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#1138598 - 03/06/08 03:29 PM How does one develop 'touch'?
jasperkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/05
Posts: 411
Loc: Safford, AZ
This is something I would really like to get better at. Maybe I'm being too self critical but I really want my playing to sound smoother. Most of the times right now it seems like it's hit or miss on getting a consistent tone and key velocity across a slow melody line. Perhaps my problem is that I try to control the velocity mostly with my fingers as opposed to utilizing arm weight but I really don't know how to use arm weight.
I do some Hanons prior to practice (I now do up to exercise #12) and some scales but it seems difficult to achieve the same smoothness of volume pressing the keys as I hear in my head. Now sometimes on 'those days' almost everything sounds wonderful but I'd like to be able to do it consistently.
Does anybody have some sorely needed advice for this?
_________________________
"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." Andy Bernard

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1138599 - 03/07/08 10:30 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I think this an interesting topic partly because of all the different physical properties...like hand size, arm strength, body relaxation...to mention a few and then throw in the emotional side and the possibilities are endless.

While the piano is a percussive instrument I think it takes great skill to play with velocity all the while not to irritate the ear.

I had a college professor who was 6'4"[from Cuba] and his fingers were so thick they could barely fit between the keys....but oh when he touched them it was like a slice of heaven.

So for me personally I like to see and hear the sound caressed from the piano rather that forced.

rada
www.pianopassions.com

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#1138600 - 03/07/08 11:06 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
So for me personally I like to see and hear the sound caressed[/b] from the piano
What a beautiful image! Both the "caress" and the "from" are meaningful. What a difference between imposing the sound upon the the piano, or drawing it out of the piano.

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#1138601 - 03/07/08 11:48 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
My old teacher used to say just that: Imagine you're drawing the sound UP from the piano.

I'm one of those people who doesn't think Hanon is useful.

However, I have found scales to be useful in gaining an evenness of tone. Assuming you're playing at least two octaves of a scale, try introducing artificial accents to your scales. That is: play an accent every four notes, making the rest of them quiet. Then try every three notes, and then maybe every 5 or 6.

every 4 notes accented:
C d e f G a b c D e f g A b c b A g f e D c b a G f e d ....
and the accents are on the same notes each time


if you accent every 3 notes, they fall on different notes each time... it's more difficult but more effective.

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#1138602 - 03/07/08 12:05 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
Thank you for that, Wavelength. \:\)

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#1138603 - 03/07/08 01:22 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
jasperkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/05
Posts: 411
Loc: Safford, AZ
Yes. Thanks, wavelength. I'll will try this method but I might have to shut the metronome off (at least, initally) as this sounds like it could get tricky.
_________________________
"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." Andy Bernard

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#1138604 - 03/07/08 01:25 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
 Quote:
So for me personally I like to see and hear the sound caressed[/b] from the piano
What a beautiful image! Both the "caress" and the "from" are meaningful. What a difference between imposing the sound upon the the piano, or drawing it out of the piano. [/b]
Caress is the word CPE Bach uses to describe clavichord touch.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1138605 - 03/07/08 01:37 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I believe that a weighted-key digital piano
would be the best thing for developing "touch."
Digital pianos are superior for developing
technique. It should be noted that silent
keyboards used to be popular with concert
pianists in the 1930's, and that Claudio Arrau
used one continuously until his death, which
was the secret to his great playing, playing
that was unique in the piano world. (In
a photo taken shortly before his death, Arrau
posed in his piano room at home, not with
a big grand in the background, but with
his ancient silent keyboard, his apparent pride
and joy.) A silent keyboard is similar to
a digital piano with the power turned off,
and this is the key. The volume control knob
on a digital piano allows you to adjust the
vol. anywhere from zero to much louder than
an acoustic piano, but it is the lower
volume levels that enable you to reproduce
something resembling a silent keyboard
with its superior capacity for technique development.

I grew up with classical lessons and acoustic
pianos, but it was only when I switched
completely to digital pianos in 1989 that
my playing and technique greatly improved.
I would have never been able to make that
same kind of improvement on an acoustic
piano due to its inherently inferior
capacity for technique development (this
is the reason why silent pianos were invented).

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#1138606 - 03/08/08 10:27 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
Thanks for that info on CPE Bach...never knew that....interesting....to me playing a digital piano is like using a dull knife....

rada
www.pianopassions.com

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#1138607 - 03/08/08 10:42 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
SSB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Cumbria, UK
I'm not convinced that digital pianos are superior for developing technique (and I'm being diplomatic here, can you tell?) - a digital piano might allow you to play more by virtue of it being portable (maybe) or able to be used at low volume / silently, but it isn't inherently better for developing feel or technique. Even relatively small variations in key pressure can be picked up as volume differences between keys, take away that sound "feedback" and what have you got to tell you that you're being inconsistent?

I don't have any problems with playing an acoustic piano whenever the mood takes me (no volume concerns here) and although I like my digital piano, I always return to the acoustic for proper practice when at home.
_________________________
User ratings are the work of the devil

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#1138608 - 03/08/08 01:17 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Ordinarily, having both a digital (and a Promega
3 no less) and an acoustic would be the
ideal situation, but here the acoustic seems to
function as a kind of mental crutch, and this
is hindering the player. In this case, I'd
suggest getting rid of the acoustic, for the
good of the player.

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#1138609 - 03/08/08 05:08 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
I believe that a weighted-key digital piano
would be the best thing for developing "touch."
Digital pianos are superior for developing
technique. [/b]
One of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. The one thing you absolutely cannot develop on a digital is touch.

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#1138610 - 03/08/08 06:16 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by jasperkeys:
Yes. Thanks, wavelength. I'll will try this method but I might have to shut the metronome off (at least, initally) as this sounds like it could get tricky. [/b]
I don't know if this is cheating, but I my metronome has a bell on one, so if accenting the first beat, normal is perfect for the accent(assuming 1/4 notes to start). Every third beat, then 3/4 time. Every other beat is 2/4 time (for beats on 2 and 4, I just adjust the count so 2 is the bell beat).

Works for me. Now, even when playing 1/16 notes, the bell just keeps me on 1 and I can accent any combo I wish....(within reason and abilities, of course).
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#1138611 - 03/08/08 06:28 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
I believe that a weighted-key digital piano
would be the best thing for developing "touch."
Digital pianos are superior for developing
technique. [/b]
One of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. The one thing you absolutely cannot develop on a digital is touch. [/b]
At least from a beginners point of view, J.Mark, I feel I am developing a nice touch on my digital. It will absolutely not transfer to an acoustic (or even another digital even), but thats normal, I think.

I have thought for some time that the touch that an acoustic player develops is "heavy" on a digital, and a lot of the bad press comes from not being able to control the digital as well at first. I have read the adjustment is easier from acoustic to digital, but my gut says it's just as difficult, if not more so.

Of course, the opposite is just as true. I cannot do anything of value on an acoustic at first, and I tire quickly.

So, IMHO (as un-qualified as it is - corrections welcome), I think I would say "the one thing you cannot develop on a digital is the touch required on an acoustic, and vice-versa".
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#1138612 - 03/08/08 06:31 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Paul Kolodner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/05
Posts: 143
Loc: Hoboken, NJ
Here's my 2 cents: I make sure to play everything I can in several rhythms: scales, arpeggios, chromatic scales, and anything else that might fit. By different rhythms, I mean stressing every second beat, every third beat, etc. This has really forced my to improve my control. Playing triad arpeggios over multiple octaves while stressing every fourth note is especially challenging because you typically have to switch hand positions landing on the thumb. This tends to accent the thumb note every third beat. Playing it in 4 and making it even is a great exercise.

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#1138613 - 03/08/08 07:03 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
ktom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 212
Loc: Somerset UK
Somewhere here there is a thread which includes my late grandad's story about Moiseiwitsch playing a concert on a clapped out dance band upright. He (Moiseiwitsch, not my grandad!) was a world class player, and he could get the best from anything. Seems to me "touch" is about just that.
_________________________
Steinway K - Kurzweil PC 88(wrecked and sold for spares) - Yamaha S90 - rhodes 760 - korg wavestation- Hammond XK1 etc..

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#1138614 - 03/09/08 01:35 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
SSB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Cumbria, UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
Ordinarily, having both a digital (and a Promega
3 no less) and an acoustic would be the
ideal situation, but here the acoustic seems to
function as a kind of mental crutch, and this
is hindering the player. In this case, I'd
suggest getting rid of the acoustic, for the
good of the player. [/b]
I'm well balanced enough to take your suggestion as a misguided one and leave it at that. :p
_________________________
User ratings are the work of the devil

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#1138615 - 03/09/08 03:37 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by jasperkeys:
Yes. Thanks, wavelength. I'll will try this method but I might have to shut the metronome off (at least, initally) as this sounds like it could get tricky. [/b]
Yeah, it's probably good to start without the metronome... one thing at a time, ya know? \:\)

You're probably right about arm weight, too. I wish I could help you with that over the internet, but I have enough trouble helping people with that in person.

My own search for "touch" started when my jazz piano teacher said "You attack the piano like a bear! Sometimes, make love to the piano instead." He was a master in his idiom , but the specific advice he gave me on touch only got me partway there. He passed away, and I began to study with the classical teacher with whome HE had studied. She turned my world upside-down. In our first lesson, I didn't get past the first note of Chopin's Prelude in E minor before she stopped me and said "Ok, wait... stop... we're playing MUSIC now... " Kind of harsh sounding, I know, but it was illuminating to find that there was so much art within a single note, and decisions to be made about how to produce it.

She had alot of metaphors and visualisation stuff, and she was even more insane than my previous teacher. She had this schtick about "slow, high-finger" practice that seemed like a miracle to me (although now after being exposed to other ideas, I am not so sure about it... I certainly don't feel qualified to teach it to my students).

Sorry to go on and on about my teachers. I guess my point is that if you can find a teacher who is old, accomplished, slightly crazy, and in posession of arcane knowledge, do it! \:\)


As for the digital/acoustic thing, I love Jmark's response. ...Wait a minute, weren't you on the "polite" side of the polite/impolite debate? \:\) just teasing-- tell it like it is! I don't want to dismiss the idea of a silent keyboard without thinking about it, but it is kind of "out-there".

I played gigs on my digital the last 4 days in a row. Both weekend gigs were out of town, and we stayed in a hotel. I was sad to be away from my piano, but luckily there's a great piano store near Saturday's gig... With a room full of Steinways! I played a Steinway B for an hour or so before heading to the gig to play my crappy, road-worn Yamaha P80. unnnnnnnnh.... it felt like a little plastic toy. \:\( Or like one of those dreams where you try to run, but it's like you're in molasses, or underwater... and the harder you try, the dimmer your vision gets.

I'd rather play an out-of tune spinet with broken keys and chipped ivorys than my digital piano. Maybe I need a nicer digital.... the action on mine needs serious help.

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#1138616 - 03/09/08 07:53 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
 Quote:
Originally posted by wavelength:
As for the digital/acoustic thing, I love Jmark's response. ...Wait a minute, weren't you on the "polite" side of the polite/impolite debate? \:\) just teasing-- tell it like it is! [/b]
Sorry, I get a little weary of the repeated nonsense ole gyro posts. He has his perspective, which is fine of course, but given how "out there" it is, it strikes me as wrong for him to post his views with such an authoritarian air.

BTW, wavelength, I love the stories about your teachers. I won't soon forget the quote about the Chopin Prelude. \:\)

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#1138617 - 03/09/08 08:40 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Tony.S Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/06
Posts: 211
Loc: Alberta
 Quote:
Originally posted by wavelength:
it was illuminating to find that there was so much art within a single note, and decisions to be made about how to produce it.
[/b]
I'm at the same point in my playing.

One of my teachers suggested involving more muscles (wrists, arms and fingers) to shape the phrases physically ... you seem to see many accomplished pianists letting their hands flow with the music. I always thought this was a bit flakey, but now I see the point ... it is more reliable to express what is in your head this way, than to rely exclusively on your fingers.

Also, he suggested using more arm weight and wrist action, and as Wavelenght noted, to perform and concentrate on each note slowly - think Tai Chi.
_________________________
Estonia 168 - slow down, relax, & listen

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#1138618 - 03/09/08 09:08 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
My teacher has been talking a lot lately about "intent." That is, if you "intend" a particular phrase to go a certain way, or to convey a certain feeling or notion, it will. You have to put that "intent" into it as you play it. Hard to explain, but it is making sense to me in terms of getting the right "touch."

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#1138619 - 03/09/08 11:16 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
fingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 799
Loc: Westchester, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
My teacher has been talking a lot lately about "intent."[/b]
Mark,
Your teacher is indeed wise. The pianist's "intent" is also responsible for being able to play with "tone". I maintain that intent originates in one's ear.

fingers
_________________________
Playing piano at age 2, it was thought that I was some sort of idiot-savant. As it turns out, I'm just an idiot.

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#1138620 - 03/10/08 04:17 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
The word I use for 'intent' is conception. And yes, it happens in the ears - the fingers take care of themselves.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1138621 - 03/10/08 03:30 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
J. Mark, why don't you shut the ____ up.

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#1138622 - 03/10/08 04:12 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
jasperkeys,

1) Doing legato scales - one finger is coming up as another finger is going down - like a "see saw" in the playground / (one side is down on the ground, the other side is up in the air). You might start this as a thought with just fingers 2 -3 then 3 - 4 and then 4 - 5. Then making a longer line of the notes 2-3-4-5 until you hear no gaps between the playing and all ringers are striking with the same rate of speed - more like a "melting" as they land on the keys.

2) I leave pedals off with my students until they have learned to play expressively and accurately and with a steady beat.

Sustain pedals are used too much. The pianist should really learn to use mimimal pedaling in the areas of the piece it is needed.

The pedal responds to your demand from what your ears are telling you about the sound and music you are producing.

To me, pedaling is a last step to put into place, and then only selectively. It's a study unto itself.

Betty

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#1138623 - 03/10/08 04:16 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
It would be great if this thread was continued without people getting personal. That way, I won't have to close it.

Thank you.

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#1138624 - 03/10/08 04:36 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
jasperkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/05
Posts: 411
Loc: Safford, AZ
 Quote:
Sustain pedals are used too much.[/b]
Aw, Betty Patnude. You saw right through me. You're right, I confess, I do use the pedal more than what is good for me. How did you know?

Thanks so much for your advice. I really should strive to obtain that wonderful legato simply be connecting the tones without the pedal, at least initially. I think I just figure that if the notes are chordal anyway; why not? However, I'm probably too dependent on the pedal to achieve legato. Anyway, I will try to actually listen and check myself if I hear too much blurring. Thanks.
_________________________
"I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." Andy Bernard

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#1138625 - 03/10/08 06:44 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
dvs cycles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 158
Loc: SoCal
I wish those with extreme opinions on both sides would realize what works for them may not work for someone else.
2 sides to everything.
Blanket statements that digital is the only way or you will never learn on a digital are just
WRONG on both sides.
Those making personal attacks should take it to PM so the rest of us don't have to read their
Jabs at each other.
Grow up boys, please.

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#1138626 - 03/10/08 08:14 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
J. Mark, why don't you shut the ____ up. [/b]
Goodness. That's just not very nice.

I have not attacked anyone personally. My references were to the ideas set forth. If one cannot respond to ideas, then what are we doing here?

Whatever. And no, I will not shut the __ up.

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#1138627 - 03/11/08 09:07 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Aw, jasperkeys!

Good project for you, don't you think?

When the right foot just wants to ride that pedal, you are going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice and place your right foot's toes UNDER the pedal!

Enter minimally with pedal.

Have you done any "search" on the forum here for "pedal" advice? I'm sure you'll find a lot of info. Search is at the top of every page to the right of Piano World Forums

I know you can do it! Good luck!

Betty

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#1138628 - 03/12/08 08:17 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3019
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by gmm1:
 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
I believe that a weighted-key digital piano
would be the best thing for developing "touch."
Digital pianos are superior for developing
technique. [/b]
One of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. The one thing you absolutely cannot develop on a digital is touch. [/b]
At least from a beginners point of view, J.Mark, I feel I am developing a nice touch on my digital. It will absolutely not transfer to an acoustic (or even another digital even), but thats normal, I think.

[/b]
I'm not at all sure it won't transfer. I practice on a digital but play at church a couple times a week. I can move easily from my digital to the grand, but moving from the digital to one of the beat up unmaintained uprights, or from upright to grand, is misery.

Turn the master volume on your digital up high, then try to play softly - how could you not develop touch doing that? That's a practice technique simply not available on an acoustic. I guess you could do the opposite as well, turn it way down and try to play loudly. Not sure that one works, I haven't tried it.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1138629 - 03/12/08 09:12 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
The digital can create sound for you, but you cannot create sound through the digital. It will give you loud and soft, but there is no mechanism inside to respond to subtle shadings of what you are doing and so create shades of sound. There is no hammer that swings away, so that you can start to feel its rocking and work or play with it. There are no strings that vibrate, so you cannot play with the sympathetic ring of partials by using the physics of the instrument, becuase there are no physics. You have some engineer's concept of sound, some other pianist's touch programmed into the system and you are stuck playing what these two ghost characters have put in. The sound itself comes out of one speaker, rather than three-dimensionally along the soundboard, along the individual string and possibly other strings to create shades and color. But yes, you can get loud, soft, and degrees of staccato and legato.

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#1138630 - 03/12/08 09:34 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
 Quote:
Originally posted by TimR:
 Quote:
Originally posted by gmm1:
 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
I believe that a weighted-key digital piano
would be the best thing for developing "touch."
Digital pianos are superior for developing
technique. [/b]
One of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. The one thing you absolutely cannot develop on a digital is touch. [/b]
At least from a beginners point of view, J.Mark, I feel I am developing a nice touch on my digital. It will absolutely not transfer to an acoustic (or even another digital even), but thats normal, I think.

[/b]
I'm not at all sure it won't transfer. I practice on a digital but play at church a couple times a week. I can move easily from my digital to the grand, but moving from the digital to one of the beat up unmaintained uprights, or from upright to grand, is misery.

Turn the master volume on your digital up high, then try to play softly - how could you not develop touch doing that? That's a practice technique simply not available on an acoustic. I guess you could do the opposite as well, turn it way down and try to play loudly. Not sure that one works, I haven't tried it.

I'm not saying the digital is useless. It is a useful practice tool. And certainly there is a level of "touch" that can be developed on a digital. But at least in my opinion, you have a very real ceiling above which you cannot go with a digital. What is that famous quote about Chopin having 1000 ways to play pianissimo? Well, not on a digital.

I'm not an advanced player. But it was working on some Satie and some Chopin that I finally realized the range of sounds that can be pulled from a good grand piano. It's a joke trying to do it with a digital. It just isn't there.

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#1138631 - 03/12/08 11:34 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3019
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
I'm not an advanced player. But it was working on some Satie and some Chopin that I finally realized the range of sounds that can be pulled from a good grand piano. It's a joke trying to do it with a digital. It just isn't there. [/b]
And you may be right, I'm not an advanced player either. I'm probably not at the point where I notice the nuances.

But notice you used the phrase "good grand piano." My practice on the digital at home transfers very well to the grand I play for church services. They really aren't that far apart.

But I also use several other pianos the church owns, older uprights in the other rooms. Those are completely inferior to either the grand OR my digital.

How many of us can afford the grand? How many of us are playing on a used spinet, or a clunky old upright? How many of us will never reach our potential because of that limitation, yet we're too snobbish to go try a digital?
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#1138632 - 03/12/08 11:53 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by TimR:
How many of us can afford the grand? How many of us are playing on a used spinet, or a clunky old upright? How many of us will never reach our potential because of that limitation, yet we're too snobbish to go try a digital? [/b]
Now I think you're talking about a different set of issues. And that's not really the subject of this thread. I don't think anyone is being snobbish here. There is just a simple reality, that there are nuances and variances of tone and touch that a digital can not produce. That in no way implies that a digital can not be better than some old clunker spinet. I think people here have often recommended to those on a very limited budget that they should consider a digital over a craigslist clunker. (Hey, I think I invented a piano term!)

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#1138633 - 03/13/08 12:37 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
dpvjazz Offline
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Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 287
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Piano techniques is your best bet and maybe spend some time with a classical teacher going over some simple but effective pieces to help you. I remember studying the Muzio Clementi sonatinas and sonatas and they have lots of dynamic markings and different tempos and if you practice them correctly that should help you get closer to your goals. Muzio Clementi (23 January 1752 – 10 March 1832) was a classical composer, and acknowledged as the first to write specifically for the piano. He is best known for his piano sonatas and his collection of piano studies
Clementi composed almost 110 piano sonatas. Some of the earlier and easier ones were reissued as sonatinas after the success of his Sonatinas Op. 36, and continue to be popular practice pieces in piano education. These are not often performed in public concerts, largely because they are seen as non-challenging educational music. However, most of Clementi's sonatas are more difficult to play than those of Mozart, who wrote in a letter to his sister that he would prefer her not to play Clementi's sonatas due to their jumped runs, and wide stretches and chords, (GREAT FOR JAZZ) which he thought might induce injury. Beethoven, however was a great admirer of the Clementi sonatas and their influence is very evident in his own piano compositions. DPVJAZZ
http://feeds2read.net/Rss-View/8770/Classical-and-blues-jazz-piano-techniques
http://www.webclassifieds.us/index/listings/page68120.htm
http://www.eatonhand.com/hw/facts.htm
http://eeshop.unl.edu/text/fingers.txt
http://esvc001419.wic024u.server-web.com/piano/default.htm
http://pianoeducation.org/pnotmi2.html
http://www.tadmusic.com/rsi2.html
http://piano-booklet-learning-systems-pbls.com/piano%20technique.html

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#1138634 - 03/13/08 03:31 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
swingal Offline
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I have joined this thread rather late, but to answer the question of the topic:-

I would say, if you wish to play the acoustic in the future and you can practice without disturbing the others in the house you will certainly develop the best touch that way by a million miles.

I have a digital keyboard which is tempting, used rarely, for silent practice but I know that I'm not at the touch fingering standard that my digital gives me to believe.

My acoustic is nearly new action, about 2 years old as the piano was totally rebuilt when purchased and is not over stiff as it has been properly regulated but none the less is not loose which many other pianos often are, when with worn action.

I have played an acoustic at a friend's house which is one of those mini pianos but its about 40 years old or more and has not been tuned for years and is in a damp room. The action is awful and really stiff. The owner is completely happy with it and plays the same sheet of music for ever.

I prefer any old upright that is loose to one like the mini upright above.

So yes,I would advise 100% to only use the digital when the acoustic is not available and do not be drawn into thinking, you will learn touch with it as you will not!

In fact any acoustic is better for fingering old and loose or not

Alan (swingal)

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#1138635 - 03/15/08 11:48 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Secondo Offline
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I am later than all of you to say something here, but my reading, for example of Artur Rubeinstein's life, led me to understand that the silent keyboard was used as a practice tool in those days when concert artists were traveling on trains, boats, etc., and it took a long time to get to their next concert destination. So, the silent keyboard afforded a means for practicing while away from a piano and on the road for any length of time.

As for touch, the fact that you are aware of this issue, means a lot and it will come. I have written this before elsewhere, but my teacher taught me to begin my exploration into touch by telling me to pretend that I was going through mud when playing the notes. I guess this idea helps you to start controlling how you play the notes.
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#1138636 - 03/16/08 12:02 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
hotkeys Offline
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I worked on my touch so that the sound of the piano would not travel to other rooms. Very difficult to do in an estate house where I was at for a seminar. The acoustics in the building are such that the sound travels from one end of the hall to the other. The challenge also is; if you touch too lightly, the hammer of the note you strike may not hit the string.

- Mark
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#1138637 - 03/16/08 06:13 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
ktom Offline
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Registered: 05/07/07
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Loc: Somerset UK
Just to confirm what secondo says - my grandfather was in the piano and concert business for around 70 years. He knew a lot of top professionals and had occasionally supplied silent keyboards. He told me they were used when touring so they could practise in hotel rooms etc. This doesnt mean nobody ever used one to develop touch, just that this was not their purpose. I think my grandad said a lot of the big piano manufacturers produced their own models. These were substantial bits of kit and I dont suppose lots were made. I have never seen one myself. One person I know didnt have one is Duke Ellington, 'cause on one tour he practised on my grandad's own piano (not that my grandad could play a note, paradoxically!). That model K is in the room here with me right now.. Since I got it 38 years ago, I have been hoping for some Ellington talent to soak back out of the keys into my fingers!.... nothing yet \:D !!!!
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#1138638 - 03/18/08 01:26 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
pianobuff Offline
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I'm the latest thus far to chime in.

But my two cents are to the OP is make sure piano is well regulated first and foremost.

And gosh guys, Gyro isn't all that bad, I mean, he or she isn't mainstream? I mean Gyro does have a different perspective on most topics here which makes this forum, I think, somewhat colorful.

Anyways, maybe Gyro was trying to say the same thing perhaps. The fact that a digital piano does have an even touch, in other words it does not need regulation. It is what it is and very consistently at that.

The problem with digital pianos, imo, is that there is no live tone. Which takes touch to produce. Developing a nice and even touch with control of dynamics can only be developed with a good quality piano that is well tuned, evenly voiced and regulated.

Maybe this is why Gyro is saying practice on a digital. Because most pianos are not perfectly regulated, yet digitals are.
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#1138639 - 03/18/08 07:27 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
TimR Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
The problem with digital pianos, imo, is that there is no live tone. Which takes touch to produce. [/b]
I don't think I can agree with either of those sentences.

I scanned back through all the posts in this thread to find out if the word "touch" was ever defined.

Nope. No problem, I'll do it.

Touch is simply a very precise ability to adjust how loud you play any given note.

That's all. But that's a lot, considering how many notes you may be playing at one time, etc.

The digital piano now has 127 levels of loudness available. That should be enough for most of us mortals.

Now, the exact effect on the tone can vary depending on the software. Cheap digitals may have the same sampled tone just supplied louder or softer, and that doesn't truly give the same effect as touch on an acoustic. But the high end digitals sample the acoustics at various levels of volume and they do pick up the differences in timbre that result.
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#1138640 - 03/18/08 08:21 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by TimR:
Touch is simply a very precise ability to adjust how loud you play any given note.
[/b]
I don't think that's how I would define touch. To me, it is not just the "loudness" with which you play the note, it is also how you get that loudness, and what you do with it. The speed with which you approach the key. The speed with which you move away from the key. How it interacts with other aspects of your playing. And much more.

For example, do you attack the note quickly, or move into it slowly? What kind of voice are you trying to get with the note? My teacher has asked me to think of various instruments from an orchestra in playing a piece, and for example (in one piece) with a series of low bass notes he suggests I think of a bowed bass. So a series of bass notes with a sort of soft entry and exit, flowing together... not like a plucked bass, or even a bassoon. This requires a particular touch. I can't even approximate it on a digital, but I can "get it" on the acoustic.

I do think it is useful to try to define the concept we're talking about. I just would not define it so narrowly.

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#1138641 - 03/18/08 10:17 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
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Touch is texture, not just loudness. It involves how one note blends into the next one, or doesn't blend, and the contrast between those notes. It is the creation of the colour or quality of a tone, how it starts, rings, dies down.

The digital piano has a built in colour and does not allow you to create or interact. There are no hammers that begin to give and swing that you are able to respond to, and no actual strings with the acoustic properties that physics has given them, nor is there wood and metal having vibrational properties spread three-dimensionally across a massive instrument.

It seems that the only thing you can control on a digital piano is loud, soft, and duration, and the rest is done for you. The very fact that an acoustic piano can reveal your uneven touch also means it will reveal other shades that you intentionally put in - something impossible in the digital due to its built in perfection and pre-conceived sound. It's kind of like homogenized milk from guernsey cows, versus the choice of unhomogenized choices of guernsey and rich creamy jersey mixed at will with a touch of goat. There is no richness of flavour or texture, and there are no surprises.

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#1138642 - 03/18/08 11:15 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Diane... Offline
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Loc: Western Canada
Thought that touch was about putting each tone in their place.

What I mean is that the melody notes should be hear clearly over the harmony notes underneath it. And the bass notes controlled to be played softer. We've all probably hear this from our teachers over and over, but this simple strategy takes a lot of practice and listening to get this just right! Otherwise you get notes just blending all together.

Dynamics, dynamics, dynamics! Can't emphasis that word enough.

Most people play notes and can sound mechanical, but when emotion and feeling are put into the touch by putting the tones in their place, it ullimately draws emotion out of the listener and isn't that the goal!

Easy to play notes, but not so easy to play music!

Add perfect timing or some rubato to all this, and you've got music that touches you!
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#1138643 - 03/18/08 11:32 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
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Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1323
 Quote:
Originally posted by Diane...:
Easy to play notes, but not so easy to play music! [/b]
Yup, and as you imply... easy to listen to music, not so easy to listen to notes.

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#1138644 - 03/18/08 11:42 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
 Quote:
Originally posted by TimR:
Touch is simply a very precise ability to adjust how loud you play any given note.
[/b]
My teacher has asked me to think of various instruments from an orchestra in playing a piece, and for example (in one piece) with a series of low bass notes he suggests I think of a bowed bass. [/b]
Tim is right. Touch is only speed of key descent - nothing else. If thinking in terms of orchestral instruments helps your conception that's fine but you can't break the laws of physics.
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#1138645 - 03/18/08 11:43 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
TimR Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
 Quote:
Originally posted by TimR:
Touch is simply a very precise ability to adjust how loud you play any given note.
[/b]
I don't think that's how I would define touch. To me, it is not just the "loudness" with which you play the note, it is also how you get that loudness, and what you do with it. [/b]
Commonly believed to be true, but in actual fact merely mythology.

In blind tests (single blind, obviously, no way to double blind this) sophisticated listeners are unable to tell the touch of a finger from the touch of a pencil eraser held between the teeth.

Loudness really is all there is. But as I've said, that is still a lot. And yes, the higher end digital software does capture the effect of other string resonances, etc.
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#1138646 - 03/18/08 11:58 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
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 Quote:
In blind tests (single blind, obviously, no way to double blind this) sophisticated listeners are unable to tell the touch of a finger from the touch of a pencil eraser held between the teeth.

Loudness really is all there is. But as I've said, that is still a lot. And yes, the higher end digital software does capture the effect of other string resonances, etc.
The one statement does not lead to the next. It is not what part of the body touches the instrument, but how the musician interacts physically with the instrument. That can be done with finger, hand, arm, pencil, or nose, if you can coordinate well enough.

Yes, the digital software captures some of the effects of string resonances in translation, but not the resonance that you want to create and not three-dimensionally.

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#1138647 - 03/18/08 12:02 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Olek Offline
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Loc: France
Hello,

I only just can give my opinion and experience there.

To developp touch one need :
To know how to play relaxed (whole body) and with a good equilibrium posture, so he can use the weigh of the body, arm, shoulders, etc, and the force obtained with the forearm opening, the forearm opening along with the legs impulse, etc.

Biggest thing is neitherless to have some musical culture, and touch is realted to tone closely. SO to have a nice touch one need to have good imagination and memory of tones.

A very efficient method to developp touch is to play / work a Bach piece like a Praeludium or any piece that is not too difficult for your level, and paly it while imaginating textures such :
Rain
Snow
sand
dust
wapor
snow tempest
water
stones rolling in the water of a little river.

etc

Doing so you will develop your listening and the touch will be there because of your intention. If you don't obtain exactly what you are trying to that is not a problem because you are learning to understand what touch you are after, and recognize when you have it.

Don't hesitate to jump in the tone, even if you may probably hear nuances that exist at a lesser point to the auditory, to me that is the way to go, and I trained like that for a moment with very good results.

Prior doing so you can learn to "tame" the rythm and respiration of the music, reading the music while walking in rythm in the room.

The link between your body an soul and the music is of utmost importantce to developp touch.

Hope that helps

Musically,
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#1138648 - 03/18/08 12:06 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Olek Offline
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I apologize for my poor english, not my native language indeed.

All above apply for an accoustic piano by evidence.

I know at last one professional classical pianist that only have a GT1 to practice. When he may play in concert, he needs 3 days of work on an accoustic piano to be OK.

You can obtain certainly a little bit in touch on a Keyboard, but so many things are still missing that it may not be as "miracoulous" than with the real thing.

Best
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#1138649 - 03/18/08 12:12 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Kamin:


A very efficient method to developp touch is to play / work a Bach piece like Pareludium or any piec that is not too hard for your level, and paly it while imaginating textures such :
Rain
Snow
sand
dust
wapor
snow
water
stones rolling in the water of a little river.

etc


The link between your body an soul and the music is of utmost importance to develop touch.
[/b]
What refreshing thoughts!
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#1138650 - 03/18/08 01:21 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
pianojazz Offline
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One develops touch by listening - listening to those that have it, recognizing what it sounds like, and striving for that sound in your own playing.
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#1138651 - 03/18/08 01:23 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojazz:
One develops touch by listening - listening to those that have it, recognizing what it sounds like, and striving for that sound in your own playing. [/b]
No, it's finding your own voice.
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#1138652 - 03/18/08 01:35 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
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.. and the composer's voice, kbk?

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#1138653 - 03/18/08 01:54 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
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It's his/her words.
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#1138654 - 03/18/08 02:00 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Betty Patnude Offline
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I think "touch" comes from wanting to find many ways to express the music you are playing. You have to notice there is something lacking in your playing, and follow through with
different "touches" to capture the sound as you imagine it can be.

Listening, selecting techniques, dynamics, articulation capture your attention. Technique is simply a word for "How-to". The more you know "How-to" the more choices you will have in your expressiveness.

If helps to have a teacher well versed in performance standards and the ability to teach the nuances and characteristics of certain composers.

Betty

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#1138655 - 03/18/08 02:34 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
It's his/her words. [/b]
Like those of a playwright? In language words are never neutral, always require interpretation of intent. I guess you get a blend of the author's voice via his words, and your own as well as what the genre suggests. Um, touch plays into that somewhere.

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#1138656 - 03/18/08 04:43 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
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Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Kamin,

Yes imagination is extremely helpful, as is colors of things, aromas, sights, feelings, searching one self for exaggerations that can enter into the music through you.

The deeper you can go within your self, I believe, the more expressive you can be, and you'll find the interpretation throught the combination of listening, your life's experiences, and your choice of emotional and physical reaction to the music on the piano.

From the composer's writings, characteristics, era, mood, style, and yourself as the instrument of interpreting his musical works.

Touch comes through motions and fingers, but it also comes from the heart and being of the musician who is the interpreter.

Betty

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#1138657 - 03/19/08 12:04 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
John Citron Offline
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Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
There are some really good thoughts on this. Thank you Betty, PianoJazz, Kamin, and Keyboard Klutz. You were able to say what I was going to say.

I would like to add to this as well, if I may. You really want to play from your heart and really listen to your playing. I have found that when I am sight reading something, I'm not really hearing the music; I'm only hearing the piano make noise.

Having said this, when you play from your heart, you need to listen to yourself and one of the ways to do that is to sing the melody in your head prior to starting the piece, and then try to match what you hear in your playing.

While your playing, you also want to pay close attention to the shape of the phrases and make the most of them by emphasizing the peaks and valleys, and by making more of different harmonies and melodic lines that are not part of the main themes, but appear within the music by playing them louder or softer depending upon how they fit. One of my teachers taught me to think in other instruments. So when I play a Schubert Sonata, I think string quartet, or one of his piano trios which are similar to his sonatas, and I phrase the music accordingly. Bach keyboard works, as another example, are good for Baroque concerto grossi. I think about playing with different types of stacatto and different levels of legato so that the music speaks rather than yells.

Arm weight, balance, work well in controlling the balance between the hands and the overall dynamics. One of the things that a teacher showed me is to play softer than written. The reason is this gives you more leeway to phrase and stay within the dynamic range noted, and you also have bigger dynamic range so when you really need to get loud, there is still piano sound to get there without banging. For this you use your body/shoulder and arm behind the chords instead of just the fingers to produce a round full tone instead of a harsh brittle tone that the finger-only technique produces.

Don't expect instant results. I had these lessons more than 12 years ago, and it took me until about 3 years ago to just being to understand what he was saying.

John
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#1138658 - 03/19/08 07:28 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
 Quote:
In blind tests (single blind, obviously, no way to double blind this) sophisticated listeners are unable to tell the touch of a finger from the touch of a pencil eraser held between the teeth.

Loudness really is all there is. But as I've said, that is still a lot. And yes, the higher end digital software does capture the effect of other string resonances, etc.
The one statement does not lead to the next. [/b]
Then I was not clear.

If you play a single note at any given volume, there is NOTHING you can do that will influence the timbre at that volume in any way.

So with a single note, touch is only volume. As noted, you cannot avoid the laws of physics. Digitals now do volume pretty well. They're not like an organ where it is on or off.

Now, we rarely play just one note, and so there are other factors that enter.

We can play that one note early or late. We can connect it or detach it. We can have a pedal down releasing all dampers, or we can have a chord down releasing a few dampers. We can make it seem softer by playing other notes louder, or we can make it seem louder by playing other notes softer. Digitals do some of these things better or worse depending on how sophisticated their programming is.

At that point we have stretched the definition of touch beyond what I think is useful, but I guess if you want to call all that touch you could. To me touch implies timbre, but it is a myth to think you can do any more with timbre on a piano than to alter the volume.
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#1138659 - 03/19/08 10:11 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
J. Mark Offline
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Tim, what about the notion that there are at least three aspects of how you play a single note on a piano: how hard you depress the key, the speed with which you press the key, and how you come off the key? Is it wrong, in your view, to think of each one of those as having an impact on how that note will sound? And is that no "touch" in some sense?

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#1138660 - 03/19/08 11:41 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by J. Mark:
Tim, what about the notion that there are at least three aspects of how you play a single note on a piano: how hard you depress the key, the speed with which you press the key, and how you come off the key? [/b]
That's only two aspects. How hard is transduced to speed of hammer flight as is speed of key depression.
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#1138661 - 03/19/08 12:17 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
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Loc: Puyallup, Washington
"Touch" also has "ouch" (as in "ow"ch when you say this as an expletive).

Play any one key while saying "ouch" aloud. Do it repeatedly. Change fingers. Observe the attack, the duration, and the release of the finger action/note sounding combination.

Now put a "T" in front of ouch - and do the same observation. How does your finger respond when you say touch aloud?

Make sure you exaggerate the words as you speak - and make sure you say them aloud as you are applying the finger work to match. There is sometimes abruptness, continuation, but your finger should automatically react to the motion of the sounds.

Then do sound similar words - much - such - lunch. Then begin to change letters and sound....lurch - church - perch - punch - pat - pin. Then do this exercise with 2 syllable words...purple - yellow - coffee, etc. Three syllables staccato - legato - ambition - etc.

This is obviously demonstrating "touch". If you are good at this "articulation" you can almost "hear" the word being spoken on the piano.

If you sing "This little piggy went to market" while you play a one octave scale, you will be amazed how the words carry you through the activity. You will hear accents from the words you are saying play themselves on the keyboard. Try "Do you drink milk every day?" as a one octave scale.

Invent your own word games and sentences. Explore. It brings life to your playing when appropriately used.

To me, this is a form of touch - reaction to the movement and duration of the notes through use of phonics that make sense.

Betty

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#1138662 - 03/19/08 03:13 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
If you play a single note at any given volume, there is NOTHING you can do that will influence the timbre at that volume in any way.

So with a single note, touch is only volume. As noted, you cannot avoid the laws of physics. Digitals now do volume pretty well. They're not like an organ where it is on or off.
Touch is not only volume, and sound is not only volume. The manner in which the hammer strikes the string and the physical response of the string will affect the quality of that sound, how it vibrates, sustains, and dies away.

There is no possible responsiveness by the instrument beyond a very crude variation of loud and soft with a digital instrument. The ear itself becomes dull if it is at all developed, and the senses in the hands pull back as they were, becuase there is nothing to reach toward, nothing that will interact.

You have a perception of a sound quality, you reach for it, you want to start playing and experimenting with the balances in the keys and the sound you will hear from string, wood, and sound board, and there is nothing there. It's like having a conversation with someone strapped to a Walkman.

You get the loud and soft, and that's all there is. You are right at that point. With a digital piano you get a beautiful, preconceived, "concert hall hollow", variation of loud and soft. People who have heard recordings of my digital comment at how beautiful it's sound is. That's nice. But I want to create my sound and I am very limited in that regard. Not only that, but I cannot grow as a pianist.

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#1138663 - 03/19/08 03:16 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
I know at last one professional classical pianist that only have a GT1 to practice. When he may play in concert, he needs 3 days of work on an accoustic piano to be OK.

I can well believe that, Kamin. I also appreciated what you wrote before about the textures of rolling pebbles etc. (that was you, wasn't it?)

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#1138664 - 03/19/08 07:20 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
ktom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 212
Loc: Somerset UK
I dont necessarily disagree with anything above, but let's be clear about how a piano works. I knew a teacher who insisted his pupils exercise a vibrato upon the key having depressed it; he was totally oblivious to the fact that the piano operates in a way that ensures this will have absolutely no effect on the sound.

Whatever one does as one depresses a piano key, the disconnect in the action means that you can only control one significant parameter, ie hammer velocity as it strikes the string/s

This is unlike a DP with aftertouch and unlike a clavichord. (if you think touch on a piano is complicated, do try to play a clavichord one day!!)

The release of the key will affect the damper return which is clearly very important. Likewise pedalling affects the total sound, but this is generally considered separate to "touch".

So what is complicated about "touch"??? It has to be the control note by note of velocity and damping... cos thats all there is!! But that aint easy!!

I play a Steinway K and several electronic keyboards most days. What is the difference?? Well there is no doubt that the physics of the actions are different (monday I was playing a steinway grand,., different action again). So switching from one to another could be disruptive to a more subtle technique than mine. But the end result is you get to control volume. Is the midi standard of 127 possible velocities enough to replicate my Steinway??... I dont know. (I guess my heavy handed technique probably uses the top 10%!!!!!!).
My Yamaha S90 has aftertouch, which my Steinway doesnt, so that the S90 is more complex to play in that respect. On the other hand, the key release on DPs is generally NOT velocity sensitive; this is perhaps an important difference, but there is no reason why DPs cant incorporate this.

So why am I bothering to type all this?? I suppose it is to follow in my grandfather's illustrious footsteps and say - lets keep our feet on the ground. The piano is a bit of mechanics, just like paint brush is animal hairs on a stick. Focus too much on how to make the hairs bend, and you lose the point of the Sistine Chapel.

Hope I didnt upset anyone!!!
_________________________
Steinway K - Kurzweil PC 88(wrecked and sold for spares) - Yamaha S90 - rhodes 760 - korg wavestation- Hammond XK1 etc..

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#1138665 - 03/19/08 07:43 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
There is a difference between focusing on how to make hairs bend, and having hairs that bend. If you have a virtual paint brush there is not much more you can do - imposed homogenized perfection.

I know what I want to produce and how to produce it, but the elements simply are not there. I knew this when I purchased my DP. I could not afford anything else, and the alternative was the touch-free toy with weird wiring that would lapse into car horns, trumpets and honkey tonk anywhere in a piece. When the opportunity arose to have something, anything, that would at least respond to loud and soft, I took it.

But I spent an hour going between the DP that was for sale, and the piano that wasn't. I could hear and feel what I could do with the one which the other wouldn't allow. I could feel the senses in my hands and my ears withdrawing and shutting down. I was not surprised when a few months later a pianist/teacher hearing me play on her real ... er .. acoustic ... piano said "I can hear that you have a digital. It is limiting you." I already knew that.

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#1138666 - 03/20/08 02:25 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by ktom:
This is unlike a DP with aftertouch and unlike a clavichord. (if you think touch on a piano is complicated, do try to play a clavichord one day!!)
[/b]
Ah, the clavichord! Now your talking touch. Constanza treasured Mozart's. He wrote The Magic Flute and the Requiem on it.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1138667 - 03/20/08 01:26 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
 Quote:
Originally posted by ktom:
This is unlike a DP with aftertouch and unlike a clavichord. (if you think touch on a piano is complicated, do try to play a clavichord one day!!)
[/b]
Ah, the clavichord! Now your talking touch. Constanza treasured Mozart's. He wrote The Magic Flute and the Requiem on it. [/b]
This is probably something that could go into yet another thread, but I was told that the clavichord is the TRUE[/b] pianoforte even with its subtle differences in dynamics.

Here's a link to a discertation given on JS Bach's clavichord technique. Much of what is said here is appropriate for the pianoforte as well.

http://www.harpsichord-sd.com/clavichord/bach-touch.html

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#1138668 - 03/22/08 04:40 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Well as I have just joined this topic, I have a small matter that interests me.

Touch is not always a matter of making music but one of adapting to the action of the piano. Most pianos I've played over 60 odd years have their own specific touch requirement. That to me is the first thing I notice when playing on any piano, other than my own, which subconsciously most of us adapt to.

We also usually get the technician to regulate and voice our own instrument when purchased to suit our touch needs. In my view anyhow.

The touch is also a great handicap in extreme cases when playing other peoples pianos.

So I do think this aspect I have mentioned is quite significant.

The digital piano is another matter altogether in my view. Certainly much easier I find, but we are unable to 'play' them like an acoustic.

Alan (swingal)

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#1138669 - 03/22/08 04:51 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Interesting point Alan, pianists seem to fit in two categories when on unfamiliar pianos - those who vary their own touch to suit the instrument and those who force their own on it. I was at a master class a few years ago held by a prominent American teacher who bashed the piano so much (she was obviously used to a heavy Steinway) that she broke a string! I remember a friend playing mine - just bash, bash, bash. These types should not help you buy a piano - they are unable to feel and be sensitive to the mechanism. When I play on an instrument I can tell straight away which notes are week, worn etc.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1138670 - 03/22/08 09:34 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11206
Loc: Canada
It's a dual edge of responsiveness, isn't it? You respond to the instrument and it responds to you. Heck, you're actually having a dialogue with each other, aren't you?

In the violin world the finest instruments cannot be played by a novice, because the instrument responds to what you do, and exaggerates it. A clumsy touch that does not respond to the instrument's nature, or a physical imbalance of tension somwhere, and the instrument shuts down its qualities. In fact, it exaggerates every imperfection just like it exaggertes every perfection. It becomes unplayable in the wrong hands, and exquisite delight in the right ones. The responsiveness in the instrument releases more awareness in the player and that sets up a positive cycle. It can also set up a negative cycle.

Is there even a bit of equivalence in pianos? Can a good, responsive piano end up highlighting the weakness of a player by exaggerating every nuance of touch (or lack of thereof)? Thus the happiness with a homogenized instrument that limits variability. I don't know if I'm right about that, because I am too new to piano.

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#1138671 - 03/22/08 12:17 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Yes, you are right-on about "adapting to the action of the (acoustical) piano", Swingal.

That is always an important part of playing a piano - it's characteristics, the pianists capability with the composer's intent - all to surface with the potential of the "mechanical" instrument and the "human" musical instrument(s).

Define: Instrument.

Both need optimum quality in their motions and their production of sound. For the pianist it's intention - for the piano it's potential. Both need to be able to achieve their optimum capacities together based on their "dimensions".

It becomes so difficult to explain these things clearly and make sense of them as our understanding of what is being said is uniquely about our own experiences.

Betty

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#1138672 - 03/22/08 12:18 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:

Is there even a bit of equivalence in pianos? Can a good, responsive piano end up highlighting the weakness of a player by exaggerating every nuance of touch (or lack of thereof)? Thus the happiness with a homogenized instrument that limits variability. I don't know if I'm right about that, because I am too new to piano. [/b]
The players I referred to all had a tapping hammer touch - the fingers raising before impacting. It can get you an even touch but you can't feel the mechanism. As long as their ears are good the sound won't be too bad, but insensitive. There will be plenty of pianos whose tone escapes them.

On an OT note, it reminds me - I read years ago about the search for the most beautiful sounding piano. It was very ornate and had got lost during the war. It was eventually discovered in Italy. I can't say I know anything else about it.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1138673 - 03/26/08 04:19 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Just to add a comment on the post above,the great pleasure in buying a piano is the playing of a selection of them and deciding what you will have (price of course is one aspect). When I bought my Bosendorfer I was left alone in the showroom with a good choice of mostly 2nd hand rebuilt instruments.I greatly enjoy the experience, not least of which is my total solitude unimpeded by on-lookers.

I'm so greatly satisfied with the instrument and it has just the touch I like.

I like to watch the great pianists of the past both jazz and classical,and observe their touch. That will give one the true meaning of the requirement to 'PLAY!' the piano rather than simply operate it. One then finds the difference.

Alan (swingal)

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#1138674 - 04/16/08 03:17 PM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
berkeley235 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/30/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Salisbury, England
You could try playing a piano with a very different touch- I find if I practice on a heavier piano, my touch becomes smoother when I go back to my usual one.
_________________________
Sleeping is my favorite hobby

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#1138675 - 04/17/08 03:38 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Dan Freedman Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/14/08
Posts: 18
Loc: Honolulu
I'm astounded that this thread is focusing on whether there's anything more to "touch" than how fast you get the key to move down.

If you are playing a single note, alone, then that may well be true. But if you are playing a piece of music where notes follow each other in slow or quick succession, then "touch" (as in "wow, what a fantastic touch" is about much more.

Specifically, it includes many learnable facets, such as:

- whether you choose to play a passage at the same tempo, or vary it in various ways throughout

- whether you play each note legato or staccato, or vary it throughout (and of course this is not binary -- there is a full range of note qualities between legato and staccato)

- if staccato, then there is the matter of *how* you get the hammer to achieve a specific velocity when hitting the string. To achieve a specific velocity, you could hit the note hard but quickly withdraw your finger, or could hit it less hard but for longer (imparting the same ultimate velocity to the hammer). While this doesn't change the sound that note makes, *it greatly impacts what you can do with your hand when preparing for the next note*!

and so on and so forth. Perhaps I'm mistaken, and there's another word for what I've described. But to me, that's the "touch" that the OP was interested in learning.

Like many things in life, learning touch is made easier by finding things you like to listen to, and figuring out (alone or with a pedagogue) how those sounds were made. That gets you 80% of the way toward being able to play it. Practice takes the other 80% \:\)

I also agree that arriving at a new piano, the first thing to do is to learn how it responds to being touched, but there's more to "touch" than that.

- Dan
_________________________
Dan Freedman, composer and pianist
http://www.dan88.com

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#1138676 - 04/18/08 09:47 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
stevedevane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/08
Posts: 40
Loc: Lillington, N.C.
I think that everyone has their own style, which includes their "touch." I was playing in church one time and after a hymn the pastor said, "I always like it when Steve plays the piano because no one has a problem hearing it." He meant it as a compliment (I think) but I thought that I didn't have any touch and was just banging away at it.

Another time following recital rehearsal, my piano teacher made a point to come tell me what a great "touch" I had. I felt pretty good about myself. Then, the next year, I happened to be standing near her when a guy who was playing the same song I had played the year before finished practicing. She looked at me and said, "He sure has a great touch, doesn't he." I'd like to think it was a coincidence, but it was probably just the song. Or maybe that song required a great touch in her mind. Or maybe we both had a great touch.
_________________________
Steve DeVane
www.stevedevane.com

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#1138677 - 04/18/08 10:18 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Innominato Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 802
Loc: London
I personally don't care what "touch" consists of, whether it is only speed, or with added cream, etc.

I know everyone of us feels the differences in touch, so I think it is pacific that there is something called "touch" which differs in everyone of us and can - hopefully - be trained.

And here is where my problem starts.

I only play pieces of which I have at least a CD version, so that I hear how other people have done and can decide how I really want it.

As many of us certainly do, before I play the key I have in my mind a very clear idea of the sound I want to produce. It's not that I just want to get that key, I want the phrase to sound exactly in that way which is already in my brain, longing to be freed and become audible sound.

Only, it doesn't happen.. \:\( (say, it happens to a little, vastly unsatisfactory extent). It is as if my fingers would tell me "get real, boy, we cannot do that".

This is particularly tragic without the practice pedal (curiously, with the practice pedal I can modulate the "touch" much better, without it I seem only to have the variants "Shout" and "Shout louder" and I *very much* hope that the tuner coming on monday will sort out the problem).

My question is: what do you do to improve your "touch"?

Do you stop more often to think more intensely to exactly what sound you want to achieve?

Are there particular tricks of the trade to improve/graduate the way a key responds to the finger?

Do you spend more times listening to recordings you like of that piece so that it becomes an unconscious part of your playing?

Any other suggestion?
_________________________
"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin

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#1138678 - 04/28/08 11:31 AM Re: How does one develop 'touch'?
Rimshot Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/27/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Devon
'Touch', to me, is the spiritual, emotional, tactile, sensitive way of saying....

'Dynamics'


Although the word 'dynamics' seems to always stimulate the immediat concept of "VERY LOUD, very quiet....and know where it's happening right"

To me it's way way deeper than that....


so, if you play the piano like a MIDI file....

get in touch with your emotions.....and send them to your fingertips....

I think the way to find your 'touch', is to play very softly for a few minutes...., and improvise around something simple, but emotive..... compose a progression that'll allow for 'happy' and 'dark and meaningful'

Practice making happy 'sweet and pretty' , progress in the most convincing way you can to 'dark and meaningful' ....

start to allow the velocity and dynamics control the piece, rather than the notes.....

you'll eventually see that rhythm, and dynamics are equally as important as the very notes you play....!


Which is why an unemotional, unpractised pianist's version will be infinitely inferior to that of a practised, 'emotional' pianist....

by emotional...i don't mean 'emotional wreak' I mean, 'one simply has the ability to feel thoughts'


Kristian x
_________________________
This is a stick up!

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