Suggestions for large leaps; Concerto Grosso #1 (Bloch),

Posted by: musiccr8r

Suggestions for large leaps; Concerto Grosso #1 (Bloch), - 01/13/13 10:05 AM

I'd love to get input from those who have played this piece, or if you just have some general technique suggestions for large, reasonably rapid leaps. In the brief solo section of this Concerto Grosso, it seems really hard to go as wide as he wants, at the speed he indicates. In looking at youtube videos (which, when they show the pianist, tend to be more amateur, in the sense that I haven't come across a "professional" recording where you can watch the pianist) I've seen (as best I can tell from a distance) some adaptations such as going down one less octave on the lower leap, or having the cellos play along with the lower notes to fill them out (I assume a smaller leap or dropping a lower note entirely). Incidentally, I am probably planning to go with the play-lower-octave-higher method, unless "my" group takes it slower, which they may as there are some lesser-experienced players, or one of you guys gives me a secret method/tip that transforms me. smile

For those not familiar, to save you a youtube trip: he has a series of leaps from both hands in octaves at the very bottom of the keyboard to large (octave-wide, sometimes with 9ths) chords (both hands) in the range of middle c and above. Quarter notes, 132 is suggested tempo. They generally fall in sets of four (low-hi-low-hi, pause, low-hi-low hi).
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Suggestions for large leaps; Concerto Grosso #1 (Bloch), - 01/13/13 03:57 PM

Typically, your hands get confused because you try to move them both at the same time. Instinctively, I would say move the right hand first on the way up, and the left hand first on the way down, so the hands clear each other, but there are instances where that is not ideal. (If the left hand is playing only octaves, for instance, sometimes you can set the right hand based on the left hand thumb.)

Also, aim for the "inside" notes. That is, you know how big an octave is. So don't aim for the bottom note. Aim for the smallest leap. I usually use my thumbs as a reference point for this type of work.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Suggestions for large leaps; Concerto Grosso #1 (Bloch), - 01/13/13 04:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
Also, aim for the "inside" notes. That is, you know how big an octave is. So don't aim for the bottom note. Aim for the smallest leap. I usually use my thumbs as a reference point for this type of work.
Derulux, this is very insightful.

I don't know this piece but in general, I approach large leaps by:

1. (similar to what Derulux said), find key notes you can aim for. The rest should fall in place.
2. memorizing hands separately
3. identifying patterns or memorizing intervals or note sequences
4. Consciously identifying precisely when I need to look so I can choreograph my head/eye motions.
5. Practicing with my eyes closed.
Posted by: Arghhh

Re: Suggestions for large leaps; Concerto Grosso #1 (Bloch), - 01/13/13 06:17 PM

I haven't played the piece either, but have a couple suggestions:

1. For accuracy and getting accustomed to the how the distance between the hands changes between the chords, play it all in the same octave.
2. Anticipate the directional change. If you are playing the chord and then switching directions, it's too late.
3. Make sure you are forming the chords in the air before you play them.
4. The motion during the shift should look like an arc - "(" instead of up across down "[".
Posted by: musiccr8r

Re: Suggestions for large leaps; Concerto Grosso #1 (Bloch), - 01/14/13 01:04 PM

Thanks to all who weighed in! Very interesting stuff. I've never heard of/thought about the idea of starting the hands at different times, I'll have to wrestle with that one for awhile! smile The "aim for the middle" makes a lot of sense; sadly, this pattern occurs in Dm and Am which makes me a little sad that there isn't a black note or two to wrap myself around as I lunge for it! smile ha I was curious about the Arc vs. straight line suggestion, I have head that one before and I need to go check and see exactly what it is I am doing at present, but I was curious what the philosophy is behind that admonition? Like I said, I've heard it before, but never knew what the reasoning was. Thanks all!
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Suggestions for large leaps; Concerto Grosso #1 (Bloch), - 01/14/13 06:14 PM

I just thought of one more thing that I would like add to what Arghhh said.
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
4. The motion during the shift should look like an arc - "(" instead of up across down "[".

My suggestion applies only to fast passages. Any upward motion between chords will result in a loss of time. When you make your leap, arc the way Arghhh said but stay very, very close to the keys; you can even silently brush the notes in between.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Suggestions for large leaps; Concerto Grosso #1 (Bloch), - 01/14/13 11:30 PM

Quote:
I was curious about the Arc vs. straight line suggestion, I have head that one before and I need to go check and see exactly what it is I am doing at present, but I was curious what the philosophy is behind that admonition?

Take the shortest distance between two points. To play two chords, you have to move up, over, and down. If you make right angles, you move the farthest distance, with the least efficient muscle use. If you move in a smooth arc (angle), you take advantage of moving while lifting, and gravity.

In terms of muscle use:

To move up, over, and down "[". Muscle fires to move up. Muscle fires to stop. Muscle fires to move over. Muscle fires to stop. Muscle/gravity sends the hand down.

To move in an arc "(". Muscles fire to move up and over. Muscle/gravity sends the hand down.