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35 against 4... etc!


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#1 EllieD

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 09:03

I'm hoping to have a go at the Chopin Nocturne (Posth.) that was on the 2017/18 Grade 7 syllabus. In this (as in many (all?)) of Chopin's Nocturnes, there are some runs in the RH of varying numbers of notes against a steady LH.

 

Obviously in the piece I'm referring to, there's some 3 against 2's, and obviously you play those straight - three even notes against two even notes, and that's quite easy. Also 5 against 2, clearly that's also five even notes.

 

But 17 against 4? 35 against 4? I am guessing at my level, fitting the notes into the quavers works fine, i.e. for 35 against 4 you'd do one lot of 8 and three lots of 9 - but do "proper" pianists do that? Or can they really do 17 / 35 / whatever completely even notes against 4 quavers?

 

 

And as an afterthought, what's the hardest of these cross rhythms anyone's tried? Say a 7 against 5 or something? Anyone come across that type of thing?


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#2 corenfa

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 09:18

The few I've played were as you said- uneven groupings and rubato also worked in to it. I think it would sound very odd if played metrically.
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#3 Nine and a Half Fingers

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 10:04

Beethoven's 32 Variations on an Original Theme (WoO 80) has some examples. In Var 31, there is a bar requiring three lots of 7 in the right hand against three lots of eight in the left, and variation 32 several bars demand two lots of 7 against 10 with one of 8 against ten. Not sure how one plays it in a "classsical" way, to be honest.

 

There is also the tricky rhythm of the "Doppio Movimento" section of Chopin's F# Major Nocturne Op 15/2 which I have never been able to master. Daniel Baremboim makes a pretty good job of it here ....


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#4 fsharpminor

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 10:25

Chopin has these in several Nocturnes, the F# Major is the worst.  Most of them I find OK.  The Dflat has  group of 48, but as its against a LH of 12 it fits, though maybe not intended to be strict 4 against each LH note, as you have to rubato a bit to get them all in.

As far as the C#Minor OpPosth  goes  (There are 2 in C#minor), I think thats tough to be set at Grade 7, it often used to be in Grade 8. Cant understand why it was Gr 7, whilst the B Minor Waltz was recently in Grade 8  (I reckon its Grade 6/7)


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#5 Invidia

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 10:46

The standard advice I've had for complex cross rhythms is 
1) decide on fingering first so that you can play each hand separately up to tempo
2) try not to think too vertically- remember there is a melody to phrase (it's not an isolated scale/technical exercise!)
3) if you're going to use rubato then plan it around your phrasing ^ e.g. if you are coming to the end of the bar/phrase then it might actually sound more natural to play 9-9-9-8 with a slight rit.
 
It's something you get better at the more you play them. 
 
The worst piece I've played for cross rhythms is Dai Fujikura's Deepened Arc. It's like an etude for cross rhythms- you have things like 5 against 7 with added grace notes, and in places it goes onto three staves so you get 5 over 4 over 3!

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#6 ejw21

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 14:29

Whilst I can do more basic polyrhythms the Posth Nocturne has got the better of me in the past! (not played it recently). EllieD, there are some articles and videos online.

 

How about 

Article https://practisingth...pins-fioritura/


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#7 HelenVJ

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 14:36

Thanks ejw smile.png. I was going to mention Graham Fitch. He has written some great online articles as well.

I could never cope with the mathematical approach - I'm more of a 'just fling it together and see what happens' kind of player.
To Ellie D I would recommend nailing some easier 2 against 3 / 3 against 4 polyrhythms first. There are some approachable Mozart Minuets etc, and Grieg's Notturno. My students do scales in polyrhythms both ways round, and a metroome can help to start with (but never those 'nice cup of tea/not very difficult' phrases, which take no account of balancing melody and accompaniment).
This is a far cry from the more advanced nocturnes, but it's good to get a basic grounding first.


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#8 EllieD

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 08:32

Great tips and advice everyone! I will listen to everything you've suggested. Love the fact that Beethoven himself had some bonkers cross rhythms! Looking forward to listening to that!

 

In preparation, I did find an otherwise nice and easy Haydn with some 3 against 2 in it, and it's a lovely feeling when you suddenly realise you are just playing it, rather than counting it, so hopefully harder pieces will eventually come together like that too.

 

I'll see if I can find something else to try before embarking on the Chopin if it is more Grade 8 than 7, I think - well, I'll see what my teacher thinks too!

 

Thank you everyone!


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#9 agricola

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 12:00

One I find hard is Samuel Barber 'Excursions' no 3 (which is a sort of cowboy song).  It has quite a lot of 7 against 8, 5 against 6 and 5 against 8 with dotted rhythms.  I think it's hard because it does have to be played metrically, unlike Chopin where you can start off a bit 'hit and miss' and gradually adjust the rubato until the two rhythms mesh together fairly fluidly.  

 

With Chopin I usually start by playing the long flourishes as melodiously as possible -- he often includes written out turns, chromatic runs etc which can be adjusted to fit the steady LH part.


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#10 EllieD

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 07:39

Well, I've started it! Definitely doing this one with the help of my teacher, not sure I'd know where to start on my own. So getting the LH secure first. How can something be so beautiful when you get goosebumps just playing half a piece? smile.png

 

And of course I am making a start on the 35 against 4 as the speed of that is just incredible - a quick calculation and you need to play a RH E Major scale about 3 or 4 times faster than Grade 8 …. OK, possibly that bit is a little out of my reach, but no harm in trying! And it does sound so lovely when played by the professional pianists.


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#11 EllieD

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 11:02

PS - Does anyone have any tips for practicing these sorts of very fast scale passages? Anything that would help would be appreciated!

Also if anyone has the Grade 7 book for 2017/18, does it have any helpful advice for it in the notes? I already have the piece from an anthology, but sometimes the editor's notes in the ABRSM editions say useful things.

 

That all said, I've just listened to some Youtube videos and EVERYONE cheats!! They all slow down - a lot!! Wonder if Chopin did .... wonder if Liszt did ... (Liszt probably speeded up at that section and added a few ornaments to the E major scale just for fun smile.png ).


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#12 ejw21

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 13:19

Hi EllieD, I'm sure I've read somewhere about slowing down super fast passages - sorry I don't remember where! Re practising them, have you tried at a slower speed and using dotted rhythms, which apparently helps with smooth runs. I'm sure there are some videos on the Pianist Magazine youtube page about this sort of thing... 


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#13 EllieD

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 21:16

Thank you Ejw - I'll see if I can find the videos. And I'm practicing it just a bit at a time, little and often I think is the order of the day. It is interesting how much some of the pianists slowed down in that section - well, it still sounds lovely so it's all fine with me! I need to aim for consistency and fluency rather than speed I think.

 

My teacher helped me with the trills in my lesson today and putting those in is just a total joy. Pieces like this are exactly why I wanted to learn the piano in the first place! 


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