Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Yes, I've Been Practicing

Yes, I've been practicing. I just haven't been posting. So here's a quick post, then I need to get to work on my novel critiques for class.

Lately I've been focusing on the Bach Prelude in C#-major. This is the "deceptively easy" piece. This is the piece that is "ridiculously easy" compared to its companion, the C#-major fugue.

Thing is, a lot of things are "ridiculously easy" compared to the C#-major fugue.

The Prelude is tricky. It's complex in places. It's miraculous. It's moving. It's Bach. 'Nuff said.

I can play it through, at a relatively slow tempo. I know this piece very well--I've marveled at the simplicity of the chords and progressions, I've memorized the fingering as well as I've ever memorized anything, and I've played individual measures and sections a million times.

If it were simply a matter of playing the notes, I would be 80% there, with "tempo" as my primary remaining goal.

Ah, but like the fugue, this piece requires ambidexterity (is that a word?). The hands keep switching roles, and they volley their louds and softs back and forth like two musicians trading solos in a jazz performance.

How hard can it be to switch dynamics from hand to hand? Not that hard ... if you're playing scales or something else that you've done so many times that it comes naturally.

So that's what I need to do with this piece. Keep playing it, emphasizing the dynamics, emphasizing the melody line, emphasizing what needs to be emphasized, so many times that the movements are natural. They have to be so natural that I don't have to think about them when playing the prelude at tempo, because there won't be time to think.

I've set a goal for myself to be able to play this piece (probably not at tempo, but with all of the dynamics in place) for the group piano class the Friday before Thanksgiving. So, if I can manage to start posting diligently to this blog again, I'll be doing quite a few updates on the prelude.

Other matters ... Arpeggios have started to sound good. I no longer feel like Luck is the reason I play them well. I'm starting to feel a sense of mastery. (Of course, that sense, as always, will vanish as soon as I move the metronome up a notch!)

Scales are sounding good, too. I'm enjoying them so much. I've been working really hard on using my arms, keeping my hands close to the keys, and not making my fingers do all the work.

The fugue is going well, I guess. I've spent the past week getting it back "up to snuff"--I can play the entire first 2/3 of the piece at a decent pace, but it doesn't sound polished. So I'm working on polishing (just a bit) before I take on the final third.

Liszt is sounding great. I love Liszt. This week I'm listening to recordings and thinking about how the pros manage to play it without sounding bored at the quasi Violoncello section.

Shostakovich and Haydn are on deck. They'll be there a while longer, but that's OK. I'm having too much fun with Bach and Liszt anyway.


Anonymous said...

You said it well, Waterfall, on arpeggios. When playing is by control rather than luck -- serious progress. My thought on the JSB prelude -- is all in the, gasp, gestures!

Anonymous said...

You might prefer the Lazar Berman version of the Schubert, instead of the Horowitz one:
/Users/jamesmalley/Desktop/05 Schubert-Liszt 1.mp3

Anonymous said...

Heheh, I just found this blog. And I wanted to wish you the best of luck on the Bach :) You see, I'm playing the same prelude and fugue as well, except mine is for my exam repetoire.

Anyway, keep working at it :)