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How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste) (Read 552 times)

Offline mediocrepianist123

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I know some pianist colleagues who can (after even 3-4 seconds of listening to someoneís playing), point out various things to correct about someoneís playing. I wish to have this ability with regards to my own playing. I can play all the notes and I have a more or less clear vision of what I want to do. However, Iím never nuanced, I donít look at all the lines, my theory is weak and I also have a very small dynamic range. How can I greatly improve this aspect of my pianism? In short, how can I start listening to my playing like a professional and in addition, how can I change my playing to sound more professional.

Offline stringoverstrung

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Re: How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste)
«Reply #1 on: August 31, 2021, 08:48:38 PM »
Hello,

some tips that might help:

you can record yourself and listen.
For the dynamic range I would suggest practicing finger staccato to increase the speed of attack. However you absolutely need to stay relaxed while doing this. Never "force" the sound.
For ppp try to play chords and focus on playing the notes exactly together while preserving hand structure and integrity. (Small movements)



Offline anacrusis

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Re: How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste)
«Reply #2 on: August 31, 2021, 10:59:17 PM »
A lot of the things the pianists you mention pick up on can be learned. And it just takes time. Make sure you have a good teacher who can teach you what to listen for, if you haven't already, go to masterclasses, listen to lots of recordings of eminent pianists (preferrably older ones who have mastered their craft rather than the young stars of today who still got some musical maturing to do in my opinion).

Oh and theory is absolutely essential to understanding some of the things you are mentioning. You need to know your harmony, rhythm, phrasing, solfege and so on inside and out if you want to elevate your playing to the next level, it informs so much.

Your sound depends on your ears and your physical command. Develop your ear and your physical skills and you'll be able to improe your sound. You may need a teacher who can show you the way.

Offline j_tour

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Re: How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste)
«Reply #3 on: September 01, 2021, 02:48:43 AM »
However, Iím never nuanced, I donít look at all the lines, my theory is weak and I also have a very small dynamic range.

Even simpler than the above excellent advice and suggestions.

Why aren't you looking at "all the lines"?  You can, you know.  And for extra credit you can and should perform some form of analysis to these "lines."  And, simply, learn to sing to them away from the keyboard.  And do so.  All of the above.

That's an easy one.

I find dynamics to be something you can only learn by (i) hearing (ii) playing.  Again, and again, and again.

That just takes some doggedness and maybe a willingness to sound like various other pianists at first.

But learning to hear and understand lines:  you have to make a choice to go the slow road for that one, IMHO, because that will take time.  Takes me time, and I've been playing since forever.  Not that I'm no Eddie Van Halen of the piano, but, you know, I can do some stuff and it still takes me concentrated effort.

It isn't some computer keyboard, the instrument, nor some puzzle like a Rubik's Cube or a chess endgame.  You have to do everything to it, and in the process, do everything to your ear, voice, mechanics, and overall sensibility.  Even if it means destroying or rebuilding your entire Weltanschauung.
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Offline themeandvariation

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Re: How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste)
«Reply #4 on: September 01, 2021, 03:07:53 AM »
jtour:
"Even simpler than the above excellent advice and suggestions.

Why aren't you looking at "all the lines"?  You can, you know.  And you can apply for extra credit some form of analysis to these "lines."  Or, simply, learn to sing to them away from the keyboard.  And do so.

That's an easy one.

I find dynamics to be something you can only learn by (i) hearing (ii) playing.  Again, and again, and again.
"But learning to hear and understand lines:  you have to make a choice to go the slow road for that one, IMHO, because that will take time."

Great advice!
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Online ranjit

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Re: How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste)
«Reply #5 on: September 01, 2021, 05:02:10 AM »
I know some pianist colleagues who can (after even 3-4 seconds of listening to someoneís playing), point out various things to correct about someoneís playing.
The other comments here are great, and talk about how you can improve. I'll share my experience of how I met a couple of people (one of whom is my teacher) who could do this, and what I gained about their ability to do so.

You learn about various kinds of touches at the piano and internalize them to the point where you can imagine and recognize the technique that is used to produce a certain sound, where the force is being generated from, and so on. You can eventually hear the precise velocities (volumes) of the notes relative to each other, exactly how much louder a certain note is played with respect to another, whether it's too loud and unpleasant for the particular instrument (playing at different dynamic ranges sounds different at the piano beyond just the volume). It requires a keen eye for observation and quite a bit of background knowledge. Also, once you have spent months or years trying to get something to sound a certain way, you become aware of all of the false detours that come along the path just by raw experience, and there's no real shortcut to that imo.

Essentially it's being able to see a ton of interrelationships between the notes, the phrasing, voicing, musical ideas, technical ideas behind those, evenness issues, etc. immediately. I think the way there is just to try to keep getting better at the underlying individual skills.

Offline quantum

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Re: How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste)
«Reply #6 on: September 01, 2021, 11:25:09 PM »
Lot of good replies above.

IMO there is no magic pill you can take that will suddenly give you improved awareness.  It is not one thing, but many little things that add up.  You gain this knowledge over time spent studying music, studying the instrument, constantly reevaluating how you listen and think about music. 

When thinking about nuance, it can become overwhelming to try and hold all these ideas in one's head at the same time.  So study nuance, by working one nuance at a time.  When you have gained progress and understanding, move on to the next, and the next...  Set small manageable goals.  For example, you can aim to study in depth one nuanced aspect for an entire week, the following week another nuance, and so on.  In one month you would have gained deeper understanding of four specific nuances.  A much more workable approach than spending a month worrying about not hearing any nuances in your playing. 

Whatever you are working on, nuance, theory, dynamic range, note that change involves both acquiring new information and skills, but also may require letting go of certain skills that you previously thought were adequate for the task.  Don't be afraid to try new things.  Don't hang on to old things just because they are familiar.  Seek the joy of improvement and learning.

Also appreciate what you have already learned and accomplished in music.  Look at how far you have already been able to go. 
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Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste)
«Reply #7 on: September 02, 2021, 02:23:04 AM »
Listen to music and all the different instruments not just the piano and many different styles. There is so much to learn from how other solo musicians deal with melodic lines while playing with others. I grew up as a little child watching a lot of Disney's Silly Symphonies and now looking back on it it was a very educational source for musical understanding. It ultimately starts from within, you must have the sound already inside you rather than being discovered by learning to manipulating the piano, that is like chasing the wind.

Learning to listen to yourself and matching that to the ideal sound in your minds eye requires a lot of training. When one is caught up over the technical, physical nature of playing it does not allow you to relax enough to listen closely to what you are doing.
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Offline lelle

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Re: How to develop good taste and sensitivity? (Tone quality and taste)
«Reply #8 on: September 02, 2021, 03:21:56 PM »
Here's an example of something to develop an understanding of. All of these examples should sound different when the 8th notes are played in the same tempo:



Often when somebody is not aware of details regarding rhythm and phrasing it would be difficult to hear which one of the examples is being played. But it should be clear if it's in 3/4 or 6/8 and where the slurs are regardless of which example you are playing. I have even heard many pianists who have studied in university not getting this right.