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Author Topic: How to study polyrhythms?  (Read 4127 times)
brace77
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« on: January 26, 2010, 01:48:21 PM »

Hi. Which is the best way of practicing polyrhythms?

I am studying now Chopin's Preludes, and in n.1 for example there are 3 bars of 5 vs 6.

I studied Fantasie Impromptu, but I cannot say how I did it. Juts by trying and trying until one day the rhythm "unlocked" and I could play it. But the less I think to single notes the best the effect. I just think of the main beats and let the fingers flow.

But which is the correct approach?

I think there is a difference between fast and slow tempos. Because in fast tempos it is easy not to think to individual notes, while in slow tempos (like many chopin nocturnes) it is not possible.

So which is the professional way (or ways) to study them?

By polyrhythm in this topic I mean one rhythm per hand.

The only polyrhythm I master slow is 2 vs 3. I can tap with my hands 3 vs 4 but I don't master it slow.

Anyway I feel 3 vs 4 may be mastered because it is quite logical, but what to do in 11 vs 12 or similar cases?

Thanks.

Note: I have an organ degree and play piano for fun, anyway I have a good technical level, even if some areas of piano technique are not mastered by me being it not my main instrument.

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Bob
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 02:10:56 PM »

Find the common (sub)division between the two rhythms or have each part down well enough that you don't have to think and can play them together.  Those are the two ways I know.

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birba
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2010, 06:43:19 AM »

i think cortot wrote some sort of excercises regarding this in his tome on piano tecnique.   when you get past 3 against 4, you can no longer work it out mathematically.  set the metronome at the slowest speed possible, and play one hand 10 times to each beat.  then play the left hand 10 times to each beat.  then nine, eight, seven, etc.  then together.  that's the only way to acquire rythmic independence of the hands.
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brace77
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2010, 08:37:04 AM »

Thanks for sharing the 10 10 9 9 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 technique.

Anyway what do you mean by setting the metronome at the slowest speed possible?
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birba
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2010, 11:27:19 AM »

let's say your playing 7 against 5.  at 40 on the metronome, you can play the 7 notes easily at a moderate speed.
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quasimodo
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2010, 11:51:54 AM »

I might be wrong, but it seems to me that for bizarre polyrhythms like in Scriabin's Op.42 etudes, most performers don't really strive for strict regularity of the time divisions but rather try to figure out something that makes more or less sense musically.
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" On ne joue pas du piano avec deux mains : on joue avec dix doigts. Chaque doigt doit être une voix qui chante"

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birba
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2010, 04:40:01 PM »

right.  and that comes with complete independence of the hands-
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berniano
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2010, 05:56:40 PM »

Here's what I've been doing for the past couple years in 5/7, 7/8, etc. passages:

Find the smallest common multiple for the passage.

Draw notes on a blank piece of paper so that the RH set is above the LH set.

Draw little tickmarks indicating the miniscule subdivisions between each note.

Draw connecting lines between the two horizontal columns where the subdivisions match.


The point of this is not to be mathematically perfect, but rather to indiciate how quickly any given note in the the LH will fall before or after the nearest RH note.


Lastly, I go to my score, and draw in lines  between the hands to show how the notes fall against each other. These lines give the general area of the placements, and not the precise math placement.


Even though this process may take half an hour to complete a page of Chopin polyrhythms,
for me it takes far less time and stress than to sit at the piano and just try to cram the notes together, which may be different every time.

Atleast this is how my brain works   Cool  .

Eventually things will become more of an approximate collaboration  between the hands rather than a regimented machine performance, which equals the danger that lies in this process.


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slow_concert_pianist
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2010, 02:04:32 AM »

No easy answer to this one. Comments above all appear valid. Certainly without hand independence cross rhythms are always going to be an act of "bluff". Although if you intend to manage some of the much harder multi-part examples, you will need complete finger independence to do that.
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Currently rehearsing:

Chopin Ballades (all)
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phillip21
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2010, 11:26:04 PM »

The best advice I can give is to work on the Saint-Saens 'Etude de Rhythme' Op. 52 No. 4.  If you can manage the simultaneous triplets and duplets he presents here, you will cope with anything.  This is a remarkably forward-looking piece from 1877 that deserves to be better known!
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darksyndrem
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« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2010, 04:37:17 AM »

I have a question about polyrythms. What are they exactly? I think I have an idea, I'm just not positive. Is it like triplets in the RH and 16th's in the LH, played at the same time?
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sashaco
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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2010, 07:31:45 AM »

I just wrote a description in the Students' Corner (on the CHopin Fanasie Impromptu thread) of an Indian method for learning a rock solid 2v3 and 3v4.  I strongly reccommend anyone with any difficulties with these give the method at least a try.  In twenty minutes you'll be beating a very convincing and relaxed 3v4.  I am not acquainted with the formulae for learning other polyrhythms, but I'm sure you could track them down somewhere on the web, or you could extrapolate from the simple one I wrote out.  The more complex rythms like 5v6 would probably require more time than most here could afford- Indian drummers start very young and put in thousands of hours, but younger players who want to acquire great rhythm would do very well to seek out an opportunity to get at least a nodding acquaintance with the Indian system.  ( I had that opportunity years ago, but wasted it.)
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quasimodo
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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2010, 07:41:43 AM »

I have a question about polyrythms. What are they exactly? I think I have an idea, I'm just not positive. Is it like triplets in the RH and 16th's in the LH, played at the same time?
Yes
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" On ne joue pas du piano avec deux mains : on joue avec dix doigts. Chaque doigt doit être une voix qui chante"

Samson François
gyzzzmo
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2010, 11:55:17 AM »

easiest is to recognize the notes that come together in the polyrythm and focus on those. Then try to get the notes even, the more you play them the more fluently it will go.

Gyzzzmo
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darksyndrem
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2010, 09:39:06 PM »

I wanted to ask if any of you have a way of learning the polyrhythms in Chopin's Etude Opus 10 No. 12? I'm sure all the above ways work just as well, but I was just wondering if anyone had a method more specific to a polyrhythm like in this etude.
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gyzzzmo
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2010, 07:53:17 AM »

I wanted to ask if any of you have a way of learning the polyrhythms in Chopin's Etude Opus 10 No. 12? I'm sure all the above ways work just as well, but I was just wondering if anyone had a method more specific to a polyrhythm like in this etude.

are there polyrythms in the revolutionary etude? Smiley
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birba
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2010, 10:17:10 AM »

i asked myself that same question.  the only place are those few 3 against 4 in the reprise of the theme.
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gyzzzmo
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2010, 11:09:37 AM »

i asked myself that same question.  the only place are those few 3 against 4 in the reprise of the theme.

Maybe he means those yes. Anyway they should be played rather freely to emphasize the tone of the piece (POWERRRRRRRRR!).  Smiley
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scottmcc
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« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2010, 12:24:07 PM »

any polyrhythm can be worked out mathematically, but for some the math is a little more complex.  someone else alluded to the method:  find the lowest common multiple for the two beats, then write the piece as counted in that, as opposed to what time signature you are given.  so for 3 v 2, it'd be 6.  the triplets each get 2 counts, the eighths get 3.  for 4 v 5, the number is 20, and the 16ths get 5 counts to the 4 counts for the pentuplets.  etc, etc.

exercise one of the brahms 51 exercises deals specifically with various polyrhythms, and is a real beast, at least for me and my non-polyrhythm-gifted hands.
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darksyndrem
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« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2010, 04:32:43 PM »

i asked myself that same question.  the only place are those few 3 against 4 in the reprise of the theme.

Yes. I was talking about those (sorry).
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