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"Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1 (Read 1262 times)

Offline hohohohi888

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"Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
« on: May 18, 2017, 05:10:01 PM »
Hey all,

I have been practicing Chopin Etude op. 10 no.1 for a while now, and can play it up to speed.

However, there are small sections in the piece which have a "dry" sound effect, and it diversifies the depth of the somewhat repetitive, damped texture of the piece.

For example, at 0:57 of Ashkenzay's performance of this piece(
), this effect happens, most likely avoiding the damper pedal, and possibly pressing the soft pedal as well.  It happens again at 1:24, and 2:07.

Overall, the effect is pleasing and creates a textural transition of sorts as the piece progresses.

Is anyone an expert on this piece?  Which sections specifically should we aim for this dry effect (is it subjective?), and how do we produce the effect?

Thanks


Offline hovva

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 04:07:30 AM »
I can't say that I've formally learned this piece, but I do think that the textural changes you noted are interesting and I think there could be many reasons why Ashkenazy chose to do them. Reducing the use of the pedal will not only change texture, but also dynamic. This piece, of course, relies solely on large arpeggios. Naturally, when the pedal isn't used, their are no tones lingering from the bottom of the arpeggio the top, so naturally it won't sound as "full" and thus will create the illusion of being quieter. Since it's quieter, there's more room for crescendo, so it gives lends to a broad dynamic range. Also, omitting the use of the pedal shows that the pianist isn't relying on it to achieve legato. It's especially impressive in this piece since the handfuls are so wide, so it also adds to the performance in that respect. As for using this technique, I think it's subjective. With almost all interpretations, some will be for and some against; some editions have pedal markings, some don't. Personally, I think this interpretation of the piece shows great technique and makes it a bit more interesting, but others may be more concerned about historical accuracy. As for achieving this effect,( like I said I've never learned this piece so it's don't take my word to heart) having a relaxed and flexible wrist is always key to achieving an even legato. Make sure your wrist is following your fingers and that the keys are being pressed not only by your fingers, but by arm weight as well. Personally, I'd stay away from relying on the una corda to achieve a softer sound as it seems like a cheap easy-way-out to change the dynamic, but like I said, there will always be debate when it comes to stuff like this, especially in romantic era music so do what you feel is best.

Offline lau

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #2 on: May 24, 2017, 07:01:56 AM »
The dry tidbits in this etude that Ashkenazy creates are wonderful.
In a waterfall of moistness, comes an oasis of crusty dry pleasure.

I cannot play this up to speed due to lack of stamina/tension/weakness/perhaps wrong technique.
But I don't try to fix it and just play it every once in a while anyway as is.
i'm not asian

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #3 on: May 28, 2017, 10:22:08 AM »

I cannot play this up to speed due to lack of stamina/tension/weakness/perhaps wrong technique.


Not being able to play this etude has nothing to do with lack of stamina. It's always because of wrong technique, which is also the cause of tension. Correct technique is not tense. Just thought it'd be important to emphasize.

Offline lau

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #4 on: May 29, 2017, 01:04:49 AM »
oh ok. well then my technique is gross.
Question. Do pianists with superior technique experience tension?
It seems tension can only decrease but never completely go away.
i'm not asian

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #5 on: May 29, 2017, 11:49:11 PM »
oh ok. well then my technique is gross.
Question. Do pianists with superior technique experience tension?
It seems tension can only decrease but never completely go away.

With superior technique, playing feels effortless. You could for example do all of the Chopin etudes op 10 and op 25 in a concert and not experience a sensation of tension in the arms while doing this. Your arms will not be tired afterwards.

I mean imagine if you are gonna do all the etudes and you are already tired in the arms after op 10 no 1, then how are you going to get through op 10 no 2? Or do op 25 no 12 after op 25 no 11 and op 25 no 10?

Playing with good technique feels good, even in an etude like op 10 no 1.

Offline lau

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #6 on: May 30, 2017, 05:21:13 AM »
wow that sounds magical. I wish I was brought up to pay attention to technique in a better way.

i'm not asian

Offline geoffhuang

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #7 on: May 30, 2017, 07:29:52 AM »
I have spoken to my piano teacher who has performed all opus 25 etudes before in one performance, and she said that "completely no tension" is a lie. Obviously tension will build up even with great technique especially if you're trying to play louder dynamics, and people who say otherwise are lying to others to make their accomplishments seem even greater than they are, or are victims of this lie.

I believe the dry parts that Ashkenzay produces comes from the lack of damper pedal. I do something similar in sections of op25no11 and the contrast sounds great.

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #8 on: May 30, 2017, 08:13:35 AM »
I have spoken to my piano teacher who has performed all opus 25 etudes before in one performance, and she said that "completely no tension" is a lie. Obviously tension will build up even with great technique especially if you're trying to play louder dynamics, and people who say otherwise are lying to others to make their accomplishments seem even greater than they are, or are victims of this lie.

If the wrist in a constant state of perfect suppleness there is no reason for tension to build up. The finger movements employed are so small and easy on their own that they should not build up tension either.

Imagine playing op 10 no 1 for example (or 25 no 11). When that etude has been mastered you will not feel fatigued at the end, because you have not built up any tension. It will feel good and easy to play it.

Of course, attaining this level of mastery over suppleness is incredibly hard, because it essentially requires perfect freedom in the entire body, from the feet, to the hips, to the shoulders, to the neck. And perhaps no adult playing the piano is perfect in this sense, but not striving for it due to having the mindset of "tension builds up, it's inevitable" helps no-one. The quest should be for attaining perfect suppleness in the wrist at all times.

Offline lau

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #9 on: May 30, 2017, 09:57:30 AM »


Of course, attaining this level of mastery over suppleness is incredibly hard, because it essentially requires perfect freedom in the entire body, from the feet, to the hips, to the shoulders, to the neck. And perhaps no adult playing the piano is perfect in this sense, but not striving for it due to having the mindset of "tension builds up, it's inevitable" helps no-one. The quest should be for attaining perfect suppleness in the wrist at all times.


oh.. so you lied to me. So realistically, the superior technicians still experience some tension.
guess magic isn't real. I do not believe anymore, now all the realms of story will be destroyed forever, and I have burned the book of fairy tales in front of the dark fairy(OUAT)

 I have never understood the whole, hips and shoulders and weird wrist alignments and weird everything that is taught with technique.. I just don't see it. But its been a good 7 years since I last received instruction.  I was young. But I guess 8 year olds are doing so maybe that's not an excuse. is it me? Am I the one who is destroying piano technique?  :'(
i'm not asian

Offline feddera

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #10 on: May 30, 2017, 07:34:49 PM »
Quote
I have spoken to my piano teacher who has performed all opus 25 etudes before in one performance, and she said that "completely no tension" is a lie. Obviously tension will build up even with great technique especially if you're trying to play louder dynamics, and people who say otherwise are lying to others to make their accomplishments seem even greater than they are, or are victims of this lie.

I've talked to some extremely high level classical pianists about the no-tension thing, and they pretty much say the same thing as this post.

Quote
I have never understood the whole, hips and shoulders and weird wrist alignments and weird everything that is taught with technique.. I just don't see it. But its been a good 7 years since I last received instruction.  I was young. But I guess 8 year olds are doing so maybe that's not an excuse. is it me? Am I the one who is destroying piano technique?

No, I agree with you. I think people tend to conflate ergonomic playing with raw mechanical ability when discussing technique. Sure, ergonomic playing is important, especially as one gets older, but it's not the same ting. If you want to play faster scales, adjusting your chair and thiking about your hip isn't going to help you at all haha.

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #11 on: May 30, 2017, 09:53:09 PM »

oh.. so you lied to me. So realistically, the superior technicians still experience some tension.
guess magic isn't real. I do not believe anymore, now all the realms of story will be destroyed forever, and I have burned the book of fairy tales in front of the dark fairy(OUAT)

Yes, I lied to you with malicious intent.

Just joking  ;). Realistically we all experience the occasional sensation of anxiety, get self conscious for a second on stage, have an "oh sh*t, where am I supposed to go next" moment, or just a small fumble of some kind, which results in the tightening of some muscles or whatnot. The difference is that with a refined technique you strive back to the freedom and suppleness of everything, learn to release these things as they happen, instead of letting "tension build up as you play". The basic movement of pressing down a key with your finger should not start building up tension if the arm remains perfectly free. Then you just do lots of these movements very fast, without tightening any other muscles and voilá, technique!  :P

Quote
I have never understood the whole, hips and shoulders and weird wrist alignments and weird everything that is taught with technique.. I just don't see it. But its been a good 7 years since I last received instruction.  I was young. But I guess 8 year olds are doing so maybe that's not an excuse. is it me? Am I the one who is destroying piano technique?  :'(
No, I agree with you. I think people tend to conflate ergonomic playing with raw mechanical ability when discussing technique. Sure, ergonomic playing is important, especially as one gets older, but it's not the same ting. If you want to play faster scales, adjusting your chair and thiking about your hip isn't going to help you at all haha.

If you are locked  around your hips, then yes it does. Here's the logic:

We all know that in a highly refined technique we need to keep the arms relaxed, loose, free, supple, free from tension, call it what you will, while pressing down and holding down the keys. This is because any tension, ie locking and blocking any joint from moving freely in any direction of its range of movement by keeping a muscle tense instead of relaxed, hinders both speed and control and security, and if bad enough, builds up fatigue (when I started playing, my arms felt like they were going to fall off after playing the moonlight sonata third movement!).

To keep our arms supple and free, we must also allow our shoulders to be free, because anatomically our shoulders are a part of the arm, and tension in the shoulders prevents the upper arm from moving freely and assisting our fingers. We have a lot of muscles that control the shoulders and upper arm in various ways, that attach to our chest, neck, back, and also to our hips. If our hips are locked instead of free, some of these muscles become locked, or at least less than free. (and if the hips are locked, it's likely that other parts, like the neck, also are, which doesn't help either)

While it's still possible to play just having well trained fingers with these types of tension, it makes it harder and gives less control.

Quote
I've talked to some extremely high level classical pianists about the no-tension thing, and they pretty much say the same thing as this post.

And I have talked to high level classical pianists who say playing should feel effortless, feel good, and I agree with them. If I'm working on some loud Liszt stuff and my arms feel tight or fatigued I know I'm not practising correctly. Chords are possible to play with supple wrists.

Here is a description of the type of effortlessness I mean: https://www.lister-sinkinstitute.org/faq_8.html

Sorry for the long post guys, but I think this is a subject which is very important to discuss.

Offline feddera

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #12 on: May 30, 2017, 10:30:45 PM »
I think you missed my point. I can sit on the floor, with the worst possible posture imaginable, lift my hand over my head, and play a 5-finger scale (CDEFGFEDC etc.) at 200 bpm. Why can't a beginner do that?

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #13 on: May 30, 2017, 10:36:09 PM »
I think you missed my point. I can sit on the floor, with the worst possible posture imaginable, lift my hand over my head, and play a 5-finger scale (CDEFGFEDC etc.) at 200 bpm. Why can't a beginner do that?

I'm not sure what your point is. Or at least I don't understand. Care to clarify? How many pieces are a 5 finger scale like that anyways?

Let's say we take that five finger scale and make it into a normal ascending c-major scale, but with the fingering 12345 12345 12345 12345 12345, for six octaves, prestissimo. Would that be easy for you with terrible posture and shoulders locked?

Offline feddera

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #14 on: May 30, 2017, 10:57:54 PM »
Quote
I'm not sure what your point is. Or at least I don't understand. Care to clarify?

My point was merely that there is more to playing than posture and relaxation. You need to develop fingers and reflexes. Here's another example (I've timestamped the video):

Edit: timestamp didn't work, it starts at 1 minute 30 seconds.

&feature=youtu.be&t=111[/youtube]

That's a pretty suboptimal posture.

Quote
How many pieces are a 5 finger scale like that anyways?

Only one I can think of is Czerny 740no1. I hate that piece...

Quote
Let's say we take that five finger scale and make it into a normal ascending c-major scale, but with the fingering 12345 12345 12345 12345 12345, for six octaves, prestissimo. Would that be easy for you with terrible posture and shoulders locked?

No, it would not.

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #15 on: May 30, 2017, 11:28:17 PM »
My point was merely that there is more to playing than posture and relaxation. You need to develop fingers and reflexes. Here's another example (I've timestamped the video):

I fully agree, and I hope I have not made the impression that I don't. If somebody who ahd perfect posture and relaxation sat down at the piano, having never played before, they'll probably not play a Liszt rhapsody perfectly on the first day. (on the other hand, there is this story of Hamelin learning a Czerny etude as his first piano piece by ear and playing it very well in one day... but don't quote me on that!)

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That's a pretty suboptimal posture.


I agree, but you are still able to control your fingers with that posture. Tension is not only determined by how you look visually in terms of angles and stuff, for example, somebody could sit very straight but be very stiff in their shoulders all the same. And somebody else could sit a bit more slouched but have more of the essential muscles in the back and shoulders in a higher state of suppleness.

You can get away with more tension in the shoulder area in baroque/classical - though you will lose some control, and scales and stuff will always feel easier the freer you are. In the hardest romantic pieces with larger flourishes of passage work and jumps and rapid octaves and chords and stuff tense shoulders will punish you mercilessly.

Offline lau

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #16 on: May 31, 2017, 02:37:26 PM »
Yes, I lied to you with malicious intent.

Just joking  ;). Realistically we all experience the occasional sensation of anxiety, get self conscious for a second on stage, have an "oh sh*t, where am I supposed to go next" moment, or just a small fumble of some kind, which results in the tightening of some muscles or whatnot. The difference is that with a refined technique you strive back to the freedom and suppleness of everything, learn to release these things as they happen, instead of letting "tension build up as you play"

If you are locked  around your hips, then yes it does.

getting tense from make a mistake has nothing to do with this.  starting with "the difference is that with a refined technique...etc"  I really have no idea what you are saying.

also, how do you lock your hips? What the f*ck does that even mean?
it just makes me frustrated.
i'm not asian

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #17 on: May 31, 2017, 09:27:59 PM »
getting tense from make a mistake has nothing to do with this.  starting with "the difference is that with a refined technique...etc"  I really have no idea what you are saying.

Perhaps I worded it poorly. What I mean is, it is possible to have a technique where tension doesn't start to build because you've learned to keep muscles released (supple, "relaxed" if you want though I'm not a fan of using that word) instead of tight, and that IF you would happen to start getting tight (tense) for any reason, like from making a mistake or just starting to tighten some muscle in your forearm due to old habits, you can release that tight muscle again and keep on playing, giving fatigue no chance to build up.

Quote
also, how do you lock your hips? What the f*ck does that even mean?
it just makes me frustrated.

Perhaps I was unclear again. Tense all muscles that attach to your hips and your hips will be locked in place and hard/harder to move, compared to if those muscles were released and supple. Having the muscles that go from your hips to your torso/shoulders tensed will restrict and reduce control over the movements of the arms in various ways.

Offline anamnesis

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #18 on: May 31, 2017, 11:51:37 PM »
oh ok. well then my technique is gross.
Question. Do pianists with superior technique experience tension?
It seems tension can only decrease but never completely go away.

1. It's not strictly relaxation. Imagine ice-skating or running. There's a sense of contact, flow, and redirection of momentum that can't be accomplished by relaxation and yet there's no excessive "static" tension.

2.For speed with accuracy, there's a particular dynamic balance needed that has a paradoxical sensation. You are down and aligned behind every single articulation (no exceptions), and yet you know you have the momentum to carry you forward. Sloppiness results from not truly being behind every note (in fact you almost already have to be aligned behind a note before it is struck). For example, even the basic CDEFG hand position causes bad habits where even the slightest sense of maintaining that position causes you to not truly be aligned behind each note if you did a five finger scale. Speed is accomplished with the understanding that the piano basically a see-saw catapult (or rather a series of them) that we chain optimally with timing. Open up a piano and see the hammers to get a better intuition of this.

3. The point of posture is at least twofold. First, a free upper arm that acts as a fulcrum for the forearm (again, think see-saw canon).  Two, enabling a "basic rhythm" that coordinates the body and the phrase rhythm of the music.  From Whiteside:

Rhythm stems from the point of resistance to the application of power. It creates its magic by a follow-through activity which involves a balancing of weight of the entire body. The point of resistance when we are on our feet is the floor; when we are seated it is the chair seat. We do not need any teaching to understand that it is not the application of power to the ice through one foot after another other that creates the thrill in skating. We simply feel the thrill of the balancing and swaying of the body, and a permeating exhilaration results from this coordinated movement. If we are skating to music the ears are involved. They dictate the timing of the push-offs so that the swaying and balancing of the body may fit the music. A rude interruption of that synchronization of the physical imagery with the music is unpleasant ant and we instinctively avoid it by not being out of step with the musical push-offs-the important beats. This synchronization of the push-offs with the music, which creates the follow-through activity that brings about the swaying and pleasure in skating, should be the same, not different, for the pianist. The push-offs are the action of the top arm taking  control of important tones, and this action by the upper arm should always be linked with the torso. That is, the torso, which contacts resistance at the chair seat with the ischial bones, and is the fulcrum which makes the power of the top arm effective, never sits back stodgily and lets the arm do the work, as it were. Rather, the torso is so vitally balanced that it participates in all the actions of the arm, and creates an outlet for the emotional response to the music. Never lose sight of the fact that playing the piano involves two very definite operations: application of power to the key (vertical action) and progression along the keyboard (horizontal action).

Whiteside on relaxation:

Whenever there is an argument about relaxation, there is also an insistence on qualifying the meaning of the word. That is one reason the word itself is bad for suggesting anything but what it does mean. Webster's definition is, "To make lax or loose." There you have it. Can you win a quarter-mile dash by being lax or loose? Is a cat lax or loose when it is being chased up a tree by a dog? Relaxation in no way suggests the alert blended coordination that is the basis for speed; and it develops habits of releasing power between tones. Rather, beautiful playing is related to the absence of releases. They ruin both a rhythm and the subtle use of dynamics-and then what have you? Speed is the result of an alert blended balance in activity-not of relaxation.

(My comment: Here think of releases as when you are NOT involved with the horizontal actions that take you from key to key--the actions/continuity between tones.  If you press a key and "relax" in such a way that you stay on that key....you're doing and timing everything wrong.  You need to press a key in such a way that you are automatically sent on top of the next key or articulation.  This is one of the main points behind Taubman style forearm rotation and key stroke timing.)   

Offline lau

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #19 on: June 02, 2017, 05:47:24 PM »

Perhaps I was unclear again. Tense all muscles that attach to your hips and your hips will be locked in place and hard/harder to move, compared to if those muscles were released and supple. Having the muscles that go from your hips to your torso/shoulders tensed will restrict and reduce control over the movements of the arms in various ways.

So the point is pianists DO experience tension, but they strive to play without tension...
which is common sense, and what I have been thinking this whole time and I do not know why you tried to give the impression that pianists do not experience tension.
As far as hips, I honestly do not know how to contract my hip muscles. so..

anyway, my teacher in the past showed me a muscle in the hand that will develop with technique.  so obviously it has something to do with weakness of muscles.

and anamnesis....your post is too long. maybe ill read it later.
i'm not asian

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: "Dry" Sections in Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1
«Reply #20 on: June 04, 2017, 01:15:57 PM »
So the point is pianists DO experience tension, but they strive to play without tension...

Yes they strive to, and with a top level technique you are so good at it that 10 no 1 and 10 no 2 feel effortless to play - which requires playing without tension. Even if you did have the occasional muscle tighten, it would be so small and occasional, and released quickly again, that it wouldn't cause a sensation of weariness and effort even if it did happen.

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which is common sense, and what I have been thinking this whole time and I do not know why you tried to give the impression that pianists do not experience tension.

Because you said "I cannot play this up to speed due to lack of stamina/tension/weakness/perhaps wrong technique.". So I informed you that yes, you cannot play this etude effortlessly up to speed if you are tense, and that this tension is the result of wrong technique. Correct technique will not generate tension and the etude will feel effortless to play.

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anyway, my teacher in the past showed me a muscle in the hand that will develop with technique.  so obviously it has something to do with weakness of muscles.

Yes, I have quite muscular hands from playing. My experience has been that when most people talk about being tense they talk mainly about fatigue/burning sensations in the muscles in the forearm (on the side of the forearm opposite to the palm of the hand, not sure what the correct anatomical term for that is), and their conclusion is that they are weak/lack stamina. But it is actually result of tension due to incorrect technique, so this way of thinking is harmful and might stop you from working towards a healthy technique.