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Fatigue in Schumann (Read 2987 times)

Offline rienzi

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Fatigue in Schumann
« on: April 05, 2010, 11:51:26 AM »
Has anybody any suggestions for limiting the fatigue I feel in the LH when practising the final march from Carnaval. It's caused by the repetitiveness of the LH movement which begins at the "molto piu vivace" section. I try to keep my arms as "loose" as possible when playing these passages but Schumann affords the player little time for recovery before he requires you to do the same thing over again.

piano sheet music of Carnaval


Offline keyboardclass

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #1 on: April 08, 2010, 05:54:34 AM »
Start the bass note with your wrist below the keys, flick the key up and transcribe an arc with your wrist arriving above the chord with your hand hanging from your wrist.  'Drop and flop' on the chords afterwards moving sideways, but roughly below the keys, to start again on the next bass note.   The wrist transcribes a large oval.  Here's a silent video of 'flick' and 'drop and flop' (first come 'scratch' and 'grip').

Offline rienzi

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 11:55:37 AM »
Thanks for this suggestion. This appears to be the technique you would probably apply to the finale of Beethoven Op2/3 (R.H. opening bars) or Liszt 6th Hungarian Rhapsody where the notes which make up the various groups sit close together, but maybe I am mistaken? I can't see how it could be used in the relevant passage in Carnaval due to the rapidity of the lateral movement backwards and forwards across the keyboard in wide spans but I might have misunderstood the advice.
It's just occurred to me to think of the L.H. points of effort in larger rhythmic groupings rather than bar by bar, and the result is not only less strenuous but more musical too.

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 12:11:30 PM »
The shortest distance from bass to chord is not a lateral movement.  The physiology is quite different from the geometry.  The arc you transcribe (like a rainbow) from bass to chord has your hand hanging from the wrist, resting, until you form and execute the chord.  The upside down rainbow on the way back to the bass note makes your wrist/forearm angle acute, which helps relieve stress.  Understand the wrist doesn't go up and over after the bass note but the hand hangs and wrist goes diagonally to the chord (i.e. don't move your hand, move your wrist).  I'd do you a video but haven't got a camera where I am.

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 12:59:42 PM »
Sorry, I was proffering that advice without a piano to try it on.  Now I've had a go on a piono I would do wrist up on every 3rd beat transcribing a kind of upside down rainbow both to and from the bass G.  The important strain reducer will be the up on beat 3 followed by the down on beat 1.

What tempo we talkin?

Offline rienzi

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 01:15:48 PM »
The tempo increases throughout the movement ultimately reaching about mm.100 per bar (i.e. dotted minim). It's the matter of the rapidity of the movement which makes the thought of transcribing any sort of arc incomprehensible to me, as I can only envisage the arm and wrist moving  close to, and parallel with the keys. I think I may be too dim to understand your description of the technique and would really need to watch the movement being demonstrated to understand....one picture equals a thousand words!

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 01:20:20 PM »
Doing it from the Molto piu vivace at 100 per bar is doable (with practice).  You'd be surprised how fast your body can move if you let it.  I'll try and get some sort of pic/video sorted.

Offline rienzi

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #7 on: April 09, 2010, 01:26:54 PM »
Many thanks. I would be interested to watch a demonstration.

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #8 on: April 10, 2010, 10:20:36 AM »
This is what I mean.  Pratice without the low G's first.  I've seen Seymour Fink in his DVD illustrate what I call 'up' or 'flick' as a push into the keys with the elbow - which, in essence, is what it is. 

Do the same with the right hand and it will help bring out the accents.

Offline rienzi

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #9 on: April 10, 2010, 03:59:35 PM »
Ah! I can see how that would work in  standard waltz-metre. The problem is that Schumann writes the LH accompaniment so that the bass note occurs on the 2nd beat of each bar and what would be the third beat in a waltz figuration (the weak, lifting away beat) requires the strongest accent. I don't think I could perform the mental contortions that would be necessary to think across the bar lines (against the natural accents of the treble part) in order to feel that my LH is coming from the bass notes rather than darting down to them having thought of the work in the other way for so long.
I've started to find that shaping the music in larger phrases means that I don't accent each bar so heavily and this helps with the stamina problem.
Many thanks for your suggestions, and the trouble you've taken to make the video as illustration.

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #10 on: April 10, 2010, 04:51:27 PM »
According to my edition (IMSLP) Schumann does indeed mark an accent on the first beat LH from bar 9 of the Molto piu vivace.

Offline rienzi

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #11 on: April 11, 2010, 11:57:02 AM »
Yes that's correct, but therein (for me, at least) lies the problem. If the pedal notes were notated on the strong beat of the bar it would be easy to think in standard waltz figuration ( down, up, up, with the "effort" falling on each lower note) but as the strong accent falls on the second of the two upper chords (what would normally be beat 3 in a waltz) followed by a move down to the bass note this goes against the pianist's natural (or learned) inclinations (as does "Paganini" with its constant contrary motion of the two hands and, to a certain extent "Reconnaissance" with all the thumb repetitions).  In short passages these sort of problems are fairly easy to overcome but Schumann doesn't make things easy by requiring the player to endure them over long stretches of music.

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #12 on: April 11, 2010, 02:32:49 PM »
You really want to reconsider your accent on beat 2, not that the technique would be any different.  The accents from bar 9 onward clearly indicate beat 1 as the main beat.  The slurs in bar 19, 23, 27, 31 and so on do also, as do the sforzandos.  But then maybe I'm missing something.

Offline rienzi

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Re: Fatigue in Schumann
«Reply #13 on: April 12, 2010, 11:22:09 AM »
I don't disagree...I would prefer the accent to fall on the bass notes in order that I can think up from them rather than having to think down from the first beats to the lower notes, but Schumann's conception has rendered the passage as it stands and the difficulty just has to be overcome.
It could be that we are talking at cross-purposes here and might only clear up the matter with a "head-to-head". As, judging from your profile, you appear to be in a different time-zone to myself I think the possibility of requesting a consultation lesson with you is most unlikely, however!
Thanks for your interest on this forum, nonetheless.