how to play loud

Posted by: apple*

how to play loud - 11/08/07 08:27 AM

i'm an accompanist for a 20 to 40 member choir ensemble in a church that seats about 700 with an budget model 6 foot grand.

i've been instructed by the queen of all directors to play much more loudly.

how? the piano should really be miked but we don't want the problems with feedback and interference with other amplification.

i don't want to crunch my knuckles to death

any suggestions.
Posted by: Stanza

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 08:48 AM

According to Seymour Bernstein, keep the fingers close to the key and use instantaneous acceleration, sort of like a shock impuse.

Also go full stick and with the right side of the piano facing the audience.

Lots of pedal!?
Posted by: Dan101

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 09:22 AM

Hi there,

It sounds like the kind of "instant" volume increase that your director wants requires a microphone. Feedback and other complications are not too difficult a problem to solve, provided your director has the patience.

Power and strength in your fingers increase gradually with time. Unfortunately, time sounds like an asset that you don't really have in this situation. If your director insists on no microphone, all yo can do is play as loud as you can without losing control. Find a balance.

Good luck.
Posted by: Minaku

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 11:49 AM

Open the lid fully. Mic it. That's the only way to do it without getting the ugliest of ugly sounds.
Posted by: signa

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 01:02 PM

my teacher once said that if you want to play loud, 'push the keys' instead of strike them. actually, it means to accelerate over key press with your arm and body weight, which is why some big guy pianists would create louder sound when they want to.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 01:34 PM

It can't be done. You can't 'play much more loudly' for very long without damage to your body.
Posted by: apple*

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 03:46 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Stanza:
According to Seymour Bernstein, keep the fingers close to the key and use instantaneous acceleration, sort of like a shock impuse.
[/b]
that makes sense

i want to realize how to absorb shock, but not in my 2nd knuckles.
Posted by: Max W

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 04:02 PM

This is mildly off-topic and I apologise, but has anyone investigated how loud "loud" is on a piano? As in, made a mechanism to apply a certain force to the keys, measure the decibel levels, etc etc, and compiled it? Maybe even compare the playing of a piece by several different pianists and see exactly how they differ in levels.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 04:24 PM

Yes - Otto Ortmann, 'The Physical Basis of Piano Touch and Tone' (1925)
Posted by: Mark Purney

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 04:33 PM

I found that an Sennheiser e906 microphone just inside the tail of the piano (pointing toward the pianist's left hand if playing a low bass note) seems to work well in that kind of situation. It's a guitar cabinet mic, but it worked better than 3 piano mics I tried. I actually have one sitting on the plate inside the piano on a shock mount, so it works great regardless if the lid is open or closed.

It puts out a strong signal without feeding back, and does a great job of not picking up surrounding instruments. It's designed to be placed just a few inches away from a guitar speaker.
Posted by: Max W

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 05:10 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Yes - Otto Ortmann, 'The Physical Basis of Piano Touch and Tone' (1925) [/b]
Great, thanks. I've been meaning to read into this kind of topic for a while now.
Posted by: currawong

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 07:50 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
It can't be done. You can't 'play much more loudly' for very long without damage to your body. [/b]
Absolutely. I've been there. If you're already on full stick, with the piano facing out, and you're already using an appropriate technique for loud playing, then it's got to be microphones. Don't pummel your pinkies!
Posted by: signa

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 08:33 PM

actually, i meant it for some loud chords, not for every single note obviously. mic is always a good idea though.
Posted by: Tenuto

Re: how to play loud - 11/08/07 11:33 PM

I've played on upright pianos with a chorus a lot larger - 200 voices - and I've never had to use a microphone. You don't need strength to play loud. You need to increase the speed of your key depression, and (as Stanza said) strike the keys from an angle in front (not from above), using your arm and torso for strength.

How do you think a piano soloist plays a piano concerto with an ENTIRE orchestra and still can be heard? Maybe the acoustics of your performance venue are dead?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: how to play loud - 11/09/07 01:13 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by apple*:
the piano should really be miked but we don't want the problems with feedback and interference with other amplification.

i don't want to crunch my knuckles to death
[/b]
Hmm...you really shouldn't hurt yourself. :p

Try playing with full arm weight and firm (but not stiff) fingers. Playing loudly requires a combination of speed and weight. Unless your choir director wants harsh sounds from the piano, I wouldn't play louder than what's comfortable. Pedal helps.

If you play too powerfully, you can break strings. Then the piano will go out of tune. Not a good idea. I've broken 10 strings in my life, including one on a 9-foot Steinway. I've learned to control my finger speed and arm weight.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: how to play loud - 11/09/07 01:19 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Tenuto:
... You don't need strength to play loud. You need to increase the speed of your key depression... [/b]
Once again... strength IS speed - ask any sprinter.
Posted by: currawong

Re: how to play loud - 11/09/07 01:35 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Tenuto:
I've played on upright pianos with a chorus a lot larger - 200 voices - and I've never had to use a microphone.
[/b]
Well yes, so have I, but it sounds like it's not working in this case. As you suggest, the acoustics are probably not good, and the piano could be gutless as well. It might also be a perception problem with the conductor - that is, the piano is not loud enough from where she is. Apple's main aim should be to avoid injury, in my opinion.
Posted by: tomasino

Re: how to play loud - 11/09/07 09:06 AM

" . . . budget model 6 foot grand . . . "

Pianos, like pianists, have their limits. You don't seem too impressed with the piano.

" . . . i've been instructed by the queen of all directors to play much more loudly . . . "

It doesn't sound like a real positive situation for you. You may have to stand up to her. Tell her what the realistic options are: a microphone, a different piano, a different acoustical arrangement between choir and piano perhaps? Whatever the problem is, tell her.

If that doesn't work, do your best without hurting yourself, and keep your eyes open for a different situation.

Tomasino
Posted by: apple*

Re: how to play loud - 11/09/07 09:07 AM

i'd really like to try that mike.. thanks for the suggestion.

our budget is essentially zero. We pay for our stuff. i hear accompanists (of course they are six feet) get great volume from the Young Chang.

we haven't put the lid all the way up yet because people have said it blocked their view.. :rolleyes: .. so we'll try that this week..
Posted by: Stanza

Re: how to play loud - 11/09/07 09:58 AM

Actually, you want to have the lid at full stick, right side facing her magisty.... ;\)
Posted by: Reaper978

Re: how to play loud - 11/09/07 02:48 PM

Take the lid off. Put it in front of the choir, or out in front but not blocking the view of the choir. Perhaps you could play octaves, thicker chords, and use the lower register.

 Quote:
How do you think a piano soloist plays a piano concerto with an ENTIRE orchestra and still can be heard?
Those tend to be 9 foot concert grands and they are out in front of the orchestra.

-Colin
Posted by: apple*

Re: how to play loud - 11/10/07 09:31 AM

well,

after practicing the last couple days and talking to my good friend, the queen of directors, i've concluded that one of the problems is that we have not figured out, yet, how i can follow her direction yet lead the choir and congregation.

it's going to have to be a more together thing... kind of like co-pilots

your comments have been very helpful.. i can play quite loudly if i am in command.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: how to play loud - 11/10/07 02:04 PM

I'd change religions mate.
Posted by: 'fredo

Re: how to play loud - 11/10/07 04:01 PM

Lean your arm into it. Don't fump on it. Make the sound go outwards.
Posted by: Aviator1010110

Re: how to play loud - 11/10/07 10:16 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Minaku:
Open the lid fully. Mic it. That's the only way to do it without getting the ugliest of ugly sounds. [/b]
Yes, many people forget that when you increase volume too much without a mic you also change the timbre. When playing extra loud this change is seldom for the better. Also, you really need to get that piano on full stick. The piano can easily be positioned where everybody can still see with full stick with a little trial and error. That "vision" comment is rubbish!

Quite frankly this is the reason I don't accompany much anymore. Accompanying is often fun, but I really got sick of the whole giving me a spinet or some other rotting piece of wood and metal(usually not tuned in over one year)and expecting me to fill a hall with some elusive beautiful majestic sound that the director has in their head. It just isn't fun sometimes. I guess I've become more picky with who I accompany.

Yep, being part of an ensemble can sometimes be difficult, but you've got to find a way to compliment her style. That's the only way music will be made.

Sorry, rant over.