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#1988952 - 11/20/12 01:09 PM Clair de Lune help
Teenagepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 28
I am learning Clair de Lune and so far I have learnt roughly the first page and 3 bars.

It is at 1:27 in this performance that I have problems.

I think it is Bars 17/18.

I am using a keyboard, so I only have the damper pedal, but when I do use the pedal it smudges and sounds awful, and similarly when I don't use the pedal it doesn't sound very good either. I don't understand what I am doing wrong.

Does anyone have any advice on how to play this part clearly?


Edited by Teenagepiano (11/20/12 01:10 PM)

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#1988957 - 11/20/12 01:22 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4149
Can you control the level of sustain with your keyboard pedal, or is it simply all or nothing?

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#1988959 - 11/20/12 01:23 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17666
Loc: Victoria, BC
It's difficult to give practical advice to your dilemma when we can't see and hear how you are playing. You may, however, be limited at what you can do with a keyboard and a damper pedal. Unless you are using a very high-end keyboard, the damper pedal you have is much, much less sensitive than the damper on a quality grand which means that the control you have between a satisfying overlapping of tones and a total blur is very limited. On many keyboard with an attached damper, it is either "on" or "off" with no control of nuances in between.

Pedaling in Debussy is a very refined skill and absolute control of the damper among the various possibilities - completely depressed, half-pedaling, flutter pedaling - may not even be possible on your keyboard and (may I say this?) you may not yet have reached the level of playing where you know exactly how to control the damper were you to be playing on a well-regulated grand.

To repeat, however : One can't really say what you are doing wrong when we can't see and hear your playing.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190 in satin ebony

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#1988966 - 11/20/12 01:51 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: BruceD]
Teenagepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 28
I understand; I haven't been playing piano very long but I have successfully been able to complete other pieces above my grade level, which is why I'm learning Clair de Lune, and I haven't encountered any major problems until this point( Although I am aware that what I've learn constitutes the easier portions of the piece).

I will try half pedalling when I am able to practice on an upright. Until then I am releasing the pedal with each movement which while doesn't sound very good, makes it more bearable. My pedal is literally as you said an "on/off switch".

In addition to this I'm not offended by your comments about my ability with regard to pedalling.

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#1988969 - 11/20/12 01:55 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 706
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
You are probably right Bruce. I know on my digital piano the damper pedal is only a switch. Some high end digital pianos have continuous damper pedals that would allow for half-pedaling but I think this is a relatively new feature (I could be wrong about that).
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#1989124 - 11/20/12 09:41 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4372
Loc: Jersey Shore

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#1989144 - 11/20/12 10:08 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Mark...]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4149
Originally Posted By: Mark...


This tutorial series doesn't relate to OP's question.

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#1989250 - 11/21/12 07:15 AM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
Beethoven747-400 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/11
Posts: 116
Loc: Perth, Australia
Hi Teenagepiano,

I had the exact same problem in the exact same spot and know exactly what you mean!

Flutter pedaling would be a way to counter it, by rapidly holding and letting go of the pedal enough to not let it smudge, but not too much to loose the bottom E flats and B flat. My the thread it looks established that this option is not available to you.

Alternatively you can use the middle pedal with combination of the right pedal, the middle to sustain the bottom notes, and the right to connect the top notes. If you don't have a middle pedal (I'm not sure if digital pianos do...?).

I guess volume contributes to the clarification of sound too, try to bring out just the chords that don't smudge and less volume on chords that do.

Hope this helps!

I employed flutter pedaling, you can view it here @ 1:07 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA9S3DRqLYk

This is not my home YouTube account.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll find a way!!
_________________________
YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/brandonscherrer?feature=mhee

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#1989278 - 11/21/12 08:50 AM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19097
Loc: New York City
It's possible to play this passage and have it sound reasonable even if one only has the full sustain pedal option and no option of half pedal, flutter pedal, or sostenuto pedal. It may not be exactly what Debussy indicated in terms of holding the bass notes but it will still sound fine. Even if one used the sostenuto pedal on the low E flat octave it would eventually die out to almost nothing so sustaining for a shorter amount of time isn't so critically wrong.

I would change the pedal approximately after each eighth note triplet or whenever it sounds too blurred. You may have to practice changing the pedal quickly assuming that's possible on your keyboard.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/21/12 08:52 AM)

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#1989320 - 11/21/12 10:08 AM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
You will notice with these 6 measures (19-24) that
the LH ascends in a broad full measure sweep
which allows the LH to bounce up (on the beat)
into the treble for the close-coupled accompanying theme ...
ending in the sustained notes just before
the captivating Un poco messo (gentle pp).

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#1998024 - 12/11/12 06:59 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: btb]
Teenagepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 28
Well this is a late reply, but I'm still having trouble with it. What annoys me the most, is that I when I played on my teachers piano in the lesson he said it sounded fine, but when I play it on my keyboard it sounds terrible!.

I will practice tomorrow on a real upright so we'll see how that goes. The only solution I've found is to play it slowly, and the way I have been forced to play it due to the smudging doesn't fit the mood I'm trying to achieve while playing it. It's quite frustrating really.

I've literally been practising this section in isolation from the rest of the piece for around a week(along with other pieces), and it still isn't right. Oh well, I guess I'll press on with the other parts of the piece and try and fix this. frown

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#1998030 - 12/11/12 07:14 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19097
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
Well this is a late reply, but I'm still having trouble with it. What annoys me the most, is that I when I played on my teachers piano in the lesson he said it sounded fine, but when I play it on my keyboard it sounds terrible!.

I will practice tomorrow on a real upright so we'll see how that goes. The only solution I've found is to play it slowly, and the way I have been forced to play it due to the smudging doesn't fit the mood I'm trying to achieve while playing it. It's quite frustrating really.
If your teacher says it sounds fine on his piano it may very well be that your keyboard's pedal simply cannot function well enough for this passage. Do you think it sounds fine on your teacher's piano?

When you practice the passage slowly if you use the same pedaling as when you play it up to speed it may not sound correct. The pedaling that sounds good when playing slowly may not work or even be possible when playing up to speed. I would not worry about all the suggestions about half pedaling, flutter pedaling, etc. You could also look for a good edited version of this piece and try the pedaling suggestions it has.

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#1998032 - 12/11/12 07:21 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5067
Loc: Philadelphia
What brand/model keyboard do you have?
_________________________
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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#1998302 - 12/12/12 11:16 AM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Derulux]
Teenagepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/12
Posts: 28
Originally Posted By: Derulux
What brand/model keyboard do you have?


I have a Yamaha PSR-E333 with an M-Audio SP-2 sustain pedal. I'm looking into buying a better keyboard next year, but I can't afford a real piano.

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#1998373 - 12/12/12 01:17 PM Re: Clair de Lune help [Re: Teenagepiano]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17666
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
Originally Posted By: Derulux
What brand/model keyboard do you have?


I have a Yamaha PSR-E333 with an M-Audio SP-2 sustain pedal. I'm looking into buying a better keyboard next year, but I can't afford a real piano.



You may have to resign yourself to the fact that even "a better keyboard" is not going to give you either the control or the response that a good acoustic will give you. For music with the type of subtleties that characterize much of the music of Debussy (and others) you may continue to have the same frustrations that you are having now.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190 in satin ebony

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