Piano Forum



State Of the Art Innovations - The 102 keys Stephen Paulello Grand Piano
For more than 30 years, Stephen Paulello has systematically studied all the components of the piano, including the instruments of previous eras. His unique grand pianos are constructed to order in his workshop-laboratory 100 kms south of Paris, where there is also a recording studio. Piano Street's Patrick Jovell has interviewed Stephen Paulello about his visions and achievements. Read more >>

Topic: Voicing chords technique  (Read 4465 times)

Offline arigatuso

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 36
Voicing chords technique
on: September 30, 2003, 05:26:26 PM
Suppose you want to voice some notes on a chord... is true that you must depress the softer notes earlier? I think this can have a physical explanation.

Also, if you want your left hand sound softly it has to depress keys earlier than right hand? How do you voice chords? How do you do to make a hand sound forte and the other pianisimo at the same and still have both sounds togheter? It is obvious that the hand with the forte sound will reach earlier the bottom of the key. So the softer must start earlier?

sorry my arcaic english.

Thanks, Alejandro.

Offline eddie92099

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1816
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #1 on: September 30, 2003, 05:35:03 PM
I have never thought if it in those terms but I suppose you are right - however I don't think one need evaluate the circumstances so literally (it should be a natural movement rather than something so calculated),
Ed

Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3026
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #2 on: October 01, 2003, 04:22:08 AM
On voicing, NO, ABSOLUTELY INCORRECT!!  Never play the voiced note of a chord even a microsecond earlier or the softer notes earlier.  They must be sounded simultaneoulsy yet distinguished from one another.  When we first start playing piano, we come to view chords as skyscrapers within the notation.  So we view chords vertically.  The more we learn about music and voice leading in particular, we come to understand that chords are really not vertical at all.  Very often it is more useful to view them horizontally.  A good example is when the top notes of the chords (or octaves for that matter) are actually melodic.  What needs to happen is that the 4th and 5ths fingers of the RH have to "voice" those notes to give them prominence, in turn bringing clarity to the melody.  Thus with clarity, the chord no longer sounds like a uniform cluster of tones all at the same volume, leaving no sense of of what's important and what is not.  What is required is that  the voiced note becomes foreground and the other harmonic notes of the chord just background.  The foreground must always prevail through clarity of playing.  In a lesser number of instances, the bottoms are emphasized, primarily using the thumb of the RH.  And, with Rachmaninoff, of course, there are countless instances of "lines" running through the middle of sequential chords.  Middle voices are always the most difficult to execute.  With octaves or chords sounding together in both hands, it's not uncommon to voice the tops in the RH and the bottoms in the LH, although there are exceptions.  

How to do it? Take the RH chords that need to be voiced, and practice with that hand alone, undistracted by the LH.  Play the melodic top notes (assuming top note voicing) alone first as a connected line to get the feel of it.  Add the rest of the chord(s).  Now try to attain the sound of the line as isolated by orienting and weighting the hand slightly toward those notes, playing them firmly and with more emphasis with the 4th and/or 5th fingers, depending on logical fingering in the passage.  Because you have subtly re-choreographed your hand to accomplish this, the other notes will be deemphasized of their own accord.  Repeat many times.  Don't be discouraged by apparent lack of progress.  Voicing skill is not attained overnight; it must be developed.  It might take you two months to even start to become proficient at voicing, requiring endless patience as you work at it.  Once you do get it, you'll play with a new clarity, and your playing will be forever changed.

Voicing is extremely important to master, not just for melody embedded in chords.  The more difficult situation arises whereby you have not chords, but melody and accompaniment  consisting of figuration, both in the RH.  The same technique applies.  You must voice the melody while keeping the accompaniment quietly in the background at all times.

On your second question: Keep the LH (generally harmonic background) softer than the RH (melodic foreground) by proper BALANCING of the hands.  That means simply learning to play the LH mf if the RH is f or the LH pp if the RH is p, etc.  It's basically a matter of coordination and dynamic control that comes with careful practice using a keen ear.  If you are currently playing both hands at equal volume, you have another major problem to work on there.

Never, under any circumstances, play the LH before the RH or vice versa.  That mannerism became popular during the Romantic age in the mid and late 1800s by pianists like Hans von Bulow.  Today it is universally seen as an affectation in playing to be avoided as a taboo.  Instead, maintain proper balance between the hands, be proficient at voicing, and always play the hands TOGETHER in the process.

I hope this helps you.

Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline dinosaurtales

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1138
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #3 on: October 01, 2003, 08:23:00 AM
Rachfan is right.  If you are trying to play, say, the middle note of a triad louder than the others, that finger will have to be raised just a little higher so it can strike the note just a tad faster than the other fingers, which will make the note sound louder, but they all have to hit at the same time.

I'm just sure that made a ton of sense.  Back to my Cramer.
So much music, so little time........

Offline bobo

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 7
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #4 on: October 01, 2003, 10:42:56 AM
The original poster was suggesting that some notes start
their descent prior to the louder ones, not that they
sound at a different time.  It was clear that sounding
in unison was the goal.  All the hammers have to get to the
strike point simultaneously, and the louder ones
have to be going faster.  This requires that
the softer notes start sooner, since they will be going
slower.  One is usually unaware of this nuance because
so much of the detail of technique is achieved nearly unconsciously by listening critically with a specific
sound or effect in mind.

Bobo

Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3026
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #5 on: October 01, 2003, 09:16:15 PM
With me it must be unconscious during the articulation, as you suggest.  In voicing I always think of and focus on the primary objective, that is, voicing the notes to be voiced.  I never think in reverse: depressing the quieter notes first.  I do agree that hammer velocity and volume of sound are due to the acceleration of the key(s) which depends on the amount of force applied.  

Apart from chord voicing, I have noticed the phenomenon for a very long time of balancing both hands in situations where there are competing complexities in both such as polyrhythms being played, like 5 against 4.  The brain automatically tries to bifurcate on the complexities of both hands, resulting in inappropriate equalization of sound in both producing a lack of desired balance.  In those situations, I have indeed found it useful to "think in reverse".  That is, rather than try to "drown out" the LH by increasing volume in the RH, it is wiser and more effective to think of bringing down the LH instead, leaving the RH where it is, thus preserving proper dynamics in the process.  There are several places in the Rachmaninoff Preludes where this technique comes into play and is highly effective.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline arigatuso

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 36
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #6 on: October 02, 2003, 07:51:43 PM
Based on your considerations

It seems to be at least to proper manage voicing of chords.

1. If the two fingers or hand must reach the keys at the same time, then the loud note must start more far from the key (more higher) cause its going faster. (lift your finger a little more than the other to make the note louder).

2. If the two fingers or hands start on the same position (prepared strokes), the louder note must start later, because its going to faster (of course, most of all do it incons..ly!? (inconcientemente).

Any suggested exercises for this?  Try and then tell me please.

Thanks,
Alejandro.

Offline DW

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 3
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #7 on: October 08, 2003, 08:25:18 PM
::) Hmmm. I don't agree with what u say...Why must u make it out to be so complicated...Yr fingers have to go down together and they must all apply the same amount of pressure to get a good pianistic touch. But, this is what I usually do : 1. Play the melody line first,
                                       2. Play the chords evenly, and do with the correct articulation. Some maybe detached, dome legato...
3. Then lean slightly to the side you want and
4. Most importantly, lift up the fingers in the melody line to get a clearer melody.
4. U can soften the other non-melody notes by either controlling'tightening the hand, or
5. relaxing the hand/fingers and stay close to the keyboard. :)

Offline eddie92099

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1816
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #8 on: October 08, 2003, 10:03:40 PM
Quote
Why must u make it out to be so complicated...Yr fingers have to go down together and they must all apply the same amount of pressure to get a good pianistic touch


I suggest you read Charles Rosen's "Piano Notes",
Ed

Offline DW

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 3
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #9 on: October 09, 2003, 04:12:15 PM
:DActually they have to go down together. The reason why it seems that the non melody notes are down earlier, it's becaz you are lifting up the melody fingers. Try it on the table top and u will know wat I mean. It can work the other way also, depending on the kind of sound u want. Man! This dicussion is pissing me off... >:(

Offline eddie92099

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1816
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #10 on: October 09, 2003, 04:38:01 PM
Quote
::) Hmmm. I don't agree with what u say...Why must u make it out to be so complicated...Yr fingers have to go down together and they must all apply the same amount of pressure to get a good pianistic touch


A well voiced chord is most definitely not one where all the notes are played with the same dynamic (i.e. the same pressure). It is in fact quite the opposite. The only way to achieve this aim of different pressures on different keys is by having a louder note/s (which is produced by a faster downward action). Either the 'louder' finger can start higher than the quieter note playing finger, or it can start after the quieter note playing finger (so the strings end up hitting each other at the same time),
Ed

Offline Hmoll

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 881
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #11 on: October 09, 2003, 05:33:35 PM
Quote


A well voiced chord is most definitely not one where all the notes are played with the same dynamic (i.e. the same pressure). It is in fact quite the opposite. The only way to achieve this aim of different pressures on different keys is by having a louder note/s (which is produced by a faster downward action). Either the 'louder' finger can start higher than the quieter note playing finger, or it can start after the quieter note playing finger (so the strings end up hitting each other at the same time),
Ed



Ed's right. The object of voicing chords is so that all the notes do not sound the same. Hint: for a chord with the notes C-Eb-G-C-Eb-G-C (the lowest note being the C below middle C), which notes would you bring out more?

Also, there are a lot of things you can do technically to achieve proper voicing, but ultimately it is you ear that will direct you.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

debussy_lover

  • Guest
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #12 on: October 09, 2003, 08:15:54 PM
If I'm not mistaken, Horowitz was interviewed by Etude magazine in the 1920s on this very subject.  I know I read the article somewhere online, but I can't seem to find the site again...  I'll post the link when I'm able to locate it.

debussy_lover

  • Guest
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #13 on: October 09, 2003, 08:57:51 PM
Found it!  My mistake though - the article is from the June 1928 issue of The Musician.  Here's the link: https://w1.854.telia.com/~u85420275/Articles/1928.htm

Offline sram

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 23
Re: Voicing chords technique
Reply #14 on: October 12, 2003, 08:49:04 AM
the Chinese should still stick to ukelele though
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert