The First Principles Of Pianoforte Playing

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Is a so much rarer experience for the majority of individuals, than is the expe­rience of impressions caused by light;—shapeliness being conveyed to us through our eyes all day long.
It is owing to such comparative rarity in the experience of musical-sounds, that something seems actually accomplished when a Piano-key has been made to deliver some sort of sound—no matter how bad, nor how inappropriate !
A mere sound nevertheless no more constitutes musical-sense, than does a mere line constitute a picture when presented to the eye.
The moral hence is : that Sound-making only rises above mere tone-scrib-bling when we insist on guiding the requisite Units into a vivid musical-Drawing.
Note II. —For § 5, Chapter II., page 13. There are three distinct ways in which we can pre-determine a single sound. Three distinct forms of Practice result from this fact:
/: At a sufficiently slow rate of movement, we can give conscious attention to each note beforehand; consciously determining not only its Moment and Tone, but also consciously determining how it shall individually be obtained from the instrument. Such careful manipulation, demanding as it does a dis­tinct thought before each note, requires considerable time. It is the only way to learn new habits of tone-production. Hence arises the conviction forced upon most players, sooner or later : the need for really SLOW PRACTICE.
II: We can, at a quicker tempo, still consciously will the Time and Tone for each individual sound ; although we shall be unable at that speed to pre-realise the means of tone-production involved for each individual sound. Tone-production must obviously in this case be forthcoming as a previously-formed habit; Habit in this case stimulated into activity by the mere wish or direction for a particular sound-kind.
Ill: The speed may however be so great as to preclude our directing even the Time of each individual note by a conscious act of volition. The neces­sary "willing" has then to be relegated to a faculty we possess, that of semi-automatically Timing the inside components of note-groups.
It is a faculty of the ear and muscles, analogous to the one we use through the eye, which enables us at a glance to discern the exact number contained in a small group of objects, without our actually '' counting them up." ' We thus discriminate between the various sets of leger lines; the lines that consti­tute the difference between semi-quavers and demi-semi-quavers ; and the sets of lines that form the staves.
We can in fact at great speed, only " will" whole sets of notes. The notes and figures that belong to the Beats being known, the latter are kept in view, and the passage is thus steered along by their means. The inner notes of each beat are in this case merely felt as subdivisions of time leading up to each imminent Time-pulse. For instance, at great speed, groups of four semi­quavers, must be felt as three segmental points of Crotchet-Division, leading up to the beginning of the next Crotchet, or Pulse.
This learning to direct the minute subdivisions of Time by means of this semi-automatic or unconscious faculty, forms a very important detail in a Performer's Education.
Camille Stamaty, one of the teachers of Liszt, constructed a whole school of Technics—much superior to "Plaidy"—keeping this necessity in view; the suggestive title of the work being: " Le Rhythme des doigts."
1 It is paid there have been show-men who have trained this faculty to the extent of being able to distinguish at a glance the exact number of balls thrown down, up to about thirty t
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III