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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:11 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
... have a friend standing nearby and ready to push down the notes at the right time.
Brilliant. One could think of it as making the page turner's job less boring. In a live performance it might work quite well as a comic double-act, if the friend can pretend to be interjecting the high chords just to spice things up.

For recording purposes, of course, where editing is allowed, you could always be your own "friend". First record the piece without the chords, then (while listening to the first recording with headphones) record only the chords. Then combine the tracks.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:36 pm 
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rainer wrote:
For recording purposes, of course, where editing is allowed, you could always be your own "friend". First record the piece without the chords, then (while listening to the first recording with headphones) record only the chords. Then combine the tracks.

Oh wow!!! Why didn't I think of that! I could really have used that 'friend' in one of my Granados recordings. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:06 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.
It works fine on mine. It seems to me you are allowing your bad experiences with the groaner cloud your judgement of uprights in general. So far you have mentioned three things which are "impossible" on uprights which in fact aren't. :twisted:
Quote:
The sotenuto pedal is (if I am not mistaken) a creation of Steinway's.
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_pedals it was invented by someone else but perfected by Steinway, and subsequently included on all their grands and some of their uprights.

I was also astonished to read there that the una corda pedal nowadays usually no longer gives you the choice between playing on 3, 2, or 1 strings, but only between 3 and 2, and has therefore become a misnomer (it should be called a due corde pedal). I'm not in a position to quickly check, but I hope that's not true, and that that part of the article was written by some poor soul whose own piano is defective in that respect, and who has simply assumed that all grands were like that (much like you with uprights).


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:40 pm 
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rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.
It works fine on mine. It seems to me you are allowing your bad experiences with the groaner cloud your judgement of uprights in general. So far you have mentioned three things which are "impossible" on uprights which in fact aren't. :twisted:
Quote:
The sotenuto pedal is (if I am not mistaken) a creation of Steinway's.
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_pedals it was invented by someone else but perfected by Steinway, and subsequently included on all their grands and some of their uprights.

I was also astonished to read there that the una corda pedal nowadays usually no longer gives you the choice between playing on 3, 2, or 1 strings, but only between 3 and 2, and has therefore become a misnomer (it should be called a due corde pedal). I'm not in a position to quickly check, but I hope that's not true, and that that part of the article was written by some poor soul whose own piano is defective in that respect, and who has simply assumed that all grands were like that (much like you with uprights).


I did not say you cannot use half-keys: I said it makes no effect, because the keys return to position in the very same manner, half or all way. You can check the article and will see that. You can also look at the upright when playing.

I remember about the "some uprights", the ones that cost more than some grands, if I remember well.

On the pianos I have seem it is as you say: three or two strings. Come to think of it, I have never seen the indication "due corde" anywhere. On uprights, in any case, the hammers are not shifted sideways but forward.

Another consideration is how sound is projected. I have noticed that standing at a higher level than the strings, that is, being able to look into the case of an upright, sound quality improves (for the listener). If you think that a grand projects sound not forward or backward, but up and down, you will see that in an upright sound is thrown at the pianist's (and audience's) face or is reflected from the walls, while from a grand the sound reaching the pianist (and the audience) is not direct, but reflected from the floor and ceiling (hence the hight ceilings, that have, for example, imporved Chris's recording setup). Why are grands sometimes placed on rugs in smaller settings? Here is the answer. I am not alone in noticing this, as I have read about it somewhere, possibly in that controversial book on piano practice.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:24 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.
It works fine on mine.
I did not say you cannot use half-keys: I said it makes no effect, because the keys return to position in the very same manner, half or all way.
I'm confused now and don't know whether I've misunderstood you. What effect do you want, that works on a grand but not on an upright? What happens on my upright is this: In their rest position, the hammers are about 45mm from the strings (or a little more than half that when the soft pedal is fully pressed). When I press a key and keep it pressed, then the hammer, having struck the strings, drops back to a position about 5mm from the string. Then when I let go the key, the hammer drops back to the rest position. But this drop-back is not all-or-nothing: The hammer comes back gradually as the key moves back up. So if I were to press the key again, having only let it go back up a little bit, then the effect of the next press is similar to using the soft pedal with it, because the hammer then only has a shorter distance in which to build up momentum. Are you saying this is what a grand does, but an upright does not? Mine does.
Quote:
You can check the article and will see that.
Where? The piano pedal wiki article doesn't seem to say anything about your half-key effect. It mentions a half-blow pedal, but that is just the name it uses for the soft pedal which uprights generally have instead of una corda. Interestingly, it mentions that some grands are now are being fitted with a "proper" soft pedal (half-blow) in addition to una corda (so there are 4 pedals altogether).
Quote:
On the pianos I have seem it is as you say: three or two strings.
That's a great pity, it seems to make having the una corda pedal almost pointless.
Quote:
Another consideration is how sound is projected. I have noticed that standing at a higher level than the strings, that is, being able to look into the case of an upright, sound quality improves (for the listener).
Even with the lid shut (so that you can't actually "look into" the case)? On mine it's not practicable to open the lid, not just because music tends to get piled up there, but also because that's where the lamp goes. However, the design on mine does have slots cut into the front of the case (just behind the music stand), presumably to help let the sound out. There is also a substantial gap above the lower front cover (the vertical surface which goes from above the pedals to below the keyboard).

My piano isn't very tall either, by the way, with the top of the case only about 29cm above the level of the white keys, so that when seated my ears are about 20cm higher than the top of the case, which means I'm already at a higher level than the strings.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:08 am 
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richard66 wrote:
On the pianos I have seem it is as you say: three or two strings. Come to think of it, I have never seen the indication "due corde" anywhere.

I recently came across due corde it in a piece I am working on, see image. It's the only instance that I know of. I have not given real thought about how to interpret if yet, as I tend to leave the u.c. pedal alone.


Attachments:
File comment: Only example of due corde that I know about
duecorde.jpg
duecorde.jpg [ 64.75 KiB | Viewed 2529 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:29 am 
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techneut wrote:
I recently came across due corde in a piece I am working on. It's the only instance that I know of.
The wikipedia article about piano pedals mentions two examples of Beethoven using this marking, and it's true.

One is the short middle movement of his fourth piano concerto. There is an instruction at the beginning that the entire movement is to be played "una corda", except for the short cadenza-like passage with a continuous trill, which begins with a bar of cresc from pp to ff, marked "due e poi tre corde". This is followed by 4 bars of ff, marked "a 3 cordes" (in French), then a bar of dim to pp, marked "due, poi una corda".

The other is the Hammerklavier sonata op 106, 3rd movement (Adagio sostenuto). This is liberally sprinkled throughout with "una corda" and "tutte le corde" instructions (abbreviated UC and TC in some editions), and in two places there is a marking "poco a poco due ed allora tutte le corde". Although later editions abbreviate this to "poco a poco tutte le corde", the implication is clear that one should gradually shift from one to three strings, necessarily via an intermediate stage of two strings.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:54 pm 
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Yes, where would we be without Wikipedia...

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:06 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Yes, where would we be without Wikipedia...


There would be far less Internet wisemen (or wisecrackers, cream crackers, cream puffs full of hot air or whatever :shock: ) who know everything after consulting it.

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Last edited by richard66 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:25 pm 
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rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Another effect impossible on an upright is the half-key, where a pressed key is released only part-way before being pressed again. I was taught that for Schubert's Improptu in c. I do it, but am aware that it does not work.
It works fine on mine.
I did not say you cannot use half-keys: I said it makes no effect, because the keys return to position in the very same manner, half or all way.
I'm confused now and don't know whether I've misunderstood you. What effect do you want, that works on a grand but not on an upright? What happens on my upright is this: In their rest position, the hammers are about 45mm from the strings (or a little more than half that when the soft pedal is fully pressed). When I press a key and keep it pressed, then the hammer, having struck the strings, drops back to a position about 5mm from the string. Then when I let go the key, the hammer drops back to the rest position. But this drop-back is not all-or-nothing: The hammer comes back gradually as the key moves back up. So if I were to press the key again, having only let it go back up a little bit, then the effect of the next press is similar to using the soft pedal with it, because the hammer then only has a shorter distance in which to build up momentum. Are you saying this is what a grand does, but an upright does not? Mine does.
Quote:
You can check the article and will see that.
Where? The piano pedal wiki article doesn't seem to say anything about your half-key effect. It mentions a half-blow pedal, but that is just the name it uses for the soft pedal which uprights generally have instead of una corda. Interestingly, it mentions that some grands are now are being fitted with a "proper" soft pedal (half-blow) in addition to una corda (so there are 4 pedals altogether).
Quote:
On the pianos I have seem it is as you say: three or two strings.
That's a great pity, it seems to make having the una corda pedal almost pointless.
Quote:
Another consideration is how sound is projected. I have noticed that standing at a higher level than the strings, that is, being able to look into the case of an upright, sound quality improves (for the listener).
Even with the lid shut (so that you can't actually "look into" the case)? On mine it's not practicable to open the lid, not just because music tends to get piled up there, but also because that's where the lamp goes. However, the design on mine does have slots cut into the front of the case (just behind the music stand), presumably to help let the sound out. There is also a substantial gap above the lower front cover (the vertical surface which goes from above the pedals to below the keyboard).

My piano isn't very tall either, by the way, with the top of the case only about 29cm above the level of the white keys, so that when seated my ears are about 20cm higher than the top of the case, which means I'm already at a higher level than the strings.



I made a mess of it. What I should have said is that a grand has a special mechanism for the half-key. On an upright you can, of course, keep the key half-pressed and then strike it - at your peril: very often the hammer, instead of stiking the key again, simply slips back into place and when you press the key it goes down but the hammer of course strikes nothing.

If you had tre, due and una corda how could this possibly be used when the bass of the piano usually consists of one string?

I have been off and on working on a Bortkiewicz piece that cannot technically be played on an upright, as he calls for una and tre corde. In the una corda section there is a crescendo that arrives at a forte. Then the tre corde sction begins at p. Now try that on an upright!

I have nothing on my piano and I keep the lid open. I do not even use the standard upright stand, but keep it closed (and stuffed with cotton, to keep it from vibrating), placing a book-stand on top of the lid, more or less where the rack would be on a grand. I did this because the score often interfered with my hands and even now, when I slide my fingers to the back of the keyboard, I hit my nuckles on the lid when I lift my hand.

You are not high enough to escape the effect I mention and, with all these gaps, the sound does hit you directly.

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
Oscar Wilde: Impressions of America: Leadville


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:05 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
What I should have said is that a grand has a special mechanism for the half-key. On an upright you can, of course, keep the key half-pressed and then strike it - at your peril: very often the hammer, instead of stiking the key again, simply slips back into place and when you press the key it goes down but the hammer of course strikes nothing.
OK, I think I see what you mean now. Where the Reblitz book ("Piano Servicing, Tuning, and Rebuilding") describes how a grand's action works, having just explained what happens when you press and hold a key, and subsequently release it gradually, it remarks: "... when the front end of the key is less than halfway up, the action is ready for another complete cycle without the key needing to return to its rest position. When playing an upright, you must release the key and let it come almost all the way up before the jack slips under the butt, allowing the cycle to be repeated. When playing a grand, you can repeat notes quickly without waiting for the keys to return all the way to their rest position. Because it takes less time and finger motion to reset the action, notes can be repeated on a grand more rapidly than on an upright, particularly when playing softly."

This agrees with what you've been saying, but nevertheless my upright does not seem to behave in the manner above described; it reliably resets well before the key is even a quarter of the way up, perhaps it has an equivalent mechanism for enhancing repeatability, I can't get a good view of it to see. I reckon what limits my repeat speed isn't my piano, but my fingers, but I'll check if I can go faster on a grand, next time I get to one.
Quote:
If you had tre, due and una corda how could this possibly be used when the bass of the piano usually consists of one string?
Good question. Could it be that when the una corda mechanism was first introduced, all notes had three strings? Another possible answer is that once the split approach of having one string per note in the bottom octave (or less), two strings in the next two octaves (or so) and three in the rest, became fashionable, that composers would have made UC/DC/TC instructions only where the material of interest lies within the three string range.
Quote:
I have been off and on working on a Bortkiewicz piece that cannot technically be played on an upright, as he calls for una and tre corde. In the una corda section there is a crescendo that arrives at a forte. Then the tre corde sction begins at p. Now try that on an upright!
I don't see a problem there. Well, you know what they say. One ought to use the una corda pedal only to give a change of tone colour, not of loudness. Despite this, many (most?) players do use it as a "soft" pedal, and indeed it seems clear that historically that's what its main purpose was, any change of colour being a mere side-effect. The Beethoven examples I cited demonstrate that he intended use of the UC pedal to enhance both the crescendos and diminuendos beyond what could be achieved by touch alone, i.e. he sought greater extremes. No doubt many other composers also have volume foremost in their minds when writing the instruction (which is really only a suggestion) to use the UC pedal.

Insofar as that is the case, an upright's volume control capability is perhaps even superior to a grand's, not only because its effect is probably more pronounced, but also because it is continuously variable. In this respect (and maybe only in this respect), to paraphrase a popular song, anything a grand can do, an upright can do better. :P

Now, if you play something (a note, a chord, a section) forte without pedal, and then play the same thing again using identical touch but with left pedal (regardless of whether on grand or upright), then it will sound softer (never mind how much softer). To make something with pedal sound as loud as the original forte, you need to beef up your touch to the level which without pedal would give something approaching fortissimo.

Does the crescendo in your Bortkiewicz piece continue after the change to TC? If so, it seems plausible that the forte he writes just before the UC is not a "sound" forte but a "touch" forte, and that he may have intended the crescendo to be seamless across the change from UC to TC, in other words that he wanted the UC forte to be at the same level of loudness as the TC piano. Such a seamless crescendo is obviously easier to enhance using an upright-style soft pedal mechanism than a grand's una corda mechanism, because you would release the pedal gradually, not suddenly at the place indicated.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg - Solveig's Cradle Song
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:42 pm 
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rainer wrote:
richard66 wrote:
Quote:
I have been off and on working on a Bortkiewicz piece that cannot technically be played on an upright, as he calls for una and tre corde. In the una corda section there is a crescendo that arrives at a forte. Then the tre corde sction begins at p. Now try that on an upright!
I don't see a problem there. Well, you know what they say. One ought to use the una corda pedal only to give a change of tone colour, not of loudness. Despite this, many (most?) players do use it as a "soft" pedal, and indeed it seems clear that historically that's what its main purpose was, any change of colour being a mere side-effect. The Beethoven examples I cited demonstrate that he intended use of the UC pedal to enhance both the crescendos and diminuendos beyond what could be achieved by touch alone, i.e. he sought greater extremes. No doubt many other composers also have volume foremost in their minds when writing the instruction (which is really only a suggestion) to use the UC pedal.

Insofar as that is the case, an upright's volume control capability is perhaps even superior to a grand's, not only because its effect is probably more pronounced, but also because it is continuously variable. In this respect (and maybe only in this respect), to paraphrase a popular song, anything a grand can do, an upright can do better. :P

Now, if you play something (a note, a chord, a section) forte without pedal, and then play the same thing again using identical touch but with left pedal (regardless of whether on grand or upright), then it will sound softer (never mind how much softer). To make something with pedal sound as loud as the original forte, you need to beef up your touch to the level which without pedal would give something approaching fortissimo.

Does the crescendo in your Bortkiewicz piece continue after the change to TC? If so, it seems plausible that the forte he writes just before the UC is not a "sound" forte but a "touch" forte, and that he may have intended the crescendo to be seamless across the change from UC to TC, in other words that he wanted the UC forte to be at the same level of loudness as the TC piano. Such a seamless crescendo is obviously easier to enhance using an upright-style soft pedal mechanism than a grand's una corda mechanism, because you would release the pedal gradually, not suddenly at the place indicated.


He most possibly meant a change of colour, not of volume. It begins pp (other pieces of his go as far as pp without ever indicating una corda.) In this piece, which is in a sort of binary form (the B section is really a coda 7 bars long while A is 16): A-A'-B. he begins A una corda at pp and reaches f, then in A' he asks for tre corde, beginning at p and progressing to ff. In B (or the coda) he returns to una corda at p and progresses to ppp. In The Butterfly, for example, he also uses pp and ppp but never una corda, while in The Angel at one moment he asks for ppp dolcissimo (una corda) for the repeat of the first section of A. Here I understand that it is tone colour he is after.

In the Grieg (to return to the subject of the thread!) there are many pp's and some ppp's but no indication una corda for those passages.

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He is doing his best."
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