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#1411979 - 04/06/10 03:36 AM The correct way of pressing a key ?
Cashley Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 530
I came across a thread in this forum about how a teacher is able to tell from the way a student plays, whether he or she has been practicing on an acoustic or digital.

I guess much has to do with the way one presses the piano keys.

Exactly which part of the fingers should the pressure be applied ? The intersection between the nail and flesh ? Or the underside of the finger ?

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#1411986 - 04/06/10 04:19 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Cashley]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 421
Loc: Worcester, UK
Check this essay on piano technique.

I think it goes some way to explain one of the major limitations faced by digital piano actions.

However, this does not fully explain why a student who practises on a digital would play differently.
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#1412063 - 04/06/10 08:25 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Ben Crosland]
Cashley Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 530
The essay on piano technique is too wide for this topic.

I just want to know which spot of the fingertip is the contact point.

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#1412068 - 04/06/10 08:49 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Cashley]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Whatever is suitable. It's about how you move, not necessarily which part of the finger is in contact. There is a place for all sorts of different positions, in the right context.
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http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1412069 - 04/06/10 08:51 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Having said that, you will achieve a much better tone the more you are on the tip of your finger as compared to the fleshy pad. This is as much to do with physics as anything else - by shaping your finger in the manner required to press on the tip you need less energy to create a difference - and this means you have a wider variety of strengths you can apply.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1412073 - 04/06/10 09:05 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
I totally disagree. What physics dictates that? On the contary, when you play with a flatter pad, you have the strong muscles at the knuckle in the optimal line to transmit energy. By necessity, as soon as you put the finger on the tip, you are transmitting a very indirect component of the force (having already placed the finger in a position where the knuckle joint is not in position to utilise its power, as a result of having passed through the strongest area of its potential for motion). Can you explain the physics behind your assertion (about needing 'less' energy)? I'm afraid it doesn't seem to fit any physics that I know.
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http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1412078 - 04/06/10 09:14 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Elissa Milne]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7407
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Hummm, I'm not sure all would agree with that. Lhevinne wrote to play on the fleshy pads; Fleisher does as did Horowitz. I believe they were generally referring to Romantic literature, however. For Baroque and Classical, playing with high fingers and more to the tips is necessary, if you want the clean and crisp sound of those periods.
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#1412082 - 04/06/10 09:29 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Yeah, there's certainly a place for playing on the tips. However, I cannot conceive any explanation in physics that would suggest it to be a notably efficient way of transmitting energy. I'd use it for light but precisely defined playing at speed, not for big sonorous sounds or fine control.
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http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1412095 - 04/06/10 09:49 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Cashley]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Originally Posted By: Cashley
The essay on piano technique is too wide for this topic.

I just want to know which spot of the fingertip is the contact point.


No, the essay is too narrow. It is a very broad topic with no correct answer.

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#1412104 - 04/06/10 10:04 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7407
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Yeah, there's certainly a place for playing on the tips. However, I cannot conceive any explanation in physics that would suggest it to be a notably efficient way of transmitting energy. I'd use it for light but precisely defined playing at speed, not for big sonorous sounds or fine control.


Our responses overlapped; I was referring to Elissa's posting, not yours. I happen to agree 100% with you for reasons I stated above!

Regards!


Edited by John v.d.Brook (04/06/10 11:24 AM)
Edit Reason: correct typo
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1412183 - 04/06/10 11:53 AM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
From what I experience in going from my acoustic piano - a Yamaha U1 - to my digital Yamaha P85 - it's all about what I feel as I apply the same touches to either instrument.

The acoustic piano resounds and vibrates back into my fingers, the keys move in response to the weight and velocity of my fingers and to the targeted placement on the keys, with the slightest change producing a huge variety of differences.

I play a digital and the notes simply go down and it feels plastic and resistant. My techniques and expressiveness do not thrive on a digital. It becomes an empty experience and the connection between me and the digital becomes simply about pressing the right keys and holding for the duration. My ears and muscles turn off as what returns to me in less than the experience of a good acoustical piano.

It's depth and dimensions and resonating and sound that are less than desirable for an "inner world" musical happening. More like typing than anything.

With my acoustic piano I am keenly involved in making the music through my intentions and responding to the instruments capacities which can duplicate anything I set in motion.

I guess you would have to be here to understand what I mean. The difference between the glass being half empty or half full?

The physics of playing the piano are unique to each and every pianist - we are like snowflakes and finger prints - unique in our own human instrument which is the instument who plays the mechanical instrument, the piano and it's keyboard. Each has identifying characteristics - the human pianist, the composer who wrote the music enters into the formula, and the piano's capacity itself.

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#1412203 - 04/06/10 12:22 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

The physics of playing the piano are unique to each and every pianist - we are like snowflakes and finger prints - unique in our own human instrument which is the instument who plays the mechanical instrument, the piano and it's keyboard. Each has identifying characteristics - the human pianist, the composer who wrote the music enters into the formula, and the piano's capacity itself.


No, the physics is the same for each and every pianist. This is all too easily forgotten when thinking about differences from person to person. Everyone is slightly different and the optimal product may be slightly different as the result of differing proportions etc in fine details. However, the physics that governs how physical difference requires adaptation is always the same. I cannot conceive of a pianist who could not get more direct transmission of energy through a flatter finger- by playing from the knuckle (unless they have not trained themself to use the necessary muscles to their full capability). Some people may well prefer to use more rounded fingers. However, they cannot change the laws of physics that govern the fact that this means a more indirect and less efficient path into the key. Not every movement necessarily requires something approaching 100% transmission of input energy. If you prefer slightly indirect motions then fine. I recently realised how much more margin for error they provide in many quiet passages (although I still use the fleshy pad for better contact- greater surface area means more control over contact and more stability. You can't change that physics either, regardless of whether you prefer a pointed finger). I simply cannot see any laws of physics that might imply playing on the tip could transmit energy more efficiently. All I can see is how it wastes a high percentage of the input, and prevents the optimal muscles in the knuckles from being in an position to operate to their full capability. I'd be interested to see the explanation, but I'm highly skeptical that any science might support that theory.
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#1412228 - 04/06/10 12:47 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Physics is physics acknowledged.

However we are each different in our physical inclinations and just our shape and size as a human body with the brain that we have sets into place individual movements on the keys. And, we are very different in our evolution as pianists compared to ourselves and to others.

For instance, all the little young prodigies age 4-7 are going to have to continue to work on all their pieces over and over because as these children grow, develop, their bones, muscles and nerves are changing too. What they did at age 4 to access the keys is a different story at age 5.

The petite 7 year old is not going to be the same experience physically as the husky, big boned, tall for his age 7 year old.

Each person is unique in approach therefore the dimensions of the sound produced represent their weight, velocity, angles and ability to control their thoughts and their action on the keyboard.

We don't think in physics when playing the piano, but it is definitely there as a science as is acoustics. You can relate to the "art" - artistry of a pianist and the organziation of music making as well as to the "science" and "math" of the instrument and the human. Both the piano and the human are "machines/mechanisms" of sorts.

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#1412239 - 04/06/10 01:02 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Sure, there are different approaches that work but we have to remember that the same fundamentals govern each and every one of these approaches. This is very important. I simply don't think this statement is accurate:

"This is as much to do with physics as anything else - by shaping your finger in the manner required to press on the tip you need less energy to create a difference - and this means you have a wider variety of strengths you can apply."

I'm not saying that means nobody should play on the finger tips ever, or that nobody can play well this way. However, physics as I understand it, seems to give an extremely strong suggestion that the description would be more applicable to flat fingers, based on the laws of mechanics. When looking for efficient transmission and maximal variety, I would always take the pad of the finger. This can be done with totally flat fingers or marginally shaped fingers. Either way, it provides far more scope for energy transfer than when the tips curl up.

PS. Arguably this is more about the lumbricals (about the knuckles) than the fingertip itself. However to reach the fingertip, you have to already have gone beyond the point where these muscles work to their best efficiency- or put them vastly out of line with the plane of the key (making their action more towards you rather than into the key) . To get the strong muscles involved to the full, you need to keep the knuckles in a natural position with only a slight curve. Then you have enormous potential for power, with smaller effort.
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http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1412249 - 04/06/10 01:23 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
John_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 621
Loc: Bristol, UK
It seems to me that the term 'energy' is misleading. Surely, in very simplistic 'mechanical' terms, the factors are the torque applied to the fingers by the muscles and tendons (i.e. the force applied) and the velocity of the fingers where they meet the keys.

If you view the finger as a rigid lever (for the sake of argument ignore the muscles etc that control the 1st and 2nd joints) then the longer the lever is (i.e. extended fingers) the greater is the torque needed to apply the same force where the fingers touch the keys but, at the same time, the angular movement at the knuckle will be less. Conversely, the shorter the lever (curled fingers where the distance from the knuckle to the finger tip is reduced) the less the torque but the greater the angular motion.

Whether that has any bearing on the very complex musculature of the hand is another matter all together.

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#1412261 - 04/06/10 01:35 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: John_B]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Try holding your finger out straight. Move it as far as you would to depress a key and monitor the knuckle. Then curl your finger and do the same. The former has much more feeling of action from the knuckle and it should involve a larger movement at the knuckle- hence more scope for energy input. Mine feels restricted when my finger is curled. Also, notice how the straight finger tip moves almost perfectly downwards. Whereas the curled one shows much more rotational movement towards you- unless you are using an enormously low wrist. It's simply a less direct application of energy and harder to angle with efficiency. Plus there is vastly more scope for collapse with the rounded finger.

Also, one more thing- when on the pad, action about EVERY joint in the finger serves either to increase contact with the key, or to channel energy into moving that key. When the fingertip is pointed, any further muscular activity only serves to weaken the point of contact. So if it's not aligned flawlessly, no muscular activity can aid you I'd far sooner be in a position where I know that every possible action (except straightening actions, of course) is more likely to contribute a positive than a negative. When you're looking for a big sound, I think this far more desirable. It's also far less likely to be thrown off balance by the nerves of a concert situation, for example. Any faint instability caused by a little shaking vanishes, as you simply feel a faint curling action. Once this action has already been do to an extreme, it cannot contribute beneficially.
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#1412270 - 04/06/10 01:48 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Cashley]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13812
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Cashley

Exactly which part of the fingers should the pressure be applied ? The intersection between the nail and flesh ? Or the underside of the finger ?


Somewhere in between.

And the process of figuring that out is something of a personal journey that all pianists must take. This is the part of practicing that is not drill - analyze what you do, try something different, adopt what works, discard what doesn't. Lather, rinse, repeat.
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#1412291 - 04/06/10 02:27 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Sure, there are different approaches that work but we have to remember that the same fundamentals govern each and every one of these approaches. This is very important. I simply don't think this statement is accurate:

"This is as much to do with physics as anything else - by shaping your finger in the manner required to press on the tip you need less energy to create a difference - and this means you have a wider variety of strengths you can apply."

I'm not saying that means nobody should play on the finger tips ever, or that nobody can play well this way. However, physics as I understand it, seems to give an extremely strong suggestion that the description would be more applicable to flat fingers, based on the laws of mechanics. When looking for efficient transmission and maximal variety, I would always take the pad of the finger. This can be done with totally flat fingers or marginally shaped fingers. Either way, it provides far more scope for energy transfer than when the tips curl up.

PS. Arguably this is more about the lumbricals (about the knuckles) than the fingertip itself. However to reach the fingertip, you have to already have gone beyond the point where these muscles work to their best efficiency- or put them vastly out of line with the plane of the key (making their action more towards you rather than into the key) . To get the strong muscles involved to the full, you need to keep the knuckles in a natural position with only a slight curve. Then you have enormous potential for power, with smaller effort.


You're getting your physics terms mixed up. "Efficiency" in this case should mean the transmission of force with minimal loss of kinetic energy. "Energy" has a specific meaning, and it has nothing to do with "maximal variety". Curved fingers are definitely more efficient at transmitting force.

There are certainly times when playing flat-fingered can give beautiful, expressive legato. But all this physics talk is jumbled up and incorrect.

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#1412304 - 04/06/10 02:48 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: wavelength]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Where did I say energy has anything directly to do with maximal variety? However, if you are in a position of having the option to tranfer the maximum energy possible efficiently, your upper range is obviously bigger than if you waste plenty of the energy with a means that only permits an indirect strike. Hence more variety is possible. That is hardly controversial logic, surely?Especially as using the pads permits indirect strikes as well, when you raise the wrist. It allows total freedom over how directly or indirectly you wish to apply the energy. If you have the ability to apply energy as directly or indirectly as you like, you clearly have more range than if you employ a method that can only apply it indirectly and with wastage.

By efficiency I am referring to how much of the energy input goes into the hammer. If you move on an indirect plane, some of the energy travels on the wrong plane to do so. It is hence inefficient. If I am somehow mixed up, would you care to explain in some detail? And seeing as I took the time to explain why a flat-finger would permit greater efficiency through directness of motion (as well as other factors), would you like to counter it with a little detail about the reason why curved fingers might be more efficient, rather than simply stating it as if it were incontrovertible fact? Having studies physics and mechanics, I see no basis for that claim. So, if you feel I'm mistaken, perhaps you could explain what factors you believe would make it more efficient (in spite of the fact that it prevents the most direct transfer of energy from the knuckle)? I'm open to factors that I may not have yet considered, but simply telling me I'm wrong is not immediately going to cause me to switch sides, sorry.
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http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1412370 - 04/06/10 04:44 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Beginning piano students are typically taught to keep their
fingers curved, which naturally results in the fingers hitting
the keys with the tips. I suppose this is okay for a starting
point, but there is a tendency for many teachers to insist on
this basic hand position even into the advanced stages of
playing. This is particularly true in the US, where anything
less than curved fingers implies laziness, and there is no
greater sin in the US than laziness.

As pieces get technically more demanding, this basic curved
finger position just will not cut it. In advanced playing you
may have to strike the keys with the finger flat, and thus with
the bottom of the finger, or with the side of the finger, or
beyond the tip of the finger, that is, with the nail, or with the
first joint collapsed, not curved, and so forth.
So there is hard and fast rule on how to strike the keys. Generally
you hit the keys with whatever is necessary in a given playing
situation, and this could mean just about anything.

Note that if you play from sheet music without looking at
your hands, this solves all problems with technique. Not
only does this improve reading, since you can keep your
eyes on the score, but at the same time it lets your hands
find the best fingering and technique on their own, with
no special effort on your part, greatly simplifying playing.
This way you never have to read another finger number on
the score, and your hands automatically determine the best way to hit
the keys and finger position.

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#1412386 - 04/06/10 05:18 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
John_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/10
Posts: 621
Loc: Bristol, UK
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Having studies physics and mechanics, I see no basis for that claim.


Well, 40 years ago I got a degree in physics (and then forgot all I had learnt within the next five years) but your scientific explanation sounds very dubious to me.

One question though: some time ago I seem to recall you were advocating 'balancing' the arm on one's fingers and allowing them to support the weight of the arm. I can't see for the life of me how that is possible with flattish fingers.

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#1412393 - 04/06/10 05:33 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Where did I say energy has anything directly to do with maximal variety? However, if you are in a position of having the option to tranfer the maximum energy possible efficiently, your upper range is obviously bigger than if you waste plenty of the energy with a means that only permits an indirect strike. Hence more variety is possible. That is hardly controversial logic, surely?Especially as using the pads permits indirect strikes as well, when you raise the wrist. It allows total freedom over how directly or indirectly you wish to apply the energy. If you have the ability to apply energy as directly or indirectly as you like, you clearly have more range than if you employ a method that can only apply it indirectly and with wastage.

By efficiency I am referring to how much of the energy input goes into the hammer. If you move on an indirect plane, some of the energy travels on the wrong plane to do so. It is hence inefficient. If I am somehow mixed up, would you care to explain in some detail? And seeing as I took the time to explain why a flat-finger would permit greater efficiency through directness of motion (as well as other factors), would you like to counter it with a little detail about the reason why curved fingers might be more efficient, rather than simply stating it as if it were incontrovertible fact? Having studies physics and mechanics, I see no basis for that claim. So, if you feel I'm mistaken, perhaps you could explain what factors you believe would make it more efficient (in spite of the fact that it prevents the most direct transfer of energy from the knuckle)? I'm open to factors that I may not have yet considered, but simply telling me I'm wrong is not immediately going to cause me to switch sides, sorry.



Your finger is a lever. The fulcrum is the knuckle. The closer to the fulcrum your load (the piano key) is, the less effort it takes to move it. Curving the finger brings the load closer to the fulcrum.

I'm not arguing with your assertion that playing with the pads is better than playing with the tips.

I am taking issue with the inaccurate use of the language of physics to try to prove that assertion.

The language of piano technique and tone production is imprecise and poetic. It works in person, with a teacher. The language of physics is precise, but it is not the language of piano technique because piano technique goes beyond physics and into aural trickery.

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#1412421 - 04/06/10 05:52 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: wavelength]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: wavelength
Your finger is a lever. The fulcrum is the knuckle. The closer to the fulcrum your load (the piano key) is, the less effort it takes to move it. Curving the finger brings the load closer to the fulcrum.

Yep, that's all I meant. And I didn't mean that playing on the pads of the finger is never appropriate!
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1412427 - 04/06/10 05:58 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: John_B]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: John_B
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Having studies physics and mechanics, I see no basis for that claim.


Well, 40 years ago I got a degree in physics (and then forgot all I had learnt within the next five years) but your scientific explanation sounds very dubious to me.

One question though: some time ago I seem to recall you were advocating 'balancing' the arm on one's fingers and allowing them to support the weight of the arm. I can't see for the life of me how that is possible with flattish fingers.


They need to support a portion of the arm's weight, yes. Not all of it though and not none of it. Why a flat finger might not be able to do that is beyond me. I'm doing it right now on the tabletop and it's far more comfortable and balanced when I use the whole pad of my finger.

So what is your reasoning for saying that a strike that is clearly in the plane of required motion would not be more efficient than one that is not and in which give in the joints is inevitable?
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1412446 - 04/06/10 06:19 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: wavelength]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"Your finger is a lever. The fulcrum is the knuckle. The closer to the fulcrum your load (the piano key) is, the less effort it takes to move it. Curving the finger brings the load closer to the fulcrum."

I see the point. But it is not a fixed structure. Especially not with a greatly curved finger. What of the inevitable loss of contact upon the key from the reduced area of contact? What of the inevitable fact that motion from the knuckle cannot be transmitted on a direct plane- due to a truly substantial amount of the energy being channelled on a horizontal plane (assuming that you don't have a staggeringly low wrist)? What of the fact that any muscular action in the end joints of the fingers decreases the stability of the structure and contact- instead of aiding it or serving to contribute additional energy input on top of that provided from the knuckle? Or that all of the muscles that contribute (especially the lumbricals) operate with more strength and function when beginning closer to a neutral position- than when already starting from an exaggerated position.

Sorry, but I don't believe for one second that these factors can be outweighed by the small change in the distance. After all, if that were truly the biggest factor, would we not all seek to form a perfect right angle at the next joint after the knuckle and keep the final joint perfectly straight? Neither do I observe pianists who make the biggest ranges of sounds tending to play on extreme tips with exaggerated curvature in the fingers- except for a specific effect.

I particularly can't see how it could reasonably be argued that finger tips are inherently superior, based on science. There are so many factors against it that I'm definitely siding with the dual possibilites for either direct or indirect angles for energy transfer, that come with the flattish finger.
_________________________
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#1412450 - 04/06/10 06:21 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Ben Crosland Offline
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Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 421
Loc: Worcester, UK
My main issue with the open-fingered approach is that I am immediately aware of how much tension it introduces by default. For me, this tension is extremely effective at stopping much of my musical intention dead in it's tracks. Also, I do not support your notion that 'give in the joints is inevitable' - at least not in the sense that it would constitute any more give than is inevitable with any approach? A degree of flexibility is surely desirable in any case, as without it, there would be no shock-absorption?
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#1412455 - 04/06/10 06:25 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
You just prefer the alternative, which is what motivates you to find the physics unconvincing. That's fine. But the physics of the situation remain, irrespective of all mitigating elements. And bear in mind that the OP is in the context of the discussion about the difference between pressing a key on a digital and an acoustic (which feeds out of discussion regarding the value of a digital piano for beginners). The flat fingered approach works just fine on a digital in ANY circumstance, and students who have been playing on a digital piano tend to play with their fingers more or less rigid from the knuckle with no ability to control dynamic. A conversation about what is appropriate at a concert performance level is somewhat out of place in the context of this beginners-on-a-digital/acoustic origin of the question - what is effective in a concert performance is often far from useful for a beginner, which I'm sure I'm not alone in noticing?
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#1412462 - 04/06/10 06:30 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13812
Loc: Iowa City, IA
FYI:

The finger is three levers, attached to another lever, attached to another lever, attached to another lever. Two of those levers are not simple hinges (wrist and shoulder) and they have the ability to change the orientation of all the other levers.

Each of these levers are controlled by a complex system of muscles and tendons, and the entire mechanism rests on a foundation that is somewhat flexible (the rest of your body.) This foundation is balanced at three points - the pelvis and two legs - but the weight distribution between them is often in flux.

Oh, and did I mention that the levers on two of the fingers are anatomically linked (the 4th and 5th.) Also, playing a finger by itself is a very different motion than playing it after another. Finger 3 alone requires a different motion than finger 3 after the thumb, which also requires a different motion than finger 3 after finger 4.

Simple physics may be useful in describing narrowly defined microscopic aspects of technique, but for actual piano playing, accounting for all the levers, angles, and forces used, in their proper contexts, would require hundreds of pages of equations.
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#1412463 - 04/06/10 06:30 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Ben Crosland]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Why tension by default? You have to use a lot of muscle tension to form such a curved shape. Far more than to play with a natural finger shape- according to many who know a lot more about the anatomy than I do. I certainly feel more comfort with small stabilising actions that are spread across each joint, than when the hand is curved to the point where the last two joints are unable to contribute anything that does not act almost solely horizontally. As for shock absorption, yes it would certainly be necessarily. But it would detract from efficiency, which was the source of my disagreement. That ain't efficient! A naturally shaped finger undergoes far less shock and absorbs the little that occurs really very easily- and requires no joints to be fixed into position or to undergo comparable compression. No joint gives! They all squeeze faintly inwards and spread the load.
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#1412471 - 04/06/10 06:40 PM Re: The correct way of pressing a key ? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
You just prefer the alternative, which is what motivates you to find the physics unconvincing. That's fine. But the physics of the situation remain, irrespective of all mitigating elements.


The substantial number of mitigating elements I gave are not 'physics'? It's a complex issue, but I simply do not believe that so many factors fail to outweigh a small difference in the distance from the knuckle.

Also, with regard to ease, playing with a rounded tip requires far more factors to come perfectly together. When you squeeze from a slightly flattened finger, you can feel every joint acting positively. If you start too curved, you often collapse and then often have to use the opposite(!) muscles to those required in order to reset. And then many students collapse again. If you start flatter, you feel the natural inward action in every joint- until it carries you into a natural position. The most natural action creates a balanced position. There's no danger of forcing one joint into place but then having to use opposing muscles in another to keep it there. The whole finger does it's naturally evolved function of squeezing lightly inwards and every single joint contributes towards contact and balance. There is no fear of a near vertical joint accidentally slipping. Every natural inward action reinforces the balance. It's so simple that I can't understand why anyone would not want to use this as the most standard and normal way to play.
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