Monday, January 09, 2006

Calling SOS

After 2-3 days of pracitising just that darned passage (Bar 5-12), it seems I have made little progress. Left with no other choices, I decided to appeal to the outside world (pianoforum) with my problems.

Below was my (quite urgent) message for help.

It seems that no matter how much I practice, I still have troubles getting my RH up to speed (around 150). At 130, my notes start to bundle together, forming at tata-tata rhythm , and I dunno if there are any better methods to practise the RH.I recorded my playing (Bar 5-12 only) to further illustrate my problems.
Same passage with speed digitally reduced by 70%.

Let's see!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

FI RH Training (Bar 5-12)

Started the speed training first. Bar 5-12.

At Speed 100, I was relatively comfortable. Save for Bar 8, and Bar 12, which showed slight uneveniess.

At 120, bar 5 and 12 shows slight weakness, esp 12.

At 130, all the cracks showed up.
Bar 5-6: note the D#-C#-D#-C#
Bar 7: D#-F# descending clique
Bar 8: grouped in tada-tada
bar 9-10: same problems as 5-6
bar 12: very poor. the tada-tada clique ruled the day here.

Overall general weakness shown in 1st finger over thumn, e.g Bar 7 and 8.

One method to annihilate cliques: practice the offending notes in all combinations, the more awkward, the better.
e.g. Bar 12, in the heavily cliqued group of (E-D#)-(G#-A#),
I cycled through at E-G#-D#-A# as much and as fast as possible, then followed by D#-G#-E-A#.
Hopefully I can see results tomorrow.

One thing of note: Play with MINIMAL STRESS at all times!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

FI Strategy

Identified 2 major issues with FI: rhythm and speed, and drew up corresponding methods (hopefully) to alleviate the problems.

Rhythm coordination training, aimed at drumming the feel of 3s on 4s, is to be done HT. Break up piece from Bar 5-24 and Bar 25-37.
Tools used: Finale and midi.
Method: Play the piece together with the midi file at tempo 40, and gradually drumming up to 150. Every note must be exactly in time, but most importantly, the feel of the rhythm must not be missed.

Speed training is to be be done HS, specifically RH, since FI, like Prelude No 16, asks a lot from the RH. Perhaps Prelude No 16 could be a good project to undertake simultaneously. For FI, I break it up into more manageable parts, namely, bar 5-12, 13-16, 17-24, 25-29(repeat), 30-36,37-40.
Tools used: Cooledit and electronic piano.
Method: Record playing onto Cooledit, and analyse playing in stretched tempo (slowed down 150%...go to Effects?Time/Pitch/Stretch) to identify cliques. You'll be surprised that what you thought was even playing would be cruelly exposed by this very powerful tool. The faster you go, the more cliques you'll fish out in the unlikeliest of places.

Ok, I've outlined the battleplan. Now, to get some sleep, watch some TV, and maybe some day, i'll get round to executing it......

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

FI Report 1

what i've done over the last few days:

5-12: HT at around 60
13-24: technically very challenging. HS with lots of uneveness and tripping up. Esp the first 2 notes and last 2 notes of the 4-note appergios seem to form cliques of their own. It is technically challenging to bring out the accents of the 1st note from 13-16, 2nd note from 17-21, and no more accents from 21-24. Cliques, accents and phrasing, on top of the ever present rhythm, makes this passage a real killer.
25-34: HS

tried a few methods to conquer the 3s on 4s rhythm problem.
The trick, I think, is to find as many anchor points as possible. So far, the most obvious would be the coordinated landing of the RH 5th with the LH 4th. With this alone, I could play pretty much at ease. But who am I kidding? The LH always felt a bit off, while the RH seems to rush too much. Sigh...I needed more checks and anchor points.

Realised that the last 3 notes(HT) form a ta....ta.ta (quaver on RH followed by 2 semiquavers, LH then RH in quick succession) rhythm. I became conscious of this rhythm, and this became another anchor point for me.

And thats it. If you can play at speed with these two anchor points in mind, you pretty much nail it. If its perfectly done, it's much akin to having the squares and pegs of a seemingly impossible puzzle suddenly falling into place. You can just feel the magic of the 1/12th Moire pattern being weaved from your very own fingers. It's elusive, but that's what makes it even more exhilarating.

Lastly, a sense of foreboding to me. Quoted:
There seems no fear that the Fantasie-Impromptu will suffer from neglect, as it is the joy of the amateur, who usually transforms its presto into a slow, blurred mass of badly related rhythms and its slower episode into a long-drawn, sentimental agony.

I have quiet confidence about it though...Just gimme some time.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Fantasie Impromptu

Ok, I've decided to blog down the trials and tribulations of trying to conquer this quite notorious musical peak, inspired in part by

Unfortunately, its cursed with the "overplayed" syndrome. Piano afficianadoes everywhere claim to have played it as their first ever piece. It appears randomly from Cantonese soap opera soundtracks to handphone ringtones. Even worse, Chopin was said to dislike the piece much that he refused to have it published. Hence the "posthumous Op 66". It was one of his earliest compositions and he thought it lacked depth. Maybe its like flipping through your diary entries of yesteryears and cringing at how could you have penned all those immature and juvenile comments. Fantasie Impromptu sounds flighty and flashy, and its middle section prods along painfully at times. Still, it remains one of the best-loved works of Chopin. And any self-respecting piano teacher SHOULD have it on his repertoire. Which was why I decided to commence on this journey.

A cursory run through of the RH from Bar 5 to Bar 40 revealed a lot of technical deficiencies on my part, of which Bar 37-40 would be the fiendishly difficult part. A few issues of note:

1) evenness at high speed (130) from Bar 5 to 24 deserts me. Still able to hold the fort at 110. HT sounds super amateurish to the discerning ear, but should get by to the rest.

2) how to play the 3s on 4s. There are 2 school of thoughts : one is, the 3s on 4s is a remarkable mathematical concept which Chopin intuitively understood. The more accurate you are on the 3s and 4s, the more it brings out a wavelike Moire pattern. It creates an auditory illusion to accelerate the piece up by 3 times. The second school of thought says that, it being a fantasy and impromptu, we should just play to our hearts and abandon all the mathematical rigidity.

We shall see...