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Young pensioner (70) learning the piano Kbd by ear...

Discussion in 'Technique' started by jjj, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    jjj,

    There are two separate ideas you are trying to promote here, One is the Janko-style keyboard layout, the other is Klavarskribo notation (or your Janko-friendly version of it).

    While you are trying to promote both of these together, they are in reality orthogonal concepts and it is perhaps better to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each idea separately. So I would like to leave the notation aspect for later, as it is probably less important, given that you prefer to play by ear. You also don't need notation to play scales.

    I find the Janko concept interesting, but it is clear that its major stated benefit of universal transposability is only true in limited circumstances. A three-row system is severely limited: If you have some sample you can already play on it (be it a scale, or a simple melody, or a whole piece), and if you need all three rows to play it, then you cannot transpose this sample into all of the other 11 possible keys without changing any of the fingering pattern, but only into those 5 other keys which differ from the original by an even number of semitones. Only if your sample is playable on just two rows, can it be transposed into all other 11 keys like that.

    In other words, if you can play a C major scale, then you can also play the scales of D, E, F#, G#, A# major using the same fingering, but you can't necessarily play F, G, A, B, C# major. Whether you can depends on whether your C scale fingering confines itself to two rows.

    That's why I asked how you fingered a C major scale, I wanted to see whether you played it on two rows or three. I'm surprised to find you unable to give an answer. If the whole purpose of the idea is to let you learn to play all scales by learning just one, then once you've actually gone to the trouble of building this contraption, you would surely have at least gone to the trouble of learning that one scale, and some chords, otherwise the construction project would have been without purpose. Would you consider building a fourth row?

    If you want to improve your keyboard skills, one of the ways is to practise scales and chords. Try it, and tell us how you finger them on your adapter:

    1) C major scale
    2a) A minor scale (harmonic)
    2b) A minor scale (melodic ascending)
    2c) A minor scale (melodic descending) - this will presumably be the same as C major
    3abc) C major triads (3-note chords) CEG, EGC, GCE
    4abc) C major (4-note) chords CEGC, EGCE, GCEG
    56abc) like 34abc but A minor

    You can't get completely away from theory!
     
  2. jjj

    jjj New Member

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    Hi rainer,

    I like to think that notation will greatly help me to learn the new Janko layout, because without it was pretty frustrating, because I failed to find the right key/ note. Thus, with notation I won't be anymore tapping in the dark. Later on, once my brain got the new pattern, I'll be able to play by ear.
    Why not F. G, A, B, C# major scales? The scale pattern is always the same, consisting of: 3 keys, then 4 keys up; next octave the same! Of course I'll be always starting at the bottom or middle row.
    [/quote]That's why I asked how you fingered a C major scale, I wanted to see whether you played it on two rows or three. [/quote] I suppose with that 3-row Janko it all depends in which row I start the scale.
    Sure, I could do that. Which 4th row are you referring to; a row above or under the 3 rows and what's the advantage?
    That's why I like to apply my notation. It allows me to get convert a piano tutor and also music sheets. My quest is to enjoy the easiest and fastest Kbd and notation layout to learn and play! That way I really won't need years lessons with a piano teacher or keep on practicing 22 more scales, its chord patterns and arpeggios. I leave it to professional musicians to enjoy the zebra piano and its notation. I can afford to benefit from progressive Kbd and notation layout. :D
     
  3. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    I've explained this. The Janko recommended scale fingering for right hand C major is to play CDE with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers, then to go down a row to play F with the 1st finger (the thumb), then you go up two rows to play GA with 2nd and 3rd fingers, down two rows to play B with thumb, and up one row to play C with 2nd again. If you follow that recommended fingering, it means your scale requires the use of 3 rows. If you only have 3 rows, then this pattern can be transposed only sideways, not up or down.
    Well, if you can play your scale using only two rows, that would be OK, but I'm not convinced that there exists a physiologically suitable fingering for doing that. If you play 3 keys, then go up for the next 4 keys, and down again for the next 3, and so on, then what fingers are you using to play these 7 keys? If, for example, you start with CDE with 234 in the middle row, you can't then go up and play F with 1 on the upper row because it involves too much physical contortion. If you play F with 1 it has to be on the bottom row. The question then is where you play the next notes.
    I was thinking above, but I don't think it's all that important whether it goes above or below. You already have two rows with FGAB in them, but only one with CDE, so that's the one you need to duplicate. If you've already glued the first 3 rows in position as low as they will go (that is to say nearest the player) then it makes sense for the 4th row to go above, if there is enough room to fit them in. It would be unfortunate if you had to rip the existing 3 rows up.
    No, that is illogical. How can a notation which is designed to go directly from printed representation to which button you press, deliberately bypassing awareness of what note is involved, help your understanding of theory? Especially if you want to play by ear, you need to know what notes and chords you are playing, independently of which buttons you press to obtain them!
    I don't know where you got that nonsensical idea from. For practical play-by-ear purposes most tunes are in a small subset of all possible keys, so you don't need to learn 24 scales (actually it's 36, but let's not quibble) and 12 major and 12 minor chords, etc, at all, you can get away with far fewer. Besides, even if you did want to learn them all, you don't need a teacher's intensive help with that. It doesn't take years, it takes weeks. Nevertheless, if you want to develop good technique, some lessons are probably going to be very useful. The trouble is that because this unusual keyboard layout is so rarely used, the chances of finding a teacher familiar with it are very slim. Technique, particularly advanced technique, on a Janko-style keyboard is going to be quite different from on a normal keyboard. I would go so far as to guess that many pieces in the repertoire which are quite challenging on the normal keyboard are very much more difficult on Janko.

    The conclusion is obvious: Without a teacher your progress will be restricted. If you limit yourself to Janko-style keyboard, you won't find a teacher. Therefore, if you want to make progress, you must abandon the Janko idea and embrace the conventional keyboard. For similar reasons, and others which I can go into if you wish, you need to learn and use conventional notation, this Klavarskribo is not as helpful to you as you may think. It will perhaps get you to a particular level quickly, but you will then be stuck at that level until you learn "proper" notation. So, far from saving you time, it wastes your time. I suggest that at your age wasting time is something you can ill afford to do.
     
  4. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Try 48! 12 minors x 3 versions =36, + 12 majors = 48. But for musician-pianists, there are more when counting the enharmonic spellings so as to make 60! Musicians actually think in either B major or Cb major, for example, as is necessary. :mrgreen:
     
  5. jjj

    jjj New Member

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    As mentioned, I don't have this 3-row Janko / Uniform Kbd anymore on my Roland D20, because at that time I had no appropriate notation for it thus, learning was pretty frustrating. Now I plan to build a Janko Kbd over my Yamaha Tyros piano Kbd and use my "self-invented" notation, which is WYSIWYG type of notation, just like Klavarskribo, albeit especially modified to suit the Janko/ Uniform Kbd layout. Because the Klavarskribo notation is made for the traditional, zebra piano Kbd layout. Have a look at Klavarskribo, here: http://www.klavarmusic.org/
    Weird that you think so, because Janko experts claim the opposite: "Moved by the desire to enable the amateur to execute the brilliant, but technically exceedingly difficult, essays of our modern composers, Janko constructed a keyboard of six tiers, one above the other, similar to the organ keyboard. On this keyboard tenths, and twelfths, can easily be produced by reaching a finger to the keyboard above or below that on which the hand is traveling. Arpeggios through the whole compass of the keyboard can be executed with a sweep of the wrist, which on the ordinary keyboard would hardly cover two octaves. Indeed, with the Janko keyboard, the hand and arm of the player can always remain in their natural position, because to sound an octave requires only the stretch of the hand equal to the sounding of the sixth on the ordinary keyboard. It is difficult to realize the manifold possibilities which this keyboard opens up for the composer and performer. Entirely new music can be written by composers, containing chords, runs and arpeggios, utterly impossible to execute on the ordinary keyboard. It is not nearly so difficult for the student to master the technic of the Janko, as to become efficient on the present keyboard." Source: http://archive.org/stream/pianosandtheirm00dolggoog/pianosandtheirm00dolggoog_djvu.txt
    With my notation Ill be able to convert traditional notation of various zebra, piano Kbd tutors and thus, enjoy "professional guidance".
     
  6. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Of course, but since the context is fingerings, I was deliberately not counting one of the minor versions because it consists of the same notes as the relative major, and can therefore in principle (though wouldn't necessarily always) be fingered the same.
    Only 60?
    Indeed, but this thinking wouldn't make them finger the scales differently, would it?
     
  7. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Sorry, I missed that. It's a pity you threw it away. It might have been better if you had designed and built the adapter to be more easily transferable between keyboards, provided the keyboards in question all conform to standard key widths. Then you would not be restricted to your own instrument, but if you were going to play at someone else's house, you could leave your instrument behind and just take the adapter with you.
    I already have done, and I have terrible things to say about that too, I just haven't started yet! :)
    They have an axe to grind, so their claims need to be taken cum grano salis. The claims of reduced difficulty seem in any case to be more related to span, and the keys being narrower, than to the changed layout leading to easier transposability.

    Here are two reasons why the Janko layout is potentially more difficult to play than zebra layout:

    1) Zebra keys are long, which gives the player the flexibility to make finger contact with them at any point along their length, to suit whatever position the hand is most comfortable in. Janko keys are short (they have to be for reachability reasons) and as a result the finger contact zone is much reduced in size, constraining the player's hand into potentially more uncomfortable shapes than they already can be with a normal keyboard.

    2) It is often forgotten how useful it is to have the black keys at a higher level than the whites. This provides tactile feedback of hand position, so that the player doesn't need to look at the keys so much and can concentrate on reading the notes. Without this orienteering aid, a Janko player is more likely than a zebra player to slam his chord down one or two keys to the left or right, or a row up or down, from where it should be.
    No, you won't. Your notation is designed (by you) to help you play on a Janko adapter. Your teacher, unless you are by coincidence lucky enough to find one who is a Janko expert, can't help you with that. A Janko piano (even without the key downsizing) and a normal piano are sufficiently different that many skills are simply not transferable from one to the other. Simply put, that means: if you are going to have lessons, you need to learn zebra, and if you want to learn Janko, you can't have lessons.

    Also, it isn't going to help if you and your teacher aren't "singing from the same hymn sheet". Lessons aren't going to be very productive if your teacher is working from conventional notation and you from your own, because teaching will often involve pointing out things on the sheet. You may end up teaching your teachers about your notation, but don't forget who is paying whom for the lessons!

    I'll say more about notation at a later stage, but KS notation is just so deficient in several important ways, that it will not do you any good in the long run.
     
  8. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    the lengths people will go to avoid doing the simple. It reminds me of Irving Berlin's piano: since he could not be bothered to learn the scales he had a piano constructed especially with seven pedals, one for each accidental, so that by depressing one pedal, for example, f became f sharp, allowing a D scale to be played with the same keys as the C scale.

    Or P. MacCartney, who needed a sidekick to write down his requiem, because learning to read music wouldd (in his mind) have reduced his creativity. What a great composer was smothered by this hard-headedness and we were left with a half-baked songwriter.
     
  9. jjj

    jjj New Member

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    I only put the idea of creating a Janko adapter into my PDF, in the hope some manufacturer picks it up and markets it.
    I wonder what's so terrible about Klavarskribo? I imagine... it doesn't conform to present standards and availability issues?
    Anything else? :?
    Zebra Problem: 1) Its Kbd layout is C-maj only. 2) Its black keys are only 1cm wide and it takes ages to get my brains programmed to that narrow error margin; whereas Janko keys are all equally sized at 2cm width; i.e. allowing for a generous 2cm error margin!
    Well, that's right: many/ most of the exercises required in a zebra Kbd tutor mightn't apply, because of Janko's simplicity. Yet, I will find lots of other useful exercise guidelines in it. Actually it might be fun to laugh the unnecessary exercises and payment to teachers away... :D
    KS is being taught at the conservatory of music in Holland. It must be that you know better or they are wrong?
     
  10. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    I didn't know that. He must have picked up the idea from the harp, which has seven 3-position pedals, so each of the seven notes (simultaneously in all octaves) can be flat, natural, or sharp. The harp of course has just 7 strings per octave. It must be the easiest instrument in the world to play scales on! :)
     
  11. jjj

    jjj New Member

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    Well, to me the lengths to which I'm prepared to go to avoid the complicated by doing the simple, is to embrace Janko/ Uniform Kbd layout, instead the traditional zebra piano Kbd layout. It's, because as a beginner I still can afford to make this choice, whereas you accomplished zebra pianists haven't got that kind of choice anymore. Please remember Rubinstein's and Liszt's evaluation of the Janko Kbd layout. My personal reason is: to acquire proficiency at the zebra Kbd takes at least 10000+ hours (or 10 years) of practice; i.e. at least six times longer than to gain the same level on the Janko!
     
  12. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I mean no disrespect, but if this 'system' is so great, then why has it not caught on yet? I have never heard of Janko and that other stuff you mention.

    @Rainer - scales on a harp...I can't imagine a harpest practicing scales. I thought they only play angel music.... :)
     
  13. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    They are wrong! What about Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Milan, Madrid, London, the Juilliard, and many others. What a sad day it is for music in Holland! That reminds me of the fact that some medical schools don't use actual cadavers to teach gross anatomy anymore (they're too expensive), just models and electronics. Do you want to go to a doctor that's never actually dissected the human body? I hope not. God help those poor Dutch conservatory students waisting their precious and limited time with musical espiranto. "There ought to be a law!" :roll:
     
  14. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    @JJJ: It's not a "zebra piano" it's a piano. Period. Save your adjectives and qualifiers for the oddity: the Janko and KS. Though some here have to play keyboards out of necessity, they all pretty much aspire to being pianists, thus the "Piano Society." Ultimately, any help that you might have gotten from this forum (where no one does or thinks like you), has been given you already. I think that rainer has gone far beyond the "second-mile." You and I (and I think the other members of PS) don't share a common langauge to engage in. Your purpose is diametrically opposed to mine, which is to discuss the making of art music by pianists and to enable greater understanding of the science of music in general and of pianism in particular. You need to find a forum for Jankoists. You in fact are NOT "learing the piano Kbd by ear" so anything that many here could have offered you about dealing with the topographical features of the piano, etc. doesn't even apply. <I'm feeling exasperated by this -- but can remember that I too have unfortunately had my turn at exasperating others. Sorry.>
     
  15. jjj

    jjj New Member

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    I'm sooo sorry for having upset you. Please be so kind to ignore my responds; just in case another member of your Piano Society still dares to address my concerns, after this posting.
    Q: Also, please advice me on how can I now cleanse (delete) all evidence of my presents in this forum. Thank you and once again, please forgive me of having met and for upsetting you. :oops:
     
  16. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Don't mind me. It's just my latin personality having it's way with me again!
     
  17. jlr43

    jlr43 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hmm, it's hard for me to know which poster on this thread had the biggest attack of verbal diarrhea. It takes one to know one :mrgreen:
     
  18. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Well, it's not what I meant, but that is also an important point which cannot be ignored. It is difficult for the market to support different competing formats, as we know from what happened to Betamax, where commercial pressures were more powerful than technical superiority. I think it is widely acknowledged that Beta was superior to VHS but still it lost out even though it already had high market share. KS has neither high market share nor technical superiority, but survives in a niche market of people who have been fooled into thinking it will make their life easier.
    Yes, I'll get to that later.
    That's not really true. You might as well say it's F# major only. I'm grateful to Richard for mentioning Irving Berlin, who apparently could not read or write music and played by ear. He only ever played in F# major because that was easiest for him because it uses all the black keys, which for him were easier to find and easier to strike. If he wanted to play in a different key, he used his transposing piano so that he could continue playing in F# major while sound came out in whatever key was required.

    Anyway, F# major is a particularly easy scale to play, much easier than C major, because it makes you use the appropriate fingering intuitively. In C major you have to force yourself consciously to make the thumb changes in the right sequence (not that it matters if you don't, but if you don't you get into bad habits which will catch you in other keys).
    This is a job for the fingers, not the brain!
    If you're talking about relative error margin (where one hand has to play several notes together, and if one finger is in exactly the right place, the other(s) might not be), then you can train your hands so that the fingers involved are the right distance apart (which will be a whole multiple of 1.37cm), but even with Janko you should really do that anyway, and aim to hit each key in the middle if possible. If you're talking about absolute error margin, for long distance leaps, then you must agree that the black keys are of immense help because the hand can feel its place before it plays.

    Talk of error margin raises an interesting point, by the way, namely that on the piano's white keys the "best" landing point for the fingers to aim for is not always the middle of the key. You need only to look at the key shapes to realise why. The ideal place to aim for (from the point of view of training the fingers to use the same distance multiple everywhere) is the centre with respect to the 1.37cm all-key spacing. But of course the white-key spacing is not double the all-key spacing, it is 12/7 of it, or about 2.35cm. The white key error margins are asymmetric. This is merely a consequence of how the geometry must work out. But you will just hold this up as another disadvantage! :)
    It's much less! The error margin is the maximum amount by which the centre of your finger can be off target (the target being the centre of the key) before there finger risks hitting any part of an adjacent key (the problem is not just hitting the wrong key instead of the right one, it is hitting the wrong key together with the right one). The error margin is half the key width minus half the finger width plus the inter-key gap. The key spacing should be 2.35cm (so if your keys are 2cm wide you must have a generous 3.5mm gap), and let's say your finger width is 1.4cm, so the error margin is 6.5mm.

    Now, to get back to what you said about black key error margin. With raised keys the margin must be calculated differently. How far off-target can the finger be before it risks to fail to operate the key in question? Well, an easier question to answer is how far the finger needs to be off-target before it will definitely fail to operate the key, and the answer is half the key width plus half the finger width, so that would be 12mm. Obviously we need to deduct an allowance to ensure we do hit it, but you can see that the margin is going to be about the same as for your Janko keys, and probably even a little more!
    The problem isn't so much that many of the zebra exercises are not relevant, it's the lack of Janko tutors and of teachers with Janko expertise.
    Are you sure? If you're referring to the KS Institute, I don't think that qualifies as a conservatory. If they're really teaching KS at conservatory, it must be either because they are trying to show everyone how bad it is, :) or because they are catering to the niche organist market which happens to be concentrated there.
     
  19. jjj

    jjj New Member

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    Actually, I agree with you, calling the beloved piano "zebra" is somewhat offensive (to a point that it even lions might mistake it for a new food source...). My Germanic personality is fairly tolerant and lacid. My wife congratulates me for having preserved that childlike (not childish) happiness, for over here in Chile most blokes (chaps) over 60 turn into "asquerosos lachos"!
     
  20. jjj

    jjj New Member

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    In my case it really makes my life easier, for it eliminates most of the theoretic prerequisites of traditional notation; i.e. I can immediately start playing it. It's almost like a piano roll and that's what notation should be and is.

    The present Kbd layout is C-maj only.
    Yes, agreed... thus, Janko has a multi-scale Kbd layout and the advantage is overwhelming.
    For some weird reason the black key piano keys made me develop a psychological aversion... Its black keys are only 1cm wide and it takes ages to get my brains programmed to that narrow error margin;
    Well, our fingers are controlled by our brain; not the other way around!
    Janko offers at least a bit more tolerance than 1cm.
    Watching at pianist's hand movements: their hand movements are that fast, that there just isn't time for 'feel its place before it playing the key". That means, they already trained to synchronize their brains and hearing with their their hands movements to the exact distances (of 1cm error margin) over the whole keyboard! Actually, after playing the Kbd a while it even happens to me beginner, for ...even a blind chuck finds occasionally a grain!

    KS is being taught at the conservatory of music in Holland. That what I heard. Here for instance is a qualified Klavarskribo teacher: http://www.blogger.com/profile/13772642971086708157 offering Klavarskribo lessons.
     

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