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Topic: another thirds question  (Read 3177 times)

Offline rob47

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another thirds question
on: March 25, 2005, 05:12:02 AM
ya generally most people have trouble with thirds for a while but eventually get em.
Anyway im talking about a pretty fast run of chromatic thirds up and down the piano.  Right now I can play it, just not fast enough.  I'll practice it slow, resting for a split second everytime my fingers reach the bottom of the keys,  and this helps but perhaps its in the fingering? I mean they are getting quicker, i just need a quicker way to get them quicker.  I do the slide your index finger trick but maybe theres a better fingering?  What works for some doesn't work for others but what works for u? Incidentally I'm talking more going up the keyboard, coming down seems quite a bit easier.  And for all those trying to guess what piece im talking about its Don juan.  Specifically the chromaitc thirds at the beginning during the "Don being dragged into hell(?)" motive in the ultra chromaticized scale passage before the duet.  The ones before the transition  to the presto seem to go smoother possibly because i've been playing for like 12 minutes previous to them?  I dont know. Now I'm just rambling. Any thoughts> fingerings> relaxation techniques. I find op. 10#2 and ,25#6 help, but i think time is what i need, or perhaps more effective use of my time. Anyway.

Rob
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Offline steinwayguy

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #1 on: March 25, 2005, 06:14:23 AM
The way I play chromatic thirds is I make sure there is an arm motion involved, somehow. In some pieces (coda of fourth ballade), I use a very slight in-and-out motion coupled with a very slight alternating action. In the thirds etude, at the beginning, for example, I play the first third in the group with my forearm. The second third is played on the rebound off of the first chord, ensuring speed with ease and not much tension.

Practice them in groups pausing after each group and making sure you're relaxed. I think this is about the only way you would be able to play it with your current technique. Also, make sure you're using the 3-4-5 fingering for the top notes in the thirds.

Offline argerich_smitten

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #2 on: March 25, 2005, 02:47:42 PM
Not 2 weeks ago I was asking around for help on this exact passage; it's a tough one, isn't it?  Here's how I went about it

First fingering needs to be figured out.  I used the index slide finger trick as well, but then of course 'regular' fingering going down.  If you posted the specific fingering you are currently using, it would be helpful. 

Second:  The mechanics of it.  Thirds should come mostly from the arms, as you probably know, and when there is arm motion involved there is almost always weight.  As opposed to pushing down the keys with your fingers, try to feel that you are just transfering your weight from one set of notes to the next.  Using your arm and feeling the transfer of weight will help you loosen up, and of course you must be very loose trying to play a passage like this.  Try to relax not only your arm, but also your abdomen (interestingly enough this is one of first parts of our bodies to get tense). 

What I find interesting is that coming down for you is easier than going up, because the downward run is more awkward to play, and the 'flowing' feel tends to go away to.  After some thought however, I will proudly toss out a hypothesis that so far seems sensible.  When you go up, your fingers are closer to their natural playing position, so you rely less on the arm and more on the fingers. Going down, you are forced to use your arm, which is more efficient.  I'd bet most of us (at least at first) involve out fingers more going up, because most of us have played small ascending chromatic thirds passages, and it wasn't neccesary to get the arm so involved (though it probably would have been easier). 

If you think that this diagnosis is correct, observe what you are thinking, what your arm is doing, and what your entire body feels like when going down.  Then try to immitate that for the upward runs. 

If this does not help (I think it will though), please tell me and i'll try to come up with something else. 

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #3 on: April 02, 2005, 02:10:16 AM
It is important to know the feeling; how does it feel to play thirds in a natural, effective way?  Once that feeling is obtained, we can search for it every time a problem arises, we can in fact find it, without ever bothering with the problem itself.  Problems and solutions are by-products, side-effects, of the search for the truth.  Above all, it is that that we are concerned with, the truth.  What is natural, and effective.

My point is: we cannot "create" a feeling, that it is natural.  If we know it, we will search for it.  If we don't, we need concrete knowledge to begin with, to discover that feeling and know it intimately. 
We need to know the touch to employ: a "pulling" touch as Godowsky called it, or stroking the cat, or erasing pencil marks.  We need to know the wrists and elbows have to be free, they are free in this sense: we do not tell them what to do.  We do not say, elbow, do this, wrist, do this.  They are free, to do what the expression demands.  The fingertips hold the sensation.  Think about it please, it is quite logical.  In the fingertips are our connection to the piano, and they have to be free, to be anywhere on the piano, making any sound.  The rest of the arm simply cannot get in the way.  By this process, you will discover for yourself, how the rest of the arm can help.

But in the meantime it may help to dwell on this: that the elbow is capable, anatomically speaking, of clockwise and anti-clockwise motions.  When we go one direction on the keyboard, one of these rotations is helpful.  Another direction, another rotation.

Walter Ramsey

Offline thierry13

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #4 on: April 02, 2005, 02:15:16 AM
Question like that... do you intend to take your thirds speed up to your single note chromatic scale speed? I think my chromatic thirds technique is becoming ok, but I can't do them at the same speed. BTW I use only 1-3 fingering for chromatic scales. If there are REALLY REALLY REALLY fast chromatic passages i change them, so that it looks like a glissando. Apart of that I allways play them only 1-3(with a 2 when necessary), and am very comfortable with it. So do you take your thirds technique as fast as your single note?

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #5 on: April 02, 2005, 02:20:30 AM
Question like that... do you intend to take your thirds speed up to your single note chromatic scale speed? I think my chromatic thirds technique is becoming ok, but I can't do them at the same speed. BTW I use only 1-3 fingering for chromatic scales. If there are REALLY REALLY REALLY fast chromatic passages i change them, so that it looks like a glissando. Apart of that I allways play them only 1-3(with a 2 when necessary), and am very comfortable with it. So do you take your thirds technique as fast as your single note?


If the fingers are truly independent, and the arm truly free, thirds can be played for all intensive purposes as fast as we wish.  We cannot play them faster then we can concieve them.  Though sometimes we are surprised, and realize we can concieve them faster than we thought.
If we can move up the chromatic scale using 3-4-5 very fast, and also using 1-2-3 very fast, there is no reason why those two cannot be combined.  It is a question of independence, and control.

Walter Ramsey

Offline steinwayguy

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #6 on: April 02, 2005, 05:15:05 AM
Question like that... do you intend to take your thirds speed up to your single note chromatic scale speed? I think my chromatic thirds technique is becoming ok, but I can't do them at the same speed. BTW I use only 1-3 fingering for chromatic scales. If there are REALLY REALLY REALLY fast chromatic passages i change them, so that it looks like a glissando. Apart of that I allways play them only 1-3(with a 2 when necessary), and am very comfortable with it. So do you take your thirds technique as fast as your single note?

That was totally pointless.

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #7 on: April 02, 2005, 04:20:52 PM


That was totally pointless.



But why?  We should always be searching for the maximum, we should always be shunning limitations.  People love to tell you you have limitations, people actually put their faith into limitations.  No, it should be the other way around.  We should always be testing what we think are our limitations, we should always be pushing, we will discover worlds of possibility that we did not know existed.   Yes, someday, we will know our limitations on this, and on that.  But until then, if we are still asking questions, we are doing the right thing.

Walter Ramsey


Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #8 on: April 03, 2005, 03:05:22 AM
Show me a piece which requires one hand playing chromatic thirds blistering fast. Not many at all. So its like saying, lets get really skilled at hunting albino gorillas so when we come across one we will be ok. So rare, so useless to study unless you are confronted with it in a peice. I always find it easy to group the thirds into groups of 2 first, then increase that by one until I encompass the entire group. So play 2 of the thirds then pause, 2 again then pause continue the process. This entices the brain to memorise/(relate to) parts of the touch of the entire group then eventually understand them as a whole. I guess I am saying look at the trees in hard cases like this, but keep the forest in mind, where do you start the run, where do you end it, where are outposts within that group which solidify your undertsand of the group. Give me the run and ill tell you how to do it, I dont have the sheet for the Don.
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Offline ramseytheii

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #9 on: April 05, 2005, 01:52:05 AM
Show me a piece which requires one hand playing chromatic thirds blistering fast. Not many at all. So its like saying, lets get really skilled at hunting albino gorillas so when we come across one we will be ok. So rare, so useless to study unless you are confronted with it in a peice.

There are actually many passages requiring such a skill, in Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Godowsky, Scriabin, and of course the Chopin Etude in Thirds.  If it is a useless technique, why are there etudes for it?  The greatest pianists were not content with the minimum that they could accomplish; they were only interested in maximums.  For documentary evidence, see the exercises written by Liszt, exercises for things you hardly ever see in his music.  Well he wanted to go beyond even the wildest conception of possibility for his time.  Godowsky also accomplished such a thing.
I do not mean to say it is necessary for a pianist to play fast chromatic thirds, only to defend the search for such an ability.

Walter Ramsey

Offline thierry13

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #10 on: April 05, 2005, 02:23:56 AM
Show me a piece which requires one hand playing chromatic thirds blistering fast. Not many at all. So its like saying, lets get really skilled at hunting albino gorillas so when we come across one we will be ok. So rare, so useless to study unless you are confronted with it in a peice. I always find it easy to group the thirds into groups of 2 first, then increase that by one until I encompass the entire group. So play 2 of the thirds then pause, 2 again then pause continue the process. This entices the brain to memorise/(relate to) parts of the touch of the entire group then eventually understand them as a whole. I guess I am saying look at the trees in hard cases like this, but keep the forest in mind, where do you start the run, where do you end it, where are outposts within that group which solidify your undertsand of the group. Give me the run and ill tell you how to do it, I dont have the sheet for the Don.


Why limiting yourself, the faster you MASTER the thirds, the easier it will be for you to make them slower, so the easiest it is for you technically, maybe you can concentrate then on playing it musically, with perfect eveness , clarity,etc. If you limit yourself to the minimum the pieces you know requires, you will stay at their level. If you want to experience again more difficult repertoire, but still beautiful, then you will have to push the limits. There is allways something harder to play.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #11 on: April 05, 2005, 07:43:51 AM
I can play my thirds chromatic runs almost as fast as my single finger chromatic run, however I rarely need to use it, that is the point i am trying to say. I play a huge amount of Scriabin and I dont come across large third runs in one hand, you have worse lol, but it is all very musically used, like his Op8 no6 plays 6th everywhere but highly addictive to play with strong musical sense.

Ideally i like to sometimes practice my interval movements in two halfs. Play the upper part of the hand by itself and then the lower part by itself, observing the points where you have to have most balance because moving around too much is what you are trying to avoid. When play both hands maintain the clarity and balance that the single note did.
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Offline Lang

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #12 on: April 07, 2005, 11:28:14 PM
Without trying to sound like an ass, I'll go ahead and say that in my opinion, if a passage like the chromatic thirds before the La Ci Darem duet are giving you trouble, you're not technically ready for the Don Juan Fantasie. It's probably the hardest large scale work that Liszt wrote, and if such a simple passage (face it: it's just thirds) is giving you trouble, perhaps you should rethink your goal in playing it.

The thirds later on are not easier. They can't be, they're the same physical action. The reason they feel like they are going better is because they have accompaniment and are not the main focus of the audience's, or your, attention. Hence, you do not notice the blips and errors, and to some degree that is fine - but you can't have such concessions in the run near the start. If you were to record your playing, you'd find that the thirds before the presto are not better in any way at all than the ones near the beginning.

Offline rob47

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Re: another thirds question
Reply #13 on: April 07, 2005, 11:58:04 PM
Thanks for all the help people. They are coming along spankingly these days.


Quote
Without trying to sound like an ass, I'll go ahead and say that in my opinion, if a passage like the chromatic thirds before the La Ci Darem duet are giving you trouble, you're not technically ready for the Don Juan Fantasie. It's probably the hardest large scale work that Liszt wrote, and if such a simple passage (face it: it's just thirds) is giving you trouble, perhaps you should rethink your goal in playing it.


Ouch my pride. I'll post a recording when it's done and then you can judge it better perhaps. But you are right the thirds passage is simple once you know what you're doing.

thanks again,
Rob
"Phenomenon 1 is me"
-Alexis Weissenberg
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