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Is it me or my piano? (Read 1349 times)

Offline c_minor

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Is it me or my piano?
« on: January 18, 2017, 10:40:57 AM »
Hi everyone,

Recently, my teacher assigned me the first movement of a Beethoven sonata ( ;) ). I played it for him last week, and he noted that my ending chords (marked pp and ppp) have no difference. I practiced it at home, and noticed that most of the time, some notes on the ppp chord don't sound. Is there any way to tell if I just need to practice more, or it's already the piano? The piano is a secondhand Friedrich, if that helps. Thanks in advance.  :)

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Is it me or my piano?
«Reply #1 on: January 18, 2017, 01:54:40 PM »
For what it's worth, one of the major ways in which really really great pianos differ from the second rank is the way very soft -- pp or ppp -- notes are manageable.  The really great ones it is easier -- it is never easy -- to get them to sound evenly and reliably.

Similarly, one of the major ways that really great pianists differ from the rest of us is in their control of very very soft passages.

Any fool can play fortissimo, on pretty much any piano.

So -- long winded answer, but it's really both.  Your piano may simply not be able to produce the subtle difference you are looking for, but on the other hand, practice in control to produce the nuance you want can't hurt.  However, just be aware that getting it the way you want it on your piano may not produce the results you want on some other piano!
Ian

Offline irrational

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Re: Is it me or my piano?
«Reply #2 on: February 03, 2017, 10:56:15 AM »
Agreed with the piano differences of course.
As another add-on my teacher generally directs me to consider the UC pedal for ppp.
I am currently playing Schubert Impromptu D.899-3 and getting the singing chords to sound correctly in ppp is a royal pain. The evenness is especially taxing.
I am, however, practicing without any pedal use whatsoever for now to get arm control right.

Offline vaniii

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Re: Is it me or my piano?
«Reply #3 on: February 03, 2017, 11:29:26 AM »
For what it's worth, one of the major ways in which really really great pianos differ from the second rank is the way very soft -- pp or ppp -- notes are manageable.  The really great ones it is easier -- it is never easy -- to get them to sound evenly and reliably.

Similarly, one of the major ways that really great pianists differ from the rest of us is in their control of very very soft passages.

Any fool can play fortissimo, on pretty much any piano.

So -- long winded answer, but it's really both.  Your piano may simply not be able to produce the subtle difference you are looking for, but on the other hand, practice in control to produce the nuance you want can't hurt.  However, just be aware that getting it the way you want it on your piano may not produce the results you want on some other piano!

Oh my gosh this!

The clue is in the name; PIANOforte.

I tell my students this in their first lesson, imediately working on thier soft sound production.  Problem is, a large number don't see it as being impressive so ignore the advise favoring speed.

A good pianist can keep time and play soft; never forget it.

In regards to instrument, and the sound you make, how can we quantify what is P, PP, PPP without having another sound to compare it to.  Yes the instrument is likely an issue, but perhaps you are playing so quietly before the mentioned chord, that you have no where to go.

The art of dynamics in music is understanding they are not fixed points, but comparisons within a piece of music.  You can make a passage sound PPP with out making it barely audable, simply by actively contrasting it to what came before.

Obviously, there is the point of your own control of all of the above.

To the OP, is this early, mid or late Beethoven?

Offline tenk

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Re: Is it me or my piano?
«Reply #4 on: February 03, 2017, 10:51:58 PM »
The art of dynamics in music is understanding they are not fixed points, but comparisons within a piece of music.  You can make a passage sound PPP with out making it barely audable, simply by actively contrasting it to what came before.

This is by far the most important observation here.

Imagine you're sitting in your living room, playing what you think is pp. Sure it's soft, and sounds nice, but how will this pp sound in the back row of a concert hall, or restaurant, or wherever else you might be performing?

Quote
Any fool can play fortissimo, on pretty much any piano.

This statement is somewhat true in this context, but your ff is really what makes your pp, and your ability to fill in the dynamics in between are what give your playing its dynamic range.

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Is it me or my piano?
«Reply #5 on: February 04, 2017, 03:50:44 AM »
Hi everyone,

Recently, my teacher assigned me the first movement of a Beethoven sonata ( ;) ). I played it for him last week, and he noted that my ending chords (marked pp and ppp) have no difference. I practiced it at home, and noticed that most of the time, some notes on the ppp chord don't sound. Is there any way to tell if I just need to practice more, or it's already the piano? The piano is a secondhand Friedrich, if that helps. Thanks in advance.  :)

The differences are the most important part of the dynamics. Perhaps deliberately exaggerating FF vs pp vs ppp might be all you need to do. Sometimes when we perform we may think we are loud or even too loud so we dont put enough difference between dynamics.   I would practice the ppp very loud yet controlled and then very soft until I find the comfortable feel to articulate everything properly.  In addition, a quirky old piano might add to the challenge.