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#1985600 - 11/12/12 04:22 AM For all those small paws out there...
Debbusyist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 208
Loc: I'm standing upside down...
If you had to play continous 9th or 10th chords in both right and left hand, how would you do it? By small paws, I mean maximum hand range is an octave. (this problem is in my messiaen)
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Shostakovich Piano Concerto op 102. movement 1
Chopin 'Winter Wind' Etude
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#1985605 - 11/12/12 04:48 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4763
Loc: USA
I mean.. if you can't reach them, you can't reach them. So, can you reach them?

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#1985606 - 11/12/12 04:49 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5245
Loc: Europe
Hmm... Do wait for others to chime in, because I have huge paws, plus I no longer practice the piano as I used to, but...

1. It will be extremely difficult to pull it off. The opposite thing is happening to me: Some things which require small hands and delicate playing are simply too difficult to pull off, so eventually I gave them up... I love my large hands and the things I can play easily enough.

2. How fast are we talking about? I think that if it's a bit fast, there will be difficulties in playing every chord from bottom to up. Perhaps you can later once in a while to up -> down? in order to make a better legato, or something I mean...

3. Pedalling. Make sure your sustain pedal works the best way possible...

Not sure I can think of anything else to tell you, but keep at it and wait for the others to join in the discussion...
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#1985616 - 11/12/12 05:40 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
Debbusyist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 208
Loc: I'm standing upside down...
Lets say you can add rubato and can put lots of pedals.
_________________________
HSC pieces:
Shostakovich Piano Concerto op 102. movement 1
Chopin 'Winter Wind' Etude
Slowly adding more on...

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#1985644 - 11/12/12 08:19 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1483
There are tons of pieces that do not need such a big reach.

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#1985667 - 11/12/12 09:41 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
Chopinlover49 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 635
Loc: NY and NC
My daughter and I have the same problem. She is an advanced player and tells me to roll the chords quickly with pedal. At least I think I have explained what she said. I am not advanced and have a hard time doing it.
_________________________
2004 Mason-Hamlin polished ebony BB.
Working on jazz standards and Chopin nocturnes, preludes, and mazurkas (the easier ones.)

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#1985674 - 11/12/12 10:09 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5018
I'd roll the chords if I have to, but if the music requires a lot of these and sounds odd with every chord rolled, I'd probably not play it in the first place....

I can stretch a 9th reliably and comfortably at speed but not a 10th except when I have enough time to prepare.

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#1985687 - 11/12/12 10:58 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4791
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I've got an uncomfortable 9th. Sometimes solutions can be found by redistributing the notes between the hands. This might mean shifting a note down to the other hand without changing the order of the notes, or it might mean changing the placement of a non-critical note to another place in a chord. If that doesn't work, I'd try rolling as long as it doesn't destroy the piece. With my reach, I struggle with tension developing when I play repeated fast octaves so the last and saddest option would be to avoid music with repeated 9ths and 10ths.
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Deborah

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#1985692 - 11/12/12 11:12 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
Ian_G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/10
Posts: 168
Loc: Germany
I've had never had to worry about this much, but still there are bits which bother. Like the bottom of the penultimate page in the Dante Sonata, where I have to roll the last couple of LH chords.

So, pedal and roll. (no stopping or dropping, though).
Or, play the bottom note as an appoggiatura before the beat and play the chord body on the beat.
Of course, clever splitting between the hands does help, too.

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#1985695 - 11/12/12 11:24 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Another option is leaving notes out. Depends on the context.

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#1985719 - 11/12/12 12:57 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6098
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Depending on the context you can:
1) Roll the chord
2) Leave out the mischievous note
3) Choose the same note in another octave and see how it sounds
4) Use the sustain pedal
5) Help with the other hand (when I do that I use a bracket like this [ to remember).
6) Damn the composer and choose another piece
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1985725 - 11/12/12 01:15 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: debrucey]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Another option is leaving notes out. Depends on the context.

I was going to say you have two choices, but upon further review (read: correction), it appears you have at least three.

1. Roll the chords. If you can't reach them, you can't reach them.

2. If possible, you may be able to redistribute it between your hands (depends on context).

3. See debrucey's excellent comment.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1985764 - 11/12/12 03:49 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I heard a piece of contemporary music recently that I really liked. It heavily featured some gorgeous sounding but widely spaced chords. When I looked at the score I realised that I would never be able to play a single chord in the piece, as all of them spanned at least a 11th. The piece was written for a friend of mine, who has Rachmaninoff sized hands. Glumly I resigned myself to the fact that no matter how good at the piano I will get, I will never play this piece.

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#1985784 - 11/12/12 04:28 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
boo1234 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 508
I can barely reach a 10th so I tend to avoid pieces that have a lot of them.

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#1985806 - 11/12/12 05:06 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Derulux]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 937
Loc: California
The OP mentioned there are wide chords simultaneously in both hands, so redistribution would not work, unless the hands overlap when playing as written.

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#1985819 - 11/12/12 05:34 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
Playagain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 239
Another way to break up a large chord that you can't reach is mentioned in Ruth Slenczynska's book, "Music at your Fingertips."

She says, "...play as many solid notes as possible on the beat, the remaining notes afterward, so that the essential rhythm won't be disturbed. For example, in the opening chords of Rachmaninoff's Second Concerto, play the left thumb quietly after all the other notes have been struck simultaneously."

She also mentions "...besides breaking a chord from left to right (bottom to top) it can be done the other way around if it agrees better with the context of the music." It would be interesting to see an example of this, but she doesn't mention one.

Kathy
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#1985852 - 11/12/12 07:02 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
I've got a good nine, an "ify" ten. The nine chords I could play. I might figure out some what to cheat on the tens if there were just an occasional one as I can manage a ten with some difficulty. If there were a lot of tens I wouldn't even attempt the piece. I definitely wouldn't attempt the piece if my reach were an octave and there were multiple nine and ten chords, particularly fast moving ones. I can't imagine the sort of gymnastics necessary to the attempt would be very good for your hands or result in a clean sounding piece.
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Slow down and do it right.

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#1985928 - 11/12/12 10:32 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: debrucey]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: debrucey
I heard a piece of contemporary music recently that I really liked. It heavily featured some gorgeous sounding but widely spaced chords. When I looked at the score I realised that I would never be able to play a single chord in the piece, as all of them spanned at least a 11th. The piece was written for a friend of mine, who has Rachmaninoff sized hands. Glumly I resigned myself to the fact that no matter how good at the piano I will get, I will never play this piece.

That's insane, and quite unfortunate. I have to believe most composers specifically avoid such spans because they intrinsically want their music to be widely played by as many people as possible. However, it's nearly impossible to avoid the "specifically-commissioned" piece. Any chance you have a recording of some genetically-gifted individual (perhaps your friend) performing it? I wouldn't mind having a listen to something I, too, would never be able to play.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1985966 - 11/13/12 01:54 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Chords in excess of an 8th are necessarily strident.
( ie.9ths,10ths, 11ths).

But why include a raspy chord? ... just because of big hands?

Perhaps to provide contrast to an adjacent melodious input.

Beats me.

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#1985968 - 11/13/12 02:00 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: btb]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5245
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: btb
Chords in excess of an 8th are necessarily strident.
( ie.9ths,10ths, 11ths).

But why include a raspy chord? ... just because of big hands?

Perhaps to provide contrast to an adjacent melodious input.

Beats me.
You may carry on being beaten as much as you want, but since the OP is discussing a work by Messiaen, I'd place my trust in his composing skills and ideas, rather than your hatred towards 'strident', 'raspy' and 'unecessary' chords! wink

I can reply with great ease on why big chords. In fact I actually made a thread about this very issue: Was composing a trio (with piano of course) and the method and idea I used to compose the 2nd movement was filled with rather large chords. My problem, as Brucey described, was that my hands can reach an 11th with relative difficulty, and even a 12th in my left hand, so I'm definitely not the best judge of such chords. Thus I posted here and changed a couple of things, but not everything.

While I support the freedom of the performers and the idea that a performer should take liberties, at the same time I would appreciate just a tiny bit more appreciation and respect towards what the composer writes in the score. I think it means there's mutual respect there.

As Brucey mentioned, btw, some works just are out of reach for some people (I also mentioned that in my first post here).
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#1985971 - 11/13/12 02:14 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
The Gleeks don't read the small print ...
there is no question of "hatred" of big chords ...
the point being made is WHY!!

My earlier comment ...

"Perhaps to provide contrast to an adjacent melodious input" could just be on the money.

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#1985976 - 11/13/12 02:32 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: btb]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5245
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: btb
The Gleeks don't read the small print ...
there is no question of "hatred" of big chords ...
the point being made is WHY!!

My earlier comment ...

"Perhaps to provide contrast to an adjacent melodious input" could just be on the money.
First of all. I don't know if the term 'Gleek' was a tpyo (such as this one) or coming from Glee, but I have never ever watched Glee, nor I care to watch it! wink

now to your comments, since I have a couple of minutes to spare. Before posting I went ahead and checked what both 'strident' and 'raspy' mean. both have a negative meaning of too harsh and so on... So don't you dare tell me that there's no negativity (as always) in your post! wink Then you disregarded who the composer is (Messiaen is not your middle crappy composer! He's Messiaen) by a simple "Beats me", which could be taken as lightly or as seriously as one thinks. You didn't mention the score, and since it's an expensive score and quit contemporary sounding, I'd assume that you don't own it, and since it's still in copyright you can't take a look in IMSLP to find it and yet you decided to offer up your opinion! Of a general tendency to use big chords: "Beats me"

The why can be left for you to find out. But if you could, for a minute, escape your closed ears and decide that some things can sound good, even if they are not your usual triadic chords, perhaps you could discover much more than just 'contrast to an adjacent melodious input' (which guess what: It's yet AGAIN negative... The opposite of melodious input is... a non melodious input which in your book... beats you...)

Have a great morning there old chap! smile
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#1985984 - 11/13/12 03:23 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Who doesn't know Messiaen ... without his input to the
brilliant Hal movie 2001 ... we wouldn't have trembled
visibly as the astronauts approach the Slab.

I'm not hacking anybody ... the issue was the big chords in excess of an 8th ... which are strident ... and WHY?

My big hands pretty well match those of Rachmaninoff ... so the problem of "small paws" does not come into the picture.

PS The Gleeks is what the Chinese call the Greeks ...
also my admiration of the Golden Age Greeks has no parallel ... I have just been reading up in my bath the
words of Plato

"Let our artists rather be those who are gifted to discern the true nature of the beautiful and graceful; then will our youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good in everything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow into the eye and ear, like a health giving breeze from a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from earliest years into likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason".

Wonder if Plato played the lyre?

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#1985989 - 11/13/12 03:43 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
It's more respectful to the composers intentions to make a judgement call on how best to achieve a difficult to reach chord in a way that preserves the character of the music than it is to just roll anything you can't reach as default.

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#1985991 - 11/13/12 03:46 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK

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#1986013 - 11/13/12 05:29 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5018
I often wish there're more Romantic and post-Romantic pieces written by composers with small hands (though if they're writing for other pianists - like Ravel and his LH PC-, invariably they make inexorbitant demands on hand sizes).

One of the appealing aspects of playing the Yellow River Concerto (whose piano part is written by a Tchaikovsky prize-winner who evidently has small hands) is that there's nothing in the whole work - despite its profusion of double octaves, rapid alternating chords galore à la Rachmaninoff - that requires more than an octave stretch in either hand. Would that other composers of big virtuoso works are more considerate of us small-pawed and inadequate pianists.... grin

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#1986135 - 11/13/12 11:59 AM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
im@me Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/21/12
Posts: 68
I have extremely small hands but can still reach a tenth smile I just extend out my hand and use my wrist

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#1986137 - 11/13/12 12:02 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Bear in mind the sort of people these composers were writing for. Ravel may have had small hands, but most of his works were premiered by Ricardo Vines, who did not. When composers write small salon pieces aimed at amateur pianists, they tend to be less technically demanding in all respects.


Edited by debrucey (11/13/12 12:02 PM)

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#1986150 - 11/13/12 12:15 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5018
I've just discovered I'm as guilty as many other composers grin- leafing through some of the pieces I wrote for myself to play last year, there was one that required several 10ths in the LH. The chords just sounded right like that. But I could (just about) play them because there is time to prepare for those chords, and the piece is slow.

But how does Mozart get away with not requiring 10ths in his piano music?

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#1986167 - 11/13/12 01:01 PM Re: For all those small paws out there... [Re: Debbusyist]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5245
Loc: Europe
You know this thread, after posting here a few times, started to feel rather silly:

Difficult music will be difficult music. I don't think anyone would ask, why the Chopin Balads are VERY difficult to perform properly. Or a Beethoven sonata. They just decided to do what they wanted! Same with anything that seems impossible for some pianists...

I don't think there's a need to ask any 'WHY' question about such huge composers as Messiaen, or any other monster of music! You just take what he's provided and treat it with respect. End of story!
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