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#491936 - 12/12/07 12:08 PM Advice on technique issue (Brahms 117/1)
Zubi-Zomp Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/17/07
Posts: 8
Loc: Jersey Shore
I've been working on Brahms' Op. 117 No. 1 (Intermezzo in E-flat Major) for a while now, and most of it's come together nicely. But I'm having a frustrating problem with the last section, specifically the following passage:

At the point I'm at right now, I cannot keep those sixteenth notes in the inner RH voice from being very heavily emphasized, but I would really like to de-emphasize the inner voice in favor of the outer voices. Problem is, I haven't been able to get my right hand to get with the program. I keep landing on those sixteenths like a hammer (at least, relative to whatever I'm trying to do on the outside notes). :rolleyes:

So, does anyone have any advice on how to improve one's intra-hand dynamic independence (for lack of a less pretentious term \:D )?

(Hope I stated all that clearly...)
"Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer."
- Patrick Rothfuss

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#491937 - 12/12/07 01:32 PM Re: Advice on technique issue (Brahms 117/1)
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18956
Loc: Victoria, BC
Try practicing playing the top note only of the octave with the internal line. Then try practicing the bottom note only of the octave with the internal line. Both times, concentrate on the outer voice.

Practice playing the top note only of the octave with the right hand and the internal line with the left hand. Then practice playing the bottom note with the left hand and the internal line with the right hand. Listen closely to what you are doing and concentrate on a smooth, soft inner line with an accented outer line. Then try to imitate that sound with the right hand alone, first playing only the top line with the internal line, then the bottom line with the internal line.

Then with full octaves try practicing by playing the octave first, then the internal line very softly after the beats. Gradually bring the internal line closer and closer in tempo with the octaves, still preserving the balance between the two.

Then play only the octaves and the inner melody note that coincides with the octave. Leave out the other inner notes for the moment and, again concentrate on the sound of the octaves.

Perhaps these practicing methods will help.

- - - - -
Estonia 190

#491938 - 12/12/07 03:45 PM Re: Advice on technique issue (Brahms 117/1)
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 13168
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
You can also try playing those notes silently. Don't even press down the keys for the inner notes while playing the octaves. Do this slowly at first, then gradually speed up. Then once that is comfortable, allow yourself to press down those keys. They should be quieter then.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#491939 - 12/12/07 04:09 PM Re: Advice on technique issue (Brahms 117/1)
Kreisler Offline

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13825
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Play the octave with your arm and the 16ths with your fingers. Also keep your fingers on the surface of the keys.
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


#491940 - 12/13/07 09:15 AM Re: Advice on technique issue (Brahms 117/1)
Alexander Hanysz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 141
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
BruceD's suggestions are very good--forming an aural image of the sound you want will help you solve the technical problems.

Another thing that might help, bizarre though it sounds, is to make the two voices feel independent by practicing the exact opposite of what you want: see if you can play the 16ths forte while keeping the octaves an even pianissimo (but listening to the octaves). You can go even further down that road by trying to play the 16ths staccato while holding down the octaves. Spend just a few minutes doing something silly, then go back to trying to play it the way you want it!

#491941 - 12/13/07 09:49 AM Re: Advice on technique issue (Brahms 117/1)
Stanza Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1458
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
Here is what my teacher would say: It is in the hand/arm motion"

Drop into the notes on those RH & LH chord figures with a lifting motion on the interceeding 16th notes. So for the middle measure, it would be

This doesn't mean drop from "on high", you can keep your fingers close to the keys.
It will now be easy to make your outer voices strong and inner voices more quiet....and with less effort. Let us know what works best for you.
Estonia L190 #7004
Casio PX 310
Yamaha NP 30

#491942 - 12/13/07 12:20 PM Re: Advice on technique issue (Brahms 117/1)
Zubi-Zomp Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/17/07
Posts: 8
Loc: Jersey Shore
Wow. I knew this was the place to come for good advice.

Thank you, all, these all sound like fantastic ideas, and I'm looking forward to giving them a try.
"Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer."
- Patrick Rothfuss


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