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#1166460 - 03/21/09 04:17 PM legato and non legato
crazy-b Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/22/09
Posts: 4
Loc: timisoara
i encountered some difficulties after starting the 5th etude from op. 599 by czerny.

as far as i know if the slur is not present you have to play the notes in a detached manner(non legato). this doesn't seem to be a problem if i have to deal with whole or half notes. but when quarter notes begin to appear(from the 5th etude on) it gets quite difficult to play the notes detached yet as smooth as possible and try to stick with the beat of the metronome.

i want to know how can i solve this problem because later on i will have to play 8th notes in a non legato manner so i have to do the longer ones perfectly in order to manage to play more intricate rhytmic formulas later.

Edited by crazy-b (03/21/09 04:18 PM)

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#1166634 - 03/22/09 12:11 AM Re: legato and non legato [Re: crazy-b]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Legato and staccato are opposite in meaning, and much music is notated without any specific direction for either one. When staccato is indicated by a dot, the aim is to give the note half of its value; otherwise, though, no such separation is called for between the notes. When legato is specified, there should be a smooth blend from one note to the next; otherwise, the transition between notes should be even but without exaggerated smoothness.

Here, there's no slur mark to signify legato but no staccato dots either. Therefore, I think it's incorrect to assume that the notes should be articulated with the noticeable detachment you speak of. When there's no specific instruction one way or the other, the default articulation should be in a neutral and natural manner: neither intentionally linked nor deliberately detached.

You're correct that staccato technique is an important aspect of increasingly complex music, and there will be places that you will gain skill using it. I don't think it's something you should be concerned about in this exercise.


#1166720 - 03/22/09 08:23 AM Re: legato and non legato [Re: sotto voce]
crazy-b Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/22/09
Posts: 4
Loc: timisoara
you didn't understand what i was talking about. i know that staccato or legato has to be applied only when this is indicated. either textually or by a slur or dots above the notes.

non legato is somewhere between staccato and legato. so that is the neutral manner you were talking about. neither linked or detached. the problem was that it became difficult to execute this default articulation when the quarter and eight notes began to be used in those etudes. i assume you have to lightly lift the finger off the key you are playing in order to avoid that smooth manner yet be careful not to play too detached. is this the neutral articulation that you are talking about?right?

#1166742 - 03/22/09 09:46 AM Re: legato and non legato [Re: crazy-b]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
A variety of articulations are needed in piano—as you know—and you will eventually need to master all of them. Although I don't think you need to worry about that right now, you might find it beneficial to practice these exercises in different ways: legato, staccato, everything in-between and in any mixture you wish.

I honestly think you're overthinking and overanalyzing, and imagining a problem to exist that isn't really an issue. "Lightly lifting the finger off the key" sounds right, but that phrase could describe other articulations, too. Your teacher can demonstrate what to do; it's more easily shown than described in writing.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. I tried!


#1166746 - 03/22/09 09:56 AM Re: legato and non legato [Re: sotto voce]
crazy-b Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/22/09
Posts: 4
Loc: timisoara
you were very helpful. only that we misunderstood each other. thank you. thumb

Edited by crazy-b (03/22/09 09:59 AM)

#1166747 - 03/22/09 09:58 AM Re: legato and non legato [Re: crazy-b]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
BTW, I came across a great quotation attributed to Debussy:

"Music is the space between the notes."


#1166759 - 03/22/09 10:35 AM Re: legato and non legato [Re: sotto voce]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2462
Loc: Denver, CO
Non-legato does not mean detached.

Think of it this way:

Legato is like walking. When you walk, you put one foot down and then left the other. For a moment, both feet are on the ground. When playing piano legato, for a moment both notes are being held. At first you exaggerate the motion, but as you learn what it sounds like, it becomes a very smooth transfer of weight.

Non-legato is like marching. When you march (I'll use marching in place as an example), when one foot goes down, the other comes up. That doesn't mean that there is a point where neither foot is on the ground. It does mean that there is a nearly simultaneous transfer of weight.

Staccato is like the various hopping, jumping, or running steps. There can be various lengths of time where neither foot is on the ground. This is what you are thinking of as detached.

Finally, the first few exercises of Czerny Opus 599 or 823 are beginning exercises. He hasn't taught legato yet, so there is nothing to compare non-legato to.


#1166777 - 03/22/09 11:33 AM Re: legato and non legato [Re: DragonPianoPlayer]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
I guess everybody thinks of these concepts of connection and disconnection in different ways. It makes sense to me to think of non-legato as "nearly simultaneous transfer," in which case I'd characterize legato as simultaneous transfer. Describing legato as a moment when both notes are being held suggests an overlap, though, and that doesn't seem quite accurate.

FWIW, I would resist comparing staccato to running, hopping or jumping because they convey an image of percussive motion. Staccato is often erroneously associated with a marcato or martellato dynamic accent, and I wouldn't want to reinforce that misconception.



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