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Topic: Chopin 10/8 and 25/1  (Read 3615 times)

Offline lolstein

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Chopin 10/8 and 25/1
on: April 07, 2010, 10:38:20 PM
Just a couple of questions about these etudes. Firstly, 10/8: in the RH upward runs - specifically the ascending f-g-a-c x4 - should I employ thumb-under (between a and c) or not? I've heard conflicting opinions on this, with some suggesting quickly shifting the whole hand laterally ('thumb over'). With the former, I'm unable to pull it off smoothly at full speed and the thumb reaching under doesn't quite make it without some jerky/injury-inducing wrist movement (I have relatively small hands if that counts for anything). The latter sounds pretty uneven (i.e. the jump the hand has to make between the a and c) at any tempo. Also, my right arm tightens up pretty quickly, like lactic acid build-up in the quads after a very long sprint. It doesn't recover quickly (notwithstanding I continue playing anyway) - does risk of injury sound likely?

As for 25/1, I'm not sure whether I should largely be using finger or arm movement to make the stretches. Fingers have to become flat to stretch out, unless I make significant lateral movement - is it acceptable for it to sound non-legato without pedal?

Apologies if these are elementary questions, I don't have a teacher to ask
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Offline keyboardclass

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Re: Chopin 10/8 and 25/1
Reply #1 on: April 08, 2010, 05:29:53 AM
Chopin was happy for passages to sound nonlegato without pedal especially arpeggios where pedalling means there's no reason to join the thumb to finger 3 or 4..  There's no stretching in op25 no 1.   

Offline stevebob

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Re: Chopin 10/8 and 25/1
Reply #2 on: April 08, 2010, 01:02:46 PM
Just a couple of questions about these etudes. Firstly, 10/8: in the RH upward runs - specifically the ascending f-g-a-c x4 - should I employ thumb-under (between a and c) or not? I've heard conflicting opinions on this, with some suggesting quickly shifting the whole hand laterally ('thumb over'). With the former, I'm unable to pull it off smoothly at full speed and the thumb reaching under doesn't quite make it without some jerky/injury-inducing wrist movement (I have relatively small hands if that counts for anything). The latter sounds pretty uneven (i.e. the jump the hand has to make between the a and c) at any tempo.

This seems a clear-cut case where "thumb over" is the only viable solution, and one that would be used instinctively even by pianists who are unaware of the pedagogical distinction between thumb-under and so-called thumb-over.

By "uneven," I'm not sure whether you mean a disconnect (i.e., a gap in the legato) between A and C or the tendency to give an unwanted dynamic accent to the C by the thumb when repositioned.  If the former, don't worry about it; it won't be perceptible when played at tempo.  If the latter, consider it one of the technical challenges of the etude not to accentuate such notes when your hand must be repositioned between the primary beats.

Quote
Also, my right arm tightens up pretty quickly, like lactic acid build-up in the quads after a very long sprint. It doesn't recover quickly (notwithstanding I continue playing anyway) - does risk of injury sound likely?

Are you experiencing this using thumb-under or thumb-over?  Or both ways?  It's not good in any case, though I have no idea whether the risk of injury is likely or remote.
What passes you ain't for you.

Offline yoshu

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Re: Chopin 10/8 and 25/1
Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 10:12:45 PM
I've played the 25/1 many times in public performances. I was taught to play it with WRIST movement rather than finger stretching or arm waving about. The wrist bending laterally (horizontally) side to side will give you more than enough span for most of the spreads.

As a quick experiment, place your third finger on a note and twist your wrist sideways (NOT up/down) and see where your little finger and thumb can reach. So this is just using that middle finger as a static pivot. Now the stretch can be even larger in reality when playing this piece since the middle finger isn't static. It's moving with the chords. You might have to experiment a bit, but in principle the way to play it is using the wrist movement and freeing your arm and fingers (elbow moves in and out, but as an effect of the wrist movement).

Of course the bass notes you will have to jump for, but the pedal will help with that. The wrist movement will let you, in this case, reach and then 'jump' a smaller distance.

Hope this makes sense!

Offline yoshu

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Re: Chopin 10/8 and 25/1
Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 10:22:39 PM
Also, regarding the previous post about injury with lactic acid build-up...

The danger, I feel, is not with the muscles tiring and feeling achy. It's more to do with the habit of tensing. You want to consciously try to relax as much as possible. When playing something that's strenuous - like the 10/5 I play - it's inevitable that you get a little muscle ache, especially if you push yourself to play faster. However, that achy feeling is fine to play through as long as you're not excessively tensing your muscles at the same time.

The same principle applies is the following: people with arterial disease gets cramps in their legs when walking uphill/upstairs - one of the conservative management of such a patient is to go through 'supervised exercise' so that they are encouraged to walk and push through that 'ache' barrier. Of course, not overdoing it (hence the supervised), but what this whole process does is to build up tolerance in the muscles for the strenuous activity and also help build collateral blood vessels to deal with the extra oxygen demand the muscles are crying out for. If practising hours everyday to the point of aching in the arms, perhaps there is a similar effect to this.

So I feel, no harm as long as you don't overdo it and you don't have a habit of tensing up as a response. Interesting to hear others' views on this too

Offline brogers70

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Re: Chopin 10/8 and 25/1
Reply #5 on: April 20, 2010, 06:49:35 AM
"The same principle applies is the following: people with arterial disease gets cramps in their legs when walking uphill/upstairs - one of the conservative management of such a patient is to go through 'supervised exercise' so that they are encouraged to walk and push through that 'ache' barrier. Of course, not overdoing it (hence the supervised), but what this whole process does is to build up tolerance in the muscles for the strenuous activity and also help build collateral blood vessels to deal with the extra oxygen demand the muscles are crying out for. If practising hours everyday to the point of aching in the arms, perhaps there is a similar effect to this.

So I feel, no harm as long as you don't overdo it and you don't have a habit of tensing up as a response. Interesting to hear others' views on this too"

I think about eating with chopsticks. When I was first learning, I dropped everything, of course. But worse than that, my hands would get all tight and cramped and painful within a minute of picking them up. As I got better at using them, the cramping and pain went away. But it wasn't because the muscles got stronger, it was because I stopped using them inefficiently and just relaxed. Now I could chopstick peanuts from one jar to another for hours on end without any lactic acid buildup in my hands.

I think that to a great extent when you "practice through the ache" and finally can play the long, fast passage comfortably it is not that you've developed strength or endurance in your muscles, but that you've learned, consciously or unconsciously, to make more efficient, relaxed movements.
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