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I am learning to play "raindrop keep falling on my head". In the sheet I have there are in the base line there are tenth interval that I simplified into thirds:

My questions are:

  1. Is it very noticeable when I play the piece that I did the above change?

  2. Should I have bring the top notes of the intervals down, instead of moving the bottom notes up?

  3. This is perhaps a silly question: but why did the arranger decided to put such difficult intervals?

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For the first notes of the third bar shown (G Bb F C) you could play the Bb with the right hand; that makes the stretch 8+1 for the right hand instead of 8+2 for the left. Not much better, but something. –  Matthew Read Apr 18 '12 at 21:03

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It will absolutely be noticeable, because the arranger wanted to have a clear, deep bass line. Moving the line up one octave removes that effect. Now, if you did play your variant, nobody would stand up in the back of the room and shout "YOU'RE PLAYING IT WRONG". But having the deep bass line is fairly important in this music.

You should, if at all possible, avoid changing the arranger's notes. In this case, it means playing the bass note separately from the rest of the chord. Wheat describes how to 'roll' the chord, but in this case, I'd recommend more of a jump; play the bass note an eighth beat early, sustain with the pedal, and then jump to play the rest of the chord on the beat. This avoids altering the rhythm of the melody line, which I personally prefer. Wheat's suggestion will put a little bit of a delay in the melody, which will yield a more schmaltzy (to use the technical term) feel. The choice of which to use depends on the sound you prefer.

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You can play the wider intervals in the left hand by holding down the sustain pedal, striking the lowest note on the beat, and then "rolling" to the higher notes in the chord slightly after the beat by releasing your finger on the lowest note to move your hand up to strike the highest notes if necessary. Of course you should release the sustain pedal when the chord changes, and lower the sustain pedal again for the next note sequence.

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This is my take on the questions:

1) If you know the written notes, then yes it is noticable. Does it matter? I don't think so. You will still convey the message.

2) No. A third interval (A, C) that low is running the risk of sounding "muddy". Instead you could move the C an octave up into the right hand (that now will play three notes), while playing just the plain low A with the left hand. (And in the third bar you could play the Bb an octave up toghether with the C and F in the right hand - listen and decide if you think it sounds alright :-)

3) Probably because it does sound better than my suggestion in 2), as well as than skipping the lowest note as you did. Chord voicings with the third (such as the C in the Am chord refered to in the question) and/or the seventh fairly low and the root and/or the fifth on top generally sound good. And having a low root is probably desireable here in order not to sound too "light". However I'm not sure it was a good decision writing it this way here since it provides difficulties for many performers. I might have chosen my suggestion in 2).

Happy playing!

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