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Need some suggestions with the following. Chopin Waltz in a minor - measure 21

I am playing the first 3 notes - E, G♯, B with fingers 1,2, and 4, then I am shifting my hand, then playing the next octave up with the same fingering.

The problem is, it sounds like a set of 3+3 notes, rather than a continuous sequence. I am still learning, so maybe it will sound better with time, but wanted to make sure I wasn't doing anything fundamentally wrong...

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  • A group of 5 can be split 3+2 or 2+3. If you can play it while thinking of the B as the "centre" instead of thinking of the E as the centre it may help. Try not to accent any of the notes between the start and the final B though. BTW I found 1-2-3 easier than 1-2-4, but it's whatever works.
    – Peter
    Oct 15 at 12:02
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You're not doing anything fundamentally wrong. I use a similar fingering for this passage: 1-2-3.

The key element to making it sound like 5+1 rather than 3+3 is making sure you don't "fall" onto your thumb on the fourth note of the 5-tuplet. The hand shift to the biggest, heaviest finger will tend to put an accent on that note. So practice slowly, paying attention to the evenness of tone/volume across the tuplet, with the emphasis occurring on beat 3.

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When you practice scales, you should also practice arpeggios. Practice 4 octave arpeggios as 16th notes.

For most hands, 1-2-3 is better because you should be moving your thumb under while playing the 3, just as you do with scales.

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    How does practicing 4-octave, 16th-note arpeggios help with putting the proper emphasis in a 5-tuplet?
    – Aaron
    Oct 14 at 23:28
  • @Aaron - it breaks the improper emphasis of emphasizing every 3rd note. (If someone sees a good way of saying this in the context of the answer, go ahead and edit it in.) Oct 15 at 2:07
  • It teaches emphasis of every fourth note. I've tried to cover this in my own answer. I'd value your opinion on whether it gets the point across sufficiently.
    – Aaron
    Oct 15 at 2:10
  • 'Moving your thumb under' is not the whole movement. In fact, getting the action right hardly need the thumb to go 'under'. When only that happens, the likelihood is that the OP's problem occurs. It's not the problem of dropping the thumb on a note within a tuplet, but keeping the whole hand moving laterally, so the thumb plays its note with no more or less volume.
    – Tim
    Oct 15 at 10:58
  • @Aaron - a good exercise to eliminate problems like this one is to play 3 or 4 octave arps, but emphasise, for example, the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, etc. notes - then even it all out - as is expected from any good pianist.
    – Tim
    Oct 15 at 11:02

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