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Schumann rehash

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by richard66, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I have also re-recorded Schumann's 1 Scene of Childhood. To my ears at least it is an improvement, even if it seems slower than the earlier version.
     
  2. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Richard,
    This is certainly voiced well enough, but have you considered punctuating the phrasing? I don't think I heard you "come up for air" once throughout the piece (you're swimming with SCUBA instead of snorkel). Pieces of this level difficulty are excellent for teaching and demonstrating the idea of phrasing -- that is, using silence stolen from the end of a "phrase" to demarcate the melodies into cogent musical expressions and thoughts. I would recommend that you consider doing this again after thinking about where you would breath if you were singing the work. Keep in mind too the very common practice of grouping musical ideas as such: ---,---,-------, etc. Also, I think it can definitely go faster.

    Hope this is useful to you.
    Eddy
     
  3. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, the melody is nice here, Richard. But watch those edits. The obvious ones are at 0:26 and 1:37. There is nothing wrong with this type of editing (in between sections, or at repeats), but you don't want to leave a telltale click at the edit spot. Especially a piece like this which is so well-known; there cannot be editing clicks in the file at all.
     
  4. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I suppose I was too afraid of making too long any breathing so instead I asphixiated! Hopefully the happy medium will be reached next time. I do not know about faster: I feel this piece as tranquil. The key may be to try to maintain such tranquility at any speed.
     
  5. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I always have to suprress odd noises (pedals, stools, hair-dryers, daughters), though I must say I had to put my earphones on and turn the volume up to maximum to hear these almost imperceptible clicks.
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I can't be the only one in the world who hears hiss and/or editing clicks. If it makes you feel any better, for a while I have been re-doing some of my older recordings that had 'questionable' sound, so I am not immune to our somewhat strict policy, either. It all boils down to quality - in playing AND sound. That's why Piano Society is the premier site for listening to free classical piano music :!: :)
     
  7. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    For one, I don't listen with headphones, just the little Altec speakers on my laptop.
     
  8. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    By no means do I wish to argue, but I wish to add on this subject that this is very much like the first movement of the Beethoven "Moonlight" in that it has an active flowing (triplets even) accompanyment under a sustained slow melody. In both, if you play the accompaniment tranquilly, you lose the continuity of the melody. Consider which you wish to be tranquil, the melody or the accompaniment. I don't think there is a middle ground, but of course this is arguable and a matter of interpretation.
     
  9. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Regarding hiss:
    Where the quality of the recording setup makes hiss unavoidable, and if hiss removal in post-processing is deemed undesirable for its side effects, then one just has to live with it, provided it isn't seriously excessive. The hiss on this recording is noticeable, but far from intolerable. What I would suggest, though, is that having the recording begin with total silence before the hiss kicks in is going to draw one's attention to it more. Here we have about 650ms of silence, then about 100ms of hiss before the first note starts. I reckon it would have been better to have "proper" hiss for the whole 750ms (or even longer) instead of added silence. That way at least the ear can get used to it and it will seem less bad. It's better to have the "original" silence from the actual recording than synthetic silence replacing it.

    Regarding clicks:
    I didn't notice them until Monica pointed them out. Clearly it requires a very sensitive (and youthful) ear. Or better quality playing equipment. I was just using the cheap computer speakers. But the clicks are certainly there. I don't know what you used to carry out your edits, but whatever it was, it should be capable of working a little magic to get rid of clicks. I'm still new playing around with recordings, but have just been playing with Audacity, and with it have successfully removed the clicks in my copy of your recording at the places Monica indicated. It's not difficult.

    Regarding tranquility and phrasing etc:
    Your tempo does feel almost intolerably slow, but what contributes most to this perception is that it sounds as though it were in 3/4 (well, OK, 3/8), and you play every triplet as though it were equally important. You seem to be focusing on the music at too high a zoom level, seeing just one half bar at a time. You should zoom out and see the bigger picture. Give less weight to the second beat of each bar. Zoom out even more and give less weight to the second of each pair of two bars (pretend it were actually notated in 4/4 instead of 2/4, getting rid of half the bar lines). Zoom out further still and notice that bars 3 and 4 are the same as bars 1 and 2, and treat them as an echo. If you sort out this phrasing, it will give the whole piece more life and will help dispel the feeling of being too slow, even if you don't actually increase the speed.

    When you get to a repeat sign, don't hesitate before going back (don't hesitate before going on either). Train yourself to make the transition smoothly when actually playing it, instead of editing the hesitation out later. The two edits Monica highlighted are in fact at repeat signs, and there seems to be an edit at 51.5s too, which is the 1st section repeat sign when you don't go back.

    Halfway through the 2nd section, in the bar with the fermatas in it, you need to think about how you want this to go. You don't really want a pregnant pause between the C (last note of the bar) and the D (first note in next bar), you want it before the C, because the C leads to the D. In some sense these fermatas aren't the kind of pause where the music stops for a bit and then carries on. You need to maintain a sense of motion; all that should happen here is that you just slow down a lot, but not quite to zero, and then speed back up again. You did this much better on the repeat than the first time through. I also think you need to observe more of a rit where marked, don't just wait when you get to the fermata, the slowing down should be gradual, not sudden.
     
  10. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    And to shake things up a bit ... :mrgreen:
    Richard, have you considered that in this piece you can frequently play the 3rd 8th note of each LH beat with the R thumb, if it assists in the flow of everything. When a pianist starts doing more than one thing with one hand, however, it can be more difficult to voice properly, so it depends on your skill if this actually makes it easier to play or harder to play.

    @rainer, very well said regarding the zoom aspect. I have tried frequently to use the same analogy but not quite as clearly as you did.
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    The cut at 0:50 is quite obnoxious too. At least I think it's a cut, it sounds like one.

    This piece, that everybody seems to play, is so easily underestimated, rather like Bach's first prelude. It is an acid
    test, all touch and phrasing, nowhere to hide, no excuses possible. I find it very hard to bring off convincingly, and
    am not sure how well I succeeded when I set it down last year.

    As far as the notes, not much wrong here. They're all there. And in that there-ness maybe lies the problem... It is
    too much a sequence of notes played after another, with little sense of a singing line (maybe you had this sense
    while playing, but it does not project to the listener IMO). A little breath between the phrases would help already,
    and also some dynamic shading within the phrases. Like a little crescendo when you go up, a little diminuendo when
    you go down, just the slightest of ritenuto at the end of the phrase, and maybe just the slightest lingering on the first note of a phrase. A bit stereotype all of this, but it generally works unless you overdo it or let it become an automatism. I did not check the previous version. Maybe this one is better in some respects, but I think it's not
    quite good enough right now.
     
  12. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I thank everyone for their comments. I have redone the recording, though I did it before I read all these posts, so maybe I have "ignored" your points, but maybe they came out. I speeded up a bit and I was thinking of question and answer.

    I have taken out the hiss and it seems to me there was little sound quality loss. I must confess again I could only hear it at full volume with earphones on. I am doing the same as you, Monica: I want to redo all my recordings (Chernov excluded and the Camilleri is done), because I believe now the sound quality is much improved. That leaves 3 short pieces. Once that is done, I plan to go forward.

    As for your suggestion Eddy, I play every single third note of the triplet with my right thumb. It has never occurred to me to do otherwise. My policy is to move the hands as little as possible and to avoid at all costs leaps and bounds. As for the Moonlight Sonata... I have been practising it at such a speed as you suggest and I must say it sounds completely different but so much more attractive!
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I don't generally bother with the hiss in my piano recordings which I think is no too bad, but for my organ recordings I have recently started to make the ambient noise (caused mostly by the wind machine) do smooth fade-in and smooth fade out at beginning resp. end. That really sounds a lot better than it just switchin on and off. The idea could be used for hiss also, if it is higher than usual. CoolEdit has a nice Envelope function where you can do this kind of stuff. I guess other tools may have something like that.

    As for clicks due to cutting, I believe there should never have to be be a click if you cut properly. You just need to find the right spot, and make sure you have multiple options just in case one does not want to cooperate.
     
  14. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    That aspect seems fine now.
    You should not feel obliged to put off going forward until you have righted all past wrongs. :) You don't have too much baggage, but some of the folk here could never go forward if they did that!
    I'm relieved to hear you say that, because I almost made a similar comment. The leaping and bounding which the left hand would otherwise have to do would increase the technical difficulty and would force you to slow down. I suspect Eddy and I were both thinking that this might be why you play this piece so slowly. And if that isn't the reason, we still don't know.

    You probably did no edits this time to get rid of the breaks you made at the repeat signs, but do PLEASE just stop making the breaks. The repeat sign happens to have a fat line as part of it, but that's just a printing convention, it doesn't represent a wall at which you need to stop to gather your strength before jumping over it. Just treat it the same as an ordinary bar line when going on (and also when going back, except of course for the fact that you go back instead of forward).

    There isn't enough emotion in the vicinity of the fermata bar. Try to put more into that section, and indeed into the whole piece. It isn't enough for you to feel the emotion when you're playing it, you need somehow to try to get it across to the listener. That is what performing, or interpreting, is all about. It's not the same as playing just for yourself. It's not just about emotion, but about communication of emotion.

    I noticed that the second last note of the piece failed to sound, and that made me wonder whether it might be a good idea to omit the last two notes deliberately. Purists might shoot me down in flames for even suggesting such a thing, but there is, for example, a practice (fairly common, though not universal) in Haydn symphonies where in the minuet and trio movement the minuet section ends in a bar which begins with a tonic chord followed by a dominant/tonic note pair in the bass line. These last two notes are (when the aforementioned practice is observed) generally played when the second section of the minuet is played for the first time, and also for the second time when leading into the trio, but are omitted the last time on the da capo. Doing something similar here seems worth considering because the last two notes (B G) are really nothing but upbeats to the repeat, and if there isn't going to be a repeat, there is no point in having the upbeats to it, is there?
     
  15. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Surely, Chris, but how does one know if there is a click or not after you cut? One listens. If listening at normal levels with normal equipment one detects no click I do not believe one is going to comb though a whole recording with earphones and the volume set at maximum in order to find clicks. After all, one does not go looking for strawberries in the herb garden but that does not mean some may not be growing there. I only heard two faint ones by doing this (and this way the hiss was louder), you heard three (or did you only hear one?) Rainer heard none. Now, pick up any CD by any musician and listen just like that and one will be maddened by the violin bows hitting the strings, by the oboe keys clicking, by the singer breathing, by the action of the harpsichord dampening the strings and all these tend to be much louder than these clicks ever were.
     
  16. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes that is all true Richard. I don't like these sounds either, particularly the racket some classical guitarists make gliding over the strings (I assume that is what it is). But, unlike bad edits, these things can not really be avoided let
    alone be edited out. I heard at least two very audible edits, more a jarring than a click. It is not a big deal but why not spend some effort to avoid it. Most everybody edits (except David :p ) but you don't want people to HEAR that you do do you ? I would recommend doing your post processing with decent headphones and ample volume and be
    not satisfied with a cut until you really can't hear it. It takes some practicing but is worth the effort. As a bonus, it
    will help you to play more clearly and accurately, because it is nigh impossibly to cut in a passage that is not played clearly and cleanly. Leaving more air between phrases is a great help here.
     
  17. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    In general, there will always be a click at a cut, unless it is made where there is absolute silence, which is as rare as hen's teeth. Even if you're splicing together two sections of hiss, you will get a click where there is a discontinuity in the hiss waveform.
    There will always be other people with abnormal (better) equipment. Just because you can't hear clicks, don't assume no-one else will either.
    As the person who has made the cuts, you don't need to go and find the clicks, you already know where they are (there is one at every join). What you could do is to invoke the editor's repair feature as a matter of routine around the few samples either side of each join.

    Or instead of listening for a click (which is unreliable), it's worth looking for it (yes, with your eyes). If, like Audacity, which I use, your editor lets you switch the display from waveform to spectrum, you will see a spike in the spectrum at the click. Unfortunately the spikes are so narrow that this trick can only be used to find the exact location of a click when you already know the approximate location. It's not suitable for scanning a whole recording to look for them.
     
  18. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Richard, the problem must be your editing program. Which one do you use? When I first started, I was using a program that I got off the Internet for free. I can't remember the name...something like Wavelab. I thought it was pretty good, except it was extremely hard to made good cuts. I got those terrible clicks often. I just assumed that all programs would give the same result, until I tried a different one. The program I use now is sooooo much better. I hardly every have to deal with clicks anymore.
     
  19. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I am using Audacity, but the beta version. Somethings it does quite nicely. I even manage to glue together things fished from the Internet in two pieces into one seemless one. Let us face it: the problem here is not editing, but playing. If one runthough comes out perfect there is no editing involved, as was the case with the Camilleri piece.

    While I am perfectly capable of playing though this piece without a single error and therefore without need for editing, as soon as the recorder is on all sorts of errors and hesitations come up, compounded with yelling in the street, chairs creaking, taps being opened and a whole series of external noises. The other day I came out with a recording 18' long of this very piece and not a single time did it come out perfect. At times I had to discard a whole runthrough because of a missing note (finger on the key but note not played.). Before you say I do not have it practised enough I will tell you the errors are always different ones. It is the idea that no error can occur that makes errors occur, if you understand what I mean. Of course a recording has to be much more exacting than a performance and all recordings on the site must be of high standard indeed and things which at a performance might only raise an eyebrow and soon be forgotten cannot be tolerated on a recording, where it will be heard again and again.

    As for the point Rainer raises, the pause at the end of A and B are not hesitations, but a breaths. That these breaths are too long and sound like hesitations is another matter and should, as you say, be addressed. Let me see how to deal with this. The reason it is slow? Because for some reason I feel it at that speed. Of course your comment that it is pointless to feel without transmitting these feelings is right on the nail. A great artist is not one who is moved, but one who is capable of moving others.
     
  20. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    I understand what you mean only too well. The more you want it to be perfect, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. It's a slightly different version of stage fright. Over time, I have reached the point at which I don't worry so much when playing in front of others. As a result of less worry, I make fewer mistakes, resulting in even less worry. It's a virtuous circle. With recording, I have not reached that stage yet, its circle is still vicious. I make more mistakes. I worry more. But I've only been playing around with a recorder for a couple of months. Still a way to go before I dare submit my first recordings here!
    The spectre of all those sheep in wolves clothing poised to criticise your recording to shreds isn't exactly going to help your confidence either, but at least you can throw a recording away before they see it, if you think it isn't good enough. One psychological trick which might help to take the worry out of recording is to get away from the conscious decision that "now I'm starting a recording". This can be done by simply having the recorder on all the time while practising, and to incorporate complete runthroughs into the practice sessions as a matter of routine. Then if one of those runthroughs turns out to be reasonably good, then you have your recording, without really having worried about it!

    Will it work? I don't know, I must try it. The trouble with trying to fool yourself is that you know you're doing it, and there's a part of you which is going to damn well resist every attempt to be fooled, even when (or perhaps especially when) it's yourself that's trying to do the fooling.
     

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