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#2167944 - 10/18/13 01:04 AM Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording
Allan W. Offline
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Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 369
Loc: Michigan
My cell phone has a slow motion video recording option so I did a quick recording. Any issues with my technique? I've mostly self re-taught as an adult so I bet there'll be some issues.

1/4 speed, playing kind of at my maximum tempo

There was no audio recorded, but I'm sure you guys can figure out what I'm playing :P

[video:youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_r4kisDzXg
[/video]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_r4kisDzXg
_________________________
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Kawai MP-10 + Ivory II (pic), Young Chang Y175, 2012 (renting) (pic)

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#2167948 - 10/18/13 01:14 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Allan W. Offline
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Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 369
Loc: Michigan
And here's a normal speed video at around the limit of my tempo (same real-time tempo as slowmo video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=razBgyYRQEA

Excuse the lack of musicality and mistakes, I'm mostly looking for comments on technique. Is my arm height, wrist motions, finger straightness, etc. OK?
_________________________
Recent adult re-starter... http://www.youtube.com/user/allanw
Kawai MP-10 + Ivory II (pic), Young Chang Y175, 2012 (renting) (pic)

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#2167958 - 10/18/13 02:05 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
BruceD Offline
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Don't forget to re-order those checks!
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#2168021 - 10/18/13 08:03 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: BruceD]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: BruceD
Don't forget to re-order those checks!
LOL!

First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.

Also, do you feel any fatigue in the arms wrists or hands when you play this? Or any tingling sensations? Usually it's those things that prompts someone to ask about their technique, because when those things exist there is something wrong that prevents them from playing musically and with freedom.
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#2168025 - 10/18/13 08:33 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Alan Lai Offline
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Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 309
Loc: USA/Hong Kong
I would like you to watch these videos, watch closely at the pianists' hands, and then ask yourself this same question again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpZr_cbYbXo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdCObCqE7ek
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRPEiCfU7kg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pye9RgJ9_NY

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#2168094 - 10/18/13 12:07 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Derulux Offline
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Loc: Philadelphia
I definitely see some tension. Your middle knuckle is very high, and bent at a right angle at least part of the time, and your ring and pinky fingers are often straight. At the slow speeds, it looks like there is very little individual motion helping you strike your ring finger, and that could be leading to some issues if you try to push through this tempo.

What would be more interesting to see would be a video of you trying to push through the tempos, to a point where you fail, because then the technique issues will be very apparent.
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#2168114 - 10/18/13 12:46 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Alan Lai]
Pathbreaker Offline
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Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 992
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Alan Lai
I would like you to watch these videos, watch closely at the pianists' hands, and then ask yourself this same question again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpZr_cbYbXo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdCObCqE7ek


These two examples are really interesting in that there is a huge difference in the amount of movement between Ashkenazy and Ohlsson. Can someone comment on that (a significant amount of rotation from Ohlsson)? It's not that there is none from Ashkenazy but it's not very noticable.

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#2168168 - 10/18/13 03:03 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Derulux Offline
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I'm not sure that there is. Video quality, angle of recording, and distance from the hands likely interfere with our perception of movement. They certainly make very similar movements, but I think the degree to which they move is more difficult to ascertain with any certainty.

If you look closely, you can see the similar movements they are making, and you can also see that their fingers are striking the keys in similar places. Differences in degree of movement probably would have more to do with the anatomy of their playing mechanism than discrepancies of technique.
_________________________
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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#2168172 - 10/18/13 03:14 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Morodiene]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 369
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Don't forget to re-order those checks!
LOL!

First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.

Also, do you feel any fatigue in the arms wrists or hands when you play this? Or any tingling sensations? Usually it's those things that prompts someone to ask about their technique, because when those things exist there is something wrong that prevents them from playing musically and with freedom.


1) I mainly said that because the tempo I recorded was pretty fast for me so there's some mistakes and dynamics aren't great. It'll take more practice for me to work up the tempo, but I'm interested in knowing if there's anything terribly wrong with my technique before I keep practicing this.

2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.
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#2168182 - 10/18/13 03:48 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Morodiene]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.
One can have technical problems but possess great musicality. And one can have great technique but be lacking in musicality(a common criticism of many of today's pianists, although not one I agree with).

Thus, although the goal of great technique should be to be able to do whatever one wants at the piano(hopefully something highly musical), I think the two can be separated and studied separately.


Edited by pianoloverus (10/18/13 03:49 PM)

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#2168203 - 10/18/13 04:39 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
Pathbreaker Offline
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Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 992
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I'm not sure that there is. Video quality, angle of recording, and distance from the hands likely interfere with our perception of movement. They certainly make very similar movements, but I think the degree to which they move is more difficult to ascertain with any certainty.

If you look closely, you can see the similar movements they are making, and you can also see that their fingers are striking the keys in similar places. Differences in degree of movement probably would have more to do with the anatomy of their playing mechanism than discrepancies of technique.


Probably true. I've also been playing this so it grabbed my attention.

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#2168278 - 10/18/13 09:20 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
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Loc: Here, as opposed to there
I didn't watch your video, but know this etude very well. If there is fatigue (and you say there is), then your technique isn't yet strong enough to play it at the tempo you're using. I can't stress the importance of slowwwwww (and I mean extremely slow) practice with this etude. The fatigue doesn't come from the speed of your tempo, but from the fact that you've not yet trained yourself for the acrobatics this piece requires. Speed will come (and you'll find it will come surprisingly easy once you've got all the notes under your fingers completely at a slow tempo). Once you're able to get through it at a slow tempo error free move the tempo up gradually day by day. If errors crop up consistently then you go back to slow practice. Practice without the pedal as well, which really forces you to work slowly and precisely. Once everything is solidly there and you're at tempo there won't be any fatigue and the arpeggios will roll off like water. Believe it, or not, it will feel "easy".
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#2168279 - 10/18/13 09:29 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Allan W.


2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


Fatigue is the precursor to tingling or pain. This is your body telling you that you are tense. Please take this down to a tempo where you don't have any fatigue, no matter how slow that is. There is no shame in slow practice, even the best pianists need to do it. Playing with fatigue however, will result in long-term issues.

This is also a big indicator that your technique needs help. I see a lot of added movement in the fingers that are unnecessary. Take a look at the videos Derulux posted and compare with yours. Work on keeping the fingers that aren't pressing a key relaxed as you play this SUPER slow. Gradually work up to tempo over a period of weeks while maintaining the relaxation you feel at slower tempi.
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#2168281 - 10/18/13 09:31 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: pianoloverus]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.
One can have technical problems but possess great musicality. And one can have great technique but be lacking in musicality(a common criticism of many of today's pianists, although not one I agree with).

Thus, although the goal of great technique should be to be able to do whatever one wants at the piano(hopefully something highly musical), I think the two can be separated and studied separately.
But the problem is that the OP cannot be musical because his technique is preventing him, and that was the purpose for my question.
_________________________
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MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
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#2168338 - 10/19/13 03:16 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
musicpassion Offline
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Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 790
Loc: California, USA
I think you might be playing with some tension.

I don't like the sound of the fatigue you are describing. I'd suggest stopping or slowing down at the very first feeling of fatigue. As you no doubt know, this is NOT at all the same as bench presses at the gym where old gym rats have the adage, "no pain no gain."

A few things about your body mechanics to consider (although from a fixed angle and limited view I'm not certain about any of these): your left wrist looks tight and arched, arms might be too low in relation to the keyboard (try raising the bench), RH hand and wrist look tense. Also monitor tension at your neck and shoulders (which are out of the video of course).
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#2168408 - 10/19/13 08:50 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Morodiene]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19099
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.
One can have technical problems but possess great musicality. And one can have great technique but be lacking in musicality(a common criticism of many of today's pianists, although not one I agree with).

Thus, although the goal of great technique should be to be able to do whatever one wants at the piano(hopefully something highly musical), I think the two can be separated and studied separately.
But the problem is that the OP cannot be musical because his technique is preventing him, and that was the purpose for my question.
Actually, I think the problem is that the OP cannot simply play the notes at anywhere tempo yet, and I think that's his concern. He's far from the point of trying to get the piece at a high musical level even though he may realize it's unmusical.




Edited by pianoloverus (10/19/13 08:55 AM)

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#2168464 - 10/19/13 11:24 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Arghhh Offline
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Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1025
Originally Posted By: Allan W.

2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


Fatigue usually comes from prolonged muscle usage. I feel piano playing is a lot more of quick muscular bursts than continual force. I can see why your pinky muscles would be tired. If you look at your pinky finger, it is constantly held up and the last joint is actually hyperextending. I can't even do that, but if I try, it automatically makes the rest of my hand stiff as well.

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#2168473 - 10/19/13 11:51 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Arghhh]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
Originally Posted By: Allan W.

2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


Fatigue usually comes from prolonged muscle usage. I feel piano playing is a lot more of quick muscular bursts than continual force. I can see why your pinky muscles would be tired. If you look at your pinky finger, it is constantly held up and the last joint is actually hyperextending. I can't even do that, but if I try, it automatically makes the rest of my hand stiff as well.


It doesn't come from prolonged muscle usage. It comes, because those muscles aren't trained yet. One with solid technique won't feel any fatigue, whatsoever, when playing this etude.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2168533 - 10/19/13 01:57 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Arghhh


Fatigue usually comes from prolonged muscle usage. I feel piano playing is a lot more of quick muscular bursts than continual force. I can see why your pinky muscles would be tired. If you look at your pinky finger, it is constantly held up and the last joint is actually hyperextending. I can't even do that, but if I try, it automatically makes the rest of my hand stiff as well.


It doesn't come from prolonged muscle usage. It comes, because those muscles aren't trained yet. One with solid technique won't feel any fatigue, whatsoever, when playing this etude.


I find this to be so true. The old adage "no pain, no gain" doesn't apply in piano, and "pain" extends to the precursors to it such as fatigue, tingling (at or away from piano), numbness, achiness, etc.

If anyone feels these sensations, please, listen to your body. It's telling you that you are not playing this right. It happens to use all, but the difference is some of us will recognize it for what it is and work it out of our playing, and others will ignore and risk injury.
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#2168543 - 10/19/13 02:15 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Allan W. Offline
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Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 369
Loc: Michigan
So you're saying that someone with the right technique but hasn't been using the right hand pinky as heavily as it is used in this etude, can start learning it, practice it for hours at a time at high tempo, and not feel any fatigue? i.e. there's no training of the muscles to get stronger in preparation for playing this without fatigue?

Yes, my arm did look a little low in the video. But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, since I don't need to sit up straight.
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#2168545 - 10/19/13 02:29 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Allan W.
So you're saying that someone with the right technique but hasn't been using the right hand pinky as heavily as it is used in this etude, can start learning it, practice it for hours at a time at high tempo, and not feel any fatigue? i.e. there's no training of the muscles to get stronger in preparation for playing this without fatigue?
Well, yes and no. "Practice it for hours at a high tempo" would only occur once the person was ready to play it at that tempo. A lot more practice happens under tempo, especially in the beginning stages of learning a new piece.

And what muscles are you referring to that need to be made stronger? Presumably the hypothetical person here is ready to study this piece. That means they have invested in their training up until now, so the muscle used in playing are already strong enough. However, playing is more about tendons and arm weight than it is muscle though.

Quote:
Yes, my arm did look a little low in the video. But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, [b]since I don't need to sit up straight[b/].
I'm not sure I understand what you mean.
_________________________
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MTNA member
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2168563 - 10/19/13 03:22 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted By: Allan W.
[...]But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, since I don't need to sit up straight.


Why do you say that you do not need to sit up straight? Good posture is essential to good playing (exceptions noted!) and continuous slouching is one of the major contributors to long-term - if not permanent - back pain.

Regards,
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#2168564 - 10/19/13 03:35 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
musicpassion Offline
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Registered: 12/30/12
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Originally Posted By: Allan W.
Yes, my arm did look a little low in the video. But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, since I don't need to sit up straight.

I understand. But if you can keep your posture good regardless of bench height then you'll be able to get your body aligned properly. Of course as I mentioned in the other post, we can't tell for sure from the video.
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#2168619 - 10/19/13 05:54 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Allan W.
So you're saying that someone with the right technique but hasn't been using the right hand pinky as heavily as it is used in this etude, can start learning it, practice it for hours at a time at high tempo, and not feel any fatigue? i.e. there's no training of the muscles to get stronger in preparation for playing this without fatigue?



If one possesses the correct technique, there will be no need to use the pinky "heavily", nor will there be a need to practise it for hours at a time. You ask, if there is no training of the muscles to get stronger for playing this etude without fatigue and I've already given you the answer above. Acquiring the necessary technique IS the training.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2168621 - 10/19/13 05:57 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: musicpassion]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: musicpassion

I understand. But if you can keep your posture good regardless of bench height then you'll be able to get your body aligned properly. Of course as I mentioned in the other post, we can't tell for sure from the video.


Bench height is part of keeping your posture at the piano correct. Regardless of how well you think you've kept your posture your body won't be "aligned" properly, if the bench is too high, or too low.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2168623 - 10/19/13 05:59 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Might I also add that you really should get yourself a good teacher who can help you firsthand with these things, Allan.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2168659 - 10/19/13 07:41 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]
musicpassion Offline
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Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 790
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: musicpassion

I understand. But if you can keep your posture good regardless of bench height then you'll be able to get your body aligned properly. Of course as I mentioned in the other post, we can't tell for sure from the video.


Bench height is part of keeping your posture at the piano correct. Regardless of how well you think you've kept your posture your body won't be "aligned" properly, if the bench is too high, or too low.

Yes, the bench height is a big part of it. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. However there can be adjustment periods where one does need to focus on posture etc. and in the end will have a better result.
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#2168705 - 10/19/13 10:19 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: BruceD]
Allan W. Offline
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Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 369
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Allan W.
[...]But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, since I don't need to sit up straight.


Why do you say that you do not need to sit up straight? Good posture is essential to good playing (exceptions noted!) and continuous slouching is one of the major contributors to long-term - if not permanent - back pain.

Regards,


I've been making a conscious effort to straighten my back while playing. I meant that if I raise my bench height to increase my arm height and straighten out my upper arm, then it is more difficult to sit up straight since it feels like I'm sitting pretty high.

Anyway -- I will raise my bench one notch while still trying to maintain sitting up straight.


Edited by Allan W. (10/19/13 10:25 PM)
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#2168706 - 10/19/13 10:27 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]
Allan W. Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Might I also add that you really should get yourself a good teacher who can help you firsthand with these things, Allan.


I had a good teacher a month ago who said my posture looked mostly fine. I think I'll try to switch to a piano performance PhD student at my nearby university because they'll have more experience working on advanced repertoire.
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#2168719 - 10/19/13 11:31 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]
Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
Originally Posted By: Allan W.

2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


Fatigue usually comes from prolonged muscle usage. I feel piano playing is a lot more of quick muscular bursts than continual force. I can see why your pinky muscles would be tired. If you look at your pinky finger, it is constantly held up and the last joint is actually hyperextending. I can't even do that, but if I try, it automatically makes the rest of my hand stiff as well.


It doesn't come from prolonged muscle usage. It comes, because those muscles aren't trained yet. One with solid technique won't feel any fatigue, whatsoever, when playing this etude.

On the first part of this, sir, you are wrong. Muscles tire because they are used, not because they are not used.

The second part, however, is correct. One with solid technique minimizes the use of those muscles, so they do not feel as fatigued as someone whose technique causes muscle strain. Typical fatigue is caused by muscles overworking to correct for poor alignment and/or coordination of movements. This is sometimes simplified (even by me) as "lacking proper technique".

So, to comment on another portion of the discussion, it is not necessary to "build up muscles" to play the piano. A certain degree of endurance notwithstanding (and which can be acquired through the regular course of practice), if you are strong enough to press down the keys (which only takes a few ounces of strength), then you need no more muscular strength at all.

This is a great comment from stores, and is worth repeating:
Quote:
Acquiring the necessary technique IS the training.


Essentially, I think we all seem to be saying this in one form or another.
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#2168740 - 10/20/13 12:47 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: Derulux



On the first part of this, sir, you are wrong. Muscles tire because they are used, not because they are not used.



I think it is obvious where I was going. I didn't say that the fatigue is a result of the muscles NOT being used. I said it is because those muscles are not yet trained (to carry the workload). I realise that muscles tire, because of use, but, if you've not ever used said muscles in a particular way, fatigue will set in faster. It would seem we're actually on the same page here, but perhaps I should have worded things so as not to be confusing to anyone.
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#2168806 - 10/20/13 07:20 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Derulux

So, to comment on another portion of the discussion, it is not necessary to "build up muscles" to play the piano. A certain degree of endurance notwithstanding (and which can be acquired through the regular course of practice), if you are strong enough to press down the keys (which only takes a few ounces of strength), then you need no more muscular strength at all.


Somewhat OT, in a sense, this is true.

But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference in recordings, e.g. if you compare two famous Tchaik 1 recordings - Van Cliburn's and Argerich's. But it's in piano competitions where this is most obvious, because you get the opportunity to listen to male and female pianists of similar age and accomplishment playing the same pieces, one after the other.

This is not to imply of course, that budding virtuosi should embark on a strength-training regime wink . But it is true that with regular piano playing of music that involves loud dynamics (especially octaves and chords), you will develop stronger muscles in your forearms, because they are principally responsible for moving the fingers (both flexion and extension). But you'll also develop the small muscles of the hands, as well as the big muscles of the upper arms (which move the forearm).

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#2168842 - 10/20/13 09:15 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis

But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


It's not about "strength", per se, it is about several different elements, one of the most important of which is height (and, related to that, hand span). AFAIK, there's never been a woman pianist on the international circuit as tall as either Van Cliburn or Garrick Ohlsson.

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#2168844 - 10/20/13 09:26 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wr]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: bennevis

But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


It's not about "strength", per se, it is about several different elements, one of the most important of which is height (and, related to that, hand span). AFAIK, there's never been a woman pianist on the international circuit as tall as either Van Cliburn or Garrick Ohlsson.


OK then, compare Argerich's Rach 3 with Ashkenazy's. wink

They're the same height, and have similar hand spans. One is female, the other male. (I'll leave you to guess which is which grin ).

Whose fortissimos have got more power and heft behind it?

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#2168846 - 10/20/13 09:32 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wr]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: bennevis

But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


It's not about "strength", per se, it is about several different elements, one of the most important of which is height (and, related to that, hand span). AFAIK, there's never been a woman pianist on the international circuit as tall as either Van Cliburn or Garrick Ohlsson.

I think height does come into play. However, my former teacher is very small in stature (maybe 5') and her grad teacher told her she would have to lift weights to become more substantial. She doesn't get a huge sound, but it projects well enough.

Anyways, I don't think that size of sound is a big issue with the OP, and building muscle mass is not usually what playing piano is about - especially in the fingers (since there aren't any muscles in the fingers to begin with). Even endurance, when I've played piano for a while my fingers don't get fatigued, it's usually my whole body that loses energy and I just need to eat something to replenish the used energy. My mind probably fatigues more than anything!
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#2168856 - 10/20/13 10:00 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Morodiene]
bennevis Online   content
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I don't want to turn this into a battle of the sexes, but I found an interesting quote by the esteemed Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska:

"....the vast majority of men have a higher volume level than their female counterparts. There are exceptions, naturally, but on the whole, if a 'normal' male pianist attempts a long, fortissimo octave passage, he'll generally find it easier to do so and will achieve it with a louder sound than a 'normal' female pianist."
(International Piano)

Maybe strength training isn't such a bad idea after all, unless you intend to specialize in the Baroque and early classical..... wink

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#2168861 - 10/20/13 10:12 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Pathbreaker]
Alan Lai Offline
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Registered: 09/16/13
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Originally Posted By: Pathbreaker
Originally Posted By: Alan Lai
I would like you to watch these videos, watch closely at the pianists' hands, and then ask yourself this same question again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpZr_cbYbXo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdCObCqE7ek


These two examples are really interesting in that there is a huge difference in the amount of movement between Ashkenazy and Ohlsson. Can someone comment on that (a significant amount of rotation from Ohlsson)? It's not that there is none from Ashkenazy but it's not very noticable.

It's due to different hand construction between those two pianists. Everyone's hands are different.

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#2168922 - 10/20/13 12:45 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis


But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


Bah!
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#2168941 - 10/20/13 01:37 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Arghhh Offline
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If you do go to a piano performance DMA student for your next teacher(piano performance people get a Doctor of Musical Arts degree instead of a PhD), make sure that they have experience teaching. There are many who have only been playing piano and have never tried to teach anyone - and those are two different things.

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#2169006 - 10/20/13 04:08 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]
Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Derulux



On the first part of this, sir, you are wrong. Muscles tire because they are used, not because they are not used.



I think it is obvious where I was going. I didn't say that the fatigue is a result of the muscles NOT being used. I said it is because those muscles are not yet trained (to carry the workload). I realise that muscles tire, because of use, but, if you've not ever used said muscles in a particular way, fatigue will set in faster. It would seem we're actually on the same page here, but perhaps I should have worded things so as not to be confusing to anyone.

Yeah, I didn't realize that until after I posted, and partly because I had to think about it more as I was responding. I probably could have kept silent on this one and still contributed as much as I did by speaking. grin

Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: bennevis


But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique.


Bah!

I actually agree with stores on this. I know many women who can get every once of sound out of the piano. I'm sure the biographers in here, who have a quantity of intimate knowledge about major performers that I couldn't begin to touch, would be able to articulate just how many women have been able to play loudly enough to break strings (which is more power than you need, really). wink
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#2169040 - 10/20/13 05:17 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
musicpassion Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis

Maybe strength training isn't such a bad idea after all, unless you intend to specialize in the Baroque and early classical..... wink


I realize I'm contributing to driving this topic way of course... but it's an interesting discussion about strength, so here's my two cents worth:

I don't think strength training is needed for most people. From my perspective (I'm a man who is 6'3" tall and built like an NFL linebacker) I feel pianos can handle very little of the power of a strong man. It is a very rare piano that I feel I can put a lot of power into without driving way past good tone. Strong men need to be very conscious of not driving past good tone, and and not breaking the piano.

I do, however, hear a real difference btw most men and women pianists. But even a petite pianist can project well if they adapt their approach to their physical parameters.
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#2169148 - 10/20/13 09:42 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
pianoloverus Offline
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I have never heard a professional woman pianist in recital or concerto performance where I felt she lacked power. Perhaps those who think this is the case can tell us which pianists they think fall in to this category?

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#2169158 - 10/20/13 10:03 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
wower Offline
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Loc: Calgary
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But what is also [baseless speculation] is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference.


Feeling the need to stand in solitary with half the world's population I fixed Bennevis' quote. Unfortunately he made a perfectly quantifiable statement and one could easily test the forte playing decibels of different pianists pressing down 30 gram in a ~4 cm^2 area. I know of no study which has reached the conclusion he states as truth above. You can hear it? Pft.
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#2169268 - 10/21/13 06:59 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wower]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: wower
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But what is also [baseless speculation] is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference.


Feeling the need to stand in solitary with half the world's population I fixed Bennevis' quote. Unfortunately he made a perfectly quantifiable statement and one could easily test the forte playing decibels of different pianists pressing down 30 gram in a ~4 cm^2 area. I know of no study which has reached the conclusion he states as truth above. You can hear it? Pft.

I'm not in the habit of picking squabbles with other posters, and I'm also not in the habit of writing anything of which I have no personal experience or knowledge. Unlike many others here....(pft)

Have you ever heard two virtuosi, one male and one female, playing the same bombastic piece one after the other? I have, lots of times, with many different pianists, of similar age and accomplishments. The differences in the sustained level of decibels as well as at the loudest climaxes are quite evident. And it's not just my opinion - you obviously haven't read my post quoting a highly respected virtuoso pianist above (who also judges at many piano competitions).

BTW, what's a solitary pressing down 30g got to do with piano playing? A 6-year-old child can easily press down 1000g with one finger, but cannot play with the power of any adult.

And before anyone accuses me of misogyny, let me reiterate that I'm only talking purely of strength and power, not about musicianship, technique or anything to do with music. (I have an interest in sport-specific training, and strength v endurance etc, because I take part in marathons, adventure-racing etc as well as rock-climbing). It should be self-evident that playing the piano isn't about how loud your ff chords and octaves are (- though this factor does seem to influence perception, e.g. why do so few female pianists play the Brahms concertos?).

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#2169319 - 10/21/13 08:26 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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Originally Posted By: Derulux
I'm sure the biographers in here, who have a quantity of intimate knowledge about major performers that I couldn't begin to touch, would be able to articulate just how many women have been able to play loudly enough to break strings (which is more power than you need, really). wink


I'm a man, about average in height and weight, and I used to break strings fairly often (it's really not that hard to do, if you aren't careful). My technician, who came to repair the damage, loved to deflate any potential male ego nonsense I might be entertaining by telling me about seeing tiny and fragile-looking females who also broke strings with no visible special effort.

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#2169368 - 10/21/13 10:06 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
wower Offline
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Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But what is also true is that among virtuosi, men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference in recordings,


Wow Bennevis. You doubled down on your credentials instead backtracking for simply confusing truth and opinion. Stay classy.
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#2169397 - 10/21/13 10:51 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wower]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: wower

Wow Bennevis. You doubled down on your credentials instead backtracking for simply confusing truth and opinion. Stay classy.

Can you translate that into simple English? (I only know 'doubled-up').

As you know, my command of English isn't quite as comprehensive and all-embracing as yours... wink

By the way, I'm always classy, except when I'm not.

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#2169416 - 10/21/13 11:16 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Hakki Offline
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Allan,

This is a very difficult etude. And there is the risk of injuring yourself if you overdo it and stress your fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, etc.

So the first thing to do is practice at a VERY slow tempo.

If possible download the following video and play it in slow motion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1AEWJqtspg

That is (along with Ashkenazy) the correct technique for this etude.

A few things:

1. Always try to play with your finger tips when possible.
2. Use gravity and let the flow of your wrist carry your fingers to the necessary places. Do not try to reach the notes with expanding your hand.
3. When going up raise your wrist towards your pinky. At that moment your hand should be collapsed and your thumb should already be ready and on the first note of the next group of notes.
4. When coming down similarly lean your wrist towards your thumb and your pinky this time should be ready and already on the first note of the next group of four notes.
5. Always pay close attention that your fingers, wrist, elbow and shoulders are always relaxed.

Hope these help.
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#2169464 - 10/21/13 12:15 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: wr]
Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I'm sure the biographers in here, who have a quantity of intimate knowledge about major performers that I couldn't begin to touch, would be able to articulate just how many women have been able to play loudly enough to break strings (which is more power than you need, really). wink


I'm a man, about average in height and weight, and I used to break strings fairly often (it's really not that hard to do, if you aren't careful). My technician, who came to repair the damage, loved to deflate any potential male ego nonsense I might be entertaining by telling me about seeing tiny and fragile-looking females who also broke strings with no visible special effort.






How unfortunate! My first piano was an old player upright from the 1880's (ish) with the player system ripped out. Had real ivory keys, yellowed from billows of saloon smoke. I was told it was the age of the strings, not my freakishly powerful 12-year-old arms. grin
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#2169559 - 10/21/13 02:55 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: bennevis]
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
[...] men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference in recordings, e.g. if you compare two famous Tchaik 1 recordings - Van Cliburn's and Argerich's. But it's in piano competitions where this is most obvious, because you get the opportunity to listen to male and female pianists of similar age and accomplishment playing the same pieces, one after the other.
[...]


I would have to take issue with the first part of this quote, given that I cannot determine what level of power produced in a recording is due to differences in pianos, recording venues and, most of all, engineering techniques.

The second instance would be a more reliable criterion for determining, and then, only if a fair number of male and female pianists were to play the same work in succession.

Regards,
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#2169581 - 10/21/13 03:30 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Hakki Offline
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From Chopin-Society.org.uk:

"Records shows that as an adult weighing 40 kilos (about 88lbs) and 1.70 metres (5'6") tall, Chopin was chronically under weight"

Why this weird power discussion about Chopin's music? I find it really absurd, meaningless and pointless.
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#2169933 - 10/22/13 08:52 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: BruceD]
wower Offline
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Originally Posted By: BruceD
The second instance would be a more reliable criterion for determining, and then, only if a fair number of male and female pianists were to play the same work in succession.


I haven't closed my mind to changing my view and this idea lies closer to how it might happen with one additional condition: Blind listening tests (leaving aside all the details of good experiment design for the moment). Then this becomes a super interesting question. Though I would predict the results would be closer to what Kreisler and others have spoken about in regards to orchestras now running auditions behind screens as a matter of convention.
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#2170103 - 10/22/13 02:38 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]
Derulux Offline
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Why leave it to the ear? If you really want to run the experiment, get a piano rewired (literally wink ) so instead of pounding on strings, you're hitting pressure plates. Then measure the force generated. Second step, determine the maximum load a string can bear. Third step, determine what maximum load still produces good sound. If women are above that bar in terms of force production (which I fully believe they are), then they can play every bit as loud and powerful as men. wink

You could probably even convince an undergrad at a university to help you run this experiment. Science loves clearing up "misconceptions of perception" and quantifying all sorts of data to prove (or disprove) a hypothesis. smile
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#2170167 - 10/22/13 04:50 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: BruceD]
jdw Offline
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Registered: 03/04/11
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Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: bennevis
[...] men play with markedly more power than women, which is purely down to their greater strength, not superior technique. You can even hear the difference in recordings, e.g. if you compare two famous Tchaik 1 recordings - Van Cliburn's and Argerich's. But it's in piano competitions where this is most obvious, because you get the opportunity to listen to male and female pianists of similar age and accomplishment playing the same pieces, one after the other.
[...]


I would have to take issue with the first part of this quote, given that I cannot determine what level of power produced in a recording is due to differences in pianos, recording venues and, most of all, engineering techniques.

The second instance would be a more reliable criterion for determining, and then, only if a fair number of male and female pianists were to play the same work in succession.


And wouldn't you also have to know whether each of the pianists *wanted* to blast the piece out as loudly as possible? They might conceivably be aiming for something else. smile
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#2170245 - 10/22/13 07:34 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]
wower Offline
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Registered: 03/13/10
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Originally Posted By: Derulux
Why leave it to the ear?


For the simple reason that was the subject at hand when I replied. I wasn't aware I needed to speak to the entire history and philosophy of science. Someone in this thread was practically stating it was self-evident one could tell by ear whether a male or female was playing. While I'm completely open to the possibility I do have reasonable conditions to be met in order to be convinced.


Edited by wower (10/22/13 08:20 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling!
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Recorded a song on my workstation tonight
by Arizona Sage
Today at 12:04 AM
How to tune a piano.....
by Grandpianoman
Yesterday at 11:46 PM
Need help with upgrading(?) Roland digital
by Pathbreaker
Yesterday at 10:23 PM
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