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Topic: Chopin Op 10 no 2  (Read 5715 times)

Offline Ann_W

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Chopin Op 10 no 2
on: October 04, 2001, 09:53:58 PM
For me this study is the most difficult of all the Chopin studies (at the moment...). Does anyone have any innovative tips on how to practice this piece exept different rhythms and accent patterns?

Offline mickey

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #1 on: October 08, 2001, 11:36:32 PM
Hi Ann!
I fully agree that this is one of the harder of the Chopin studies. Especially when it comes to performing it!
You are right that accent patterns and rhythms are the fundamental practice method for such pieces.
I have a very good complimentary practice method which works great for me not only on this piece but also other kinds of fast passages that's uncomfortable to the hand.

The exercise:
Practice the right hand alone very, very slowly - 16th notes=80 bpm. As soon as you have played a note put your next finger on the next key, (this movement has to be done extremely fast!). In between every note, make sure your hand is entirely relaxed.

That's it!
I know, its terribly boring and it takes quite a while to get through the piece but be patient and it will help you a lot.

Good luck! ;)


Offline robert_henry

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #2 on: November 18, 2001, 06:14:54 PM
The one mistake everyone makes with this one is thinking that it is a 16th note etude...rather, it is a chord etude, technically speaking.  It can also be thought of as a wrist etude.  Chopin's etudes are basically ALL wrist etudes, and that's good news because they all use the same technique.

So, one way (the best way) of performing this is as follows: lets say you are playing the first measure.  Now only play the chords, ie. every beat.  (So you are only playing cea, then eac, then adf, then dfa.) Now, DROP your wrist to play to play the chords.  Your fingers should already be touching the keys - I'm not talking about a full arm drop here.  Once you are comforatble doing that, think of the 16th notes as glissandi - they should simply ride off the impulse of every chord.  

You must realize that there are two basic ways of using your wrist to play chords, with an "up" motion which is widely over-used and over-taught, and a "down" motion.  The down motion is techinque I'm recommending here.

This will feel strange at first, but it works.  I learned this trick on a trip to Russia.  The teacher there fixed my playing of this etude in less than five minutes, no joke.  Before the lesson, I couldn't play it once without getting tired.  After the lesson, I could play both etudes 1 and 2 back and forth repeatedly without stopping, over and over and over.  It was great.  By the time I performed this peice, I had it up to MM 160 in performance.  Good Luck!

Robert Henry
https://www.roberthenry.org

Offline geoffrey

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #3 on: November 24, 2001, 03:09:46 AM
This is not really an answer to your question.  I have worked on this etude periodically over a number of years.  But it occurred to me that this kind of technique, ie. passing 3 over 5 or 4 over 5, is not something applicable to the piano repertoire.  There is almost always a better solution in fingering no matter how difficult the music.  You can even play the fugue of the Hammerklavier without it.  So, if this etude does not work on a problem of any practical significance (you're never going to make use of it) then perhaps it does not function properly as an etude.  You would perhaps do well to work on others that will be of real benefit to you.  (I think you will possibly avoid serious strain as well.)
 ps. The only exception to this would be if you were determined to play all of op. 10 as a group.    

Offline robert_henry

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #4 on: November 24, 2001, 11:49:46 PM
Geoffrey, I must repectfully disagree with you.

The Chopin etudes are essential to developing technique.  If one applied your reasoning to the other etudes, one wouldn't have to learn ANY of them.  You imply that learning these pieces isn't necessary because you never run into that kind of technique in other pieces.  What piece besides Op. 10, No.1 requires arpeggios in the right hand for 9 pages?  What piece other than Opus 25, No. 10 requires non-stop octaves for 7 pages?  You could say that about every etude, so why learn any of them?  

This etude is particularly important, not because of the fingering issue, but it trains you to relax quickly.  It trains your right hand to play two different ideas at the same time, and you must ensure that the upper part of the hand has little negative influence over the thumb and second finger, namely tension.  Combine all this with balance of sixteenths and the chord notes, left hand skips, and general leggiero playing.  So it's not just the fingering.  If it were, nobody would have any problem with it.  Ask yourself, why does everyone think it's hard?  Because they get tight, that's why! So obviously there is much more to it than fingering.

You also imply that the etudes aren't pieces of music, but they are just training for other pieces.  That may be true of many earlier sets of etudes, but not these.  Liszt said that Opus 10 No3 was the most beautiful piece he had ever heard and that he wished he had written it.

And lastly, there is a sense of accomplishment once you can play them, especially 1 and 2 in recital, without stopping.  It sounds to me as if you were having trouble playing it, then rationalized that there wasn't any need to learn it, and then gave up.  For years I thought of 1 and 2 as the last mountain I needed to climb, and I'm very glad I persevered.  

I wrote this in a rush, so forgive any abrasiveness.

Robert Henry
https://www.roberthenry.org

Offline geoffrey

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #5 on: November 27, 2001, 03:45:46 AM
Dear Robert,
 I have no doubt you play this etude in an exemplary manner.  You certainly can take pride in your mastery of it.  But you seem to misunderstand me.  The C major Etude (which doesn't really qualify as an arpeggio etude as there is no passing under or over the thumb) is study in the rapid conjunction of open and closed hand position and in the cultivation of a balanced hand the lack of which results in hand fatigue.  These problems are to be found in a great deal of music.  Forinstance, just in the pieces I happen to be working on, (the Liszt Sonata and the Schubert Cm Post) they appear and how!  Your other example, the octave etude, engages the hand in an activity prevalent throughout the Romantic literature, as you well know.  Where would the Tchikovsky concerto be without fast loud octaves in both hands and at length?  Or the Liszt Sonata? Or take the next one, the am etude of op. 25 (winter wind,) a study in contrary motion but also in open and closed hand position (particularly bars 83 -86.)  Of course, left hand skips as well, and far more demanding than the easily timed ones in op. 10, no. 2 .  The fact that these etudes ask for these figures to be repeated in variation over 6 pages is obvious:  if one has mastered the motions then one will not be fatigued ; the length is important as a test.  
 But all these etudes have a practical application to other pieces.  However, the etude in question does not engage the hand in motions one finds elsewhere. It is not the fingering perse, as what the hand is being asked to do.  There is no fingering that allows the hand a natural motion.  If it was a remarkable example of Chopin's music one might argue that it worth studying for its own sake.  But there are many more beautiful examples of Chopin's writing, not least among the etudes, themselves.  
 Whether I can play the piece or not is hardly the point; even if I could not, my points would still hold.  I believe this etude can be mastered and played without strain, but my question is, towards what end?  The reason all of this is more than an academic discussion  is that, in this etude specifically, if one pushes the tempo and has not perfected the motion, one can really hurt oneself.  Is the game worth the candle?  Perhaps not.  There's a lot of great repertoire out there.  Nice to hear from you Geoff

Offline robert_henry

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #6 on: November 27, 2001, 08:05:58 AM
Two short thoughts:

Actually, the first etude IS an arpeggio etude.  Arpeggio is the succession of tones in a chord as long as they are not sounded at the same time, or so says the Harvard dictionary.  The first measure, fir instandce, is an arpeggiation of a C chord.  The thumb's involvement is irrelevant.  Otherwise, it would be impossible to "sing" an arpeggio, or to play one on the violin.  

Well, we seem to disagree about the importance of this etude. Hehe, no problem my friend.  I believe that it is among the most important learning pieces in the entire repertoire simply because it asks the hand to do two things at once, and to be relaxed while doing this for four pages takes quite alot of skill and patience.  And THAT skill (two things in one hand) IS found throughout the literature, in almost every piece.

Respectfully,

Robert Henry
https://www.roberthenry.org

Offline Ann_W

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #7 on: November 27, 2001, 03:59:59 PM
This discussion is really getting hotter than I thougt when starting the thread! I find it really interesting to hear all of your thoughts about the Chopin studies.
Robert, the method you described is really the key to playing this study, although I still think you need months (or years) of hard work in order to strengthen the hand in order to be able to stay "relaxed" when playing it.
You mentions that you also played no 1 on your trip to Russia. Do you have a good method for playing this study too?

Finally, I must say that I dissagree with you Geoffrey, in your point that the study is not useful and that the techniqe of passing 3rd/4th finger over 5th is never used in the piano repertoire. For example, how do you play a chromatic scale in thirds?
Even if a specific technic in a study is not exactly used in the repertoire it can be very useful anyway. I think that one of the  pionts with studies is that they are more difficult than "necessary"!
Anyway, the first two Chopin studies has helped me a lot in developing strength and endurance.  :) :o

Offline robert_henry

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #8 on: November 28, 2001, 11:30:08 PM
Ann, if you can play the first chord of the piece at a PP level, then you have all th strength you need to play the piece.  I don't know how old you are, but a 10-year old has the strength (maybe not the skill) necessary to play it.  (that reads as sarcastic, but its not)  I say this because even a 10 year old's arm has enough weight to play the chord on each beat, and remember - you should be using your arm weight to play them, not muscles.  I like to think about it in simple terms:  the weight of our body plays the piano, your muscles just aim.  What you need, in fact what we all need is independance, not more strength.  Of course, I haven't heard you play, and I'm not saying hand strength isn't important.  But you get my drift, hopefully.  

Sergei Babayan has a really useful way to lighten up a fast moving leggiero-type piece.  It's in two steps:  First, play a few measures without actually making the keys go down.  Just silently play.  Then, do the same thing, but play the keys just enough to make a sound.  It should be much lighter.  Simple, but it works.  I say this because, if I had to guess, you are playing it with much more sound than you need to, and you saying you need more strength worries me a little.  
I could go on about this etude, but I don't wanna hog the board or seem pretentious.

Now, about the first etude:

HAND STUFF

Geoffrey has it exactly right.  The first etude teaches you how to expand and contract your hand.  

You ever play tennis?  I did as a kid, and one of the things I remember being taught is to move back to the center of the court after you hit the ball.  That way, you aren't standing way over to the right when they hit it to your left side.  You moved to the center to be ready for anything.  

Your hand has a "center court" too.  It's where your hand is in its most relaxed and contracted position.  Everyone's hand fits on the ball of their knees in just this very position.  Unless you have a stump, hehe.  Also, you imagine how your hand would be positioned while you are asleep.  It would be very relaxed and contracted, kinda like a very loose fist, like a runner's fist.

The position I described in the prior two paragraphs is where you want your hand to be as much as possible.

(this stuff is hard to explain in writing, btw, so sorry for being so repetitive)

Let's talk about the first measure:

You play the C.  At that moment, your (right) hand should be spread out, as if you were playing the first 4 notes together.  Then, you play the G, C, and the E.  By the time you reach the E, your hand should be no bigger around than a baseball.  Now, repeat this idea for 10 pages. :D

WRIST STUFF:

First, I'll use the symbol: ^ to denote the height of your wrist.

                                              ^
                               ^             ^
(normal)      ^           ^             ^
C                 G           C             E

See?  Now if you combine the raising of your wrist with the contraction of your hand, it will be no problem.

OTHER STUFF

The F and FF dynamics throughout are talking about a TOTAL, ACCUMULATIVE dynamic of F.  It doesn't mean that EVERY note needs to be forte.  


Ok, that's enough outta me.  

Robert Henry
https://www.roberthenry.org








Offline geoffrey

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #9 on: November 29, 2001, 03:42:41 AM
Dear Ann,
   w/reference to your question regarding chromatic thirds: I'm sure you're well aware that Chopin wrote a lovely etude that addresses this difficulty specifically, ie. op. 25 no.6.  No possibility of hand strain there because your thumb has not placed your hand completely out of position to take the next note. In  chromatic thirds the notes always lie beneath the hand. No danger of twisting.
 If you feel strongly that this etude (op. 10, no 2) is one you must conquer by all means.  But if you want to help your thirds, this is decidedly not the appropriate etude.  In a sense, actually,  you have answered your own question which is to say that the time you spend on the am etude may perhaps be more profitably be spent on op. 25, no. 6.  
 Also, please don't worry about heat.  There is none.  If Robert insists op. 10, no. 1 is indeed an arpeggio I'll be happy to concede the point for it doesn't really matter to me.   If we all agree on everything then this forum will be very boring and - ultimately worthless.  Good luck, Geoff.  

Offline berittohver

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #10 on: November 29, 2001, 10:34:50 AM
It is of utmost importance to retain a good balance when playing with fingers 3, 4 and 5. No stiffness of the arm, and especially the wrist must be gentle and pliable.

Practise the right hand without the chord tones of the right hand, but together with the left hand.

Also practise playing the two lowest tones of the chords (ce, ea, ad, and df in the first bar) staccato, preferably with a rhythmic extension of the sixteenth note that has the chord.

Tempo variation is crucial. When balance is practised, keep a slow tempo and let the left hand control freedom from tension in the right hand and arm. You can practise playing one bar fast, then rest. When that works, play two bars and rest, etc, until you manage to play the whole piece fast.

Good luck!
berit tohver

Offline grelig

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #11 on: December 20, 2001, 01:29:25 PM
hi Ann, I have practiced all Chopin Etudes op.10 (but never played in a recital); I would not really say op.10/2 is more difficult than op.25/11(this latter I also practiced and played as an encore).
Anyhow this is not so important.
For me it was very important, during the practicing with op.10/2 to learn how to play extremely "secco" the chords of right hand (mainly 1st&2nd finger) and, on the contrary, very legato the upper line through "articulation fingers'".
This basically because, if you put accents on the upper line while playing the chords, the etudes will sound very heavy instead of sounding fluent. And because if chords are not very short you won't have time enough to go with your 3rd finger over 4th&5th.
Still I am convinced that the most difficult task of this etude for a pianist is to understand it under the "musical" point of wiev.
good luck.

Offline cleoc

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #12 on: July 11, 2002, 01:12:57 PM
>Robert Henry

I don't agree that strength in hand and arm is not important for playing this etude.
Although perfect coordination of the muscles is the vital thing the strength needed to just push down all the keys in a fast tempo is much more that when playing slowly. But when you have developed that strength and  coordination it certainly feels very easy and you can play it as many times as you like without getting tired.

Offline robert_henry

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #13 on: July 12, 2002, 02:59:48 AM
Cleo,

I never say hand strength wasn't important; but it is not the prime requirement for this piece.

You say "the strength needed to push down the keys..."  We obviously have different systems of playing; meaning that I think the proper use of weight is more useful than muscle, especially with regard to this etude.  As I said before, I believe that weight should be used to sound each tone - the muscles simply aim.  If we were talking about Rachmaninoff's 3rd then I would agree that great strength and stamina are more appropriate prerequisites, but this etude asks the pianist for a different kind of technique - that of finesse, leggiero, and delicacy.  I've seen 13 year-old girls play it, and they weren't doing by muscling their way through it.  And if a 13 year-old girl can play it, what does that tell you about strength?  It should suggest to  you that if strength were the most important factor, they wouldn't be able to play it.  The two requirements for THIS piece: flexible wrist and independence of the fingers.  Strength has nothing to do with it.  (This is not universally true, but this line of reasoning applies in many cases.)

Robert Henry

Offline Scarbo

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #14 on: July 15, 2002, 06:23:32 PM
I read somewhere that in Chopin's original version of this Etude, the lower notes in the right hand ( played by the thumb and 2nd finger ) were written as quarter notes and eighth notes, but Chopin later changed them to sixteenth notes, to be played in pizzicato fashion.  Obviously the revised version is easier to execute and requires less finger independence.  But this business of "alternate versions" made me wonder:  were there multiple editions of the Chopin Etudes ( perhaps like the Liszt revisions of his Trancendental Etudes ) ?

In the "Commentary" section of the Paderewski edition of the Etudes, there is a discussion of these differences of Op. 10 #2.  There is no mention of two published versions, but instead they seem to be comparing two different manuscripts.

Does anyone know:  were there any other thematic or harmonic differences between the two versions of Op. 10 #2, and are there any other Etudes which have multiple versions?

Thanks.

Offline martin_s

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #15 on: July 15, 2002, 10:09:42 PM
Yes you're probably right, Scarbo. You want to take a look at the Wiener Urtext Edition (ed. Badura-Skoda) of the op. 10, where they publish a very peculiar version with crotchets instead of semiquaver chords, like you mention. I think it stems from a manuscript owned by the Nydahl Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. Well worth checking out!

Offline stevie

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #16 on: May 31, 2006, 03:21:27 AM
interesting points made here about the importance and reason for learning this piece

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #17 on: June 01, 2006, 02:49:38 AM
There are indeed many interesting points.  I was impressed at Geoffrey's nonconformist view, though I tend to agree that actually this etude does help with chromatic thirds.  But I think he is right in that other etudes have more immediate practical application.

All the muscle and physiology talk is interesting, but I would like to add some tips for those who find practicing with those things in mind more disastrous than helpful.  What is helpful in this piece can be heard in Cortot's recording: the polyphony.  I am not merely talking about the difference in legato and staccato of the right hand, but the melodic content.  Listen to his recording, how he forms a melody with the chords that counters the upper part.  This is actually essential, in my opinion, more essential, to achieving fluidity and flexibility and relaxation or whatever than all of this physiological thinking.  Because when you are thinking actually of melodic, musical content, your hand is simply going to react, like one of those Segways, and it will eventually achieve the flexibility required.  You don't simply practice, legato scale and secco chords, but you practice a legato melody and a secco melody; you don't simply practice having your fingers on the keys or wahtever before you play every single note (I cannot imagine at 140 MM how that is even possible to consider) or which way for God's sake is your wrist going at any given moment (which to me seems more like water torture), you practice getting the right succession of sounds in a melody.  Your body will react.  Sometimes this information is important, when we hit a brick wall, but (and I remind all to read the first sentence of the paragraph) should ultimately be the last resort.

Walter Ramsey

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #18 on: June 01, 2006, 05:19:28 PM
You play the C.  At that moment, your (right) hand should be spread out, as if you were playing the first 4 notes together.  Then, you play the G, C, and the E.  By the time you reach the E, your hand should be no bigger around than a baseball.  Now, repeat this idea for 10 pages. :D

WRIST STUFF:

First, I'll use the symbol: ^ to denote the height of your wrist.

                                               ^
                                ^             ^
(normal)      ^           ^             ^
C                 G           C             E

See?  Now if you combine the raising of your wrist with the contraction of your hand, it will be no problem.

Although I already responded to this before, it was bothering me and I just wanted to add a few words as a conscientious objector.   I really feel this is a misleading and potentially dangerous way to describe this piece, and especially dangerous as a method for practicing this piece.

First of all, if the first thing we are thinking when approaching the piece is,  "your (right) hand should be spread out, as if you were playing the first 4 notes together.  Then, you play the G, C, and the E.  By the time you reach the E, your hand should be no bigger around than a baseball" the musical content and rhythm is going to go by the wayside.  Actually the first thing one should think when beginning is the long line in the left hand, and then the way the right hand fits in rhythmically with that.

If this is a way of describing, after practice, how the piece works, looks, or is played, I also disagree and find it dangerous.  Because I search always for essential knowledge, that is knowledge that is reduced to its essence, and can be applied in many, if not all cases.  As far as making an exact or near exact gradation of the wrist "height" (wasnt there an interesting post where Bernhard said, what exactly is the 'wrist,' and then went on to prove it didn't exist?), I find it completely inessential knowledge, and would then defeat the purpose of this etude!  What I find to be important here physically, is the clockwise and counter-clockwise motion of the elbow.  When the subsequent parts of the arm ("wrist" or fingers or whatever) don't interfere with that motion, they will move as required.  If the right motion is learned, clockwise or counter-clockwise, it is applicable in so many cases (see the fortissimo possible arpeggios in Mephisto Waltz, or the double note arpeggios in Mazeppa, or the trio of the op.110 scherzo, or the cascading arpeggios in Jeux d'eau, etc etc) that it becomes essential, universal knowledge, and helpful. 

I don't want to criticize anyone, but actually I feel that this particular way of describing things is a trend that is actually dangerous to musical and physical health.  Certain essential things should be learned about the way the body and keyboard fit together, and beyond that, the practice is all musical.

For this piece I recommend an in-depth study of the polyphonic possibilities.  Not only with the long melodic line of the LH against the swelling RH, but the polyphony within the RH itself.  Small, melodic cells that jump out of the texture.  Many people disagree with me about this.  However everyone agrees in performance.  For instance, that modulating D# on the first page.  Every one brings it out, and resolves it to the E in the next bar.  Well that is melodic counterpoint.  And such counterpoint can be found all over this etude, for instance the last G of the second bar to the first A of the third to quote one of a thousand examples.

When one has the correct and essential physical approach, and one then practices the piece with an ear towards the melodic gradations in all their forms, I believe that not only will success come but triumph.  Because it is then that we approach the true problem of playing the piano, the control of the touch, the polyphony.  C.P.E. Bach complaiend that Italians of his time merely "strummed" the instrument: meaning, no counterpoint.  Just chords.  But learning to play counterpoint will lead directly to flexibility and fluidity of the hand.  it will also give enhance reflexes, and lead to more creative performances.

Walter Ramsey

Offline mike_lang

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Re: Chopin Op 10 no 2
Reply #19 on: June 02, 2006, 01:47:08 AM
I find that it is helpful to play it as though it were in cut time.  I practice with metronome and set it to the half note pulse - it is easier to make it flow.  Aside from that, I find some of Cortot's techniques helpful, namely the "hold and poke."
 

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