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Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

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Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

Postby 1961TC4ME » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:04 pm

Hi all,

I've been jokingly accused in the past by a friend of having the 'stone hands' syndrome at times. I have always gotten very good advice here when it comes to questions about playing, techniques and so on, so thought I throw this one out.

Is there any particular method or practice I can or should use when it comes to making cord changes more quickly, accurately, and smoothly? I often look at videos of an organist seemingly making cord changes like they can do it in their sleep, so smooth and effortless, their hands just floating over the keyboards! Myself on the other hand? I sometimes have considerable trouble as I bang and stumble away making the move from one cord to another, it's like my fingers are tripping and stumbling over the sharps and so on. Some of my cord changes are not done in a smooth and fast enough fashion so as not to disrupt the timing of the piece, especially when the cord changes are a considerable distance from each other. It seems for me it's two things.... First perhaps I'm just worried in advance that I'm going to have an issue at the cord change, so yep, sure enough I do. So, it's partly confidence? Secondly, I've been told in the past that I need to just going over the passage I'm having trouble with 5 times and do it without a mistake or hesitation and I'v essentially learned it. Problem is I can sometimes go over and over the chord change and it does not seem to help, or at best over a very long time things very slowly improve, but I feel that the change is not coming quickly enough.

Any and all tips and advice would surely help.

Thanks!

Marc
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Re: Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

Postby Grant_Youngman » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:39 pm

Sloooooow practice …. increasing speed only when you can do it without missing.
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Re: Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

Postby mnailor » Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:55 pm

Are these chord changes legato? If so, have you worked out which notes are most important to hold in case you have to let some go a little early to make it work? That might be melody lines and harmonic leading tones and suspensions, for example. A perfect legato might not be possible for every hand shape and size.

Then, have you planned finger changes on held notes to help position your hand for the next chord when the move requires that? Take some notes with the other hand. And leading with the elbow a bit while letting your wrist bend sideways gently in the right direction can help. It isn't just about the fingers. Moving your arm as needed uses bigger muscles so it can reduce fatigue and tension. Don't get a rigid grip on the keys and be afraid to move fluidly. As said by previous poster, work slowly and don't push the speed into muscle tension or practicing mistakes.

In the nonlegato case, leading with the elbow and moving laterally, staying close to the keys, and practicing moving quickly but accurately (not fast enough to fumble or tense up) at the last possible instant can help.

Also look at the musical period and historical practices to decide if full legato chords are actually what the music demands. Before the early 1800s, legato would be unusual, with s slight break between chords at a slow tempo and more staccato at faster tempo. Later music might have legato as a sort of default, but even then articulated chords may fit the statement better. Oversimplified, yes...
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Re: Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

Postby 1961TC4ME » Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:24 pm

Thanks for the replies so far. Here's an example of a piece I'm currently working on. In the course of a week I've gone from not being able to play it at all to it's sounding half ways decent.
https://www.scribd.com/doc/234920088/Tu ... Lang-Organ

One area I'm having some trouble with is on the second page, the first 4 bars (left hand) which for me anyways requires some pretty wild cord changes going from 3 and 4 notes held along with some fairly contorted finger placements, and some jumping around to the next cords as well requiring you to land accurately. If it's a cord change where my hand is staying in one place and it's more a matter of moving my thumb and pinky as an example for the next cord, that I'm not having an issue with, it's the changes that require me to make a major move with my entire hand to the next cord, especially if it requires a bigger stretch such as an F-C-F or something like that. There's a few other spots (page 3, bars 3 and 4, more so the left hand) in this piece where you have to quickly jump from some wider stretches to some flats that I just can't play quickly enough to keep any reasonable time.

Marc
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Re: Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

Postby 1961TC4ME » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:53 pm

I've taken the advice of sloooow practice and it has helped. Sleeping on it overnight after working on the more difficult parts sure helps too! It's coming along pretty good, I basically now have the entire piece memorized. :D

Marc
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Re: Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

Postby mnailor » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:36 pm

In Anne Marsden's remarks about the left hand part (your link, after the score), she points out that the slurs only apply to the notes actually marked, and recommends small breaks between LH chords other than slurred notes. It looks like most of the slurs could be done by sliding the thumb, and playing the bottom unslurred notes of the chord detached. With legato pedal, of course. Maybe you're making it too hard. :D
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Re: Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

Postby 1961TC4ME » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:25 pm

mnailor wrote:. Maybe you're making it too hard. :D


Haha! When it comes to organ, it's ALL too hard! :mrgreen:

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Re: Faster, smoother cord changes - How?

Postby CWEB » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:58 am

Some good advice here already, but a few further thoughts:

Legato in English romantic music frequently indicates a desire for a general impression of legato rather than an expectation of actual perfect legato. The organist is expected to work out the exact articulation to get the best effect considering the music, the acoustic and what is physically possible.

There is also a potential confusion between legato slurs, and phrase markings.

This particular piece in question is of a lively character, conceived for a large organ in a probably a significant acoustic. It doesn't necessarily benefit from perfect legato which might make things too mushy. In the passage mentioned I would see those markings more as phrase markings. The main interest is in the melody. In the left hand make the non-slurred notes definitely detached, then the others will sound legato by comparison.
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