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#1249610 - 08/15/09 02:27 AM Note Stems Upside Down
ihave12fingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/09
Posts: 79
I'm playing Bach's Prelude I, and there are notes in the treble clef with upside down stems.

I usually coordinate the treble clef with the right hand, and the bass with the left. But I kind of remember my teacher telling me about the stem direction.

Do I play the "upside down" stems with the left hand, regardless of what clef it is in?

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#1249612 - 08/15/09 03:03 AM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: ihave12fingers]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20744
Loc: Oakland
That is usually why stems are in that direction, although sometimes it is done for clarity.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1249645 - 08/15/09 08:33 AM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: BDB]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
Not necessarily, it depends on the context.

Sometimes music is based on vocal music, or the composer or editor may want you to interpret it in the context of vocal music. Then you can have multiple "singers" or "voices" and you want to make it sound like each one is a separate melody being played at the same time. Think the typical four part choral harmony - a soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. The soprano and alto would be notated on the top staff, soprano with stems up, alto with stems down. The same patern would occur for the tenor and baritone in the lower staff. It wouldn't make sense to try to play the baritone and alto part with your left hand while trying to play the soprano and tenor with your right.

I've also seen a bracket around the note head or on one side of it to indicate that it needs to be played with the other hand. Sometimes I've even seen little lh or rh letters to indicate this, although this is more common in modern compositions.

Considering that this is Bach, I would start by trying to see if it is meant to indicate the voices.

Rich
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#1249654 - 08/15/09 09:07 AM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: ihave12fingers]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
Expanding on what Dragon said - there are two essential sets of rules concerning stems in written music. 1. If it is "choral" style music where you have different voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) then the stems are used to distinguish which voice has which line. So all the soprano (top voice) notes have upward pointing stems, alto stems go down, and in the bass clef the same happens with the tenor and bass line.
2. When there is no distinction of voices, there is a different set of rules. In that case any note head that is below the middle line has upward pointing stems, and any note head above the middle line has downward pointing stems. Middle line notes can go either way. If there is a chord, then commonly you take the note that is the furthest from the middle line as guide.

For playing (this is in part a question) wouldn't you take whatever fits comfortably in the hand, when there is doubt?

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#1249728 - 08/15/09 11:11 AM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: keystring]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1233
Loc: Ohio, US
Originally Posted By: keystring


For playing (this is in part a question) wouldn't you take whatever fits comfortably in the hand, when there is doubt?


That's what I've been doing pretty much. A time or two I've played a note on the bass clef with my right hand because it felt less awkward even though I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be playing it with the left.
_________________________
I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.


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#1249759 - 08/15/09 11:57 AM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: Little_Blue_Engine]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
This is not rhetorical. I have had very few actual piano lessons and that was a while back:
Quote:
I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be playing it with the left

Is there a "supposed to"?

KS

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#1249926 - 08/15/09 05:59 PM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: keystring]
EDWARDIAN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 89
Loc: New York, USA
Hey 12fingers -

Are you talking about the Prelude No. 1 from The Well Tempered Clavichord or Prelude No. 1 from 12 Little Preludes?

Is there fingering indicated? You can usually figure out which hand is playing from that. But if you let me know which one, I can probably help you.

If it is the one from the Well Tempered Clavichord, the first two notes of each measure are played with the left hand and the next 6 with the right hand. Then repeat in the 2nd half of the measure. When you get to the last 3 measures, the first 2 notes are LH, the rest RH.

Hope this helps. I'll look for which one you are playing. thumb

Joan
_________________________
Joan Edward

Private piano teacher, 20+ years
EDWARDIAN45@hotmail.com

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#1249928 - 08/15/09 06:04 PM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: keystring]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: keystring
This is not rhetorical. I have had very few actual piano lessons and that was a while back:
Quote:
I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be playing it with the left

Is there a "supposed to"?

Not in the sense of "legally obliged to", no smile . But sometimes in the sense of "it was intended that you do", yes. The musical results are the test in most cases.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1250422 - 08/16/09 06:47 PM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: EDWARDIAN]
joflah Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 243
Loc: St. Louis, MO, USA
Hi, Joan,
Thanks for the clue about the fingering of the WTC 1-1 prelude. What would you say is a good target tempo for the piece, in bpm?
--
Jack
_________________________
Jack

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#1250477 - 08/16/09 09:40 PM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: ihave12fingers]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: ihave12fingers
I'm playing Bach's Prelude I, and there are notes in the treble clef with upside down stems.

I usually coordinate the treble clef with the right hand, and the bass with the left. But I kind of remember my teacher telling me about the stem direction.

Do I play the "upside down" stems with the left hand, regardless of what clef it is in?


That's for guitar. wink
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1250496 - 08/16/09 10:19 PM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: Horowitzian]
EDWARDIAN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 89
Loc: New York, USA
Hey Jack -

The notation in Russell Lanning's Music by the Masters for the Prelude is allegro which is 132-168 on the online metronome. I, however, think that's too fast, and so I play more adagio, which is 66-80 on the online metronome. But that's just me. smile

Have fun with it. It's a beautiful piece that most people love when they hear it.

Joan
_________________________
Joan Edward

Private piano teacher, 20+ years
EDWARDIAN45@hotmail.com

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#1250683 - 08/17/09 09:55 AM Re: Note Stems Upside Down [Re: Horowitzian]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: ihave12fingers
I'm playing Bach's Prelude I, and there are notes in the treble clef with upside down stems.

I usually coordinate the treble clef with the right hand, and the bass with the left. But I kind of remember my teacher telling me about the stem direction.

Do I play the "upside down" stems with the left hand, regardless of what clef it is in?


That's for guitar. wink


To expound on this, I thought that upside down stems actually meaning something was to indicate notes which should be plucked by the RH thumb on guitar. Learn something every day! smile
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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