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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:36 pm 
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Don't be like that ! You are one who is willing and trying to improve. I am only suggesting what might be a quicker and surer way do achieve this. I know it helped me a lot to take some years of lessons again.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:27 am 
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Richard - I'm fairly new here but for what it's worth I really do hope you stick around. I've enjoyed many of your recordings, and I feel your work and forum participation would be missed greatly. I of course don't know your whole history here, but I think it would be a real shame (for PS and you) to let a few discouraging submissions overshadow the many positive experiences you've had.

I'm still feeling my way around the acceptance criteria as you may also be, but I do sympathize with the admins in what must often be a very difficult job. Your comparison with the "try to please everyone and end up pleasing no one" Aesop fable was clever, and I can understand how you could get this impression from the posts. I really believe the admins and members were honestly doing their best to offer meaningful advice. One unfortunate yet unavoidable reality of online forums is that we're limited to written communication, a form wrought with misinterpretations and misunderstandings of tone/intent.

I think this is one of the points Chris was making when he suggested a private teacher - that for a few of the pieces such as this one it may be less frustrating for you to receive immediate, real-time, and [most importantly] face-to-face feedback.

As an artist on this site who has published many very good recordings, you are clearly a very musical and capable pianist. Everyone here could likely benefit greatly from a capable private teacher, which may or may not make sense for you personally at this time. I believe you have on several occasions acknowledged the improvements you've made since joining the site. Keep your chin up and I look forward (with my fingers crossed) to see you bounce back from this disappointment very soon.

Sincerely,

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:07 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Don't be like that ! You are one who is willing and trying to improve. I am only suggesting what might be a quicker and surer way do achieve this. I know it helped me a lot to take some years of lessons again.


Oh, I am not miffed by your suggestion of a teacher by any means: I just feel that having submitted This Arietta maybe 15 or 20 times, Scarlatti 4 times, Scriabin 5 times, Schumann 6 times and so on, I really cannot be the pride of this society. Add to that Monica's desire to take some of my recordings down. Well, we do agree there: this is what I am trying to do too, but not quite that way.

Right now could not be a worse time for lessons, really: my wife is on the dole, my job, thanks to the efficiency of the local government, seems to have evaporated (it seems almost certain no dough will be handed out this month), the lease of the house is up in 3 months and we still have to eat and find money to pay for our daughter's ballet lessons, the piano rental and Internet. And, of course, I have the usual band of desperadoes wanting me to pay what I owe them!

By the way, has anyone read this comment of mine? viewtopic.php?p=53685#p53685

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:50 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
I just feel that having submitted This Arietta maybe 15 or 20 times, Scarlatti 4 times, Scriabin 5 times, Schumann 6 times and so on, I really cannot be the pride of this society. Add to that Monica's desire to take some of my recordings down. Well, we do agree there: this is what I am trying to do too, but not quite that way.


Seems you implying that I am a villain here. Between your first postings of Arietta and then these here, I probably have spent a couple hours listening to you and offering comments and suggestions to help you improve! It is only this one recording that I took down and you know the reason. Let me remind you that a short piece like this Arietta needs to have not only correct notes, but rhythm too. It could very well happen that someone out there - perhaps a beginning piano student, or maybe someone just interested in the Lyric Pieces - randomly selects your Arietta recording. Since you know that your rhythm is off, then you can't possibly feel that it's okay for your recording to be the example that correctly represents the piece, right?

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:54 pm 
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richard66 wrote:
Oh, I am not miffed by your suggestion of a teacher by any means: I just feel that having submitted This Arietta maybe 15 or 20 times, Scarlatti 4 times, Scriabin 5 times, Schumann 6 times and so on, I really cannot be the pride of this society. Add to that Monica's desire to take some of my recordings down. Well, we do agree there: this is what I am trying to do too, but not quite that way.

By the way, has anyone read this comment of mine? viewtopic.php?p=53685#p53685


Actually Richard, I think there needs to be more members like you here :) It's one thing for the more experienced members to post recordings. While their love for the music is apparent, for me it's somewhat expected that they'll produce recordings. Playing the piano is what they do. I think it takes a lot more guts for you, as a less experienced pianist, to submit recordings here, and I admire that. Also, your passion for music clearly shows in your playing, and I've truly enjoyed your recordings (even though I've offered criticism :wink: ).

Yes, recording and practicing can get frustrating. But you shouldn't think of how tedious it all to make all those recordings. Instead, you should look at all the progress you've made. I think your recordings of Arietta show a lot of improvement, and you should be proud of that.

I read your comment. While I agree that there will almost always be small errors in performances, I don't think that was the issue here. Your one large problem (the rhythm in one or two measures) was distracting even without looking at the score. Also, you have to remember that to the more experienced members, what may seem like a tiny issue to you is actually a large problem to them. Last, I think you walked into somewhat of a trap with this piece, one which isn't your fault but is just how things are. Grieg's Arietta has got to be one of the more popular piano pieces out there, and I would bet that all of the active pianists here have not only played it but have heard it countless times. There will be high expectations for a recording of Arietta. And there's the issue of it being deceptively difficult to play extremely well, as it requires a light, controlled touch. But I'm not trying to discourage you here. As I've said before, I think you've got something solid to work with that just needs a little fine tuning.

That being said, I'll pm you a few pieces that I think you would like in case you want to take a break from Arietta for now.

Don't give up playing and posting here, Richard!
David


Last edited by dctpianist on Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:32 pm 
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I can only concur with David's words here. Very well said.

A good suggestion to take a break from Arietta. One learns a lot from polishing one piece to perfection, but it should not be overdone. With the progress you made now, you can leave it fallow for a while and return with a fresh mind, to be surprised at how much better and easier it feels. I think that will produce the version that everybody can be happy with. In the meantime, refresh your soul with something else, something that is not as well-known and vulnerable.

As one of the "more experienced members" let me add that it does not always come easily to me either. There are many pieces that drive me to despair and seem to resist all attempts to get them perfect. And then when I think I'm there, someone will rightly point out there's notes missing, or voices not brought out, or too much pedaling .... and back to practice I go. Most of the times. Sometimes nobody complains and yet I'm still not happy with it. Gotta be your own worst critic...

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:28 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
richard66 wrote:
I just feel that having submitted This Arietta maybe 15 or 20 times, Scarlatti 4 times, Scriabin 5 times, Schumann 6 times and so on, I really cannot be the pride of this society. Add to that Monica's desire to take some of my recordings down. Well, we do agree there: this is what I am trying to do too, but not quite that way.


Seems you implying that I am a villain here. Between your first postings of Arietta and then these here, I probably have spent a couple hours listening to you and offering comments and suggestions to help you improve! It is only this one recording that I took down and you know the reason. Let me remind you that a short piece like this Arietta needs to have not only correct notes, but rhythm too. It could very well happen that someone out there - perhaps a beginning piano student, or maybe someone just interested in the Lyric Pieces - randomly selects your Arietta recording. Since you know that your rhythm is off, then you can't possibly feel that it's okay for your recording to be the example that correctly represents the piece, right?


No no, you are not the villain. I am the first to admit that recording on the site was bunk; hence my wish to replace PDQ. But truly, would it not be better to take the Schumann down too? I meant it!

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:31 pm 
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You know, David, I had no idea the Arietta was at all popular. The only version I have ever heard of it and that maybe 3 times (2 through the link Monica posted) in my life and mind you, I have been playing it for 20 years now.

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:34 am 
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I listened another time to the Gilels version yesterday that Monica pointed out to me. Of course, if I were to invite him to come over for dinner (his spirit, at least!) he would have done a very good job, but not like his recording. I mean that the ultimate limitation is the piano itself and the recording apparatus.

Anyway, I tried my hand at it again with the clock stopped, but the three-year old girl present, so I fear a small amount of noise is present. This was one take, with no editing apart from clipping the ends, hiss removal and reducing the amplitude of the left channel.

I gather that one channel being louder than another is a problem with Audacity. They mention it on their help page and suggest normalising, but I find that ampifies both tracks to maximum (You commented on that the other day, Monica - by the way, answering you: I place the recorder on a sofa behind the piano, with the microphones perpendicular to the strings and with middle c between the right and left ones.)

One interesting observation that my wife made and I noticed too, is that, even though my version is the faster of the two, mine seems slower.


Attachments:
grieg-12-1-willmer.mp3 [1.66 MiB]
Downloaded 125 times

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Richard Willmer
"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
Oscar Wilde: Impressions of America: Leadville
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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:32 am 
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Your tempo here is much better, Richard. I like this version except that the bars with the two quarter notes are still incorrect. You are not holding out the second one long enough. I know the piece is written in two, but maybe if you play like it's in four and pretend those quarter notes are half notes, then I think it might be easier to get them right. So just start from the beginning while thinking 1-2-3-4-, those four G eighth notes in the first bar - pretend they are quarter notes. Then when you get up to bar 10 you'll play two half-notes, 1-2, 3-4.

As far as sound quality goes, this is good. The hiss level is low. I'm still not getting enough sound out of the RH, though. For an experiment, maybe you can try moving your mics off center where you have them now, and putting them closer to the high end.

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:01 pm 
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Richard - I'm glad to see you back on this piece with another go at it. I hope this doesn't offend, but I attached two items here that may help you visualize the rhythm issues in bars 10 and 12.

I loaded your MP3 into Nero WaveEditor, and took a screen capture of bar 10 so you can see the length of the two quarter notes. The first quarter is the correct length I believe, and as you can see the second quarter note is held quite a bit short - making the entry into the next measure sound premature.

Again just for illustration purposes, I did a copy/paste towards the end of the second quarter note to artificially "extend" it to approximately the same length as the first note. You can hear the ugly patchwork - audio editing is not my area of expertise - but hopefully it will help you compare.

Lastly, I attempted to do the same thing for bar 12, where I did two (ugly but hopefully illustrative) edits. I extended the length of the dotted quarter note, and slightly decreased the length of time before the ornaments leading into the next measure.

I hope this helps. You actually have a very good "internal" clock overall I think. In these two small examples, it's the longer notes at the ends of phrases that tend to get truncated a bit. :wink:


Attachments:
File comment: MP3 Modified in Nero WaveEditor. Bars 10 and 12 edited.
grieg-12-1-willmer_MODIFIED_EXAMPLE.mp3 [1.23 MiB]
Downloaded 108 times
File comment: Bar 10 Illustrated Quarter Notes
Bar10_QuarterNotes.jpg
Bar10_QuarterNotes.jpg [ 122.01 KiB | Viewed 1309 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:20 pm 
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I must say here I did not count at all: I simply felt. I did, however, count the recording and that seemed to be correct, so I suppose I must add a bit of rubato there. For the right hand, I really need to get a good piano and play on it (and record) to see if this is me who cannot subdue the left hand or if it the piano that allows for little dynamic contrast. It might be the latter, as I also have practised and recorder umpteen times a Bortkiewicz piece where it is the Left hand that has the melody and even though the right hand plays two octaves above middle C the only way I can make the left be heard is by playing it forte, which, of course ruins the delicacy of the piece. Yesterday I also recorded Grieg's Elfin Dance and, even though I thought I had observed the pps and fs, when I listened back all was forte.

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:41 pm 
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Richard, I've got a fair bit of sympathy for you, because my teacher has given me a really hard time over rhythmic issues over the years; he's been completely right to, but that doesn't make the process any more pleasant.

Like you, I'm not a big believer in metronome use, but sometimes it really is necessary to either use one or to rigorously count out the music at the shortest unit contained within it, in this case at the semiquaver (16th note) level. The problem with rubato is that, unless you are a person of unusual gifts, rubato should only be applied AFTER the piece has been played strictly in time. In other words, you should be playing the music in strict time (metronomically, and yes, unmusically, if necessary) before rubato is brought into the equation. You can't use rubato as a self-defence mechanism to excuse not playing in time. Trust me, I know, I've done it, and it doesn't fool the pros.

I'd recommend to you that you do count through your recording (IN SEMIQUAVERS), as an experiment. Do it in as unemotional a manner as possible: you might be like me and prone to "counting with feeling: One Two Three-eee Four" , and see what you find. I don't have the best rhythmic sense in the world, but regarding the debated bars, I find that you are late on the 2nd crotchet in bar 10, and then finish it too early. Bar 12 seems pretty much ok to me: there are questions of musical taste and judgment regarding shaping the grace notes, but in purely rhythmic terms I think you're in time. (Btw, count 12341234 [or 12342234 if you're being clever] for each bar, not 12345678, seven has two syllables and distorts the counting!)

Regarding the musical aspects of your playing, I think you're doing quite well on what is obviously some distance from the best instrument in the world. You've managed to capture an element of the vocal aspect of the melodic line which can't be easy on that piano. One suggestion I'd make is regarding the hairpins in bars 1/2 and 3/4: you're playing it a little bit like note, note, accent, note when they would benefit from more shaping. I think you've made a fair bit of progress with this and I applaud your patience.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:11 pm 
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Let me say, Richard, that I'm glad that after you had considered throwing in the towel, you've decided to persevere after all.

The tempo is much better again now. It's also good that (apart from the usual problem bars, which I'll get to below) the continuity of timing is now really rather good, but (and there always has to be a but, alas), despite the fact that you do appear to be thinking in longer lines now (which is good), you must nevertheless not neglect the shorter sub-lines. They need a bit more separation than you are giving them. You should not produce this separation by inserting gaps, as you did previously and which I referred to as making time, but instead by cutting short some notes to allow you to snatch a breath without breaking the rhythmic continuity, which I referred to as taking time. Imagine you were singing the top line along to a karaoke machine which plays the accompaniment with mind-numbingly robotic precision - you need to breathe, but without losing sync with the machine.

What I mean is places like the boundary between bars 2 and 3, or bars 4 and 5, etc. The continuity in the middle voice (semiquaver accompaniment) is lovely, but it would be better if without losing that, you could give more of a sense of separation in the upper voice.

I found your RH too harsh in previous recordings, and you seem to have toned it down, which I sense as a big improvement. I don't know why Monica seems to disagree, it could be because she's using headphones and is finding a channel imbalance. I'm using speakers, which may mask that aspect, and I feel that the treble/bass balance has improved.

What oh what are we to do with bar 10 (and its equivalent bar 20)? You really do need to count this, and not rely solely on feeling it. As Monica says, your second chord there is too short, but actually this fact is made all the more apparent by the first chord being too long. I blame all this on the syncopation in the second half of bar 9. This seems to encourage you to make an unintended rubato, speeding up, then slowing down, and so when you arrive at the beginning of bar 10 you're still under speed (this is what makes the 2nd chord late) but catching up (which makes the beginning of bar 11 SEEM early (it IS early but seems more so relative to the semiquaver pulse which a listener has had to readjust to upon hearing the chord come late, though it is probably not far off dead on time on a broader scale - the lateness of bar 11 being almost the same as the earliness of bar 10.5). One practising tip which might help here is if you were temporarily to change the RH rhythm in bar 9 from 16th+8th+16th to 8th+16th+16th (same as the first half of the bar). The aim would be to help you count the 16ths in your head in bar 10.

Monica's suggestion of counting the whole piece as 4 pulses to the bar instead of 2 has merit but is not without danger. For one thing, it may still be too coarse (not fine enough) because you almost need to count bar 10 in a very fast 8, and on the other hand counting in 4 works against the broader lines you must aim for in the rest of the piece, where you almost need to think more in a slow 1 than a moderate 2.


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 Post subject: Re: Grieg Arietta anew
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:41 pm 
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Richard wrote:
I must say here I did not count at all: I simply felt.

Andrew wrote:
Like you, I'm not a big believer in metronome use, but sometimes it really is necessary to either use one or to rigorously count out the music at the shortest unit contained within it, in this case at the semiquaver (16th note) level.

I do understand and certainly appreciate this, Richard. As Andrew mentioned, and I'd bet most players agree, the metronome is also not something I enjoy (to put it gently). :shock:

Personally, and this may branch from my lack of formal training in piano pedagogy (except on the receiving end), I'm quite diffident about specific preparation practices. I'm sure this metronome topic has been beaten to death in numerous threads on this site, and likely by pianists/teachers much more knowledgeable than I.

For me, I use the metronome as a tool only when I need it - applied to specific sorts of passages to correct undetected (and inappropriate) tempo changes. I also, and others may differ here, never use it early in the learning "life cycle". For me I will have progressed on the piece considerably, learned all the notes well with some definite muscle memory kicking-in, and am beginning to focus more on musical aspects before I consider introducing a metronome for areas I feel need it. Typically I use the metronome in short spurts, as required.

I don't think you were implying that everyone who utilizes a metronome as a tool doesn't play with their "heart" or with "feeling". I do think perhaps sometimes this is true, and it is quite easy to detect IMO in the final result. I set the metronome aside well before any performance or recording, so as not to interfere with the real goal - communicating the music itself!

Whatever the method - listening back to recordings, tick-tocking in your head, taping your toes, or a metronome - I do firmly believe applying some rhythmic discipline is a necessary step on the path to good playing.

Matt

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