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#1205491 - 05/25/09 01:53 PM How to properly execute arpeggiated chords
mrmdsy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/21/09
Posts: 5
I have a question about playing arpeggiated chords. I know that each note is supposed to be played one at a time like plucking the strings of a harp, but my main question is, can you hold down the note and subsequent notes as as soon you play them? This would layer and sustain the notes without using the pedal but still create a rolled chord. Or am I only supposed to play one note at a time? Also, when played quickly, it is customary to hold the top note a little longer to last the full beat (that is how I was taught to do arpeggiated chords)? Or should I evenly space out each note to last however many beats the chord is supposed to last? Are both ways acceptable?

Also, I was taught to play from the bottom note to the top--how is it notated to play from the top to bottom?

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#1205504 - 05/25/09 02:12 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: mrmdsy]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18889
Loc: Victoria, BC
Technique for playing arpeggiated chords varies from period to period. That said, a few general rules can apply.

Chords are usually rolled from bottom to top. If there are simultaenous rolled chords in both hands, they usually begin and end together. The arpeggio sign (wavy vertical line) is written as two separated lines, one for each hand.
If a composer wants a two-hand chord rolled from bottom to top, left hand first, followed by the right hand, then the arpeggio sign (wavy vertical line) is a single, unbroken one from bottom to top.

If chords are to be arpeggiated from top to bottom, the arpeggio sign is accompanied by a down arrow.

In most instances all the notes in the chords that are arpeggiated are held through to the end of the full value of the chord, otherwise the chord would not be written as a chord. In most instances from Baroque through Romantic, the arpeggio starts on the beat meaning that in a RH arpeggios the melody note - usually the top note, but not always - will come slightly after the beat. If a composer (Chopin, for example) wants the melody note to come on the beat, then the arpeggio figure is usually indicated differently, by separate small notes written before the beat.

The left hand arpeggios in the third movement (Alla turca) of the Mozart Sonata in A major, KV331. The LH arpeggios start on the beat and the top note therefore falls slightly after the beat. However, those arpeggios are played so quickly that it doesn't become an issue of syncopation. Speed of articulation of the arpeggio depends often on tempo and mood of the piece. In the Mozart refered to above, the arpeggios are executed very rapidly. An example of a much more slowly executed arpeggio would be that in the opening of the second movement of the Beethoven Sonata Op 31, No 2, "Tempest," also rolled all the way from top to bottom, left hand then right hand.

There are exceptions to these general observations.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1205525 - 05/25/09 02:38 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: BruceD]
mrmdsy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/21/09
Posts: 5
Thank you for replying to my post. In most cases I have thought that it sounds better when holding all the notes that are arpeggiated through the full value of the chord.

In the example of the third movement (Alla Turca) of the Mozart Sonata in A Major, KV331, there are arpeggiated chords (with the wavy line) in the right hand that are quarter notes, but the top note is a half note. If they are to be all held down for the full value of two beats, why is only the top note a half note and the others are quarter notes? Would it not make more sense to roll it quickly from bottom to top (playing one note at a time and not holding the quarter notes through) and hold the top note for the whole measure?

Regards,
mrmdsy

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#1205529 - 05/25/09 02:45 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: mrmdsy]
Ridicolosamente Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/08
Posts: 1470
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
I think Mozart was fully aware of what he was doing. To play it properly, the quarter notes shouldn't be sustained for the full measure, whereas the C# is.

Daniel
_________________________
Currently working on:
-Dane Rudhyar's Stars from Pentagrams No 3

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#1205541 - 05/25/09 03:03 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: Ridicolosamente]
mrmdsy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/21/09
Posts: 5
Okay, sorry, I think I get it now. The quarter notes would be sustained for half the measure, but only the top note for the full measure. I would still be holding down notes while playing other notes and not quickly releasing them one at a time. Otherwise, it would be notated as small notes as done in the left hand.

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#1205552 - 05/25/09 03:23 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: mrmdsy]
Ridicolosamente Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/08
Posts: 1470
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
You got it!
_________________________
Currently working on:
-Dane Rudhyar's Stars from Pentagrams No 3

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#1205602 - 05/25/09 04:35 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: Ridicolosamente]
mrmdsy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/21/09
Posts: 5
Okay, I guess I still don't quite get it. I suppose I'm having trouble making sense of the concept (I understand it logically, but musically it doesn't always feel the best) because I was originally taught to play one note at a time and release the note after you get to the next note. Also, the 5 or so piano instructors that I've had in my lifetime (including college level) have never said anything about it being played the other way or that I was doing it incorrectly.

Holding all the notes down one at a time during an arpeggiated chord (with wavy line) just does not work when the arpeggiated chord is spread out over the span of an interval of a 10th or 13th. I know many pianists can comfortably reach a 10th (I cannot), but when the arpeggiated chord is used with a large interval like that, I roll from bottom note to top, playing notes legato and releasing each note after I get to the next higher note. Often, I use a little bit of pedal to help make it sound smoother if jumping large intervals. Holding down and sustaining the notes of the arpeggiated chords sounds better in slower pieces or passages, but in faster pieces, holding all the notes down sounds worse, for example, Hungarian Dance No.5 by Brahms.

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#1205613 - 05/25/09 04:51 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: mrmdsy]
mrmdsy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/21/09
Posts: 5
Well, actually, I tried it out and it still sounds fine with holding all the notes with the arpeggiated chords in different speeds, but it still does not account for holding down notes with huge intervals...unless all pianists are understood to have a very large hand span. I have fairly small hands, but a large span for my hand size.

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#1205633 - 05/25/09 05:33 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: BruceD]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18889
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: BruceD
[...]The left hand arpeggios in the third movement (Alla turca) of the Mozart Sonata in A major, KV331. The LH arpeggios start on the beat and the top note therefore falls slightly after the beat. However, those arpeggios are played so quickly that it doesn't become an issue of syncopation. Speed of articulation of the arpeggio depends often on tempo and mood of the piece. In the Mozart refered to above, the arpeggios are executed very rapidly. An example of a much more slowly executed arpeggio would be that in the opening of the second movement of the Beethoven Sonata Op 31, No 2, "Tempest," also rolled all the way from top to bottom, left hand then right hand.
[...]Regards,


Whoops!

Correction to my earlier post on the Mozart. I checked the Henle and ABRSM editions and they differ from what I said earlier. Earlier, I was going on poor memory, not on text consultation. The LH arpeggios in the third movement are shown as three grace notes leading to the fourth note on the beat Disregard what I said earlier, then, about these being conventional arpeggios; they are not!

As they say : My Bad!

Sorry!

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1205638 - 05/25/09 05:38 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: mrmdsy]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18889
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: mrmdsy
Okay, I guess I still don't quite get it. I suppose I'm having trouble making sense of the concept (I understand it logically, but musically it doesn't always feel the best) because I was originally taught to play one note at a time and release the note after you get to the next note. Also, the 5 or so piano instructors that I've had in my lifetime (including college level) have never said anything about it being played the other way or that I was doing it incorrectly.

[...]


Conversely, all the instructors I have had "in my lifetime" have never suggested that only the top note of an arpeggiated chord is to be held. Otherwise, why would the chord be notated with all the notes showing the value of the chord. The fact that the chord is arpeggiated as opposed to a solid chord, should not change the value of the notes within that chord.

Back to the LH of the Mozart "Alla turca" where the first three notes of the arpeggio are "grace notes" which are obviously not held.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1205641 - 05/25/09 05:41 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: Ridicolosamente]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18889
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Ridicolosamente
I think Mozart was fully aware of what he was doing. To play it properly, the quarter notes shouldn't be sustained for the full measure, whereas the C# is.

Daniel


If Mozart really knew what he was doing[1] why does he not include a quarter rest after the lower notes of the chord? Sticking with purely theoretical rules, that should be how the measure should be notated.

[1]In point of fact, I would never presume to state that Mozart didn't know what he was doing. It might have been careless writing in the mss., unclear in the mss., or it may have been an editor's oversight.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1205646 - 05/25/09 05:55 PM Re: How to properly execute arpeggiated chords [Re: mrmdsy]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18889
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: mrmdsy
Well, actually, I tried it out and it still sounds fine with holding all the notes with the arpeggiated chords in different speeds, but it still does not account for holding down notes with huge intervals...unless all pianists are understood to have a very large hand span. I have fairly small hands, but a large span for my hand size.


Speaking more general, and not just with reference to the Mozart, it is accepted standard procedure to use pedal with arpeggiated chords that spread over large spans. The two most immediate examples that come to mind because I've recently played them - and there are dozens of them - are :
1) the Rachmaninoff Etude, Op 33, No 3 in C minor. In the C major section there are arpeggiated chords that span 9ths and 10ths and it seems obvious to me that one holds all the notes of those chords.
2) the Rachmaninoff Prelude in D major, Op 23, No 4. There are several chords that span 10ths - and more - and it seems to me it would do a disservice to the sound Rachmaninoff want us to create if we don't hold all the notes of those chords. One holds with the pedal those one can't hold with the fingers.

It comes down to two very different standard notations :
1) arpeggiated chords where all the notes of the chord should be held for their face value
2) arpeggiated chords that are created by the insertion of "grace notes" before the final note of the chord. In those instances the grace notes are not held; only the final note should be held.
If one doesn't observe these differences conscientiously, why do they exist?

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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