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Topic: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)  (Read 1545 times)

Offline drkz4ck

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Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
on: July 23, 2016, 04:32:26 AM
Hey, everyone.

I've been working on Tchaikovsky's arrangement of The Sugar Plum Fairy for the piano. I got the sheets from IMSLP.

My current difficulty is, as my teacher calls it, bringin up the different layers within the piece.
I'm not even sure if it makes sense in English, but i'll try to.

As I've learned it, for most parts, the melody in the right hand should be heard over the left hand.
Besides that, in the left hand alone there are beats that are stronger and softer in relation to one another. Well... i guess that happens in almost every piece.
These are the layers, as my teacher says it. One for the melody, one for the bass and another one for the chords. At least that's it for the theme.

My difficulty is, when putting hands together, I find it very hard to play soft on the left hand and hard on the right hand or the other way around at the very same beat. One hand ends up giving in to the other.
This means the melody fades away for being too soft, or the left hand gets too lound and overshadows everything else.

Such nuances seem extremely difficult to control.

It'll take a lot of time until my next lesson, so came here asking for tips on how to practice and strengthen such skill. Thanks everyone =)

Offline outin

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #1 on: July 23, 2016, 04:49:16 AM
I would just call it voicing. And it definitely requires highly developed control of the keyboard, the more voices the more difficult. I don't think you can expect to just become a master of it by practicing one piece. It takes time. You need to listen to your playing and learn to adjust your touch to what you hear. And to make it more complicated, on some intruments it's far more difficult to do than others...

There are techniques to teach oneself balance and voicing between the hands, discussed on many threads here before. Within one hand is the next level, starting with bringing out the melody. RH melody is often played with 4-5 which are "weaker" fingers so learning to control those and the arm movements is an important part of it. This is all best taught one-to-one by a teacher.

I'm sure many would tell you to play Bach...I prefer to say play whatever you like and start with simpler pieces with 3 voices and build from that :)

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #2 on: July 23, 2016, 06:56:40 PM
I would just call it voicing.

Thanks for the heads up! Hahah

There are techniques to teach oneself balance and voicing between the hands, discussed on many threads here before.

I'm sorry for this post then. Now I can search for tips about it within the forums.
Thanks a lot. =)

Btw, if someone else still has tips to offer, I'd still apreciate haha

Offline dogperson

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #3 on: July 23, 2016, 09:13:03 PM
I really think this instructional video by Graham Fitch is quite useful for developing this technique


Some people call this developmental technique 'miming' or 'ghosting'.  What you want to practice is playing one line or one hand as normal..   and at the same time, 'mime' /'ghost' in the other hand or line.  The process of miming is to  touch the keys but keep them from making a sound because the pressure is so light.   You can repeat this process for two different lines in one hand.    It teaches you to use different pressures with each hand, or with different fingers in the same hand.

This is another Fitch video, on 'singing tone'   At about 5 min, he talks about using scales to develop a different touch in each hand.


Josh Wright discusses voices of 'Moonlight Sonata' at about 3 min


Hope this makes sense...  
FWIW:  Your teacher and Outo are both correct.  You are learning to layer the sound... and you do that by learning to voice. 

Offline quantum

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #4 on: July 24, 2016, 01:23:11 AM
It takes time to develop, so don't expect to get it all sorted out in one lesson.  Work on the big layers first, then as you gain skill, move to smaller details.  It would likely be information overload to attempt to work on all aspects of layering if it is still a new concept to you. 

For now make the sky blue and the grass green, later you can add clouds, trees and birds.  If your piece has melody + accompaniment, make the melody stand out from the accompaniment. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline outin

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #5 on: July 24, 2016, 03:30:58 AM
I'm sorry for this post then. Now I can search for tips about it within the forums.
No need to be sorry! I should have provided links, but was just too lazy to dig out the threads:)

Offline ted

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #6 on: July 24, 2016, 04:43:44 AM
In my typically laggard, intuitive fashion, I had proceded in ignorance about this for years. Then a pianist remarked that I was playing all styles of music as if all notes had roughly equal importance, which is far from the case in romantic stuff particularly. The metaphor he used to explain it was a crystal, from which the eye catches coloured highlights against a less distinct backdrop of clear glass. I never forgot this rather pretty analogy, which made a world of difference to my playing, especially in improvisation.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline dogperson

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #7 on: July 24, 2016, 08:56:04 AM
In my typically laggard, intuitive fashion, I had proceded in ignorance about this for years. Then a pianist remarked that I was playing all styles of music as if all notes had roughly equal importance, which is far from the case in romantic stuff particularly. The metaphor he used to explain it was a crystal, from which the eye catches coloured highlights against a less distinct backdrop of clear glass. I never forgot this rather pretty analogy, which made a world of difference to my playing, especially in improvisation.

FWIW:  This is the original quote by Chopin, which I love:
"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow"   - F. Chopin 

Offline ted

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #8 on: July 24, 2016, 09:10:06 AM
Thanks, that is interesting, I had no idea the comparison was Chopin's.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline drkz4ck

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #9 on: July 25, 2016, 12:42:56 AM
I really think this instructional video by Graham Fitch is quite useful for developing this technique

This video addresses what I'm looking for so precisely that it's almost scary, hahah.
it's good to know that what I'm working on makes sense and is an actually relevant musical topic.

Have you tried studying this way yourself? Can you tell it has helped you in this matter?


Your teacher and Outo are both correct.  You are learning to layer the sound... and you do that by learning to voice. 
I see. I was worried about making my teacher seem wong, thinking that maybe he could've introduced this concept to me using a more approachable language.


For now make the sky blue and the grass green, later you can add clouds, trees and birds.  If your piece has melody + accompaniment, make the melody stand out from the accompaniment. 
This metaphor is surprisingly helpful. Thanks!


No need to be sorry! I should have provided links, but was just too lazy to dig out the threads:)
Hahahah, I can relate to that. Your reply was helpful either way, so thanks! =)


I had proceded in ignorance about this for years.
That is another thing I can relate to, sadly. My previous teacher didn't bother to enlighten me about such things.
Thankfully, my current one has a much more satisfying approach.

By the way, what does "FWIW" mean? =P

Offline dogperson

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #10 on: July 25, 2016, 12:59:00 AM
Hi
I learned voicing as a child.. long ago and far away, so I honestly don't remember how it was taught.  I have seen the Graham Fitch learning tool recommended by several current teachers... and I do know some students that have used this successfully.   Give it a shot and let us know how it goes.... but the analogy from Quantum of painting the sky and the grass first is a great one.  Work on two voices:  the melody and the mimed base at first.  If doing this with actual music is overwhelming, do it with scales...  This is a skill that is not immediately conquered. 

Relevant???  One of the most important musical topics and skills.

Sorry, FWIW = For What It is Worth.   Layering the sound is what you want to accomplish and voicing is the means of getting there.  I actually love the analogy of 'layering' as you can immediately sense what you want to accomplish:  a jacket, a spiffy shirt and both contributing in different levels of importance and style. 

dp

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Layering (as my teacher likes to say)
Reply #11 on: July 25, 2016, 09:35:16 AM
Hey, everyone.

I've been working on Tchaikovsky's arrangement of The Sugar Plum Fairy for the piano. I got the sheets from IMSLP.

My current difficulty is, as my teacher calls it, bringin up the different layers within the piece.
I'm not even sure if it makes sense in English, but i'll try to.

As I've learned it, for most parts, the melody in the right hand should be heard over the left hand.
Besides that, in the left hand alone there are beats that are stronger and softer in relation to one another. Well... i guess that happens in almost every piece.
These are the layers, as my teacher says it. One for the melody, one for the bass and another one for the chords. At least that's it for the theme.

My difficulty is, when putting hands together, I find it very hard to play soft on the left hand and hard on the right hand or the other way around at the very same beat. One hand ends up giving in to the other.
This means the melody fades away for being too soft, or the left hand gets too lound and overshadows everything else.

Such nuances seem extremely difficult to control.

It'll take a lot of time until my next lesson, so came here asking for tips on how to practice and strengthen such skill. Thanks everyone =)

All of this is to get the right amount of voicing where it is needed. You are on the right track about melody chords, and bass.  Maybe a good excersize would be to play the whole thing at a ridiculous high or low volume a couple of times with no worry about nuance.  Then break down the LH RH individually doing the same thing. Then try the nuance but dont get frustrated it will take some practice
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

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