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a little help, please...

Discussion in 'Repertoire' started by pianolady, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I need advice on how to play this line - specifically which hand should take the chord. My thinking is that the RH should play the fast 32nd notes and then the LH plays the chord. After that, my RH crosses over the LH to play the low notes. But this is very awkward and hard for me to reach the very low octave D-flats at the end. Really, I nearly fall off my bench when I do this. I'd like to play the chord with my RH and avoid the cross-over, but that doesn't seem to be a good solution. Does anyone have any other ideas?
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Been a long time since I played this one and can't remember what I do here. I think playing the chord with the LH and then silently take it over with the RH is the ticket. The pedal is down all the way of course, so no problem there.
     
  3. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    We don't want you falling off the bench. People will suspect too much wine :wink:

    Have you tried crossing the L.H. over the right for the 32nd note arpeggio and then back to the bass?

    Scott
     
  4. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    ditto
     
  5. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Suggestions which seemed reasonable when I tried them out:
    1. the Eb arpeggio note with the rh, then the Db, Ab, F with the lh, chord with the rh, etc
    2. whole arpeggio with the rh, chord with the lh, bass figuration with rh, but using 25 for the last octave (much easier than using the thumb, but maybe your hands are not big enough).
    3. If the pedal's down throughout, arpeggio with rh, chord with lh, initial bass figuration with rh, last octave with lh.
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I love this piece - so far, anyway. Just started it the other day. It has the coolest harmonies and played on mostly the lower register area. Great! :D It's my second favorite Prelude after "La fille aux cheveux de lin".

    Anyway, I'm not sure the pedal is supposed to be down for the whole line. At least it is not marked that way. I think it would get too blurry there. Silently replacing the LH with the RH would be a pretty good solution. And Andrew, you're right I can't reach my 2 and 5 fingers on that octave. But that's okay, because Scott's idea is perfect for me! Why didn't I think of that...??? :)

    Thanks for all the help - now I am going to go have some wine. I have to, because Wine is in the title. 8)
     
  7. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Monica,

    Make sure that it is a Spanish wine, since that is the beverage to which Debussy refers. Plus, that should really get you in the mood (although with too much you may have 176 keys to deal with.)

    Scott
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Good advice! I can barely handle 88 keys...
     
  9. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    I can't resist adding to the confusion :)

    The first thing that comes to my mind is to hold the pedal down for the first two bars, play the four 32nds with RH, the chord with LH, the bass notes with LH, and you've got to the end of the second bar to silently depress the notes of the chord with the RH so that you can pedal cleanly at the end.

    I'd advise against crossing left over right to play the 32nds with LH. You want to be able to come crashing down on the chord with lots of energy, and you want a thumb on the accented E flat. A crossed hands position here would feel a little constricted (although as a general principle I do enjoy finding excuses to cross the hands over). (If you do decide to cross the hands anyway, it would be better for the left hand to go underneath.)

    There, now you've got many options to play with. You should find at least one that feels reasonably natural.
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks, Alexander. Your ideas are good, but I am going to have to cross hands at the end. If I can't play forte enough, then I will do it the other was, replacing the hands. But when I cross at the end, my left hand has to go over my right or else I can't slip it out of there fast enough to jump the left hand back down low.

    Thanks again everybody for the help. Now can you help me find more time to practice...? :)
     
  11. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    OK, it sounds like you know what you want now, which is the most important thing. But...
    ...I'm a little worried that you're playing it too fast for an authentic habanera feel. Maybe you need more of that wine to relax you ;-)
     
  12. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I am one step ahead of you now.... :wink: :wink:


    But actually, you might be right. I'm thinking that I have to play it fast, when maybe I don't. What is the tempo for a habanera, anyway? Everybody grooves a little differently...
     
  13. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    For my taste, somewhere between 60 and 75 beats per minute. Probably closer to 65. But I'm sure you'll find people to disagree...
     
  14. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Alexander, that is very helpful. I'll check my playing with the metronome next time I am at the piano.

    You know, I have never listened to anyone play this piece yet, and I don't want to until I get it down really well. So often in the past I have decided to listen to a pro play a piece that I'm working on, and which I think I have learned pretty well, only to discover that the pro plays it much, much faster and then I am disappointed because I know that I still have a lot of work to do.
     
  15. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    If you want to get the feel of a Habañera without listening to a performance of this one, listen to the Habañera from "Carmen" ("L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"), or the Chabrier Habañera. One thing that I noticed in my extensive research of the Habañera (a minute reading Wikipedia -- if its on Wikipedia it must be true) is that as a form it is intended to be sung as well as danced. Thus the melody has its basis in a vocal style.

    Scott
     
  16. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks, Scott. That's funny about the 'extensive research...' :lol:

    I just practiced the piece and find that I like to play at 60 or even 55. But that's probably because I can't play the piece that well yet.... :wink: And I surprised myself when I got to the last line and my left hand naturally went under my right hand. :shock: Wow - how do you guys know all this? I didn't even tell you the name of the piece, yet you all know it!

    I do think I'm going to have some pedaling issues to deal with again. I know Debussy is supposed to be played with lots of pedal, but I don't want to blur the neat rhythm in this piece.
     
  17. Nicole

    Nicole New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica

    Regarding the crossing of your hands and what Scott suggests, that is how I played the ending in my recording on the site here. So.........the ONLY thing that the RH played was the long chord. The LH played the high stuff just before the chord and then all the low habanera stuff.

    When it comes to pedalling, I did a lot of research before recording Debussy and ended up finding out so many things that were contrary to how we often think that his music should be played. I discovered from the old writings of Debussy and of his immediate students, written during their time and in their native language of French, that it turns out that our modern idea of pedalling almost every note of Debussy is not what he, himself, ever wanted. Apparently, he had even curmudgeonly stated that his theory was that those who pedalled constantly were doing it to hide their bad technique! Anyway, it's a long time since I did my research, so I won't try to cite sources, but will just leave you with that and wish you lots of fun with this great piece!
    -Nicole
     
  18. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Monica,

    A couple of resources that might help in working out the pedaling are http://djupdal.org/karstein/debussy/ Which has research into statements by Debussy and his contemporaries about his piano playing, including his pedaling.

    Another is a book published by Indiana University Press -- "The Pianist's Guide to Pedaling" by Joseph Banowetz. It used to be available on-line at the IU Press website but it seems to have been removed. In it there is a large variety of pedal techniques plus articles on pedaling the music of selected composers, including Debussy and Ravel.

    Scott
     
  19. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    True. But it's important to remember that modern pianos are very different fron the pianos of Debussy's time. If you pedal the same way, you don't actually get the same sounds; on a modern piano you'll need to (half-)change the pedal a little more often.
     
  20. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    How much different would Debussy's piano be than our modern instruments? The piano was basically in its present form by the end of the 19th century. Debussy's earliest works date from the 1880's ("Danse bohémienne" and "L'enfant prodigue", his Prix de Rome winning composition. The ones that we think of come from the 1890s, when he was finding his own style, the one that we call "Impressionism".

    Scott
     

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