The First Principles Of Pianoforte Playing

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THE ACTIONS AND INACTIONS.                           75
Fig. 11. —Faulty action of the two front phalanges of the finger, showing th" result of these being exerted with greater force than the Knuckle-phalanx—which should be the main working-lever of the finger.
The Staccatissimo.
Besides the passive Staccato so far considered,—a Staccato induced and as -sured (a) by insisting on the continuous Resting-weight being so attenuated as not to compel the fingers to continue working beyond the moment that sound is reached, and (b) by insisting on accurately timing the cessation of each fin­ger's action; besides this natural Staccato, there is also a forced kind,—a Staccatissimo, in which the key-bed is as it were "kicked" against by each finger.
While the raising-muscles of the finger and hand are not required in the natural Staccato, we find that in this " kick-off " Staccato they do come into operation in a slight measure. But even here, they must under no circum­stances be directly willed into action. If we do try to " will" the raising of the limb, we shall only succeed in causing stiffness in its action. This is owing to the fact, that the raising-muscles must not commence to act, until the very moment that the dmm-action of the limb is completed, with the beginning of sound ; and it is impossible for us wiE-fully to time the raising muscles with accuracy, at the very moment that the downward ones cease their work. Hence the raising-muscles must here again be taught to act only in strict response to the suggestion and impetus derived from ths rising key itself in its rebound. We must therefore only think of "kicking" against the key-bed—an act analogous to the one of jumping, and the raising-muscles must act in auto­matic response to the felt rebound of the key ; and coming thus into oper­ation automatically, these will do so at the necessary moment. It is in this way that should be obtained this more rarely used, sharp and acrid form of Staccatissimo; and it is immaterial, in rising off the key, whether it is the finger, the hand, or the arm that is driven up.
The sharply accented initial staccato note, characteristic of a good Mazurka theme, may be cited as peculiarly appropriate for the application of this " kick-off " Staccato, and it can also be applied to staccatissimo running pas­sages of an incisive nature. As it can be formed into an excellent test for the employment of finger-and-hand force without the faulty arm-force, this mat­ter will be more fully dealt with in Chapter XVIIL, " the Tests," etc.
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