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How do I sound? (Read 509 times)

Offline gospelpiano12

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How do I sound?
« on: March 12, 2021, 02:40:38 PM »
I am 17, have been playing piano for almost 1 year now. I have just taken lessons on playing chords back and forth, and have a piano class at school school teacher teaching me to play hymnal style music. How do I sound?

I attached the score I was playing from.

Online lelle

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #1 on: March 12, 2021, 09:37:00 PM »
You sound fine! I can tell you are a beginner and that is as it should, since you are a beginner. As you continue playing, you will naturally evolve and refine your playing. Are you looking for feedback on any specific aspect?

Offline gospelpiano12

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #2 on: March 13, 2021, 01:20:29 AM »
Just general feedback, like what could I improve upon,etc.

Offline j_tour

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #3 on: March 13, 2021, 02:38:38 AM »
That made me a bit happy to hear:  you had some personal feeling, it seems, for the music, and you added a few nice touches, like the "amen" at the end (plagal cadence) with some good flourishes.

It's difficult to say where you should improve, but here's a kind of trick, I guess.  I just thought of now, so there's probably a better way somebody else thought of:  what about the rhythm?  How do you get away from feeling sometimes "stuck" to basic meter?  (Like everyone has, especially on slower pieces or hymns, or in Bach).

In my opinion, you can try thinking about what's called the "pulse" of the piece. 

Here, that doesn't really help, because the basic unit of each phrase is rather stately.

However, try to imagine if, let's say, a tambourine or a snare drum were to subdivide every, say, quarter note into three or four.

You wouldn't want to play the tune with that feel, probably, but it might help with keeping a forward motion in the tune.

Come to think that's really the only thing you need a bit more of, here:  you can play the notes, and it seems you understand the harmony, even enough to extemporize and use passing tones in the bass.

That's the easiest way I can describe it:  you want to "drive" the piece, but you don't want to sound like you're Count Basie's band while doing it.

My only solution is to hear that tambourine or those very small intervals, without necessarily playing them.

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline gospelpiano12

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #4 on: March 13, 2021, 02:45:07 AM »
Hmmmm, some good food for thought. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it

Offline j_tour

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #5 on: March 13, 2021, 04:18:16 AM »
Hmmmm, some good food for thought. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it

You're very welcome, and I sure did enjoy your playing.

I'm still trying to figure out a way to describe the idea of a motion, or a drive, a rhythmic or even semantic pulse.

It's not going to fit with your style to use many of the tools Billy Preston used on a tune of a similar tempo (I put it up on What Are You Listening To Right Now? because I happened to put on that record after I'd heard yours and wanted to get some ideas for myself on how to think about it more abstractly).

How many options are there to make the piece progress in time?

I guess, I can't really categorize off the top of my head how many different ways:  it's like playing marionettes, like if you push the beat here, then you need to add a passing chord or tone there, then a moment of expanse....and if you embellish the melody here, then something else has to happen. 

It's not entirely logical, but I think you have the "feel" for the music, so it probably doesn't need to be spelled out.

It's surprisingly difficult to explain.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #6 on: March 13, 2021, 12:52:40 PM »

It's difficult to say where you should improve, but here's a kind of trick, I guess.  I just thought of now, so there's probably a better way somebody else thought of:  what about the rhythm?  How do you get away from feeling sometimes "stuck" to basic meter?  (Like everyone has, especially on slower pieces or hymns, or in Bach).

In my opinion, you can try thinking about what's called the "pulse" of the piece. 

First, I'm impressed.  Playing for only a year, you've made great progress and you clearly have a feel for this genre of music.  That's something that's hard to teach, but you have it. 

Second, your piano is quite out of tune.  I mention that not as a criticism but because it's part of training your ear.  If you play only on out of tune pianos your ear accepts it as normal and doesn't notice anymore.  Not everybody can afford to maintain a piano as well as it should be, so I would encourage you to spend time on good pianos whenever possible, even including digitals, and listen closely to what chords should sound like. 

Third, I notice something about the rhythmic accuracy too.  I think it's the same thing j_tour noticed but I describe it differently.  You are not playing metronomically steady, but the rubato you are using is not linked to driving the phrase.  I think it's a combination of slowing to add in the extra ornaments you do, and some hesitations while you get to the next note.  I think it would benefit you to spend more time actually playing with a metronome.  It points out inaccuracies you'll never notice otherwise, and then you can choose whether or not to change them. 

I don't know if your goal is congregational singing or other.  That's kind of a matter of style in different churches.  I think how you played it would be fine in a praise and worship style church where the emphasis is on the performance of the group up in front, and the performance is by nature somewhat soloistic.  Congregational singing requires a different approach.  I've played and sung in both types of churches and I'm trying not to be judgmental, but of course I'm more comfortable with one than the other.  Your rendition would be hard to sing along with.  It's close, but you'd have to work on that a little, maybe getting a friend to sing along so you can see what changes you have to make.  It becomes more of a duet or ensemble than a solo. 
Tim

Offline quantum

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #7 on: March 13, 2021, 08:35:18 PM »
For one year playing piano, I think you are doing well.  You have a sense of filling in the space of longer note values with passage work that sounds natural to the instrument, as well as utilizing the whole keyboard to orchestrate the hymn.

You have been given very good advice above. 

I'll expand by saying that this manner of playing would likely do fine for a piano voluntary in which there were to be no singing.  However, if you were to play this hymn for congregational singing or even a choir anthem, the rhythm is a bit too loose.  Congregational singing often requires a solid well defined rhythmic structure.  There can be a tenancy in congregational song for people to pay more attention to pitch than to rhythm, and over the duration of a hymn gradually slow down a hymn.  As a pianist leading congregational singing, one needs to be especially aware of rhythm and part of the task is to guide the direction of the music as a whole. 

As there is text associated with this music, things like rubato and phrasing need to be reflective of the text.  When playing as piano voluntary, you can afford more creative license.  However, when playing a hymn to be sung, the pianist needs to be aware of the text, where the natural phrasing of the text occurs, how a singer breathes with the text, and how the pianist can play the hymn in a manner that reflects the text.  All of this adds up to make a hymn a complete cohesive package. 

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Offline emin7b5

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #8 on: March 14, 2021, 03:20:00 AM »
Nice! I really enjoyed it. Since you are starting out, I would just say donít be too hard on yourself. Listen to a lot of music and have fun. If music isnít fun to play...whatís the point. Yes, we need to practice hard to get better, but you can make practice fun too if you put your mind to it.

Offline gospelpiano12

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Re: How do I sound?
«Reply #9 on: March 15, 2021, 08:19:11 PM »
Thank you for your kind words.