The First Principles Of Pianoforte Playing

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Note XVII.—For Note to § 28, Chapter XVII, page 186. Slightly more Weight than has been described under the two forms of the Resting, can under certain exceptional conditions be continuously applied in finger-passages, both Staccato and Legato. That is, the fingers can carry such slightly-increased load without harm, provided the speed of the passage is considerable, and yet does not exceed a certain limit, and provided moreover, that the individual fingers are used with sufficient vigour in forming the short-lived " Added-impetuses " against the keys;—for the exceptionally vigorous momentary action of the fingers, will in this case prevent such additional weight from actually reaching the key-beds. The process is analogous to the action of the legs in running: for in this case our body is kept floating off the ground by the rapid succession of jump-like acts delivered against it by the legs—a fact that can easily be demonstrated by Snap-shot camera.
In such exceptional touches, we can therefore employ a slightly increased weight (or slight hand-pressure, as the case may be) borne by the successive fingers, and as it were kept floating (away from the key-beds) by the aforesaid sharp, individually-aimed (and ceased) exertions of the fingers. The weight (or pressure) must however never be greater than the fingers can thus keep in a "floating" condition, by the rapid succession of their momentary " kicks" or impacts against the key-beds.             Provided the Weight thus carried does
not exceed a soon discovered limit, we thus obtain a running form of the "kick-off" Staccato, already described; this is suitable for certain bright, brisk, but forte Staccato-passages.
By a slightly different adjustment of the continuous weight versus the briskly stepping finger, this kind of technique can be transformed into a softer but legato form, or even into a Legatissimo, such as we often meet with in Beethoven.
The extra weight thus continuously carried, misrht preferably in this case be provided by a slight, continuous activity of the Hand and Fingers, rather than by any extra arm-release. For the slight continuous pressure, thus produced by the hand and fingers, levers arm-weight continuously on to the keys at will, and the weight is thus more directly and momentarily modifiable, and more elastic, than would be the case did we relax the aim sufficiently to obtain the full amount of weight necessary to induce the effect of Super-legato, for instance. This gentle, added Hand-pressure is therefore particularly suitable to induce the over-lapping of the sounds required in the super-legato inflections of Legato. We here have the "artificial" legato, already several times referred to. To distinguish this from the natural, or Weight-legato, it might be termed a " pressure-legato.'*
No passage should however be attempted in this form of technique unless the speed is ample to admit of such "pressure" being kept in the floating state described, otherwise stickiness is bound to ensue. The cumbrousness of it, also precludes the employment of this form of technique beyond a soon-reached limit of velocity.
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