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Topic: Chromatic scale technique.  (Read 7006 times)

Offline mosis

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Chromatic scale technique.
on: September 29, 2004, 06:10:53 AM
The chromatic scale at the end of the Grave section in the Pathetique sonata is killing me. I can hardly ever get it. My teacher said to practice slowly and gradually increase tempo, but that doesn't seem to be helping me very much.

Standard fingering is being used.

Offline allchopin

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #1 on: September 29, 2004, 06:16:20 AM
Go really fast..

No really, there's not much to it besides slow practice and then playing it as fast as you can.  Max out, ltrengthen your chops.
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Offline Piazzo22

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #2 on: September 29, 2004, 06:33:48 AM
Quote
The chromatic scale at the end of the Grave section in the Pathetique sonata is killing me. I can hardly ever get it. My teacher said to practice slowly and gradually increase tempo, but that doesn't seem to be helping me very much.

Standard fingering is being used.


Don´t forget to practice only the chromatic scale´s hand. Your brain has to automatize that movement.
August Förster (Löbau) owner.

Offline CC

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #3 on: September 29, 2004, 06:55:03 AM
There is an amazingly simple trick to solving your problem. First, practice the chromatic scale, up and down, just the simple chromatic scale, normal fingering, starting from C, 2 to 4 octaves, ending in C.  You will find this to be quite easy, especially if you had diligently practiced it before like you should have.  If not, start NOW.  Do it at all speeds, and make it as perfect as you can.  You should find this quite easy, although it is almost identical to your "impossible" run.

The only reason this is difficult is that (as LVB is very good at doing), there is extra musical content and it starts and ends in weird places. That is what is confusing your brain. Therefore, at first, ignore the musical dialog and, after perfecting your "normal" chromatic scale, do the LVB scale as if it is part of your simple chromatic scale and you will suddenly find it just as easy! Once you build up your confidence that you can do it, put the musical thematic material back in.
C.C.Chang; my home page:

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Offline squinchy

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #4 on: October 01, 2004, 01:01:56 AM
How funny. We're having the same trouble on the same section of the same piece at the same time.

I have a question that piggybacks onto this: Since all the recordings I listen to of this sonata makes the run sound like a glissando, should the arm and hand pull leftwards, gently, as if it were doing (?) a glissando while 'wiggling' fingers 1/2/3?
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Offline mosis

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #5 on: October 02, 2004, 07:28:54 AM
Hah, that is quite funny!

Also, what are your thoughts on using the pedal in this passage? Every recording I have heard contains it, but my teacher STRICTLY FORBIDS it here and in the cadenza near the beginning.

Offline CC

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #6 on: October 02, 2004, 08:22:39 AM
I vote for no pedal.  In the end, it will come out better. Besides, LVB had clear ideas of when the pedal was needed (as in 1st movement of moonlight), and we need it for those times to produce the desired contrast.
C.C.Chang; my home page:

 https://www.pianopractice.org/

Offline squinchy

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #7 on: October 03, 2004, 01:41:39 AM
I don't use any pedal during the run, except maybe a smidge at the fermata'd A flat at the end. I do use pedal on the repeated A flats, but only on the second two where the left hands has chords. My teacher marked in to use it on the G-E flat right before the run, but I don't really see the point of it, so I don't do it.
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Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #8 on: October 03, 2004, 02:21:57 AM
When I play that Sonata, I use almost no pedal in the whole grave section, and then none in the glissando.  It gives it a very serious, clear-cut air.  Then, in the Allegro, one can use some more pedal for contrast (but still not a lot, in general I don't think Beethoven responds well to heavy pedalling).

Offline Max

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #9 on: October 04, 2004, 07:37:13 PM
I use a smidgen of pedal on the bass notes (on the bit on the third page...I don't play it much so I don't know the name,heh). Just to accuentuate them a little without drowning everything else out.

Offline jlh

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #10 on: October 08, 2004, 10:36:43 AM
Yes, you should start by going slow and then going faster, but there IS some in-between ground that deserves mention.

First, you can do the scale in repeated rhythms, such as:
1 long 1 short; 1 short 1 long;
1 long 2 short; 2 short 1 long;
1 long 3 short (triplet); 3 short (triplet) 1 long;
Triplets (accent on first note in pattern);
4 short (accent on first note in pattern);
etc.

All long notes should be LONG (allow yourself time to setup your hand for the short notes) and all short notes should be as fast as possible.  Using rhythms in this way will make your hand stop for long notes on a different key each time and there will not be any weak parts in the passage.

You can also play the passage in an exaggerated staccato manner (very helpful) and then an exaggerated legato manner.  

Another thing that's helpful, and I sometimes do this for scales when they're up to speed, is to play it a few times with a crescendo, and then a few times with a dimenuendo.  This helps develop or maintain control.

As far as pedal is concerned, if you respect the judgement of your teacher, do the pedaling like they say.  Pedaling is often a tricky thing because people have a tendency to use too much -- usually unintentionally, but nevertheless too much.  

Sometimes less pedal doesn't mean "don't press the pedal down so often", but "don't press the pedal down so far".  It is possible to barely touch the pedal so that the dampers are only half off the strings -- enough to add overtones and such, but not enough to muddy the sound.  Use your best judgement on this, but if you're unsure, trust your teacher.  My personal suggestion for this passage is to use as little pedal as possible or none at all.
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Offline Motrax

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #11 on: October 08, 2004, 03:59:24 PM
For fast chromatics, I play the black keys with flat fingers for most of the passage, and then I use curved fingers at the end. I use curved fingers at the end because you get more control over how you end your chromatic, so you can a clearer sound the moment you end the run. Using flat fingers on the black keys allows you to keep your thumb almost rigid and only bent in one direction, so it takes less work to hit the keys with it. (Question to CC - is this similar to the TO method? I'd never seen it used, so aside from your written descriptions, I'm not sure what it's supposed to look like) I use a lot of wrist movement because when I transfer to the next set of black keys (i.e., from Bb to B to C to C#), I revert to curved fingers.

However, this is a method which developed on it's own, it feels natural to me, and it produces beautiful, glissando-like chromatics. It's not necessarily the best method for anyone else, though, but it's something to try if you've already been having difficulty with fast curved-finger chromatics. And I only use this method in long chromatic passages - it is not needed for quick runs, in my own experience.

Mentally, I always "aim" for the top note. Basically, I tell myself that I want to hit a single note, but my hand is two octaves over there, so the only way I can get to that note is to play all this junk in between in as little time as possible (when there isn't a strict beat to set the speed).

Good luck!

Motrax
"I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play." --  Artur Schnabel, after being asked for the secret of piano playing.

Offline mosis

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #12 on: October 09, 2004, 06:05:15 AM
Chang's method isn't really doing much for me, as I can't get the technique of the chromatic scale fast enough, regardless of musicality.

I'm gonna try that alternate rhythm method. I thought that was just for evenness of scales, though.

Offline jlh

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #13 on: October 09, 2004, 06:22:46 AM
Well, yeah it will help with evenness of scales, but also with increasing tempo, as you're going fast for only a few notes at a time.  Your muscles save this info as part of your "reflex arc" and then when you put the scale in context it will be an almost automatic response.
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                 ___/\___
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LOL "”””””””\         [ ] \
  L              \_________)
                 ___I___I___/

Offline CC

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Re: Chromatic scale technique.
Reply #14 on: October 10, 2004, 02:45:52 AM
Quote
Chang's method isn't really doing much for me, as I can't get the technique of the chromatic scale fast enough, regardless of musicality.



You are right. My suggestion was simple "3131321" type chromatic scale which was intended to  eliminate the confusion, not to increase speed.  The first 6 notes, before going into the normal chromatic fingering are 321321 which lets you start faster and when you start faster, you can usually keep going faster.  However, this fingering does have a speed limit because of the large number of conjunctions.  You might have to use other fingers to increase speed but I get so confused that its too risky and I can't concentrate on the music.  What do others do?  do they just practice to play faster, or use other fingers to help? Parallel sets are no help here because half the notes are conjunctions!

In aswer to another poster, if you are playing fast chromatic, you must be using some type of TO.
C.C.Chang; my home page:

 https://www.pianopractice.org/
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