Clair de Lune help

Posted by: Teenagepiano

Clair de Lune help - 11/20/12 01:09 PM

I am learning Clair de Lune and so far I have learnt roughly the first page and 3 bars.

It is at 1:27 in this performance that I have problems.

I think it is Bars 17/18.

I am using a keyboard, so I only have the damper pedal, but when I do use the pedal it smudges and sounds awful, and similarly when I don't use the pedal it doesn't sound very good either. I don't understand what I am doing wrong.

Does anyone have any advice on how to play this part clearly?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/20/12 01:22 PM

Can you control the level of sustain with your keyboard pedal, or is it simply all or nothing?
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/20/12 01:23 PM

It's difficult to give practical advice to your dilemma when we can't see and hear how you are playing. You may, however, be limited at what you can do with a keyboard and a damper pedal. Unless you are using a very high-end keyboard, the damper pedal you have is much, much less sensitive than the damper on a quality grand which means that the control you have between a satisfying overlapping of tones and a total blur is very limited. On many keyboard with an attached damper, it is either "on" or "off" with no control of nuances in between.

Pedaling in Debussy is a very refined skill and absolute control of the damper among the various possibilities - completely depressed, half-pedaling, flutter pedaling - may not even be possible on your keyboard and (may I say this?) you may not yet have reached the level of playing where you know exactly how to control the damper were you to be playing on a well-regulated grand.

To repeat, however : One can't really say what you are doing wrong when we can't see and hear your playing.

Regards,
Posted by: Teenagepiano

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/20/12 01:51 PM

I understand; I haven't been playing piano very long but I have successfully been able to complete other pieces above my grade level, which is why I'm learning Clair de Lune, and I haven't encountered any major problems until this point( Although I am aware that what I've learn constitutes the easier portions of the piece).

I will try half pedalling when I am able to practice on an upright. Until then I am releasing the pedal with each movement which while doesn't sound very good, makes it more bearable. My pedal is literally as you said an "on/off switch".

In addition to this I'm not offended by your comments about my ability with regard to pedalling.
Posted by: Vid

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/20/12 01:55 PM

You are probably right Bruce. I know on my digital piano the damper pedal is only a switch. Some high end digital pianos have continuous damper pedals that would allow for half-pedaling but I think this is a relatively new feature (I could be wrong about that).
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/20/12 09:41 PM

Here is all the help you will need:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1253940/1.html
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/20/12 10:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark...


This tutorial series doesn't relate to OP's question.
Posted by: Beethoven747-400

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/21/12 07:15 AM

Hi Teenagepiano,

I had the exact same problem in the exact same spot and know exactly what you mean!

Flutter pedaling would be a way to counter it, by rapidly holding and letting go of the pedal enough to not let it smudge, but not too much to loose the bottom E flats and B flat. My the thread it looks established that this option is not available to you.

Alternatively you can use the middle pedal with combination of the right pedal, the middle to sustain the bottom notes, and the right to connect the top notes. If you don't have a middle pedal (I'm not sure if digital pianos do...?).

I guess volume contributes to the clarification of sound too, try to bring out just the chords that don't smudge and less volume on chords that do.

Hope this helps!

I employed flutter pedaling, you can view it here @ 1:07 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA9S3DRqLYk

This is not my home YouTube account.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll find a way!!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/21/12 08:50 AM

It's possible to play this passage and have it sound reasonable even if one only has the full sustain pedal option and no option of half pedal, flutter pedal, or sostenuto pedal. It may not be exactly what Debussy indicated in terms of holding the bass notes but it will still sound fine. Even if one used the sostenuto pedal on the low E flat octave it would eventually die out to almost nothing so sustaining for a shorter amount of time isn't so critically wrong.

I would change the pedal approximately after each eighth note triplet or whenever it sounds too blurred. You may have to practice changing the pedal quickly assuming that's possible on your keyboard.
Posted by: btb

Re: Clair de Lune help - 11/21/12 10:08 AM

You will notice with these 6 measures (19-24) that
the LH ascends in a broad full measure sweep
which allows the LH to bounce up (on the beat)
into the treble for the close-coupled accompanying theme ...
ending in the sustained notes just before
the captivating Un poco messo (gentle pp).
Posted by: Teenagepiano

Re: Clair de Lune help - 12/11/12 06:59 PM

Well this is a late reply, but I'm still having trouble with it. What annoys me the most, is that I when I played on my teachers piano in the lesson he said it sounded fine, but when I play it on my keyboard it sounds terrible!.

I will practice tomorrow on a real upright so we'll see how that goes. The only solution I've found is to play it slowly, and the way I have been forced to play it due to the smudging doesn't fit the mood I'm trying to achieve while playing it. It's quite frustrating really.

I've literally been practising this section in isolation from the rest of the piece for around a week(along with other pieces), and it still isn't right. Oh well, I guess I'll press on with the other parts of the piece and try and fix this. frown
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Clair de Lune help - 12/11/12 07:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
Well this is a late reply, but I'm still having trouble with it. What annoys me the most, is that I when I played on my teachers piano in the lesson he said it sounded fine, but when I play it on my keyboard it sounds terrible!.

I will practice tomorrow on a real upright so we'll see how that goes. The only solution I've found is to play it slowly, and the way I have been forced to play it due to the smudging doesn't fit the mood I'm trying to achieve while playing it. It's quite frustrating really.
If your teacher says it sounds fine on his piano it may very well be that your keyboard's pedal simply cannot function well enough for this passage. Do you think it sounds fine on your teacher's piano?

When you practice the passage slowly if you use the same pedaling as when you play it up to speed it may not sound correct. The pedaling that sounds good when playing slowly may not work or even be possible when playing up to speed. I would not worry about all the suggestions about half pedaling, flutter pedaling, etc. You could also look for a good edited version of this piece and try the pedaling suggestions it has.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Clair de Lune help - 12/11/12 07:21 PM

What brand/model keyboard do you have?
Posted by: Teenagepiano

Re: Clair de Lune help - 12/12/12 11:16 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
What brand/model keyboard do you have?


I have a Yamaha PSR-E333 with an M-Audio SP-2 sustain pedal. I'm looking into buying a better keyboard next year, but I can't afford a real piano.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Clair de Lune help - 12/12/12 01:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Teenagepiano
Originally Posted By: Derulux
What brand/model keyboard do you have?


I have a Yamaha PSR-E333 with an M-Audio SP-2 sustain pedal. I'm looking into buying a better keyboard next year, but I can't afford a real piano.



You may have to resign yourself to the fact that even "a better keyboard" is not going to give you either the control or the response that a good acoustic will give you. For music with the type of subtleties that characterize much of the music of Debussy (and others) you may continue to have the same frustrations that you are having now.

Regards,