HOME    NEWS    FORUM    A. F. BLOG    VIDEOS    STORE     LINKS
QUICK LINKS

* Book
* DVD
* New Book: 'Honing'
* Articles
* Lessons
* Reviews
* FAQ
* Tutorials

* Submissions


FEATURED PRODUCT
Untitled Document

The Craft of Piano Playing
DVD - Alan Fraser

The Craft of Piano Playing DVD

WATCH DVD DEMO


RELATED SITES

* www.alanfraser.net
* www.maplegrove
   productions.com
* www.pianotechnique.net


LATEST FORUM POSTS

Book Cover for The Craft of Piano Playing: A New Approach to Piano Technique


THE CRAFT OF PIANO PLAYING
A New Approach to Piano Technique

 

TABLES OF CONTENTS


Brief

Detailed

 


BRIEF TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section & Chapter titles only

PART ONE – THE FOREGROUND:
PARTICULARLY PIANISTIC PROBLEMS IN MUSICAL CRAFT

I. GETTING STARTED

1. INTRODUCTION
2. HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
3. BACKGROUND, MIDDLEGROUND AND FOREGROUND: A PLAN FOR WORK
4. WHERE TO START?

II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF MOVEMENT AT THE PIANO

5. A MEDITATION ON SOME INNER WORKINGS OF MOVEMENT
6. ‘SLOWING THE KEY DOWN’
7. FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
8. ‘ARM WEIGHT’
9. MATTHAY, MOSHE AND MOVEMENT

III. HAND STRENGTH AND FUNCTION A: PERFECTING LEGATO

10. PHYSICAL LEGATO IS THE FOUNDATION OF PIANO TECHNIQUE
11. A CAPABLE HAND CAN FREE YOUR ARM

IV. HAND STRENGTH AND FUNCTION B – SPECIAL ROLE OF THE THUMB; RELATIONSHIP OF THUMB TO FOREFINGER

12. THE THUMB AND GRASPING
13. ‘THUMB PUSHUPS’: THE HAND AS SUSPENSION SPRING
14. CLARIFICATION OF THE THUMB-FOREFINGER RELATIONSHIP
15. QUALITY OF MOVEMENT IN THUMB PUSHUPS
16. FOREFINGER ARC SWINGS FOR THUMB FUNCTION

Thumbstands to strengthen the arch and improve your piano technique

V. HAND STRENGTH AND FUNCTION C – OCTAVES TO SYNTHESIZE HAND AND ARM FUNCTION

17. FROM THE THUMB ACROSS TO THE FIFTH FINGER: HAND STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION IN OCTAVE PLAYING
18. FORTISSIMO OCTAVES
19. REPLACING ARM SWOOP WITH COBRA STRIKE
20. BIG SOUND FROM A SMALL HAND
21. TREMOLANDO OCTAVES
22. ‘TEUTONIC BEEF’
23. THE ‘OCTAVE ARM-SWEEP’

VI. HAND STRENGTH AND FUNCTION D – MAXIMAL ARTICULATION OF THE FINGERS

24. ON FINGERTAPPING
25. THE STRUCTURE-SUPPORTED SLAP
26. THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING
27. LEGATO VS. FINGER ARTICULATION – THE COOPERATION OF TWO ANTITHETICAL ACTIVITIES

VII. ABOVE THE HAND: THE ROLE OF THEWRIST AND ARM

28. ACTIVE HAND, PASSIVE ARM?
29. THREE ASPECTS OF THE ARM'S RELATIONSHIP TO HAND FUNCTION
30. FUNCTIONALLY SUPPORTED MOVEMENT: THE WHOLE ARM AS FINGER
31. EFFICIENT FUNCTIONALITY: THE FOREARM AS LEVER
32. THE UNDERLYING MUSICAL PURPOSE OF ARM MOVEMENT
33. MINIMIZE AUXILIARY MOVEMENTS TO MAXIMIZE EFFICIENCY
34. FURTHER MUSICAL IMPLICATIONS OF PROPER ARM-HAND COOPERATION IN LEGATO

The bilateral hand for healthy piano technique
VIII. ROTATION

35. FOREARM ROTATION IN LISZT

IX. NATURAL FINGER SHAPE

36. THE NATURAL HAND IN PASSAGEWORK
37. USING THE YIN/YANG FINGER PHENOMENON IN ORCHESTRATION
38. NATURAL FINGER SHAPE AND TONUS IN CHORDS
39. MAINTAINING NATURAL FINGER SHAPE IN SCALES


X. SOME OTHER TOUCH STRATEGIES AND COMBINATIONS

40. SYNTHESIS OF VARIOUS STRANDS OF THOUGHT
41. PRESSING AND HOLDING IN LEGATO
42. THE HIDDEN PROBLEM IN DOUBLE NOTES – FEUX FOLLETS
43. CHOPIN’S B FLAT MINOR SCHERZO: TWO FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES REVIEWED
44. MUTUAL AID BETWEEN THUMB AND FOREFINGER IN THE SCRIABIN CONCERTO
45. ARTICULATIONS
46. THE FELDENKRAIS - HOROWITZ CONNECTION
47. FLAT FINGERS
48. PEDALLING
49. TOGETHER!
50. QUESTIONABLE CONTRADICTIONS

 

PART TWO – THE MIDDLEGROUND:
SOME ASPECTS OF MUSICAL CRAFT

XI. RHYTHM

51. HIERARCHY OF RHYTHMIC VALUES IS A PRACTICAL REALITY
52. A PRACTICAL EXERCISE IN RHYTHM
53. CREATIVE WORK WITH THE METRONOME – PULSE

XII. PHRASING

54. CREATIVE WORK WITH THE METRONOME – MELODIC INFLECTION
55. PLASTICITY IN PHRASING: EXPRESSION WITHOUT BOMBAST
56. GESTURE IN PHRASING: A DETAILED EXAMINATION
57. TOWARDS A NEW MODE OF AWARENESS IN PLAYING

XIII. ORCHESTRATION

58. ORCHESTRATION: THE HEART OF THE PIANIST'S ART

PART THREE: THE BACKGROUND - TELL A STORY

XIV. EMOTIONAL CONTENT Flat Fingers still possess a functional arch that empowers one's piano technique

59. EMOTIONAL CONTENT IN COUNTERPOINT? YOU BET!
60. YOU MUST BE WILLING AND ABLE TO LIVE EMOTIONALLY WHEN YOU PLAY.
61. THE MASTERWORKS AS EXPRESSIONS OF OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE
62. REAL PIANO SOUND CAN GENERATE EMOTIONAL CONTENT

XV. A FEW LAST THOUGHTS

63. TALENT AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
64. PROFESSIONAL DEFORMATIONS
65. RECORDING
66. PLAYING AN ACOUSTIC
67. FEELING EMOTION IN PERFORMANCE

APPENDICES

I: EXCERPTS FROM FELDENKRAIS’ BOOK AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT – A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK.
II: FELDENKRAIS AND THE MUSICIAN
III: THE PIANIST'S PROGRESS: A MINI-AUTOBIOGRAPHY (WRITTEN 1993)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX


DETAILED TABLE OF CONTENTS
(with a complete list of subheadings and exercises)


PART ONE – THE FOREGROUND:
PARTICULARLY PIANISTIC PROBLEMS IN MUSICAL CRAFT

I. GETTING STARTED

1. INTRODUCTION

A NEW APPROACH
Natural, individual, and systematic human activity
REDUCED PHYSICAL PROWESS HAS LED TO HOMOGENIZED MUSICAL EXPRESSION
HOROWITZ: A BENCHMARK IN ABILITY
Other movement disciplines feed view of piano technique
BACK TO MOVEMENT BASICS FOR FUNDAMENTAL, GLOBAL IMPROVEMENT
Primary focus on the physical

2. HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
Be flexible – adapt the book to your own learning style
Conscious analysis of normally automatic actions
Anatomical clarifications

3. BACKGROUND, MIDDLEGROUND AND FOREGROUND: A PLAN FOR WORK
THE BACKGROUND: TELL A STORY
THE MIDDLEGROUND: SOME MUSICAL CRAFT ESSENTIALS
1) Expressive Strategies in Rhetoric
Long notes longer, short notes shorter
Entasis
Inflecting melodic contour
Inflecting syncopations
2) Pulse
3) Basic sound: orchestration
4) Basic sound: legato
5) Orchestration and sound image: experience leads to conception, conception to realization
THE FOREGROUND – CULTIVATING PHYSICAL CAPABILITY

4. WHERE TO START?
Elements of the foreground
The relationship of movement to sound
Functional hand strength - the hand’s power derives from function not force
Avoid injury by maximizing not reducing functional options

II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF MOVEMENT AT THE PIANO

5. A MEDITATION ON SOME INNER WORKINGS OF MOVEMENT
Habitual contraction as a hindrance to movement
The benefits of cultivating effective stillness
Reversible movements are free of inhibitory habitual contractions

6. ‘SLOWING THE KEY DOWN’
Hidden causes of harsh tone

7. FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
Aim for variety of tone, not only beauty
Any tone, movement or position can be correct, given the appropriate context
Correct positions, movements become byproduct of appropriate musical activity
Use extremes effectively – healthy finger curling
Dual muscular pull: the effective balance of opposing forces
Hand-arm fixation – a positive use of stiffness

8. ‘ARM WEIGHT’
More global understanding of human movement needed
The nature of freedom
Muscles directing the motion of arm mass
Arm weight never the sole ingredient in a movement
Over-relaxation leads to excess tension
Appropriate activity leads to healthy tone
The problem of subjective perception
Maintain global view
Participation of all muscles may not be perceived as such
The ultra-relaxed, ultra-alive movement of Feldenkrais Method
Relaxation to facilitate effective activity

9. MATTHAY, MOSHE AND MOVEMENT
Upright stance an imperfect evolutionary adaptation?
Feldenkrais to melt ‘immoveable’ structures
Rotation necessary to lay hand palm down?
A new perception of normal

III. HAND STRENGTH AND FUNCTION A: PERFECTING LEGATO

10. PHYSICAL LEGATO IS THE FOUNDATION OF PIANO TECHNIQUE
A template for control
T’ai Chi walking and legato
APPLICATION #1: LEGATO I – T’AI CHI WALKING
APPLICATION #2: LEGATO II – ‘FINGERSTANDS’: THE PIANISTIC EQUIVALENT OF HANDSTANDS
APPLICATION #3: LEGATO III – WALKING ON THE KEYBOARD
Discrimination of functions

11. THE TWO MAIN COMPONENTS OF LEGATOThe metacarpal-phalangeals soaring high to empower piano technique
Arm facilitates physical connection between keys
1) The similarity between hand-finger, pelvis-leg
2) The role of the arm related to hand function
Literal and inflected legato
Chain of hummocks



APPLICATION #4: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION I – FINGER PULL-UPS

Don’t confuse your wrist and your second knuckle
APPLICATION #5: LEGATO IV – OVERHOLDING I
Overholding, arm freedom and finger insubordination
Overhold without strangling the light breath movement of your arm
Differentiation of arm and finger
Overhold even in performance
No more ‘pianistic polio’!
‘If I hang on to make a true legato, I’m stretched, tight.’
Compensate the tendency to rush
APPLICATION #6: LEGATO V – FEATHER-LIGHT LEGATO
Walking without pressing
Melody not the metronome
APPLICATION #7: LEGATO VI – T’AI CHI WALKING REVIEW
 

IV. HAND STRENGTH AND FUNCTION B – SPECIAL ROLE OF THE THUMB; RELATIONSHIP OF THUMB TO FOREFINGER

12. THE THUMB AND GRASPING
Special structure of the thumb
APPLICATION #9: GRASPING I
Step 1: Grasp to experience the innate strength of your hand
Role of the thumb
Step 2: Make this radically new sensation familiar
Step 3: A simple application of grasping in orchestration

The Thumb's role in maintaining the hand's arch: crucial to potent piano technique

13. ‘THUMB PUSHUPS’: THE HAND AS SUSPENSION SPRING
APPLICATION #10: THUMB I – THUMB PUSHUPS
Arm pressure imitates body weight
Thumb-forefinger isometrics
Pass fourth finger over while thumb continues to push up

14. CLARIFICATION OF THE THUMB-FOREFINGER RELATIONSHIP
Develop strength while maintaining sensitivity
Mysterious inactivity of the second finger in a Chopin figuration
APPLICATION #11: THUMB II – THUMB AND FOREFINGER
Rigid strength inadequate
Anchor hand on heel, freely swing second
Strong thumb muscle does not rigidify second finger
Thumb can support even when not standing: there’s more than one way to skin a cat!
APPLICATION #12: THUMB III – OPPOSITE DIRECTION THUMB STROKE
Thumb often plays by opening not closing

15. QUALITY OF MOVEMENT IN THUMB PUSHUPS
Perceive every part of every step
Uncovering the real source of a problem in Italian Concerto
APPLICATION #13: THUMB IV – SMOOTH MOVEMENT
Sudden movements lack dimensionality
Find the thumb movement’s three-dimensional path
Thumb stays resting on key: contrary strategy gives further clarification of function

16. FOREFINGER ARC SWINGS FOR THUMB FUNCTION
 

V. HAND STRENGTH AND FUNCTION C – SYNTHESIS OF HAND AND ARM FUNCTION IN OCTAVES

17. FROM THE THUMB ACROSS TO THE FIFTH FINGER: HAND STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION IN OCTAVE PLAYING
APPLICATION #15: THUMB V – REVIEW OF STRENGTH AND STRUCTURE
Open that space
Open and close thumb to move hand right and left
Pushups
APPLICATION #16: OCTAVES I – FIFTH FINGER PULL-UPS
APPLICATION #17: OCTAVES II – THE ARCH FROM THUMB ACROSS TO FIFTH
Maintain at least some small degree of arch in octave hand extension
Center of gravity is over thumb not fifth
The bipartite hand; ballet dancer-like turnout
Voicing the top even when structure is centered over the lower voice
APPLICATION #18: LEGATO IX – OVERHOLDING II, GRASPING II
Overholding in Hanon
Same structural relationships empower passagework
Grasp to activate your God-given strength!

18. FORTISSIMO OCTAVES
APPLICATION #20: OCTAVES IV – SHAKE THE PIANO
Drawing together to consolidate hand strength
APPLICATION #21: GRASPING III – SOFTEN FOR GREATER POWER
Towards healthy rather than aggressive power – natural grasping
Hand activation – for a free, soft forearm
Hand activation – generates structural integrity
Hand activation – sidesteps danger of tendonitis
APPLICATION #22: OCTAVES V – FREELY VIBRATING OCTAVES
Whip hand back over shoulder
Analogous to drumstick on a drumhead
Same free attack, but now stay on key
You must really trick your mind!
Powerful octaves: fewer movements for more sound – cut the classic ‘arm out to the side’

19. REPLACING ARM SWOOP WITH COBRA STRIKE
APPLICATION #53: ARM II – ARM AS WHIP
Freeing up your arm throw
Use mind over matter
Fingers of steel wrapped in velvet

20. BIG SOUND FROM A SMALL HAND
APPLICATION #54: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION VIII – MINIMAL MOVEMENT FOR MAXIMAL SOUND
Loosen all joints for a new type of legato in Liszt’s Dante Sonata
Keep ‘re-minimizing’ your effort
Increase dynamic power but stay on key, strangely motionless

21. TREMOLANDO OCTAVES

22. ‘TEUTONIC BEEF’
APPLICATION #19: OCTAVES III – MEATY TECHNIQUE FOR MEATY TONE
Thick, meaty tone in Beethoven octaves

23. THE ‘OCTAVE ARM-SWEEP’
APPLICATION #23: OCTAVES VI: INFLECTED LEGATO OCTAVES
Clangorous leaping octaves in Scriabin’s Etude Op. 42 #5
How to leave without letting go…
Arm joins to make two chords one event
Reverse direction of circle
Draw thumb and fifth together
Arm and hand must be out of sync

VI. HAND STRENGTH AND FUNCTION D – MAXIMAL ARTICULATION OF THE FINGERS

24. ON FINGERTAPPING
Origins, definition and description
Resulting deep, resonant sound
Effortless accuracy
Quickly find ideal hand shape
Cure old habits
Active hand clamps passive finger
Stimulation to new internal adjustment
Reorganization of biceps-triceps activity

25. THE STRUCTURE-SUPPORTED SLAP

26. THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING
Arm pressure not the path to big sound
APPLICATION #60: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION IX – MAXIMIZE FINGER ARTICULATION, ELIMINATE ARM SHAKE
Negative effects of your arm shaking in forte scales
Your arm is not a finger!
Ultra-staccato finger stroke
APPLICATION #60A: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION X – ONE HAND CLAPPING
Horizontal hand/arm carriage, active fingers

27. LEGATO VS. FINGER ARTICULATION – THE COOPERATION OF TWO ANTITHETICAL ACTIVITIES
Confront a contradiction for breakthrough in ability
APPLICATION #14: LEGATO VIII – MAXIMAL ARTICULATION AND LEGATO
Individual finger action within block chord practice in Beethoven’s Appassionata
Maintain structural stability
Maintain maximum finger stroke
Synthesis: maintain both

Lift those fingers to empower your piano technique!

VII. ABOVE THE HAND: THE ROLE OF THE WRIST AND ARM

28. ACTIVE HAND, PASSIVE ARM?

29. THE UNDERLYING MUSICAL PURPOSE OF ARM MOVEMENT
APPLICATION #24: OCTAVES VII – THE OBLIQUE WHOLE ARM
Economical octave leaps
APPLICATION #25: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION II – THE BIRD BEAK
Bird beak exercise renders lateral arm movement superfluous
Classic ‘elbow out to side’ movement creates two problems instead of solving one
Cure an unconscious habit by consciously learning its opposite
The arm as phrase generator
Even a pencil can play legato if arm helps
Legato equals phrase: only one arm movement per phrase
Professionals fall into the same error
The transmission of forces through the wrist
APPLICATION #26: WRIST I – PHRASE SHAPE
Another phrasing machine
Minimal movements

30. FUNCTIONALLY SUPPORTED MOVEMENT: THE WHOLE ARM AS FINGER
APPLICATION #27: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION III – WHOLE ARM AS A WHIP
APPLICATION #28: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION IV – THE PHIL COHEN ARM-SWING EXERCISE
A cure for incapable immobility
Primary movements require correct supportive activity from the rest of your mechanism
APPLICATION #29: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION V – ISOMETRIC ARM WRESTLING
Banded fingers for ultra-lush cantabile
Ineffectual pulling, curling
Flatten, reinforce in order to feel
Grasping - review
Banded fingers, neutral wrist position connect hand to arm
A 2-kg finger!
Constant physical security to maintain phrase

31. EFICIENT FUNCTIONALITY: THE FOREARM AS LEVER

32. THE UNDERLYING MUSICAL PURPOSE OF ARM MOVEMENT

33. MINIMIZE AUXILIARY MOVEMENTS TO MAXIMIZE EFFICIENCY
External body efforts counterproductive
Even ‘arm swoops’ hurt more than help
Finger, arm involvement both affect tone quality
Internal generation of tone quality
APPLICATION #31: GRASPING IV – PARTICIPATION OF HIGHER ARM MUSCLES IN FINGER MOVEMENT
Triceps’ stabilization activity feels like active work
Grasp, monitor where else contractions occur
Supportive muscular activity is internal not external
‘Functional structure’
Minimize auxiliary movements to maximize efficiency – internal moves should replace external

34. FURTHER MUSICAL IMPLICATIONS OF PROPER ARM-HAND COOPERATION IN LEGATO
APPLICATION #8: LEGATO VII – MUSICAL FLOW
Control of attacks should not impede arm flow
Relearn the passage with feeling of arm sculpting
 

VIII. ROTATION

35. FOREARM ROTATION IN LISZT
Functional advantage of upright human posture
Types of arm rotation
Negative consequences of lateral wrist motion in ‘Jeux d’Eau’
APPLICATION #32 – ROTATION I – INGREDIENTS OF ROTATION
Inefficiency of swivelling
Rotation necessitates and facilitates some strange stretching
Keep your wrist to the inside even as thumb rotates to the outside
1) Quick, efficient thumb movement back to its note
2) Vertical finger stretching more than doubles their span
Your fingers are ‘up’ and ‘down’ in relation to your hand not in their orientation in space
Similarity to doing the splits in ballet
A little practice
Incorporation of other fingers into this movement
Result: drastic increase in wrist flexibility and function
Thumb moving to the outside keeps ahead of fingers, lags behind them while moving to the inside
Still swing your thumb
Improve gradually, master each individual component of the movement
Your wrist is not your thumb!
Other instances
APPLICATION #33: ROTATION II – LEAPS IN LA CAMPANELLA
APPLICATION # 34: ROTATION III – FOREARM HAND-FLUTTER EXERCISE TO CLARIFY ROTATION IN LEAPING

IX. NATURAL FINGER SHAPE

36. THE NATURAL HAND IN PASSAGEWORK
Chopin E major Scherzo Op. 54
APPLICATION #35: NATURAL SHAPE I – FINDING AND USING YOUR NATURAL FINGER SHAPE
Eliminate physical spasm preparations – maintain neutrality
Lift your finger still maintaining neutrality
Drop your finger back in
APPLICATION #35A: NATURAL SHAPE II – ROLE OF YOUR ARM
Inner activations of the upper arm
Forearm rising to lift your finger
APPLICATION #36: NATURAL SHAPE III – HAND EXTENSION
Special role of thumb
Extension without deformation
Arm helps in this
APPLICATION #37: NATURAL SHAPE IV – LEGATO REVIEW
Review legato to increase dynamic volume
More weight pressure while maintaining neutrality
Discrimination of touches: simultaneous feather and pressure touches
Gradual increase, decrease of pressure
Reversibility in yin finger’s touch
Towards incorporation into passagework
Transfer of pylon function to the yin finger
Differentiation of yin/yang energies between different voices

37. USING THE YIN/YANG FINGER PHENOMENON IN ORCHESTRATION
Yin finger retains all the structural qualities of a yang finger
APPLICATION #38: NATURAL SHAPE V – SEPARATION OF YIN AND YANG IN LEGATO
Yin/yang contrast easier to feel when no transition from one to the other required
Metacarpal-phalangeal hummocks formed by function not force
Strange feeling as if triceps activates finger
Yin/yang in Brahms

38. NATURAL FINGER SHAPE AND TONUS IN CHORDS
Beethoven’s Sonata in E flat major Opus 7
Natural finger function leads to blossoming sound
Enlarged capacity to sense
The strange phenomenon of increased sustained-ness
Degree of sensitivity corollary to degree of colour
Increased variety of articulation
APPLICATION #39: ARTICULATIONS I
Quality of playing not hitting
Looseness prerequisite to movement, fingers move in playing chords as well
APPLICATION #40: NATURAL SHAPE VI – ORCHESTRATION OF CHORDAL TEXTURES
Absence of deformation a prerequisite to effective movement
Arm aids the constant miniscule shifting of the hand, increased amounts of tone
Dynamic shading of chord for orchestral tone
Small differences cannot be detected in the midst of a large effort
Minimize movement to maximize sensitivity, exactitude
APPLICATION #41: NATURAL SHAPE VII – FAST, EFFORTLESS PASSAGEWORK
Drum your fingers on the desk

39. MAINTAINING NATURAL FINGER SHAPE IN SCALES
‘Don’t swat!’
The system of air circulation in ‘Chi Gung’
APPLICATION #42: NATURAL SHAPE VIII – CHI GUNG AT THE PIANO
Subtle body involvement in ‘arm breathing’
APPLICATION #43: NATURAL SHAPE IX – EXTENSION WITHOUT DEFORMATION
Proximal interphalangeal joint reaches for the sky
Opening up without ‘reaching’ – no deformation of natural shape
APPLICATION #44: NATURAL SHAPE X – FLUTTER-FLIP EXERCISE
APPLICATION #43A: NATURAL SHAPE XI: DON’T SWIVEL IN SCALES
APPLICATION #45: NATURAL SHAPE XII – ARPEGGIOS
Some swivelling now allowed
Arm begins shift as soon as possible

Natural shape generating potent piano technique

X. SOME OTHER TOUCH STRATEGIES AND COMBINATIONS

40. SYNTHESIS OF VARIOUS STRANDS OF THOUGHT
towards exceptional power, accuracy and colour

41. PRESSING AND HOLDING IN LEGATO
APPLICATION #46: LEGATO X – PRESSING IN ‘AU BORD D’UNE SOURCE’
Proper pressing can strengthen structure
Arm continues to move even while generating pressure down through hand into keys
Applied to double notes in ‘Au Bord d’une Source’
Use the graphic sensory image

42. THE HIDDEN PROBLEM IN DOUBLE NOTES – FEUX FOLLETS
APPLICATION #47: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION VI – INTERNAL FINGER ACTIVITY IN LISZT’S ‘FEUX FOLLETS’
Play the right hand’s lower voice separately
Natural shape – a review
APPLICATION #48: LEGATO XI – NON-LEGATO SOUND, LEGATO TOUCH
Fast changing-note exercise – legato with no pressure gives special result
APPLICATION #49: THUMB VI – INTERDEPENDENCE OF THUMB AND FINGERS
Uniqueness of the thumb
Thumb as platform or support pylon
String lifts fingers – minimal effort as if from external source
Discrimination can transform conflict of intentions into cooperation: thumb strength can aid finger lightness, freedom
No stopping – not even in reversals of direction
Everything must sound – dynamics as well as notes

43. CHOPIN’S B FLAT MINOR SCHERZO: TWO FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES REVIEWED
Hand structure plus arm function to freely ‘bong’ the soundboard
APPLICATION #50: OCTAVES VIII – ARCH FUNCTION REVIEW
Self-generating arch for better tone
Once more, grasping review
APPLICATION #51: OCTAVES IX – COBRA-STRIKE REVIEW
Cobra-strike octaves for power
APPLICATION #52: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION VII – LEGATO REVIEW
Maintaining the sense of hand strength in passagework.
Just enough wrist movement

44. MUTUAL AID BETWEEN THUMB AND FOREFINGER IN THE SCRIABIN CONCERTO
Do not use editor’s hand substitutions!
APPLICATION #55: THUMB VII – MUTUALLY SUPPORTIVE PLATFORMS; ROTATION
Thumb, forefinger act as mutually supportive platforms
Rotation

45. ARTICULATIONS
APPLICATION #56: ARTICULATION II – FEEL THE MASS AND VIBRATION OF THE KEY
Increased richness of sensation leads to improved ability control
Partial or complete control of the hammer - both have their useful application
Jog one arm with the other
Jogging the key to sense hammer weight
Grasp and jiggle – control descent as well as ascent
Sensing in actuality allows absolute control
APPLICATION #57: STACCATO I – THICK-TONED, BEEFY BEETHOVEN STACCATOS
APPLICATION #58: STACCATO II – ‘ARM DOWN - HAND UP’ OCTAVE STACCATOS
Mendelssohn’s Scherzo Capriccioso
APPLICATION #59: STACCATO III – HARMONIC STACCATO TOUCH
Arm does have a supportive role in finger staccato
Arm moves not to produce sound but to balance internal forces
Stopping the rebound of the key gives you control over staccato’s exact duration
‘Cat-scratch’ and feel the weight of the hammers
Intention to do a movement can be more effective than movement itself

46. THE FELDENKRAIS - HOROWITZ CONNECTION
Genesis of a method
Vladimir Horowitz
His posture reflects quality of movement 1
His hand structure and function
How this cultivates finger independence
Internal arm contractions replace external movements to generate tone
Great playing despite overmoving

47. FLAT FINGERS
The intention to curl is still present in a flat finger attack
Capable karate chops
APPLICATION #61: STRUCTURAL FUNCTION XI – FLAT FINGERS TO INCREASE CONTACT WITH THE KEY
Flat-fingered octaves, chords
Radical reorganization!
Area of contact fifteen times greater
Towards healthy pianistic sound for all
‘Oh, you mean like Horowitz’
A basic premise the more you can do, the more fun you have!

Flat fingers: the hyper-expressed hand arch for secure piano technique

48. PEDALLING
Radical voicing needed to improve colour of concert grand
APPLICATION #62: PEDAL ‘UP’ NOT DOWN
Lighten your pedal to open your sound, increase variety of colour
Horowitz’s pedal technique

49. TOGETHER!
APPLICATION #63: HANDS TOGETHER
Increase togetherness of hands to improve your sound
Trying for togetherness uncovers insidious habits of overmoving
Develop your powers of observation

50. QUESTIONABLE CONTRADICTIONS


PART TWO – THE MIDDLEGROUND:
SOME ASPECTS OF MUSICAL CRAFT

XI. RHYTHM

51. HIERARCHY OF RHYTHMIC VALUES IS A PRACTICAL REALITY
The three beats of a waltz are by nature unequal
Phrase entrance, exit are also components of rhythm
We might even say that pulse equals phrase, phrase equals pulse
Pulse will not be felt unless notes in between are phrased

52. A PRACTICAL EXERCISE IN RHYTHM
APPLICATION #64: PULSE I – DIVIDE HANDS TO EXERCISE BRAIN
Alberti bass split between the hands to increase brain flexibility
Increase dynamic without increasing speed
Micropauses for graphic, tangible pulse
Pulse: precise muscular control of the moment of attack
Distort pulse proportions (a la Parthenon) for an even more visceral rhythmic feel
Cross hands over
Master more variations for more brain flexibility
Vary not only the note sequences but which hand takes what notes

53. CREATIVE WORK WITH THE METRONOME – PULSE
APPLICATION #65: PULSE II – MASTERING THE METRONOME
Become the master, not the slave of the metronome
Mentally, physically relax prior to pulse note

XII. PHRASING

54. CREATIVE WORK WITH THE METRONOME – MELODIC INFLECTION
Slower tempo lends tragic emotional tone to Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto, first movement
APPLICATION #66: PHRASING I – THE METRONOME AND FLEXIBILITY IN PHRASING
Ahead of or behind the beat while nevertheless always tied to it

55. PLASTICITY IN PHRASING: EXPRESSION WITHOUT BOMBAST
Repeated agogic accents an unevolved expressive strategy
APPLICATION #67: PHRASING II – DON’T CUT PHRASES, COMPLETE THEM
Rachmaninoff’s Etude in E flat minor Op. 39 #5
Cut it or care for it – what is your relationship to the life of a melody?
Sing to create pure musical image, then translate it to piano
Dynamic and rhythmic direction for phrase life
Cut neither the phrase nor the actual physical forces coming down through your arm
Soloistic expressive rubato – for the accompanying orchestra: verboten!
Breaths between phrases counterproductive
APPLICATION #68: PHRASING III – CONNECTIONS BETWEEN PHRASES
Liszt’s ‘Jeux d’Eau’
Lengthen long notes
Soft wrists for limpid staccatos in Jeux d’Eau
A higher type of control
Melody in octaves: wrist flexibility while maintaining finger contact
APPLICATION #67A: ORCHESTRATION II – ACCOMPANIMENT TAKES LEAD ROLE IN CREATING OVERALL DYNAMIC LEVELS
A few further pointers

56. GESTURE IN PHRASING: A DETAILED EXAMINATION
Other elements in legato besides the physical
1: Dynamic inflection
Clues: violin bowings and vocal phrasing
2: Refinement of physical movements
Stop wrong moves, not all moves!
Replace generic moves with exact melodic choreography
Do your sigh motives really sigh?

57. TOWARDS A NEW MODE OF AWARENESS IN PLAYING

XIII. ORCHESTRATION

58. ORCHESTRATION: THE HEART OF THE PIANIST'S ART


PART THREE: THE BACKGROUND

Alan Fraser in The Craft of Piano Playing: A New Approach to Piano Technique

XIV. EMOTIONAL CONTENT

59. EMOTIONAL CONTENT IN COUNTERPOINT? YOU BET!
Bach Prelude in B minor, WTC Book 1
Do not neglect subsidiary voices
Inflecting melodic structure makes it speak
It even speaks with emotion!
APPLICATION #69: MUSICAL STRUCTURE AND EMOTIONAL CONTENT
A melody’s emotion is inherent in its structure
Detach leap to better articulate syncopation
Second voice is doing something else – that’s why we hear it as a different voice!
Constant fluctuation of structural intensities
Strategies to inflect counterpoint
Left hand ‘bowings’

60. YOU MUST BE WILLING AND ABLE TO LIVE EMOTIONALLY WHEN YOU PLAY.
Access the same archetypes that moved composer to create masterworks
Conceive a program to activate archetype
A new view of art and emotions

61. THE MASTERWORKS AS EXPRESSIONS OF OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE
The nature of actions derived from being
Masterworks derived from being
Similarity to prayer – leading one towards being
An interpretive process at the piano that accesses being

62. REAL PIANO SOUND CAN GENERATE EMOTIONAL CONTENT
Aspects of Liszt’s personal life expressed in composition

A FEW LAST THOUGHTS

63. TALENT AND CRAFTSMANSHIP

64. PROFESSIONAL DEFORMATIONS

65. RECORDING
Raise exactitude of hearing and execution
Necessity to formulate conception in advance

66. PLAYING AN ACOUSTIC

67. FEELING EMOTION IN PERFORMANCE
EMOTION AND PHYSICAL TENSION
STATIC INTERFERENCE
FEAR OF FEELING

APPENDICES

I: EXCERPTS FROM FELDENKRAIS’ BOOK AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT – A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK.
‘The difficulty of changing an earlier pattern
‘There is no awareness of many parts of the body
‘A complete self-image is a rare and ideal state
‘Individuals act in accordance with their subjective image
‘Systematic correction of the system is more useful than correction of single actions
‘Correction of movement is the best means for human self-improvement’
‘Ability and willpower
‘To understand movement we must feel, not strain
‘Sharpened discrimination
‘The force of habit
‘Freeing an action of wasted energy

II: FELDENKRAIS AND THE MUSICIAN

III: THE PIANIST'S PROGRESS: A MINI-AUTOBIOGRAPHY (WRITTEN 1993)
ALAN BELKIN - THE ORCHESTRATING HAND
LAURETTA MILKMAN - THE CHOREOGRAPHING HAND
APPLICATION #70: THE HAND-FLIP ‘CATCHING’ TECHNIQUE
PHIL COHEN - THE MINDFUL HAND
TOM PLAUNT - THE PHRASEFUL HAND
FELDENKRAIS - THE MINDFUL BODY
KEMAL GEKICH - THE MASTERFUL HAND
Content
Nuts And Bolts: Rhythm
Meter
Pulse
Phrase Inflection
Sound
APPLICATION #71: 'GRAB AND SHAKE' TO REALLY JOIN WITH THE PIANO
Conception
Alchemy
Artistic striving gives rise to sophisticated physical organization – not vice versa
Physical ability only a tool for the artist
Synthesis
ALAN FRASER - THE ACTIVATED HAND
  _uacct = "UA-1129505-2"; urchinTracker();

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

E-mail Contact