Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#2010362 - 01/07/13 01:41 AM Problems with tension (Bach e minor p&f WTC1)
mrferguson12 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/11
Posts: 141
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Recently I've been looking at some repertoire from last year in attempt to clean up my technique.
To describe my problem in the most general way: it's a tug of war between the kinds of sounds which satisfy my ears, and the physical means to achieve those sounds.

Here's a recording of me playing the prelude and fugue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsiFAibyo2M (fugue at 0:23)

Being my own judge, I like some of the sounds I'm making on individual notes and chords, but the phrases are choppy, not smooth, and there doesn't seem to be a natural musical flow. But it seems like when I'm practicing, and I'm trying to achieve smoother and longer phrases (trying to locate and eliminate tension, keeping an eye on my posture, etc.), my fingers respond by working less and becoming inactive, and my sound gets weak.

I feel as if I'm hitting a physical barrier that is undermining musical progress for me. The kinds of physical movements that are being molded and shaped by my ear when I practice seem to also carry with them a fatal amount of tension which impairs other aspects of music making. At this point, I'm uncertain whether a physical solution even exists that would free up my playing, or am I just stuck with faulty equipment? (small hands, crappy 5th fingers..)

Is there anyone who can provide some insight?


Edited by mrferguson12 (01/07/13 01:54 AM)
_________________________
"A person of any mental quality has ideas of his own. This is common sense."
- Franz Liszt

Top
Ad 800 (Pearl River)
Pearl River World's Best Selling Piano
#2010422 - 01/07/13 06:14 AM Re: Problems with tension (Bach e minor p&f WTC1) [Re: mrferguson12]
mrferguson12 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/11
Posts: 141
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Update: after practicing today, I think I've been able solve some of my own issues. I realized that I've been approaching piano with the wrong mindset entirely.
"The kinds of physical movements that are being molded and shaped by my ear when I practice seem to also carry with them a fatal amount of tension"
There's my problem, instead of carefully listening to what I was doing and finding musical purpose to each physical movement, I was trying to force the music to happen. After practicing slowly and allowing my imagination to run freely, I was able to make considerable progress today.
_________________________
"A person of any mental quality has ideas of his own. This is common sense."
- Franz Liszt

Top
#2010455 - 01/07/13 07:31 AM Re: Problems with tension (Bach e minor p&f WTC1) [Re: mrferguson12]
Jolteon Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 526
Loc: Perth, Australia
Have you tried relaxing? smile

From listening to your recording, I had two thoughts: Some slow practise is needed to really solidify some of the technical aspects (especially in the first part of the prelude) - but also I think you could really benefit from sitting down and singing it. To me, it sounds like you're sometimes unsure of, musically, where each phrase begins or ends and also which are the most important notes. This can often be a hard thing with Bach; as it's not always as clear as Chopin, for instance; but singing it will help you with this immensely. I mean, how can you expect your hands to play it easily and relaxed, if your mind is not really sure what right actually is?

I guess what I'm trying to say is (and might be what you were getting at today): find the 'musical purpose' first, and then find the 'physical movement' which can be used to express that.
_________________________

Algernon: I hope, Cecily, I shall not offend you if I state quite frankly and openly that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection.

Top
#2010477 - 01/07/13 08:43 AM Re: Problems with tension (Bach e minor p&f WTC1) [Re: mrferguson12]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11756
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
A video would really help to see what's going on exactly, but here are some thoughts:

-Do you have a teacher? If not, you may want to consider one to help guide you through this process
-It sounds to me like everything it all the same dynamic. In Baroque and polyphonic music in general, you need to decide which part is the melody and which should be harmony. Sometimes it's very clear, and other times you just have to make a choice and go with it. Otherwise you end up with a wall of sound. edited to add: It won't always be the same throughout the piece, by the way. The "melody" will shift from top voice to bottom to middle, etc. When I first learned to play Bach Inventions, my teacher had me highlight in the score which phrase I wanted to bring out.
-Articulations are extremely important, and I don't really hear much here - it's all legato pretty much with a few staccatos. Does your score have any slurs? Be sure to shape each slur and have a little lift at the end of each. This will add transparency to the sound that is currently lacking.
-Experiment with the dynamics. Baroque music tends to have terraced dynamics, meaning you have sections that contrast from p to f, or gradually stepping up from one dynamic to the next vs. crescendos.

I would work in the above hands separately, playing one phrase at a time with an idea of exactly how it should sound before you play, working on it until you achieve that sound before moving on and putting hands together and then moving on to the next phrase.


Edited by Morodiene (01/07/13 08:45 AM)
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#2010931 - 01/08/13 12:08 AM Re: Problems with tension (Bach e minor p&f WTC1) [Re: mrferguson12]
mrferguson12 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/11
Posts: 141
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Thanks for the replies. I recently moved to Cali from North Carolina. I had a teacher in NC with whom I studied with throughout high school. My teacher always reminded me to "find the 'musical purpose' first, and then find the 'physical movement'" as Jolteon pointed out. Finally I'm starting to see the importance (and urgency) of what my teacher was saying. I practice the first exercise in this book by Oscar Beringer every day: http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Technical-Studies-Piano-Kalmus/dp/076926414X#reader_076926414X
Today I tried taking it hands separately, really slowly, without the metronome, and focusing on each keystroke, trying to play it in a gushy romantic way. This actually gave me a better hand position and I'm learning how to incorporate my wrists and arms more, while still keeping my fingers working. But I suspect that for that kind of practicing, there might be more suitable exercises than that one. any feedback?
_________________________
"A person of any mental quality has ideas of his own. This is common sense."
- Franz Liszt

Top
#2010971 - 01/08/13 03:26 AM Re: Problems with tension (Bach e minor p&f WTC1) [Re: mrferguson12]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
I’ve listened to the opening measures of your rendition ... and then, to draw a comparison, listened to Jeno Jando.

The concert pianist manages to highlight the delight of the treble while keeping a steady rhythmic lid on the bass ripples.

You’ve got a tiger by the tail ... but part of the secret to easing the seemingly “choppy” effect would be to take the playing more slowly ... Jando positively aches a mellow delay in drawing out the Theme.

My reference book says of the E minor ...
"The prelude passionately lyrical; an ideal clavichord piece, far exceeding the companion fugue in beauty and value. The fugue, the only two-voiced specimen in the WTC, is in my opinion of doubtful authenticity; if Bach really wrote the parallel octaves in measures 18-19, it was his sole offense against the nature of fugal polyphony. The fugue is often recommended by teachers as an octave study."

Top

Moderator:  Brendan, Kreisler 
What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Knabe Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
143 registered (Abby Pianoman, *windowlicker*, AaronM, 36251, ABC Vermonter, 43 invisible), 1326 Guests and 26 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75971 Members
42 Forums
157111 Topics
2307390 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Can someone list the rules of accidentals?
by xorbe
8 minutes 7 seconds ago
Kawai ES-7?
by shndany
Today at 10:12 AM
Kawai MP7 - hidden gem
by Kevin Keys
Today at 09:21 AM
Paying to be a vendor
by Bob
Today at 08:39 AM
Does it get easier?
by Pover
Today at 07:10 AM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission