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#2055918 - 03/28/13 10:42 PM More control when playing pp chords in left hand
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121

I seem to have this particular struggle that I suppose is sort of related to tone, or achieving a nice balance with 3 and 4 note chords with very soft dynamics. I thought I might try to get some feedback or suggestions about how I might improve.

When I am playing certain romantic era pieces with lots of thick chords in the left hand that are meant to be played softly, I have a hard time achieving consistent enough control to produce the sound that I want. I'll practice a pianissimo LH chord in isolation as softly as possible and it's very hard to get every note to sound while making sure it stays very soft -- and this is just in isolation. Then I find that I want to weight a particular note more so that one of the tones gets more emphasis (while keeping the chord pp on the whole) and the task becomes even more complicated. And then when I want to play it in the context of the whole phrase or piece instead of just in isolation it is even harder!

I don't have a problem with dynamics when I am playing, say, a two part invention where it's just a couple of voices, or even something where just the left hand chords as a whole are soft with the RH louder. But when there are lots of voices to be balanced out I work and work to get the gradations I want within the left hand and it frequently seems that I can't get the texture of the sound quite where I want to be. If that makes sense.

I wanted to see if anyone knew of any technical exercises to improve control within several fingers of the same hand, or control of the minutiae while playing softly. Or if anyone had general suggestions. I also wasn't sure if I was just being too persnickety in general or if this is a normal thing that people struggle with. Thank you!

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#2055989 - 03/29/13 01:25 AM Re: More control when playing pp chords in left hand [Re: mermilylumpkin]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2497
Loc: San Jose, CA
Any singer will tell you, when you want to sing quietly, you need to use more breath in order to control the sound. It's exactly the same at the piano. You need more arm support and weight to play quietly and slowly than you do to play loudly and quickly. It's the most counterintuitive thing, but it works amazingly well. Using this very simple principle and your own pair of ears, you can get the deepest, most penetrating singing tone or you can get a hushed pianissimo in the bottom octave of the piano that still can be heard at the back of a concert hall.

#2056345 - 03/29/13 04:32 PM Re: More control when playing pp chords in left hand [Re: jeffreyjones]
kuifje Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 119
Often I have the same problem as the TS. I try the weight thing but i have trouble making the chords sound even especially if one of the fingers is much closer to the fallboard than the others. Also the softer the chord, the harder it is for me to sound all notes simultaneously. Do you have any advise for that maybe?

#2056359 - 03/29/13 04:54 PM Re: More control when playing pp chords in left hand [Re: mermilylumpkin]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20774
Loc: New York City
I had the problem with ghost notes mentioned by the OP. When I made a thread about this, one of those replying mentioned that the renowned pedagogue Maurice Hinson tells students with this problem to use firmer fingers. I tried this and solved what had been a long time problem for me within an hour. If I play a ghost note now(it happens far less frequently,)I just think "firmer"(not louder)and can get things right immediately.

#2056409 - 03/29/13 06:23 PM Re: More control when playing pp chords in left hand [Re: mermilylumpkin]
gooddog Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 5112
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Michelle Mares, one of my summer camp instructors suggested placing your fingertips on the keys and then simultaneously bending the most distal joints and pulling your fingertips toward you.

As far as bringing out particular notes, my own teacher suggests pushing the side of your hand with the notes you want to bring out slightly towards the fall board. If it's a note that is more central to the chord, try curling that finger slightly.
Best regards,


#2056637 - 03/30/13 02:05 AM Re: More control when playing pp chords in left hand [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5446
Loc: Philadelphia
One other things to consider, after all of the good advice given, is this: if you're trying to voice the RH so it is louder than the LH, quite often you have to play it louder than the LH. In other words, if the LH is as soft as it can get, don't bring out the RH by making the LH any softer-- you won't get a consistent sound. Instead, make the RH louder.
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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