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Aug
26
comment Are short fingers detrimental to becoming a pianist?
Thanks to anonymous reviewer for the correction: Josef Hofmann, not the other Josef.
Aug
17
comment How are note durations named in the British system?
The OED does only give English examples, being interested in when a word crossed over from French or Latin or German into English, not when it first appeared in the original language. "Maxima" and "minim" no doubt have a long history in Latin, probably going back to the earliest mensural notation. "Crotchet" and "quaver" sound English to me.
Aug
16
comment How are note durations named in the British system?
It appears that "semi" was all there was for more than a hundred years until someone added "demi", and I don't know how many years went by before "hemi" appeared. See the citations in my long answer. If my language knowledge is correct, "semi" is Latin, "demi" is French and "hemi" is Greek. Examples: semicircle, demitasse, hemisphere.
Jun
16
comment Why is the piano such a commonly used instrument?
Reed organs sound "churchy" and are associated with little old ladies and hymn-singing. They are OK for some of the maudlin songs of the late 19th century like "In The Baggage Coach Ahead" and "She's More To Be Pitied Than Censured" but those songs went out of style. Ragtime and fast dance music just don't work on a reed organ. (Mine is a 1906 Estey, about as standard as they come.)
Mar
8
comment playing softly - full grand piano
Yes, each key needs to be separately adjusted. There are leather and felt pads involved, which pack down over time, and are sensitive to changes in humidity.
Mar
2
comment Were the Goldbergs meant to be played in one go?
Rachmaninoff wasn't so lucky. He wrote the Eighteenth Variation (as featured in the movie "Groundhog Day").
Jan
17
comment How does a piano go out of tune?
Mr. Boy: Did you ever play a 12-string guitar?
Jan
17
comment What is actually involved in moving a piano?
What damage can you do moving an upright piano? The answer is simple: you can do a lot of damage to your floor!
Dec
9
comment How does your brain learn to play the piano two-handed?
There are other skills that require this sort of coordination between the hands. Juggling, for instance. Eating with a knife and fork. Cutting hair, with a comb in one hand and scissors in the other.
Oct
6
comment How did “Mary had a little lamb” become popular blues?
I don't know if this is what started it, but it's the song the teacher assigns in Chubby Checker's 1959 novelty record "The Class".
Sep
15
comment Piano performance: slippery keys due to sweat of previous players
Yes, come to think of it, you may have to deal with your own sweat from the piece you played just before intermission! Now if you need to wipe off the keys between movements, I think you'd better do it yourself. It would look just as strange to call in the stagehand in the middle of your set as to wipe the keys yourself before you started playing your first piece.
Sep
12
comment In “All we like sheep have gone astray,” are we laughing with Handel or at him?
But never a joke entry about the Bible, God, Jesus or any other sacred matter. The conservative establishment took religion extremely seriously. A joke in a secular Handel opera would not be out of place. A pun in a sacred work, like F# instead of F on the word "cross" (kreutz: sharp, cross) is fine; Bach did it all the time. But that's an erudite pun, not a silly pun.
Sep
12
comment In “All we like sheep have gone astray,” are we laughing with Handel or at him?
The problem is not that "we" is accented, which is almost certainly intentional; it's that "like" is nearly as strong. Try singing "For God loves me" to the same notes: it fits perfectly.
Sep
2
comment What do you learn in music colleges, for drums?
Adding a note: My roommate was another percussionist, very talented as an orchestral percussionist and composer, but his main love and strongest talent was jazz drumming. Classical music history and stuff were not what he needed. The school did not offer classes in jazz history, jazz theory and jazz notation, and although he knew most of that coming in, these are things he should have been able to concentrate on. He switched out of music after a couple of years; I hope he eventually got back to it. Don't wait too long to determine that your school is not the right fit.
Jul
12
comment How important is to reach the bottom limit of the key when pressed?
It's more about whatever works for you, given what your piano can do. If you can play pianissimo by pressing the key just until the escapement flings the hammer, you will be using less motion in your fingers and you can play faster. I don't have that much finger control.
Jul
6
comment Should pedals be used when playing classical piano music?
@BobRodes: The piano of Beethoven's time had a pretty good sustain, not all that much shorter than a modern piano. You can play 3 of them at the Frederick Collection in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. It appears that Beethoven liked the effect of all the notes sustaining. He compared it to the sound of a voice in a very reverberant vault.
Jun
26
comment Piano scale and arpeggio fingering technique: Thumb Under vs Thumb Over methods
How do you play legato with TO?
Jun
23
comment Why must the final bar complete the anacrusis?
Counterexample: Beethoven Symphony number 5, third movement. The movement ends with a transition to the finale, and the last measure of this transition has the full three beats. The finale begins on beat 1 and the last measure is a full measure. There is just no place where the beat could be left out.
May
6
comment How does a piano go out of tune?
Iron bars were added in the early 19th century, and the full cast-iron frame was invented in the 1830's. Except for historical reproductions, all pianos made after about 1860 have cast iron frames. Even so, string tension is so high that it distorts the frame a tiny bit. If you lower the pitch of most of the strings, the remaining strings will go sharp and may even break.
May
6
comment How does a piano go out of tune?
A piano that has been played hard for years but never maintained will have very hard hammers, and thumbtacks create a very similar sound, as BobRodes says.