The First Principles Of Pianoforte Playing

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NOTES TO PART III.
99
Besides the possibility of thus producing Legatissimo inflections by slight Hand-pressures, we may also in similar manner produce such inflections by slight pressures, sufficiently continued, but derived from the fingers alone. Such un-aided finger-pressures, are the ones most suitable for the legatissimo inflections of light running passages.
The truth will here become clearer to us, how all extreme Agility-key-treatment must as a matter of fact be purely staccato. Owing, however, to the extreme speed employed, the Ear cannot detect any Staccato, since the "damping" of the instrument cannot be prompt enough to permit any actual separation being exhibited between the sounds, when they occur in such close succession. In practising such passages slowly, it is therefore futile to practise them Legato, since the attainment of the desired speed depends so materially upon the accuracy of their Staccato production.
In this connection it behoves ua to remember, that the Wrist-joint must ever remain absolutely free and flexible ;—in proper touch there should never be sufficient down-pressure upon it, to prevent its being so. In the first two species of technique (where the finger and hand alone act against the key, while the arm remains self-supported) the Wrist-joint is indeed in a condition so elastic, that it is almost on the point of being driven off the keys by the rapidly recur­ring, short-lived actions of the finger and hand against the keys—whence we see the reason for insisting on the constant practice of the third of the " Mus­cular-tests " described in Chapter XVIII. The wrist should consequently feel as if it vrerefloattng in space, in spite of the perhaps quite vigorous finger-and-hand exertions against the individual keys, —exertions, which must of course be so fleeting, and must be so carefully timed in all Agility-touches as to vanish before they induce the slightest impeding action against the key-leds.
We can in fact often suggest the correct muscular-attitude here required, by simply insisting upon the Wrist-joint remaining absolutely free,—free almost to the rebounding point, as just described, owing to the upward-recoil kicks re­ceived by it at each sound-consummation. It is also well to remember, that all action must here seem to end either at the Knuckle, or at the Wrist-end of the hand,—such action being there felt as an up-driving one, from the keys upwards against the knuckle and wrist,—and such action being individualised for each sound, and as short-lived as the shortest Staccatissimo always proves the act of tone-production to be in its nature.
IN-CORRECT VERSUS CORRECT FINGER-TECHNIQUE The Contrast between the Xon individualised and the Individualised Finger.
Note XVI.—To §§ 4 and 18, Chapter XVII. The distinction here in ques­tion, is the one between (a) " stickiness" of finger, with its un-rhvthmical passages, and (b) fluency and ease of finger, with its clean-cut, rhythmically definite passages—with every note perfectly " placed " and evenly sounded.
The point that should be enforced, is, that the fault can usually be traced to the employment of defective muscular-conditions, which in their turn render it impossible for the sufferer wilfully to direct his fingers in quick passages, either as regards Time or Tone.
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