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Topic: Accurate indication of Note Strength  (Read 1682 times)

Offline vladimirdounin

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Accurate indication of Note Strength
on: July 14, 2005, 06:05:18 AM
I am used to an accurate indication of note strength in my teaching and performing work. (By this I mean that my students and me always know about each particular note in any sequence of notes or chords, whether one should be played louder or softer in relation to the previous and the following note, and by how much).

After I moved to America I can not find here anybody with whom I can discuss my concerns regarding dynamics, phrasing and articulation of some tricky spots. All the people around me say that they “can think and play only musical phrases” but they have no idea about “musical words” these phrases are made of. The Scientific Acoustic Research Laboratory of Moscow Conservatory does not work at this time, and I do not know which Western software can be used to display or print “The Temperature” – Note Strength (usually, it is in 124 Degrees scale) of all the notes played in some particular recording.
(Fortunately, almost everything in Piano Repertoire is recorded today digitally by “Disklavier” and the best performers, so we have a lot to choose from).

I will be very glad to hear from or about somebody who knows “what musical phrases are made of” and can suggest the best way to perform or to get all this information regarding software.

Today my concern is in the very first bars of “For Elise” by Beethoven. Which notes of the melody E-D#-E-D#-E-B-D-C-A   C-E-A-B  E-G#-B-C should be stressed, played stronger than regular ones (you can mark them with “+” or ”++ “or “+++” depending on Note Strength), which should be softened (mark can be “-“, “- - “ , or “---“)  and which notes are just regular (not stressed, not softened – no mark needed or mark “0” can be used).

For example, E+,  D# , E+++, D#--, E+, B---, D+, C-, A+++ ( I hope that nobody plays like this, of course).

I will appreciate any opinion expressed. Vladimir.

Offline totallyclassics

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #1 on: July 14, 2005, 07:23:43 AM
sorry, i probably can't help, but i just have a comment. It's more of a question overall, rather than a comment.    i'm a new student, well, relatively new. i'm coming back to piano after 25 years, but the exactness of the notes was the reason i quit piano to begin with.

 i came back because i heard my teacher play  the most beautiful improvisation of chopin, all composed from his heart.  i fell in love with chopin, and now after only a year back and only 2 years of piano as a young child,  i have learned to play from my heart.  i've learned to trust my feelings.  technically speaking, i probably sound like a spring chilcken, and i certainly don't play like rubenstein, or biret, or arrau, or YOU for that fact, but my phrasing ability, is well above the level  i should be at considering my years. (feelings/not technical precision!)  i have since gone back to the more appropriate level  books for  more technical training, but not without chopin by my side!  i play fur elise, and moonlight sonata, and i've never given thought to which notes i should play louder or softer one note at a time. i've learned to look at the bigger picture, maybe one phrase at a time.  i guess it is easier at my level to trust my heart more than my fingers!  my fingers don't always work just like i would like for them too! 

 you are a teacher, and far better experienced than i, please   forgive my complete ignorance,  perhaps you can fill me in with the importance of every note being accented just right.   it's  seems so very hard to be perfectly  precise!    it just seems to me it would take the passion out of the music as a whole worrying about each note like that.  what about the whole phrase?   

i think i know what you are going to say. (i could be wrong, please fill me in if that is so)  is it that each note is a word that makes up a phrase and without each word, you can possibly get the gist of the meaning of the phrase, but not the precise meaning? sort of like giving directions. it could make the difference in  turning "right", or turning "left" at the corner.  correct?

 music is very, very ,very important to me, i don't take it lightly.  i am an adult who has grown over the last year to a new level of appreciation for music, and welcome ALL knowledge about it and how it's made.  i love listening to cd's on how  a song is made and what goes into a song, but it just seems a little different to be worrying about preciseness with each stroke.   please fill me in.    just curious, and would love to know more about your teaching method.  i can see how being technically precise would be nice. i am doing hannon, burgmuller,czerny, and tried to find loeschorn per my teacher, but his works are out of print. 

 i welcome your comments.  actually i would be honored.  it certainly sounds like you love music very much too.  down to every last  note!  No note left behind!

 i quess, in wrapping it all up, my actual question is this.  is there anything wrong with trusting your ears and the way you feel when you play a piece of music to lead the way, and isn't that what makes each of our own  interpretations of a piece (which are forever changing as we learn and grow with a piece over many years) so special?

  i Love listening to different pianists play the same song. i love to get their take on the piece.   and each one produces a different feeling.  none of it is wrong, or bad.  it is simply different and  unique.  they each see something different, and each artistically capture the emotions  they believed the composer was trying to convey. 

  just as if we were all to look at a simple  painting of a house, a tree, and a sun, and then  each try to replicate it without looking at the original painting. we would all paint a different painting, putting emphasis on what caught our eye.  all of it unique.  none of it wrong, just different. 

anyway, that's a perspective from an adult who absolutely has made music my life and my family's life, and who wouldn't be the same person with the classical world of music in my life.  it's a newbie's perspective, and yet, i am loving piano way more than i did when i was a kid.....playing from the heart.....trusting the ears, (and a recorder...lol....)

thanks again, sorry i couldn't be of more help with your specific question.  i wish you the best of luck, and again am interested in your method.  very interested.
 

thanks,

tc

Offline pianonut

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #2 on: July 14, 2005, 11:54:20 AM
scientific accoustic research lab!  that sounds interesting.  so many times students don't develop a concept for what they want to hear before they play.  graded dynamics do enter the picture.  the teacher i had previously (graduated from paris conservatory) was very specific about what sounds he wanted created.  first, he would have us check the composer's indications.  then he showed us how to get that dynamic and was very particular to have the indicated dynamic played at a specific place in relation to all the others.  after a while, it was easy to hear if something was ppp or pp or p ...etc. 

it has been a while since i played fur elise, so i am trying to remember the dynamics.  i think it starts out p and crescendos (probably unwritten) and decrescendos in the middle.  if i understand the dynamic markings you put, pp=--- p= -- mp=-  mf=+ f=++ and ff=+++

e-- d#--- e- d#-- e+ b-- d- c-- b--- am i right?  each successive e and d# would have more weight, so to speak.  i am learning to use finger weight and not hand weight as much.  it is more flowing.   also, i am learning to connect phrases more and so i would not make it sound 'choppy' but flowing by keeping hand close to the keys and using a sort of 'papercutter' motion (from the top e) cutting down on e and going back up on d# - but not disconnecting.

lastly, in beethoven, you have a lot of sfz and sudden dynamics.  i used to think that you were supposed to blast them.  then someone said something one day that struck me like a lightening bolt.  in context!  (so if you have a very light passage and suddenly a sfz  or double f - you don't have to use all your strength on it - it's more in relation to the dynamics that are there). 

do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline i_m_robot

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #3 on: July 14, 2005, 02:37:57 PM
Today my concern is in the very first bars of “For Elise” by Beethoven. Which notes of the melody E-D#-E-D#-E-B-D-C-A   C-E-A-B  E-G#-B-C should be stressed, played stronger than regular ones (you can mark them with “+” or ”++ “or “+++” depending on Note Strength), which should be softened (mark can be “-“, “- - “ , or “---“)  and which notes are just regular (not stressed, not softened – no mark needed or mark “0” can be used).

For example, E+,  D# , E+++, D#--, E+, B---, D+, C-, A+++ ( I hope that nobody plays like this, of course).


E-
D#--
E
D#-
E+
B-
D+
C
A++

heheheehehe

 ;D



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Offline xvimbi

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #4 on: July 14, 2005, 02:50:44 PM
For example, E+,  D# , E+++, D#--, E+, B---, D+, C-, A+++ ( I hope that nobody plays like this, of course).

overall p (equivelant to 0)

E--
D#-
E0
D#+
E++
B+
D0
C-
A---

(crescendo to the last E, then decrescendo)

Offline pianonut

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #5 on: July 14, 2005, 03:27:55 PM
ok. xvimbi.  i agree with you, that would sound better.
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline i_m_robot

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #6 on: July 14, 2005, 03:31:36 PM
but selfs version is much funner to play

specially prestissimo
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Offline Floristan

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #7 on: July 14, 2005, 04:15:41 PM
ok. xvimbi. i agree with you, that would sound better.

Oh, I don't know about that, pn!  I like your version better than xvimbi's.  It's just "Fur Elise" after all, and the melody, especially when it is first introduced, should, IMO, be played very simply with a minimal amount of emotion.  The melody itself has plenty of emotion without adding more.  Sure, it needs to be phrased, but not overly phrased.

(I'm so sick of "Fur Elise," but I think a simple, straightforward interpretation can save it from utter unctiousness and total banality.)   ;)

Offline pianonut

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #8 on: July 14, 2005, 04:26:41 PM
yes.  that too.  in fur elise - if you put little emotion into the first motif and more the next time it repeats - it's sort of like whispering in someones ear and then gradually whispering louder/softer/etc.

you wouldn't want to get too loud - so you may be working with 1/2 sizes  pppp ppp pp p 0
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #9 on: July 14, 2005, 05:15:08 PM
Oh, I don't know about that, pn!  I like your version better than xvimbi's.  It's just "Fur Elise" after all, and the melody, especially when it is first introduced, should, IMO, be played very simply with a minimal amount of emotion.  The melody itself has plenty of emotion without adding more.  Sure, it needs to be phrased, but not overly phrased.

(I'm so sick of "Fur Elise," but I think a simple, straightforward interpretation can save it from utter unctiousness and total banality.)   ;)

Just to clarify: the phrase should overall be p, there is only a little bit of a crescendo and decrescendo. Definitely not anything overly "phrased". I also assumed p=0 with the softest note slightly less than p (but not pp), and the loudest note slighly louder than p (but not mp). I agree that this phrase can, and probably should, be played slighltly differently at the different occurrences.

Offline i_m_robot

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Re: Accurate indication of Note Strength
Reply #10 on: July 15, 2005, 02:31:45 AM
Just to clarify: the phrase should overall be p, there is only a little bit of a crescendo and decrescendo. Definitely not anything overly "phrased". I also assumed p=0 with the softest note slightly less than p (but not pp), and the loudest note slighly louder than p (but not mp). I agree that this phrase can, and probably should, be played slighltly differently at the different occurrences.

this need not be said

tis a given

with all your knowledge we understand you only gave a short example ;)
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