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Topic: piano & forte  (Read 1863 times)

Offline claudio

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piano & forte
on: November 02, 2004, 02:11:11 PM
hi all,

i am 33 and picked up piano lessons some 2 years ago. it is great fun
and i believe to make good progress.

i was wondering if somebody could help me with the following issue:

i am playing a lot of schubert waltzes. some are not too difficult to learn
and have wonderful harmonies.

a major feature schubert uses to make these pieces sound more dancelike
is a frequent change in piano and forte notes. however, i do not seem to
be able to generate a clear distinction in loudness with my fingers.

is there a way to play forte without banging at the keys ;-)

i am certain that to most of you playing piano or forte will be natural and
maybe this is also a problem of too much thinking for one's own good  :P,
but it is realy bothering me. maybe somebody can give good advice.

Offline mound

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Re: piano & forte
Reply #1 on: November 02, 2004, 03:00:58 PM
the difference will come from your arm weight, not your fingers. It's hard to describe in writing. Have you asked your teacher to help you with this? You should never be banging at the keys, you should be dropping the weight of your arms into them, via your fingers. The amount of weight you release into the keys, and the speed at which you do so will bring out the piano vs. forte differences.

try this-

put both hands down on the keyboard, any chords really, say C-Eb-G-Bb (a nice Cm7 chord) in both hands.  The chord is irrelevant, just put your finger tips on the keys in playing position.

Now, w/o moving your fingers up or down, push the keys all the way to the keybed, but don't do this with your hands.  Think of an impulse of energy starting in your shoulders/torso and use the weight of your arms to push the keys down.  Pretend your hands are only stumps if you have to, you're pushing with your arms, not your fingers. Let the chord sound and listen to how intense it is. Then bring the keys up, but keep your finger tips on them. So you are letting the notes go not by lifing your fingers or your hand up off the keys, rather, by releasing that weight from your arms and letting the keys push your fingers back up.

Now, you're going to use just that motion to vary the attack of the chord from ppp[/i] to fff[/i] by thinking only of how much and how quickly you transfer that weight from your torso out your hands. There will never be any kind of "banging on the keys" because your fingers are never leaving the keys. Even at the the fff[/i]  level, there is nothing banging about it, only a much more forefull transfer of weight from your arms into the keybed. 

Experiment with that and see how it works for you!  I hope this explanation of arm weight made sense.  :o

-Paul

Offline claudio

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Re: piano & forte
Reply #2 on: November 03, 2004, 12:46:29 PM
hi paul,

thanx for your suggestions. will discuss this afternoon with my teacher.

i also read a book that mentioned that the piano hammer action is designed
to let the hammer fall back into its initial position as fast as possible. Thus
using force is no use anyway. Forte apparently is generated by the speed
with which you press the respective key.

this forte-business is very difficult and it may not help that i only use a
digital piano...  :-\

anyway. here is another question about finger-weight. i have noticed that
when trying out a new piece, bar, etc. my fingers are very heavy on the
keys; especially when i have to hold one key with one finger and move
other fingers of the same hand.

let's assume i hold an A in my right hand with my ring finger for a half note
and move from C (thumb) to F (index finger) in quarters.

in such cases, it feels as if my ring finger has to carry enormous weight;
its like walking in mud  :P However, only at slow speed and fingers get
lighter when i am able to speed up.

any way to get rid of that?

Offline mound

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Re: piano & forte
Reply #3 on: November 03, 2004, 01:23:48 PM
i also read a book that mentioned that the piano hammer action is designed
to let the hammer fall back into its initial position as fast as possible. Thus
using force is no use anyway. Forte apparently is generated by the speed
with which you press the respective key.

this forte-business is very difficult and it may not help that i only use a
digital piano...  :-\

It's all physics my friend.. it's not generated b y the speed with which you press the key so much as the amount of weight that's behind it..  Definitely have your teacher talk to you about arm weight.. I'm surprised your teacher has never mentioned arm weight (or has he/she?)

I use a digital piano.. It depends on what model you have. What kind are you using? Some are fully weighted, touch sensitive with a graded hammer action that pretty closely mimics a piano. My Roland RD-700 is very nice and I can play with great dynamics on it.

anyway. here is another question about finger-weight. i have noticed that
when trying out a new piece, bar, etc. my fingers are very heavy on the
keys; especially when i have to hold one key with one finger and move
other fingers of the same hand.

I can't say anything specifically, other than remember, it's not finger weight, its arm weight. You have alot of structural and muscular support in your torso and arms.. That should be the core of your playing mechanism with the fingers only as small extensions/feelers. If you have trouble holding your ring finger down while you play with your thumb and index finger, think about having more weight on the right side of your hand. Again, face to face demonstrations with a good teacher is essential for this stuff.. I still get corrected in lessons.

-Paul

Offline claudio

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Re: piano & forte
Reply #4 on: November 03, 2004, 02:42:22 PM
thanks again paul,

"arm weight" seems to be the right phrase and generated lots of
results using the search engine. will definately discuss this with
my teacher.

i am using a kawai cn390. like it a lot.

Offline xvimbi

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Re: piano & forte
Reply #5 on: November 03, 2004, 02:45:08 PM
It's all physics my friend.
Quote
it's not generated b y the speed with which you press the key so much as the amount of weight that's behind it.

Not quite accurate. The loudness of a piano note is - to a good approximation - dictated by the speed (v) of the key when it goes through the escapement barrier. This speed is determined by the force (F) you apply to the key and the resulting acceleration (a) of the key. Now, this force is related to the mass (m) of whatever you use to depress the key. More precisely, it is the momentum (p=m*v) of the playing apparatus that causes the key to be accelerated. So, you can achieve the same loudness with either arm weight and slow speed or pure finger action if you move the finger fast enough. Good pianists can change p and control it throughout the depression of a key by accelerating or decelerating their playing apparatus, which will result, by constant loudness and when using a high-quality piano, in different tone qualities.


Quote
I can't say anything specifically, other than remember, it's not finger weight, its arm weight. You have alot of structural and muscular support in your torso and arms.. That should be the core of your playing mechanism with the fingers only as small extensions/feelers. If you have trouble holding your ring finger down while you play with your thumb and index finger, think about having more weight on the right side of your hand. Again, face to face demonstrations with a good teacher is essential for this stuff.. I still get corrected in lessons.
I recently had a long conversation about this with a young shooting star who is already famous for his Bach. He phrased this very well. He said that the fingers and particularly the fingertips should be seen as an outlet through which your music comes out of your body. Let the music flow out of your fingertips. The fingertips don't do anything, they simply transmit what the whole body generates to the keys. In other words, the entire body must be used to direct the fingertips with the right force at the right time to the right place.
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