Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Piano is Young

Over the past year or so I have been developing a technical exercise for playing piano. The exercise revolves around building the independence of each finger. From what I have heard, not many pianists fully exploit the capability of the piano to allow for a player to sustain one or more notes while playing other notes of shorter duration. To do this takes a lot of coordination because some fingers have to be held down while others go up and down. That’s pretty much what the exercise is: a systematic way of holding down every combination of fingers while playing every combination of every other finger. It’s a pretty time consuming thing to do, but I’ve found that doing only small amounts really improves strength (if you would call it that) for playing more conventionally. The sostenuto pedal allows players to sustain notes while playing short notes and also re-engage in the sustained notes. This is also something that even in the most advanced piano music I have heard is only used as a momentary technique.

When all this is considered one might be able to remark at how “one note, then another note, then a another...” piano players actually are. Perhaps I am just ill informed and someone needs to lend me some CDs. What I am working on with the practice exercises is a balance of an over-all sound that incorporates sustained notes and long notes, which is hard to hear because long notes usually go with long notes and short with short (hope that’s not too much of a sweeping generalisation). But I really think that the piano can do a lot more than people have already done. That may seem like a bold statement, but I’m not saying that I will be the one to do it. I can’t do anything on the piano when you consider all the people that have sat at one before. All I’m saying is that I can imagine things. The techniques exercises are just a thing. Maybe if I take it to its greatest lengths I will touch the edge of what a human can do at the piano. Until then, I won’t know how effective it is.

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