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Topic: Ballade no 1  (Read 638 times)

Offline ravelfan07

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Ballade no 1
on: November 30, 2023, 01:38:50 PM
If you were to exclude the ending, how difficult is Chopinís Ballade no 1?

Offline liszt-and-the-galops

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #1 on: November 30, 2023, 05:30:47 PM
DIfficulty is subjective. This is my opinion, and the only piece in this list that I've attempted was Double Thirds (long story short, I liked it, I tried it, I broke a finger, and I've been amazing a double notes ever since  ;D.)

Even without the ending (final 30 seconds is how I'm interpreting it), it's still among Chopin's most difficult. I'd say the only Chopin Etudes harder than it are Double Thirds, Chromatic, Winter Wind, and Torrent. Some Liszt pieces I've heard that are harder include ~1/3 of the Transcendental Etudes, La Campanella, and both the main Galops (Chromatique and A Minor). I've heard some people say Islamey is easier, and I respectfully disagree. I personally feel Ballade no. 4 is easier, but I know that opinion is unpopular. I feel that each individual movement of Petrushka is harder than all of Ballade no. 1. I can't think of any more off the top of my head that are at all debatable.

As mentioned above, I've never attempted most of these pieces. Take my statements with a grain of salt.
Hoping to learn MAZEPPA


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Offline lelle

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #2 on: November 30, 2023, 06:33:49 PM
What measuring stick do you want me to use to determine its difficulty?

Offline ravelfan07

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #3 on: November 30, 2023, 10:32:51 PM
DIfficulty is subjective. This is my opinion, and the only piece in this list that I've attempted was Double Thirds (long story short, I liked it, I tried it, I broke a finger, and I've been amazing a double notes ever since  ;D.)

Even without the ending (final 30 seconds is how I'm interpreting it), it's still among Chopin's most difficult. I'd say the only Chopin Etudes harder than it are Double Thirds, Chromatic, Winter Wind, and Torrent. Some Liszt pieces I've heard that are harder include ~1/3 of the Transcendental Etudes, La Campanella, and both the main Galops (Chromatique and A Minor). I've heard some people say Islamey is easier, and I respectfully disagree. I personally feel Ballade no. 4 is easier, but I know that opinion is unpopular. I feel that each individual movement of Petrushka is harder than all of Ballade no. 1. I can't think of any more off the top of my head that are at all debatable.

As mentioned above, I've never attempted most of these pieces. Take my statements with a grain of salt.
Saying Islamey is easier is pure insanity

Offline ravelfan07

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #4 on: November 30, 2023, 10:36:54 PM
What measuring stick do you want me to use to determine its difficulty?
Letís say from 1 - 10
1 is hot cross buns
3 is fur Elise
5 is nocturne op 9 no 2 Chopin
7 is La Campanella
9 is Don Juan by Liszt
10 is The Concord Sonata

Offline lelle

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #5 on: November 30, 2023, 10:42:54 PM
Letís say from 1 - 10
1 is hot cross buns
3 is fur Elise
5 is nocturne op 9 no 2 Chopin
7 is La Campanella
9 is Don Juan by Liszt
10 is The Concord Sonata

Well then I squeeze it in at a 6 between the Nocturne and La Campanella. Don't give me much choice :P

Offline jamienc

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #6 on: December 01, 2023, 03:22:03 AM
Compared to the other Ballades, it is probably the third most difficult of the four, and only because it is structurally so varied compared to the almost variation-like structural progression of the other three. I found No. 1 to be difficult from an emotional standpoint, aside from the technical demands of a 23-year old Chopin who already completed one of his masterpieces with this work. The first page, actually, is one of the most difficult areas to get ďcorrectĒ considering the indications Chopin takes great care to notate with regards to the location of the main melody. For example, at the Moderato in mm. 8, the only note the should be melodic is the C. Everything else is harmonic accompaniment. I certainly donít want to bore everyone with details, but most recordings I hear of this make that entire eighth-note passage the melody leading to the G in the next measure. I disagree, and only because he places a clear accent on the C and releases the pedal before the G sounds in the next measure, which contains no pedal marking! Add to this the subtle finger pedaling of the D and the F# (due to note duration) and it becomes apparent that the focus rests solely on that C. To me, I think that means he wants to main melody hierarchy to be C-G-D-C (to mm. 10) with all of the other eighth-notes and portamento chords to be supportive. Itís quite a difficult thing to achieve since the ear wants so badly to hear the eighths as the melody. I find it curious that the resolution to that G in mm. 9 is the first time we actually hear the key of the piece. It has to be an important moment, and approaching it is quite tricky to make it effective. If the rest of that page is handled similarly, it can be quite magical for the listener.

In the scary passage that begins in mm. 48, I found great success in the clarity of the figures when I practiced ONLY the right hand arpeggios without the double notes. To explain further, I omitted the C, and the two B-flats that occur over the g-minor and D-major chords, respectively, that arpeggiate down and up over the left hand accompaniment. When I added the notes back as written, but remained focused on the main chord that I had practiced before, it suddenly became much easier to play.

For me, the most difficult passage that I had to really brute force practice all the time was mm. 138-145. There is just no easy way to play that without a solid fingering and giving your left hand time to correctly place itself in those awkward chords he requires. My only advice there is to slow practice and find a fingering that allows you to encompass as many notes as possible in the right hand so you donít have an excessive amount of shifts in your hand position.

Honestly, I did not find the coda of this Ballade to be troublesome. All I did was to ensure that I maintained as close to the octave position in my hand shape as possible during those passages where the alternating sixths occur as evidenced in mm. 216-230. Do not rotate your wrist and use mostly finger from the big knuckle down to play the note and youíll be solid. The scales in 251 and 255 are super easy with a good fingering. Align your thumbs on the same notes ascending for each scale (everything else is RH 2-3/LH 3-2 and RH 2-3-4/LH 4-3-2) and you can fly up the keyboard with great effect.

Again, sorry for such a long and detailed post but I get quite passionate when I can share some things Iíve learned by wrestling with some of our greatest pieces, especially if it helps someone else learn it quicker and ignites that passion to continue onwards with other great repertoire!

Offline ravelfan07

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #7 on: December 01, 2023, 03:59:16 PM
Compared to the other Ballades, it is probably the third most difficult of the four, and only because it is structurally so varied compared to the almost variation-like structural progression of the other three. I found No. 1 to be difficult from an emotional standpoint, aside from the technical demands of a 23-year old Chopin who already completed one of his masterpieces with this work. The first page, actually, is one of the most difficult areas to get ďcorrectĒ considering the indications Chopin takes great care to notate with regards to the location of the main melody. For example, at the Moderato in mm. 8, the only note the should be melodic is the C. Everything else is harmonic accompaniment. I certainly donít want to bore everyone with details, but most recordings I hear of this make that entire eighth-note passage the melody leading to the G in the next measure. I disagree, and only because he places a clear accent on the C and releases the pedal before the G sounds in the next measure, which contains no pedal marking! Add to this the subtle finger pedaling of the D and the F# (due to note duration) and it becomes apparent that the focus rests solely on that C. To me, I think that means he wants to main melody hierarchy to be C-G-D-C (to mm. 10) with all of the other eighth-notes and portamento chords to be supportive. Itís quite a difficult thing to achieve since the ear wants so badly to hear the eighths as the melody. I find it curious that the resolution to that G in mm. 9 is the first time we actually hear the key of the piece. It has to be an important moment, and approaching it is quite tricky to make it effective. If the rest of that page is handled similarly, it can be quite magical for the listener.

In the scary passage that begins in mm. 48, I found great success in the clarity of the figures when I practiced ONLY the right hand arpeggios without the double notes. To explain further, I omitted the C, and the two B-flats that occur over the g-minor and D-major chords, respectively, that arpeggiate down and up over the left hand accompaniment. When I added the notes back as written, but remained focused on the main chord that I had practiced before, it suddenly became much easier to play.

For me, the most difficult passage that I had to really brute force practice all the time was mm. 138-145. There is just no easy way to play that without a solid fingering and giving your left hand time to correctly place itself in those awkward chords he requires. My only advice there is to slow practice and find a fingering that allows you to encompass as many notes as possible in the right hand so you donít have an excessive amount of shifts in your hand position.

Honestly, I did not find the coda of this Ballade to be troublesome. All I did was to ensure that I maintained as close to the octave position in my hand shape as possible during those passages where the alternating sixths occur as evidenced in mm. 216-230. Do not rotate your wrist and use mostly finger from the big knuckle down to play the note and youíll be solid. The scales in 251 and 255 are super easy with a good fingering. Align your thumbs on the same notes ascending for each scale (everything else is RH 2-3/LH 3-2 and RH 2-3-4/LH 4-3-2) and you can fly up the keyboard with great effect.

Again, sorry for such a long and detailed post but I get quite passionate when I can share some things Iíve learned by wrestling with some of our greatest pieces, especially if it helps someone else learn it quicker and ignites that passion to continue onwards with other great repertoire!
Thanks man! How would you recommend to play bars 36 - 65?

Online transitional

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #8 on: December 05, 2023, 03:51:30 AM
A bit off topic, but what makes people say the ballades are so hard, if you don't include the codas? They're slow and don't seem too technically difficult. I haven't tried one, but all they are is just long nocturnes, which are "ballades in minature" ... and nocturnes are easy because you just need to make them nocturne-y.

Don't want to start a heated argument, I just want someone to explain and I'll just agree or disagree.
I'd love to learn all the Schubert sonatas someday

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warning: trash scores:
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Offline lelle

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #9 on: December 05, 2023, 10:27:35 AM
A bit off topic, but what makes people say the ballades are so hard, if you don't include the codas? They're slow and don't seem too technically difficult. I haven't tried one, but all they are is just long nocturnes, which are "ballades in minature" ... and nocturnes are easy because you just need to make them nocturne-y.

Don't want to start a heated argument, I just want someone to explain and I'll just agree or disagree.

Yes there are slow parts but also lots of fast, passageworky things, octaves or other sorts of double notes - all stuff that requires a flexible, well developed technique to do well - happen before the coda in all of the ballades. For contrast, the famous E flat nocturne op 9 no 2 has none of those things and can be learned by early intermediate players.

Offline mjames

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #10 on: December 05, 2023, 11:29:53 PM
Letís say from 1 - 10
1 is hot cross buns
3 is fur Elise
5 is nocturne op 9 no 2 Chopin
7 is La Campanella
9 is Don Juan by Liszt
10 is The Concord Sonata

There is a massive jump between op. 9 no. 2 and La Campanella, lmao. Not sure what use is this but the answer is obviously between 7 and 5.  ;D

I'll give you a nice answer though. For an amateur pianist with little to no formal education (perhaps self-taught, or whatever) the ballade is doable even if you include the coda. With the internet there are plenty of resources online that'll help you learn the piece to an adequate level. Without a teacher though coupled alongside discplined practice it might take you awhile to get there, perhaps 5 years or a decade (assuming you're an absolute beginner now) depending on your talent and dedication. I don't mean just "learning" it, but actually playing it well in public.

Whereas for Don Juan by Liszt, I don't believe an amateur with little to no formal education will ever be able to play it regardless of how many years they spend trying to learn it.

That should give you an idea of how hard Chopin's ballade is.

Offline mavis_

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #11 on: December 06, 2023, 03:58:33 AM
I think the coda is the apex of the ballades that you cannot exactly exclude them from establishing the difficulty of the piece. Technique-wise, it involves a great deal of coordination, in terms of analyzing which movement would be the most efficient for you. In my case, I did not find the exchange of octaves from the thumb and the pinky to be difficult (probably because of hypermobility) but I think it's practicing the "leaps" slowly but not pressing the note yet. Moreso, it's also important to know the melodic lines in-between which are heavily hidden due to the multi-fixated phrasings but overall, it's not a fairly easy piece without it either. The intro in itself, requires mature musicality, bringing out the top notes and such and shifting the character since the harmonic is in Neapolitan. Moving forward, the seemingly easy phrase that is repetitive (a.k.a. the main theme of the piece) has a very specific voicing---one could argue that the melody is in the inner lines than the outer lines, but I would prefer to reference Arthur Rubinstein's interpretation when teaching the piece (I THINK WHEN HE HAD A MASTERCLASS) but Krystian Zimmerman's Ballade 1 is that of a typical standard. Although as un-esoteric as it may sound, his playing encapsulates what one should explore especially when learning the piece for the first time.

SORRY I AM RAMBLING, but again, going back to your question, the climax of the piece moving forward has a lot of technical and phrasing difficulties. For one, you should be able to do the octaves in legato form, you cannot just keep reusing your pinky or the sentence of sound would stutter and feel incoherent. Or the  animato section, it has a of leaps and you still have to try to make it sound pianissimo---the balance of making it sound as light as a feather is quite a difficult one especially since that you also have to know the weight you are trying to do. Plus (LAST so sorry) when doing the scale, especially when the scale degrees are different, you have to follow fingering, I know easy to say than done but like in repetition of getting it right then you are able to fully touch the final key to its greatest form---considering all things said that there are lot of this to be done slowly (don't be like me who rushed this piece and had to relearn it mulltiple times, but truly it will all be fulfilling afterward)

 CONCLUSION: Even if you remove the coda, the piece is still difficult on its own, it's one of the most profound works of Chopin (one would assume that it is his very own beloved) but it's more of taking the time to work on it.

Offline mavis_

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #12 on: December 06, 2023, 03:59:14 AM
I think the coda is the apex of the ballades that you cannot exactly exclude them from establishing the difficulty of the piece. Technique-wise, it involves a great deal of coordination, in terms of analyzing which movement would be the most efficient for you. In my case, I did not find the exchange of octaves from the thumb and the pinky to be difficult (probably because of hypermobility) but I think it's practicing the "leaps" slowly but not pressing the note yet. Moreso, it's also important to know the melodic lines in-between which are heavily hidden due to the multi-fixated phrasings but overall, it's not a fairly easy piece without it either. The intro in itself, requires mature musicality, bringing out the top notes and such and shifting the character since the harmonic is in Neapolitan. Moving forward, the seemingly easy phrase that is repetitive (a.k.a. the main theme of the piece) has a very specific voicing---one could argue that the melody is in the inner lines than the outer lines, but I would prefer to reference Arthur Rubinstein's interpretation when teaching the piece (I THINK WHEN HE HAD A MASTERCLASS) but Krystian Zimmerman's Ballade 1 is that of a typical standard. Although as un-esoteric as it may sound, his playing encapsulates what one should explore especially when learning the piece for the first time.

SORRY I AM RAMBLING, but again, going back to your question, the climax of the piece moving forward has a lot of technical and phrasing difficulties. For one, you should be able to do the octaves in legato form, you cannot just keep reusing your pinky or the sentence of sound would stutter and feel incoherent. Or the  animato section, it has a of leaps and you still have to try to make it sound pianissimo---the balance of making it sound as light as a feather is quite a difficult one especially since that you also have to know the weight you are trying to do. Plus (LAST so sorry) when doing the scale, especially when the scale degrees are different, you have to follow fingering, I know easy to say than done but like in repetition of getting it right then you are able to fully touch the final key to its greatest form---considering all things said that there are lot of this to be done slowly (don't be like me who rushed this piece and had to relearn it mulltiple times, but truly it will all be fulfilling afterward)

 CONCLUSION: Even if you remove the coda, the piece is still difficult on its own, it's one of the most profound works of Chopin (one would assume that it is his very own beloved) but it's more of taking the time to work on it.

Offline ravelfan07

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Re: Ballade no 1
Reply #13 on: December 09, 2023, 02:25:09 AM
There is a massive jump between op. 9 no. 2 and La Campanella, lmao. Not sure what use is this but the answer is obviously between 7 and 5.  ;D

I'll give you a nice answer though. For an amateur pianist with little to no formal education (perhaps self-taught, or whatever) the ballade is doable even if you include the coda. With the internet there are plenty of resources online that'll help you learn the piece to an adequate level. Without a teacher though coupled alongside discplined practice it might take you awhile to get there, perhaps 5 years or a decade (assuming you're an absolute beginner now) depending on your talent and dedication. I don't mean just "learning" it, but actually playing it well in public.

Whereas for Don Juan by Liszt, I don't believe an amateur with little to no formal education will ever be able to play it regardless of how many years they spend trying to learn it.

That should give you an idea of how hard Chopin's ballade is.
Iíve been playing for a little under a year and a half and I donít mean to toot my own horn but Iíd say piano comes easy to me, at least the music theory and some playing aspects
At first I struggled with the piano for my first few months but after a year of playing i made rapid progress, even suprising myself
  Iím also almost entirely self taught also(except some chord stuff , some  minor notational aspects and some minor fingering stuff, a teacher helped me with those)
If you were to use my very flawed scale of difficulty, how far could you say I could make it on my own?
To a piece like Une barque Sur locean? Chase Niege? Feux Follets? Jeux Deau? Or the  winter wind etude? (All of these are long term goals of mine by the way)
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

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