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#1769889 - 10/13/11 12:04 PM Philip Aaberg's "The Gift"
Colin Dunn Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 541
Loc: Arvada, CO

I just started working on this piece but am finding some of the rhythms / coordinations difficult to learn. Some of it requires counting down to the 16th-note pulse. Yet if I do that I have to play it so slowly that it's hard to get a feeling of what it really sounds like.

There's also a middle section in which the left hand does arpeggios on changing chords, while the right hand plays octaves with sixths filled in.

Any advice on how to get the rhythms locked in and work this up to tempo? It isn't a particularly fast piece but seems difficult to get both hands coordinated.
Colin Dunn

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#1769947 - 10/13/11 01:46 PM Re: Philip Aaberg's "The Gift" [Re: Colin Dunn]
Brian Lucas Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 1129
Loc: Nashville, TN
Hi Colin. Coordination is the key. Focus on when the hands play together and when they play alone instead of counting out each hand's rhythm. Think of it as a dance between both your hands. You'll soon lock in on the main rhythmic theme in the piece.

Don't worry about going slow at first. It's far more important to get the figures correct. Speed is an after effect and will come as you get more comfortable with the piece.
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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#1770139 - 10/13/11 10:07 PM Re: Philip Aaberg's "The Gift" [Re: Colin Dunn]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2485
Loc: Virginia, USA
Do you normally have to count in 16ths or is it just for this piece? If it's normal, I would try a bunch of rhythm patterns to get the feel for counting the quarter note and having the 16ths fit in.

If it's just this piece, then slow practice like Brian says. Also, then move to count the eighths, then the quarters as you get it more locked in.
  • Debussy - Le Petit Nègre, L. 114
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3

#1770462 - 10/14/11 11:49 AM Re: Philip Aaberg's "The Gift" [Re: Colin Dunn]
Colin Dunn Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 541
Loc: Arvada, CO
I don't usually have to count 16th-note pulses, but in this piece I have to as there are syncopated rhythms (down to the 16th-note pulse) in both hands. I'm familiar with most of the patterns (dotted-8th and 16th, 16th and dotted-8th, 16th-8th-16th, etc.). The hard part is that these patterns often occur on the off-beat in this piece. That, and both hands are doing this independently of each other, starting on any of the four of the 16th-note pulses in a beat.

From my practice so far, and listening to the original recording of this piece a bunch of times, it seems this is often done to alternate / interleave both hands. The piece sounds a lot simpler on the recording than it actually is to play!
Colin Dunn

#1808870 - 12/19/11 07:06 PM Re: Philip Aaberg's "The Gift" [Re: Colin Dunn]
Colin Dunn Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 541
Loc: Arvada, CO
A follow-up to say that after about 2-1/2 months of work, I learned this piece relatively well!

There was one week in that time that I made rapid progress. During that week I did a lot of slow practice and a lot of repetitions until I could get the difficult rhythms and hand-coordinations right.

The other thing is that the 16th-note pulses were for melodies that alternated between hands. Once I understood that intuitively, it was a lot easier to learn. Definitely a case where a piece of music looks more difficult written down. I wonder if Philip Aaberg writes out his music, or if he plays improvisationally and the sheet music I have was a transcription of the recording?
Colin Dunn


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