keys at same timewith index finger
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