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#2220897 - 01/26/14 06:13 AM Playing left/right hands louder/quieter?
Jayden Offline
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Registered: 11/11/13
Posts: 102
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
I'm learning a song, and the bass seems to be overpowering the treble from the right hand.

It's really difficult to play the right hand louder while playing soft with the left... I am referring only to the parts where you are hitting a key with both your left and right hands simultaneously. I've tried, but it usually results in the right hand making a sound before the left does (since the right hand is pushing down with more velocity/faster). Is the only solution for this pushing the left keys down slightly before you start pushing the right keys down?

Here's what I mean, in the part of the song that's giving me trouble:

unedited: http://picosong.com/YyDr/ (see how the treble is being overpowered and downed out by the bass in the left hand)

edited version: http://picosong.com/Yyzw/ (I edited the MIDI and increased the right hand velocity. I want to play more like this, it sounds far better).


Edited by Jayden (01/26/14 06:16 AM)
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#2220920 - 01/26/14 07:45 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Morodiene Offline
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I was not able to listen to your clip, but your description of the problem was sufficient I think. When playing two different dynamics in each hand there shouldn't be a timing difference. So this tells me that there is something wrong with how you play piano. After all, you should be able to play softly and still keep the beat. That you can't means your problem is most likely due to just how you play them together.

The way you fix this is by "shadowplaying".
-First, make sure you practice playing the LH alone many times with a metronome softly so that you can do that well
-When you cqn do this easily, play the RH loudly, but instead of actually pressing the LH keys, just barely press them so they do not sound but your fingers are still touching the keys. Be sure to feel them happen at the same time as the RH
-When you can do this well after a few repetitions then try actually playing the LH, being sure to listen and adjust as you go
-If need be, work in small chunks (a few measures at a time) and frequently play the LH alone to remind yourself of the feeling of playing softly in time.
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#2221222 - 01/27/14 01:24 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Jayden Offline
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Registered: 11/11/13
Posts: 102
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
Ok I will try doing that for awhile. See if it helps.

This is the first song I have played so far that truly needs the left hand to be played quieter, otherwise it doesn't sound right, so I am not quite used to it yet.

Thanks for that. It's pretty much the same suggestion I have seen in every other post about this, so it must work.
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#2221225 - 01/27/14 01:37 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Dave B Offline
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Registered: 08/01/11
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Loc: Philadelphia area
balancing intervals is the best part of piano playing.

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#2221227 - 01/27/14 01:43 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Jayden Offline
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Registered: 11/11/13
Posts: 102
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
Balancing intervals? What do you mean by that?

edit: hey, I think I am getting the hang of it already. woo.


Edited by Jayden (01/27/14 01:58 AM)
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#2221240 - 01/27/14 02:58 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
earlofmar Offline
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Registered: 03/21/13
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As beginners it is fairly common to have little or no control over the weight we play so don't worry if you don't get it right at first. Morodiene's exercise is the answer and I hope it works for you. But as you have only been playing for just over a month you are still adapting to the instrument (a lifelong journey really), and such subtleties take experience and time.
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#2221250 - 01/27/14 04:11 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Morodiene]
Brian Lucas Offline
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Registered: 09/04/11
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
The way you fix this is by "shadowplaying"
That's a great idea, and perfect to fix the problem on this song.

I'll simply add that years ago a coach recommended some exercises in independent dynamics that really helped. We used Hanon, but you can use scales or any other repetitive pattern where both hands are playing the same thing. Start by playing both soft. Then increase the volume of both hands together. Then you try to decrease the volume of one while keeping the other up. Then decrease the volume of the other to match the softer one. Continue raising/lowering the volume of individual hands. I remember it being extremely frustrating at the time, but eventually you get the hang of it.
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#2221332 - 01/27/14 09:00 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Ataru074 Offline
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Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 384
Loc: Houston, TX
+1 for what Brian is saying.
Scales with alternate dynamics are really useful

exercise 1:
Scales in parallel motion:
RH start F, diminuendo to pp going up, crescendo to F going down.
LH start pp, crescendo to F going up, diminuendo to pp going down.

Exercise 2:
the opposite of 1

Exercise 3:
Scales in opposite motion.
RH start F, diminuendo to pp going up, crescendo to F going down.
LH start pp, crescendo to F going down, diminuendo to pp going up.

Exercise 4:
the opposite of 3.

These are a little more advanced and you need really to care about having all the dynamics...
you should hear the transitioning from one hand to the other about half the way going up or down.

as usual, hand separates first and then together.... it's hard and takes quite some control to master, but for example it's the only way to gain enough control on LH dynamics to play more complex pieces with enough expression and not with a single hand pounding. (comes to mind the development of the pastoral sonata or this part of op 110. http://youtu.be/uzIZu0JoT2E?t=2m54s )
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#2221515 - 01/27/14 03:23 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Sweet06 Offline
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Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
Agreed. I use my hanon work to basically practice that and kill two birds with one stone. Basically how I got it to "work" is I start playing both hands softly. Then they kind of go on auto pilot and I make my right hand hit a bit heavier. I don't even think about the left hand once I've got it going.
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#2221646 - 01/27/14 08:00 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
4evrBeginR Offline
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Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

Play the RH loudly, but instead of actually pressing the LH keys, just barely press them so they do not sound but your fingers are still touching the keys. Be sure to feel them happen at the same time as the RH


Don't underestimate this brutal torturous exercise from Morodiene. It's tough but really works. Then you move on to doing the same 'voicing' on a single hand, for specific chords, etc.
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#2221681 - 01/27/14 09:47 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
hreichgott Offline
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Registered: 04/11/13
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Loc: western MA, USA
A more basic exercise that gets at the same thing, used successfully with lots of students who know it as the Tapping Exercise:

Level 1. Play half notes with both finger 2s on Cs repeatedly. Then one hand taps its C silently in half notes, touching the key top but making no sound, while the other continues to play its C in half notes. Then switch the hands.

Level 2. Same as level 1 but instead of playing and silent tapping, use ff playing and pp playing.

Level 3. Pick the easiest possible piece you can play that has a melody in one hand and accompaniment in the other hand. Play the melody ff and accompaniment pp, then switch the hands (aka KILL THE MELODY.)
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#2221690 - 01/27/14 10:06 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Bloggs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 4
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: Jayden
I'm learning a song, and the bass seems to be overpowering the treble from the right hand.

It's really difficult to play the right hand louder while playing soft with the left... I am referring only to the parts where you are hitting a key with both your left and right hands simultaneously.


I'm sorry for being completely useless, but you're going to hate voicing in one hand. grin



Tone differentiation is tricky stuff.

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#2221694 - 01/27/14 10:27 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Bloggs]
4evrBeginR Offline
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Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
You should be grateful it's Lento ma non troppo. shocked
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#2221696 - 01/27/14 10:32 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
Brian Lucas Offline
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Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 989
Originally Posted By: 4evrBeginR
You should be grateful it's Lento ma non troppo. shocked
ma non troppo wink
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#2221746 - 01/28/14 03:34 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Brian Lucas]
4evrBeginR Offline
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Registered: 06/27/09
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Loc: California
Ha! Good one. laugh
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#2221754 - 01/28/14 04:42 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Jayden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/13
Posts: 102
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
So I seem to be able to do it now. Haven't tried those exercises yet, guess my brain just kind of figured it out.

the whole "don't play the left hand softer, play the right hand louder" philosophy seems to be working well for me.
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#2221968 - 01/28/14 04:32 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Sweet06 Offline
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Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
Glad to hear, that's how I got hands to do it.
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#2222265 - 01/29/14 02:09 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Derulux Offline
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Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5344
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Jayden
Is the only solution for this pushing the left keys down slightly before you start pushing the right keys down?

No. Actually, what happens is your right hand will usually travel a little farther to get there (think "bigger motion"). It doesn't have to, but in the beginning it is much easier to coordinate a small movement with a large movement than to try to coordinate two different velocities over the same distance.

Morodiene's exercise is pretty much the best bet. One variant on it that you can do away from the keys: lightly tap your left hand fingertips on a desk/tabletop/etc, and tap your right hand harder so it makes a louder noise. You can practice doing a lot of things this way, without having to worry about right notes. It really can help you get the feel for what your hands have to do when you sit back down at a keyboard.
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#2222302 - 01/29/14 04:39 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
wimpiano Online   content
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Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 1541
Loc: The Netherlands
In my humble opinion playing the right hand louder is not the solution. It might be an "easy" trick to accomplish it but you are most likely not playing the left hand pianissimo (or perhaps just even piano) which was likely the intention of the composer.

I must say you're previous results impressed me though I'm afraid you're learning lots of bad habits. My teacher has (already in this short period that I started playing) corrected me quite a number of times, especially when it comes to accents and dynamics. Even on relatively easy things like broken chords. You don't have a basis and you're going directly for "master level" works.

This way you will most likely never truly master those pieces. You might be able to play the notes (or not even, just what you think the notes are but most likely you are way of) but won't be able to make it music.

I'm not trying to be harsh but your approach does not seem wise to me.


Edited by wimpiano (01/29/14 04:40 AM)
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#2222360 - 01/29/14 07:46 AM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Jayden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/13
Posts: 102
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
I know what you mean, and I have been well aware of this since before I even started.

It's about balancing short-term/long-term gain. In the short term, I have a few songs I want to play well, because they mean something to me. In the long term, I will be correcting my technique and learning the foundations. This is not lost on me.

Right now, my only interest is playing this song better, and that means playing the right hand louder/ left hand softer.

If it feels good playing it, and sounds good, I couldn't really care about the technique I am using at this moment. That comes soon, but not until I am done fulfilling my short term goals. I have all the time in the world and habits aren't hard to break.

As for me pursuing 'master level' works, it's not my goal to play them absolutely perfect. It's my goal to play them to my own standard of satisfaction (a standard that will go up with experience. And my standard tells me that this piece sounds far better with a softer left hand). I think one of the reasons people take so long learning this instrument is because they spend so much time with pieces either at or below their level. The best way to learn effectively is to continuously use content above your level.

Thanks for the suggestions smile

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: Jayden
Is the only solution for this pushing the left keys down slightly before you start pushing the right keys down?

No. Actually, what happens is your right hand will usually travel a little farther to get there (think "bigger motion"). It doesn't have to, but in the beginning it is much easier to coordinate a small movement with a large movement than to try to coordinate two different velocities over the same distance.


I see. That's useful information. I think I've been coordinating two different velocities over the last day or so, which seems to work for this situation now. I don't think I am using a larger motion, but that makes a lot of sense for future situations.


Edited by Jayden (01/29/14 08:09 AM)
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#2222622 - 01/29/14 02:56 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Sweet06 Offline
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Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
I disagree with wimpiano, if you play both hands piano, then start playing your right hand louder, as long as the left hand doesn't get louder as well, you are accomplishing piano in left and forte in right.
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#2222644 - 01/29/14 03:38 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
Plowboy Offline
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Singing the melody while playing the piece has helped me.
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#2222660 - 01/29/14 04:13 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
JohnSprung Offline
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Loc: Reseda, California
Another example: "La Vie en Rose" -- the left walks down the scale playing open octaves in the deep bass, against mostly a single note melody line with a few chords on the right.
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#2222861 - 01/29/14 11:00 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: JohnSprung]
Jayden Offline
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Registered: 11/11/13
Posts: 102
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
Another example: "La Vie en Rose" -- the left walks down the scale playing open octaves in the deep bass, against mostly a single note melody line with a few chords on the right.



That sounds perfect for this situation.
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#2223226 - 01/30/14 03:34 PM Re: Playing left/right hands louder/quieter? [Re: Jayden]
JohnSprung Offline
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PM your e-mail address, and I can send you a PDF and music XML.
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