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Author Topic: Piano Performance: Music Inertia VS Phrase Control  (Read 359 times)
wkmt
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« on: October 02, 2017, 06:38:23 PM »

After many years of teaching, I came up with some conclusions about the use of memory and the categorization of them.

I wrote the first article in a series intending to propose how to structure our practising to improve our control over certain musical variables.

Take a look at
http://www.piano-composer-teacher-london.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/29/Piano-Performance-Music-Inertia-VS-Phrase-Control

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keypeg
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2017, 07:45:51 PM »

The article states that the key to the problem is memorizing the names of the notes.

Recently while discussing something, I created an image of two consecutive measures where some things were worked out.  Here are the two measures:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/51kly4c0l157335/zWIP.jpg?dl=0

Are you proposing that this kind of passage would be mastered by memorizing the names of the many notes of all those chords?

I do have these, in fact, after working at different angles with the help of my teacher.  For no. 1, the LH is chromatically descending, and could be fully diminished chords with one more note added (but isn't always, when you consider the RH).  The RH descends in fourths and ascends in m3's.  Visual and tactile memory were used, as well as working on only two chord pairs at a time.  I am rather sure that remember note names would have made this impossible.

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keypeg
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 08:50:49 PM »

I did not see any structure in the proposal.
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toughbo
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« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2017, 09:20:06 PM »

That article contained next to no information about musical inertia or phrase control.
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anamnesis
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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2017, 10:23:58 PM »

The article states that the key to the problem is memorizing the names of the notes.

Recently while discussing something, I created an image of two consecutive measures where some things were worked out.  Here are the two measures:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/51kly4c0l157335/zWIP.jpg?dl=0

Are you proposing that this kind of passage would be mastered by memorizing the names of the many notes of all those chords?

I do have these, in fact, after working at different angles with the help of my teacher.  For no. 1, the LH is chromatically descending, and could be fully diminished chords with one more note added (but isn't always, when you consider the RH).  The RH descends in fourths and ascends in m3's.  Visual and tactile memory were used, as well as working on only two chord pairs at a time.  I am rather sure that remember note names would have made this impossible.



It's actually quite useful with a couple of caveats.

1. English letters are too awkward.  Fixed solfege works better.

2. Orienting it musically, you shouldn't organize it chordally to understand it initially. Musical content and progression is generated in lines. Lines are artfully restricted and coordinated vertically. The actual "harmony" involves the mapping of scale degrees rather than the literal chord. 

3. Tonal content doesn't make sense in a composition without rhythmic orientation. 

4. You need to intensely visualize and audiate the score (and keyboard) simultaneously while learning parts by naming.  Almost, never memorize at the pace of your fastest and most fluent memory, but rather your slowest. 
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keypeg
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2017, 12:13:13 AM »

Anemnesis, in your response to me, does this relate to the music in my link?
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anamnesis
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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2017, 12:20:38 AM »

Anemnesis, in your response to me, did you first look at the link I provided for the passage in question?
For example:Can you get much solfege out of that passage?

Yes to both questions.  

Keep in mind though, that what I'm advocating would require having gone through this process for successively difficult repertoire. Complexity in music always has underlying conceptual simplicity at its heart despite elaborations on the surface.


EDIT:

Yes.  I wrote specifically with your passage in mind. 



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keypeg
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« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2017, 01:39:40 AM »

Ok, going through it.
Quote
1. English letters are too awkward.  Fixed solfege works better.
So you suggest I name the notes of the first chord, (bottom to top) Re Fa Ti Re Fa Ti Fa (with some vowel changes to reflect the flats) .... and then play the chord.  Then I go to the next chord and I go Do Mi Ti Do Do Fa Do, and then play the chord, etc.?
Quote
2. Orienting it musically, you shouldn't organize it chordally to understand it initially. Musical content and progression is generated in lines. Lines are artfully restricted and coordinated vertically. The actual "harmony" involves the mapping of scale degrees rather than the literal chord. 
What if the music is outside of scales?  If the scale is a whole note scale, do we use these as scale degrees?
Are you thinking of the general harmony theory we learn in basic harmony, where there is a I IV V I kind of thing, so if it's in Ab major, we know this chord is I, and therefore Ab C Eb, type of thing?
Quote
4. You need to intensely visualize and audiate the score (and keyboard) simultaneously while learning parts by naming. 
I am strong in audiating quite a few things.  I am not capable of audiating these complex chords.

I'm going to turn this around.  I am honestly interested in what you would do with this passage along your four principles.
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anamnesis
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« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2017, 01:05:35 PM »

Ok, going through it.So you suggest I name the notes of the first chord, (bottom to top) Re Fa Ti Re Fa Ti Fa (with some vowel changes to reflect the flats) .... and then play the chord.  Then I go to the next chord and I go Do Mi Ti Do Do Fa Do, and then play the chord, etc.?What if the music is outside of scales?  If the scale is a whole note scale, do we use these as scale degrees?
Are you thinking of the general harmony theory we learn in basic harmony, where there is a I IV V I kind of thing, so if it's in Ab major, we know this chord is I, and therefore Ab C Eb, type of thing?I am strong in audiating quite a few things.  I am not capable of audiating these complex chords.

I'm going to turn this around.  I am honestly interested in what you would do with this passage along your four principles.

Before I reply, would you mind linking to the whole piece?  What I would do needs as much context as possible. 
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keypeg
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« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2017, 04:35:05 PM »

It is a Debussy Prelude, a "stretch piece" for me atm, Book One,  no. IV (the "sounds and perfumes" one).  We're m. 29 & 30, just after he's slipped temporarily into Ab from A.

If you've played the piece before, then you'll know how you memorized this section, and might still be able to play it now from memory now or after a short jog.  If you haven't, it would be interesting to see what you run into.  (I haven't stated referencing for myself where it is within the overall structure/form of the piece when I play it because that can be taken for granted.)

 I haven't gone near it for over a week, and it was there for me just now, but NOT as "muscle memory".  I drew on the things that I listed - types of chords, chromatic descent for the LH etc.  This is my first time with this kind of music.  I'm much more home with Common Practice, which is also more predictable.

I'm thinking that in terms of giving names to individual notes, isn't calling something a Gdim7, or Dbm, also a name?  Isn't a chord itself a "thing"?  Obviously they live in context.  In fact the individual notes, which wkmt was highlighting as being named, are also sitting in context - tonic going to tonic within the passage; relating to the chord etc.  But he was talking about name notes.  In this passage, naming chords, rather than a passle of notes within the chord, was more effective for me.

Anyway, interested in what you have to say.  (Wkmt so far  has not written back).
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anamnesis
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« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2017, 06:32:04 PM »

It is a Debussy Prelude, a "stretch piece" for me atm, Book One,  no. IV (the "sounds and perfumes" one).  We're m. 29 & 30, just after he's slipped temporarily into Ab from A.

If you've played the piece before, then you'll know how you memorized this section, and might still be able to play it now from memory now or after a short jog.  If you haven't, it would be interesting to see what you run into.  (I haven't stated referencing for myself where it is within the overall structure/form of the piece when I play it because that can be taken for granted.)

 I haven't gone near it for over a week, and it was there for me just now, but NOT as "muscle memory".  I drew on the things that I listed - types of chords, chromatic descent for the LH etc.  This is my first time with this kind of music.  I'm much more home with Common Practice, which is also more predictable.

I'm thinking that in terms of giving names to individual notes, isn't calling something a Gdim7, or Dbm, also a name?  Isn't a chord itself a "thing"?  Obviously they live in context.  In fact the individual notes, which wkmt was highlighting as being named, are also sitting in context - tonic going to tonic within the passage; relating to the chord etc.  But he was talking about name notes.  In this passage, naming chords, rather than a passle of notes within the chord, was more effective for me.

Anyway, interested in what you have to say.  (Wkmt so far  has not written back).

Give me a bit to get back to you (I may need to play around with some notation software), but a few brief comments.  Looking at quickly, I can already say that the your current musical instincts based on common practice material and melodic solfege are most definitely not wrong and should not  be discarded. I needed the whole score because even with just the fragment you gave, I could already tell that it was like a sentence that was chopped off at the beginning and the end.

If you take a look at the measure before and after, you get a distinct step-wise descent of the fifth (Ab to Eb) counterpointed over I V I in the bass.  If that isn't classic common practice period, I don't know what is.  It's highly obscured, but it's very much intact.  

Just to clarify, what I'm advocating isn't the "fastest" route of just getting it done.  It involves developing the ability to intensely imagine and manipulate the passage in your mind as if you we're taking part in its creation.  If you do it correctly, you can't but help memorize it or even create variations off it; however, not everyone would value this enough to take the long period of time it would take.  

I wouldn't solfege the vertical structures initially, but rather the lines.   But the rhythmic context of the slower, background, organizing lines has to be part of that solfege. You have to be able to understand how the effects of certain notes  or intervallic spaces last "longer" than their literal duration, and how the passing notes are subordinate to it or indicate motion by filling those spaces.
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keypeg
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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2017, 06:59:39 PM »

I will definitely give you the time. Wink

I have a feeling that you will be wanting to give me a big picture view, which I probably already have, but there are always new aspects to learn.

I'd like to see you actually find a way to memorize that particular passage, getting all the notes in, playing it from a memory which is not only muscle memory.  If you are already with these kinds of chords ofc that will kick in for you.

  Personally in this case what I found helpful was to see the pattern that you might consider horizontal "line" = chromatic descent for LH, leaps of m3 and 4ths in the RH.  It helped me to first consider the LH to be dim7's, even though with the added notes of the RH, every second one isn't.  The dim7 is a thing that can be named, just like the note A or La (fixed Do solfege) is a thing that can be named.
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keypeg
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« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2017, 03:39:12 PM »

Going back to the original post, I should clarify that I am not at all against the ideas expressed.  The importance of having a solid grasp of your music from the beginning, rather than relying on "inertia" (wording of article) which comes from things like muscle memory and the continuation that happens when you start at the beginning and keep going.
Addressing wkmt - when you talk of names of notes - I can see that for where you have a melody or line of music.  But in the example I gave, I'm thinking of names of other things - in this case names of chords - i.e. expanding the idea of names.  What I can name in this section is the "almost diminished" in the LH, the chromatic descent.  It seems to me that in this kind of passage, naming all the notes of each chord would be tedious, and hard to remember.  But a dim7 is also a specific named thing.  What do you think?
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wkmt
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2017, 05:22:52 PM »

Going back to the original post, I should clarify that I am not at all against the ideas expressed.  The importance of having a solid grasp of your music from the beginning, rather than relying on "inertia" (wording of article) which comes from things like muscle memory and the continuation that happens when you start at the beginning and keep going.
Addressing wkmt - when you talk of names of notes - I can see that for where you have a melody or line of music.  But in the example I gave, I'm thinking of names of other things - in this case names of chords - i.e. expanding the idea of names.  What I can name in this section is the "almost diminished" in the LH, the chromatic descent.  It seems to me that in this kind of passage, naming all the notes of each chord would be tedious, and hard to remember.  But a dim7 is also a specific named thing.  What do you think?

Dear Keypeg,

Indeed it would be. When I suggest mentioning the name of the notes I mean mentioning the leading voice not the full chord content. In other words, what worths be mentioned are either the melodic lines, the leading voices or the focal points. The "saying" the notes aloud is meant to help us focus on what lays in the front of the musical texture.

I hope this clarifies.

Kindest regards,
www.wkmt.co.uk

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keypeg
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2017, 06:46:48 PM »

wkmt - I would be interested in your take on the particular passage that I have linked.  Does one have a "leading voice" here?  Or is another approach in order?  What do you think of the approach I have taken as I described it?
I am not asking for "clarification" but engaging in an exploration. Smiley
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louispodesta
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« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2017, 11:26:27 PM »

Dear Keypeg:

Please keep up the good work because you and I know the reality/definition of the word "Shill."  This is one who promotes a particular ideology/epistemology for a less than straightforward purpose.

Usually, there is no harm and no foul associated with this particular causality as long as it leaves itself open to a reasonable discourse.  And, this discourse can possibly result in a furtherance of its goal, which in this case involves the memorization technique associated with learning a piece of music.
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