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How to make thick chords sound right? (Read 1527 times)

Offline whitewing95

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How to make thick chords sound right?
« on: July 12, 2016, 03:49:21 AM »
I'm learning Debussy - Clair de lune and I can't make those 7 notes chords sound right (starting from the second sheet music at the 15th measure)

any tips for practicing this part of the piece
thank you

Offline dogperson

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #1 on: July 12, 2016, 11:27:31 AM »
If you could clarify about what doesn't sound right, you can get more specific help.  But here are a few suggestions:
-  Look carefully at the rhythm of this section:  triplets followed by eights.  Although there can certainly be some mild rubato, you want to honor the rhythm
- Be sure you voice the top note of the right hand by leaning slightly onto that note when you play the chord.
- Sostenuto pedal:  There is a great deal of controversy about whether to use the sostenuto pedal (or not) in this section.  After you get the chords correct, try it and see what you think to sustain the bass in this section.

Paul Barton has a series of video tutorials about playing this





Offline whitewing95

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #2 on: July 13, 2016, 01:23:50 AM »
Thank you so much for your reply. what I meant is that the chord sounds either too loud or too soft ( the pitch of the sound).

Offline dogperson

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #3 on: July 13, 2016, 01:35:48 AM »
Thank you so much for your reply. what I meant is that the chord sounds either too loud or too soft ( the pitch of the sound).

Try practicing just the top two notes of the chord until you get the sound that you want in terms of dynamics... then add notes to the chord, one at a time.  Practice REALLY slow so that you get what you want without worrying about speed.   Again, make sure the top note gets slight finger emphasis: you might try playing just that top note so that your ears hear what needs to be retained when the chord is played.


Offline whitewing95

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #4 on: July 13, 2016, 04:48:40 AM »
Try practicing just the top two notes of the chord until you get the sound that you want in terms of dynamics... then add notes to the chord, one at a time.  Practice REALLY slow so that you get what you want without worrying about speed.   Again, make sure the top note gets slight finger emphasis: you might try playing just that top note so that your ears hear what needs to be retained when the chord is played.



I will try practicing this . thanks again for the advice .

Offline louispodesta

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #5 on: July 15, 2016, 11:16:28 PM »
I'm learning Debussy - Clair de lune and I can't make those 7 notes chords sound right (starting from the second sheet music at the 15th measure)

any tips for practicing this part of the piece
thank you
The music you are referring to was not played in a block chord fashion by the composer who wrote it.  The common performance practice of the 19th and early 20th century was as follows:

1)  Regardless of the score, block chords were regularly arpeggiated/rolled (when appropriate) in both hands.  Debussy was no different than any other composer/pianist who matriculated at the Paris Conservatory at this time.

2)  Here at two links, (one of which is the composer playing his own music) which shows you that these chords are to be softly rolled (quick roll, not a wide roll), when played.



https://www.amazon.com/Claude-Debussy-Composer-Pianist-Collection/dp/B00005IC03



Offline chopinlover01

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #6 on: July 16, 2016, 12:30:34 AM »
1)  Regardless of the score, block chords were regularly arpeggiated/rolled (when appropriate) in both hands.  Debussy was no different than any other composer/pianist who matriculated at the Paris Conservatory at this time.

How anyone continues to take you seriously is beyond me.

@OP your problem lies in voicing. To help fix this, practice playing all the voices except the ones you want to bring out staccato and pp. Play the voice(s) you want to bring out ff and legato. You won't actually play it this way, but it helps train your hand to bring out certain lines (this can even be used to bring out lines in the middle if you so desire).
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Offline vaniii

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #7 on: July 16, 2016, 02:43:59 AM »
How anyone continues to take you seriously is beyond me.

@OP your problem lies in voicing. To help fix this, practice playing all the voices except the ones you want to bring out staccato and pp. Play the voice(s) you want to bring out ff and legato. You won't actually play it this way, but it helps train your hand to bring out certain lines (this can even be used to bring out lines in the middle if you so desire).

Seconded, the problem here is chordal voicing.

Louis is not wrong, but he is not right; Yes, Debussy may have rolled his chords, however to do so on all of them looses the effect, and becomes stale after the fourth encounter.

Offline mrcreosote

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #8 on: July 17, 2016, 08:39:15 PM »
Thank you so much for your reply. what I meant is that the chord sounds either too loud or too soft ( the pitch of the sound).

These are probably stupid comments:

I don't understand your use of the word pitch.  Pitch is fixed on a piano.

Sounds too loud or too soft could possibly imply not enough arm weight?  trying to play softly w/o arm weight?

Offline louispodesta

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #9 on: July 17, 2016, 11:09:37 PM »
How anyone continues to take you seriously is beyond me.

@OP your problem lies in voicing. To help fix this, practice playing all the voices except the ones you want to bring out staccato and pp. Play the voice(s) you want to bring out ff and legato. You won't actually play it this way, but it helps train your hand to bring out certain lines (this can even be used to bring out lines in the middle if you so desire).
Specific to the OP, I proffer a  particular link, (which has aspects that are far to fast in later sections), but do accurately reflect the true wishes of the composer in regards the OP's initial inquiry:


And, if you listen very carefully (or have the ability to louden the sound) all of the chords (in the OP's questioning section) are both very gently rolled, and then also VOICED!

But, "Chopinlover1," why don't you tell the world who taught this piece to the performer?

Any Wikipedia search on this particular very famous Concert Pianist, will reveal the answer.

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #10 on: July 17, 2016, 11:41:41 PM »
Had the performer not voiced his chords, as it appears the OP is not doing well,
Specific to the OP, I proffer a  particular link, (which has aspects that are far to fast in later sections), but do accurately reflect the true wishes of the composer in regards the OP's initial inquiry:

And you know Debussy's wishes how, exactly? Do tell.
Quote
And, if you listen very carefully (or have the ability to louden the sound) all of the chords (in the OP's questioning section) are both very gently rolled, and then also VOICED!
Not all of them. A few here and there are for effect, but it's not necessary to the tone quality, which is what the OP posted about; read, "How to make thick chords sound right?"
Quote
But, "Chopinlover1," why don't you tell the world who taught this piece to the performer?
While I don't know who "Chopinlover1" is, given that the 01 is symbolic not of the quantity of Chopin lovers, but of a year, your point has little comprehension to it.
Who taught the piece (Clair de Lune) to the performer (Copeland)? Presumably one of his many teachers: Calixa Lavallée, Carl Baermann, Giuseppe Buonamici, or Harold Bauer.
Quote
Any Wikipedia search on this particular very famous Concert Pianist, will reveal the answer.
It will also reveal that you don't know what you're talking about, given that Copeland gave his first Debussy recital in 1904, but did not meet Debussy until 1911.

With respect, know that of which you speak, please.
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Offline louispodesta

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #11 on: July 18, 2016, 12:23:21 AM »
Re:  Chopinlover01:

My composer/pianist friend, Ramon Sender (ramonsender@comcast.net) is the only living student of George Copeland.  George Copeland was the only American to have ever studied under Claude Debussy.

Therefore, I do not have to explain myself to you or a suggested recording.

And, hopefully you will contact Ramon, and then report back to us!

Offline dogperson

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #12 on: July 18, 2016, 01:01:33 AM »
Re:  Chopinlover01:

My composer/pianist friend, Ramon Sender (ramonsender@comcast.net) is the only living student of George Copeland.  George Copeland was the only American to have ever studied under Claude Debussy.

Therefore, I do not have to explain myself to you or a suggested recording.

And, hopefully you will contact Ramon, and then report back to us!

Hi Louis:

I am not hearing that all chords were rolled in the section questioned by the OP.  Do you?  In addition, I don't believe that quickly rolling the chords addresses the problems in the original post: that he is unable to make the chords voice properly... seems this is a skill problem that needs to be learned, and would be present whether the chords were played as a block or quickly rolled.  If a pianist has problems with voicing block chords would that be solved with quickly rolling them?  It seems it would be adding a new problem 'how to quickly roll chords' to an existing one 'how to voice chords'.

Yes, Copeland did study with Debussy for a few months in 1911 and recorded Clair de Lune in 1933...  but I don't see how rolling or not rolling chords is an answer to someone who needs to develop general skills.  Let me know what I am missing in this exchange.

Offline ajlongspiano

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #13 on: July 18, 2016, 01:10:17 AM »
*patrick star voice* We should take our debate, and PUSH IT somewhere else!

Best,

AJ 

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #14 on: July 18, 2016, 02:55:15 AM »
Re:  Chopinlover01:

My composer/pianist friend, Ramon Sender (ramonsender@comcast.net) is the only living student of George Copeland.  George Copeland was the only American to have ever studied under Claude Debussy.

Therefore, I do not have to explain myself to you or a suggested recording.

And, hopefully you will contact Ramon, and then report back to us!

"There's a guy who was taught by him therefore I'm not responsible for posting all kinds of misinformation and leading people on with said misinformation"

Riiight...
And, to top it off, you try to end the debate by saying "contact this guy and get back to us!".
Ten bucks says the email is either fake, or you don't have authorization to post it.
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Offline louispodesta

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #15 on: July 19, 2016, 11:37:16 PM »
"There's a guy who was taught by him therefore I'm not responsible for posting all kinds of misinformation and leading people on with said misinformation"

Riiight...
And, to top it off, you try to end the debate by saying "contact this guy and get back to us!".
Ten bucks says the email is either fake, or you don't have authorization to post it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Copeland

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramon_Sender

And, I really hope you are stupid enough to contact him because then you will be speaking to a man who learned this piece from a student of the composer.

A man whose teacher (George Copeland) suggested that he study composition under George Elliot, which he did (counterpoint at the age of 15).

Have a nice day!

Offline chopinlover01

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #16 on: July 20, 2016, 03:18:47 AM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Copeland

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramon_Sender
I don't think you read my post, did you?
Your logic:
"There's a guy who was taught by him therefore I'm not responsible for posting all kinds of misinformation and leading people on with said misinformation"

Quote
And, I really hope you are stupid enough to contact him because then you will be speaking to a man who learned this piece from a student of the composer.

A man whose teacher (George Copeland) suggested that he study composition under George Elliot, which he did (counterpoint at the age of 15).

Have a nice day!

So, 2nd generation student of Debussy. And this man therefore plays it exactly right, as the composer intended, to say nothing of what would work best for the OP?
Louis, you've defended yourself well before, but this is embarrassing to read from you.
The reason chords are rolled is not to voice the chords (or make them "sound right"), it is to give an effect of delicateness one on chord for dramatic effect.
You sell yourself as an expert on such matters, but in reality the most anyone could have heard of your playing is a muddy and poorly played 4 bars of a Brahms intermezzo (which is in a video in which you claim that piano teachers are at fault).
If you wish to call me stupid, by all means do so. But at least have your own ducks in a row before you do.
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Offline louispodesta

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #17 on: July 20, 2016, 11:20:21 PM »
I play this piece, and unlike others, I both voice and arpeggiate the chords in the "B" section.  Other so-called Debussy specialists mimic recordings of pianists with no direct ties to the composer.

The point is that you cannot cite one single human being who is a living student/composer of the composer himself that was selected by same to premier several of his works.

I can, and I spoke to him today!

Offline dogperson

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #18 on: July 21, 2016, 12:12:11 AM »
I play this piece, and unlike others, I both voice and arpeggiate the chords in the "B" section.  Other so-called Debussy specialists mimic recordings of pianists with no direct ties to the composer.

The point is that you cannot cite one single human being who is a living student/composer of the composer himself that was selected by same to premier several of his works.

I can, and I spoke to him today!


As a huge Debussy fan, I would really like to know what instructions George Copeland gave his students regarding playing chords in Debussy.  Therefore, I wrote Mr. Sender asking if he could take a few minutes to provide that information... and no reply.  I am hopeful that I will still receive some feedback. Even if not a direct link, it is an important one for information. 

 I am not finding a source for ' George Copeland was selected to premier Debussy's work?'  This is certainly a new topic to me, but from what I read, George Copeland did premier Debussy, but did not meet the composer until many years later, at which point he received a few months of lessons.   I am not diminishing how special this is..... but ..... 

It would be a shame if this direct link and the information from it were lost.   It is a shame that many composers taught students but there is no written communication about the training.  Maybe they just didn't realize how very special that training was.  Debussy, from what I have read, was very difficult to please, and his instructions were sometimes contradictory.  Fascinating composer (at least to me)


Offline iansinclair

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #19 on: July 21, 2016, 12:28:50 AM »
I had thought not to enter this debate, but I would like to make one comment -- or rather to pass along a comment.

A noted French teacher, from whom I had the privilege of taking a few master classes, commented with regard to some modern French organ music, that the particular composer in question played his piece this way (and proceeded to demonstrate, spectacularly) but that I should take the piece and make it my own.  I thought then, being in some awe of this particular teacher, that this must be very good advice.  Perhaps more to the point, nothing I've learned, heard, or played in the succeeding five decades or so has caused me to change my mind.

The composer writes the music.  He or she may have some rather definite ideas as to how he or she would perform it, but the artist who does perform it, assuming that he or she is an artist and not an automaton, is wise to find their own way through the music, so that it says not only what the composer had to say, but what they have to say.

Sometimes this may mean not playing much -- or any -- of a particular composer.  You just don't speak the same language at all.  I, for example, play very little Debussy.  On the other hand, I play a good deal of Chopin.  I find I can make wonderful music with Bach on an organ -- but not on a piano or harpsichord.  And so on.
Ian

Offline dogperson

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #20 on: July 21, 2016, 12:52:17 AM »
@Ian:
If I read your email correctly, it seems you  are making a leap in reasoning that is not there... wanting some information about how a  composer intended his music to be  played   should not lead to an assumption of playing like an automaton.  The   combination is composer intent and part of yourself in the music.   Therefore, composer intent is an important part... but not the only part to really playing great music.   I play Debussy and Chopin because they speak to me... and omit other composers that do not...   no matter how much I appreciate their music played by someone else. 

Look at the Chopin competition -- those who really shine are faithful to the intent of Chopin.. but don't stop until there is part of themselves in the music.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #21 on: July 21, 2016, 01:36:41 AM »
@Ian:
If I read your email correctly, it seems you  are making a leap in reasoning that is not there... wanting some information about how a  composer intended his music to be  played   should not lead to an assumption of playing like an automaton.  The   combination is composer intent and part of yourself in the music.   Therefore, composer intent is an important part... but not the only part to really playing great music.   I play Debussy and Chopin because they speak to me... and omit other composers that do not...   no matter how much I appreciate their music played by someone else. 

Look at the Chopin competition -- those who really shine are faithful to the intent of Chopin.. but don't stop until there is part of themselves in the music.

Oh I don't disagree with that at all.  What I was getting at, though, is the tendency which I sometimes encounter to go to great lengths to ascertain the composer's exact intentions -- which are sometimes clear enough and sometimes hopelessly opaque -- and then to play the piece in as close to exactly that way as possible.  This seems particularly true of younger performers.  Perhaps I should have gone on in somewhat more detail that the opposite is equally unfortunate -- a performer who totally disregards either appropriate performance practice or the composer's intentions.

With regard to competitions, which, frankly, I loathe, however.  It is quite true that in most competitions those who shine (and win) are those who adhere most closely to what the composer's intent is perceived to be.  This is part of the nature of competitions, and has little to do with the quality of the musicianship of the performer.
Ian

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #22 on: July 21, 2016, 09:50:41 AM »
Competitions to me are no gauge to anything but pleasing judges. They are a farce preparing no one for anything "musicianship". Often requiring keyboard gymnastics at speeds not even possible on vintage pianos that the composers would have played. It's ridiculous actually.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline louispodesta

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #23 on: July 21, 2016, 10:47:46 PM »
As a huge Debussy fan, I would really like to know what instructions George Copeland gave his students regarding playing chords in Debussy.  Therefore, I wrote Mr. Sender asking if he could take a few minutes to provide that information... and no reply.  I am hopeful that I will still receive some feedback. Even if not a direct link, it is an important one for information. 

 I am not finding a source for ' George Copeland was selected to premier Debussy's work?'  This is certainly a new topic to me, but from what I read, George Copeland did premier Debussy, but did not meet the composer until many years later, at which point he received a few months of lessons.   I am not diminishing how special this is..... but ..... 

It would be a shame if this direct link and the information from it were lost.   It is a shame that many composers taught students but there is no written communication about the training.  Maybe they just didn't realize how very special that training was.  Debussy, from what I have read, was very difficult to please, and his instructions were sometimes contradictory.  Fascinating composer (at least to me)


Thank you for your "genuine" insights.  And, most of those posted, in regards my original thesis, seem less than such. 

Offline louispodesta

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Re: How to make thick chords sound right?
«Reply #24 on: July 21, 2016, 11:35:35 PM »
My apologies for this less than a complete reply. It surely was not my fault or intent, Oh my!

Accordingly, here is the complete reply:

1)  It includes a very detailed, which you asked for, of the composer/pianist George Copeland.

http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/George_Copeland.

Additionally, it includes a link to the website of his only living student Ramon Sender.  I actually had to ask him for permission, and his wishes incur with mine.  That is if you show this very humble living treasurer the respect his compositional, literary, and artistic pedigree it truly deserves.  Enjoy!

http://www.raysender.com/

Thank you so much again for your welcome insight.