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Sightreading: hands together or separate hands? (Read 5750 times)

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #100 on: October 13, 2013, 03:27:36 AM »
If improvisation can not be taken as the norm, then let's at least take transposing on the fly. I find it incredible that people should play something by chopin in c# minor but would not be able to readily transpose that idea into another minor key on the fly. It's almost like being able to recite a work by James Joyce by heart, but not being able to say anything sensible in English. :)

I can see your point, but it's craft rather than art. The art is what you do with it in the original key. I'm impressed by those who transpose well, but you can understand how to convey the message of a piece without being able to tranpose it. Transposition is an intellectual rather than artistic feat. A savant could do it and understand nothing truly musical. It doesn't mean a single note will be phrased any more meaningfully. Someone who is totally incapable of the same mental feat of instant translation could understand how to bring out all the necessary characters without having that skill.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #101 on: October 13, 2013, 03:27:57 AM »
Everyone always seems to associate improvisation with pastiches and potpourris.

For me, it's its own thing. We can incorporate musical vocabulary from a wide variety of musical cultures spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles.... but ultimately, it's really about having your own style.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #102 on: October 13, 2013, 03:34:41 AM »
Everyone always seems to associate improvisation with pastiches and potpourris.

For me, it's its own thing. We can incorporate musical vocabulary from a wide variety of musical cultures spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles.... but ultimately, it's really about having your own style.

To what end other than itself? Where does your own compositional style show up in that Chopin nocturne? It cannot. The only voice a performer puts into Chopin comes from how he voices notes, not in what notes he selects in external improvisation. Obviously a performer who can put his voice into Chopin will also put be putting his voice into improvising. But improvisation his own notes will not give him a voice or a style of sound to put into Chopin if he doesn't have one.

There are some rather trite Horowitz improvisations on youtube clips that show no uniquely personal voice in the choice of notes. But every single note speaks of Horowitz's personality and sound via the way he shapes it. This is where all pianists must be constantly exploring. If they are not, no amount of free improvisation will give them a personal voice when they play composed music.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #103 on: October 13, 2013, 03:37:17 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #104 on: October 13, 2013, 03:41:43 AM »
Remember, please, that I said what I said in the context of SIGHT-READING, which is also a craft. I find it UNACCEPTABLE that people should abuse works of art more than one day to just learn the notes. In that sense, sight-reading is their "real" level.

Improvising (in the sense of arranging existing melodies on the fly, not in the high spiritual sense awesom_o has in mind) and transposing are skills of the same kind.

P.S.: Exploring sound takes a lifetime. :)

Sightreading is a necessary craft though- to meet basic requirements of being a classical pianist. Transposition skills are a hell of a bonus to have, but they are not an inherent necessity for someone who wants to make artistically rewarding results. A good skills to have, but are they really much to do with what makes the sound of an artist? All true artists are going to need basic reading skills for practical reasons, but I have little doubt that many great musical artists have had deficiencies in such areas as transposition without that causing any ill effects on the artistry of their tone-production. Improvisation and transposition skills etc make a good safety net, but they are not inherently compulsory with regard to having the control to deliver the artistic message. They're more for getting out emergency scrapes.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #105 on: October 13, 2013, 03:48:00 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #106 on: October 13, 2013, 04:00:56 AM »
In the light of the OP, how can one sightread effectively what one does not understand or recognize as familiar vocabulary/idioms? I would rather first introduce the vocabulary to the student, and then have it recognized through sightreading. Give them an alberti-bass type of thing for the left hand to play with in all keys and you know yourself how many Classical works of art they'll be able to do at sight. :)


This example makes sense. Of course, it's practically useful to be able to play it in all circumstances- ready for any that will arise in music. But to transpose a whole nocturne from memory (rather than a small unit that would be expected to widely recur in repertoire)? It's a good feat, but it's not essential to either anything practical or to anything interpretation related. As long as the performer hears the colour in the intervals and appreciates what is chromatic and what is harmonic at all times etc, it doesn't matter whether they can perform the task of redistributing them between different combinations of black and white keys. That's just an intellectual exercise, rather than one that will improve the interpretation. Very wise for composers and undoubtedly a skill that's worth developing for general reasons. But essential to optimal interpretation? No. In all too many cases, pianists get too lost in these intellectual exercises, where they should be stopping to think about the interpretative issues of how to colour suspensions and truly differentiate between levels etc. These tricks easily end up replacing the search for the things that define a pianist's actual sound- leaving facility but still no sign of a voice. It's the voice that defines artistic success or lack of. The skill to transpose at the drop of a hat means nothing if you don't know how to make things sound in the original key.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #107 on: October 13, 2013, 04:05:55 AM »
To what end other than itself? Where does your own compositional style show up in that Chopin nocturne?

Once you get to a highly advanced level musically and technically, improvisation becomes one of the most efficient methods of study.
I never practice repertoire, it is always a rehearsal. And the repertoire is extremely demanding, and rehearsals infrequent.

Improvisation is like an everything-in-one training session. It's everything coming together at once.... all the theory, all the technique, all the music. Once you're really ready for it, it becomes irresistible.

I play quite a few of Chopin Nocturnes. But I always seek to understand his work from the point of view of a composer, rather than a player. I feel very close to him spiritually, as I have spent so much of my life in his oeuvre.  His Etudes I play with the utmost respect, so for me that means I play them just the way I would want them to be played if I had written them myself.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #108 on: October 13, 2013, 04:13:25 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #109 on: October 14, 2013, 10:38:47 PM »
Maybe I didn't express my thoughts clearly enough. I did not mean transpose the whole work into another key; that would be something like a circus act. Just take a motive + harmony and play with it in just about any key. This seems quite natural to me. Most importantly: one should have enough hand memory to be able to take the required new positions on the fly, which has a lot to do with sightreading. :)

sorry, I'm totally with you now. I see advanced transposition of long stretches as primarily a stunt. A useful stunt to be capable of but not inherently linked to interpretation. That said, I totally agree that standard figuration  should be learned in all keys. In a way,  I see something behind advanced transpositions too but it can be learned as a pure mental exercise by any lifeless performer. If you observe the context of suspensions better by transposition and understand how to make a chromatic note speak, then transposing may help ensure you appreciate the important moments. However, a good interpretation can occur merely by getting a "feel"  for what notes count in that key, without necessarily transposing those moments into other keys. If you can't feel tension in one key then you probably won't appreciate it any differently in an alternative key. If you already appreciate it in one key, you don't need to be able to transpose it to bring out the interest.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #110 on: October 15, 2013, 03:29:01 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #111 on: October 15, 2013, 03:40:16 AM »
When you practise some of Chopin's passages in symmetrical inversion, you may get quotes of works by Beethoven. :)

Given Chopin's aversion to Beethoven, that'sa the equivalent of playing a Death Metal band backwards and getting the Hallelujah Chorus.   :o
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #112 on: October 15, 2013, 04:09:27 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #113 on: October 15, 2013, 04:37:33 AM »
Chopin's Favorite Beethoven

Interesting article. I must say I hadn't noticed the influence. Makes sense, though.

Loved the last sentence - "Chopin on Beethoven: grudging in words; admiring in deeds". Sums up Chopin in so many ways.

Of course, it still depends on what quotes you get in symmetrical inversion. If it's the 9th, I'm sticking to my original post.  ;)
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant