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Knowing the correct tempo

Discussion in 'Technique' started by juufa72, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello all,

    I've always had trouble identifying the correct speed when using the metronome markings and the verbial phrases. Since I am moving onto pieces that are rarely played, and ones that I never heard before, I am struggling to find a correct speed to play. What I always do is listen to a professional play and then judge it from there. But this time that technique wont help me.

    For example, there is a piece by Chopin, nocturne I believe op.15, that has a metronome marking of 60bpm for the dotted half note value, however that is quite fast for a "lento" verbial phrase. So what do you use the "bpm" or the "lento"?

    Now in my case, I am playing CPE Bach's Sonata in F. This is day three. The first movement is "Allegro Maestoso" with the typical 16th note JS Bachean/ Mozartean pattern in the left hand throughout. How should I go about setting the correct tempo? Because it is very important to play Bach & sons correctly and strictly, thats were their virtuosity shines.

    Below is a recording of the first few bars of the Allegro movement. And the sheet music for it.

    Am I playing this too fast? Too slow?

    -the juuf

    p.s. we need a "classroom" section in the forum. :p :wink:
     
  2. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    edit: I am unable to include pdf format attachments. :roll: sorry.
     
  3. wmgan

    wmgan New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm sorry if this sounds like a stupid answer to you — but you should play any piece at the tempo that feels right to you. Tempo markings are often vague and leave room for interpretation (more in some pieces than in others) and metronome marking are often editorial. If John Cage tells you to play at a quarter note = 120, you should probably play it at exactly that tempo or as close to it as possible — but if Chopin tells you to play at that tempo, there would be a range of acceptable tempi, and you should choose a tempo that allows you to play the piece in the most convincing manner possible.
     
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    yeh, i agree...sure it may be a bit vague but its all about interpretation! i always like to listen to other people playing that piece (like a recording) and deciding on it myself..however, lucky me im young enough to have a fantabulous (haha) teacher to help me on that sort of stuff (not that older people dont have teachers)
     
  5. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Mr. Rifle man.... :D
    By listening to the profesionals is a reference, but remember, there tempo is at the concert speed. That means they work 4-8 hours a day for that condition. Even myself, I set myself a goal but still need to work 8-12hrs a week to acheive 90% of the professionals. Sometime I do exceed the speed and its depends on the DIFIICULTY LEVEL.
    Generally speaking for an Ametuer player, one can reach 90% of professional speed is a good news. Again, dnt strat to run untill you can walk, do slowly first.

    Aim for your interpretation thats what counts.

    You allegro sounds right to me, perhaps friction slower to work on your rh more.
    I hope this helps
     
  6. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    tempo

    I've heard that original Metronome markings from Chopin's time are too fast for today. They used a "lighter" piano and the pedal could not sustain notes the way our modern piano can. Therefore, they played many pieces faster than we need to today.

    I don't remember where I heard or read this. Does anyone else know more about it?
     
  7. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: tempo

    I have read this too but not sure if I agree. Yes, the keys today have a more heavy action to produce more dynamic changes but that still does not prevent us from playing fast.

    Also, Chopin stopped giving metronome marks after op.27 and only added the tempo in piano terms which for Chopin is rather confusing. As for example the Mazurka op.17 no.4 which is marked "Lento, ma non troppo. (d=152)". So what do you do when you see that Mazurka op.63 no.2 is marked Lento?
     
  8. schmonz

    schmonz Amitai Schlair Piano Society Artist

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    Re: tempo

    And how come no composer ever marks "Troppo lento?" :) :) :)
     
  9. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    That's what I am confused about:

    How can you play "lento" while your metronome is having a heartattack at 152bpm?
     
  10. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: tempo

    [ I don't remember where I heard or read this. Does anyone else know more about it?[/quote]
    I have read this too but not sure if I agree. Yes, the keys today have a more heavy action to produce more dynamic changes but that still does not prevent us from playing fast.

    talking about heavier action, mine is done with extra 38g. By all means, this ,makes my finger strong and proved in many cases.

    Also, Chopin stopped giving metronome marks after op.27 and only added the tempo in piano terms which for Chopin is rather confusing. As for example the Mazurka op.17 no.4 which is marked "Lento, ma non troppo. (d=152)". So what do you do when you see that Mazurka op.63 no.2 is marked Lento?[/quote]

    May be when chopin is fragile and weak he is unsure whats the best tempo speed to indicate, but rather an estimation??
     
  11. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: tempo

    Interesting that Chopin stopped giving metronome marks at a certain point! After a short look in my Urtext scores indeed in higher opus numbers there was no more metronome marks.

    The question is also, can one trust the metronome markings from Chopin? Was his metronome precise? Are there sources available about that?

    I can't imagine that it is helpful to add additional lead in the keys. Because the additional mass makes the key more sluggish. And it will also not be helpful to play soft on a normal action if you are used to hit the keys more heavily.
     
  12. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: tempo

    [
    I can't imagine that it is helpful to add additional lead in the keys. Because the additional mass makes the key more sluggish. And it will also not be helpful to play soft on a normal action if you are used to hit the keys more heavily.[/quote]

    true, can you hear any soft passages on all my playing??? just imagine now, I remove all the weights and play again with more power but less effort..
     

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