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Four/five note chord troubles

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Four/five note chord troubles

Postby elgoosey » Thu May 25, 2017 9:35 am

Hello,

I am having trouble with four and five note chords in the left hand particularly. Finger substitution seems impossible to get ready for the next chord and sometimes they are awkward changes, say a chord around middle C then requiring one starting at for example bottom G. Now in my mind perfect legato is impossible for such a situation and there will be a disconnect between the series of chords. But is this acceptable or is there a way for legato performances?

Regards
John
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Re: Four/five note chord troubles

Postby IainStinson » Thu May 25, 2017 11:40 am

Music needs to breathe, and must be phrased intelligently. Unremitting legato, where there are no breaks in the sound, is rather like speaking without any breaks for breathe Which is necessary for the listener to understand the words being spoken. Unremitting legato playing can be very boring for the listener, it can make it hard to understand the music. An unremitting legato style is probably why some people not enjoying listening to organ music.

I would suggest thinking how you are going to phrase of the music and then work out the fingering once you know where the breaks in the phrasing are to occur. Work on the fingering after you've worked on the phrasing. In some scores, where there are no phrasing marks, you can look for the natural breaks in parts (which often can be found where there are big changes in position of the notes) to find the end/start of phrases. Think about singing the score, where would a singer take a break?

Legato playing is an important skill and many of the organ tutors have sections on developing a legato style of playing: the old Stainer Organ Primer has pages of exercise including chordal substitution exercises. For hymn playing a legato style is important, but again this needs to be phrased to reflect the text of the hymn being accompanied.

Iain
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Re: Four/five note chord troubles

Postby elgoosey » Sat May 27, 2017 6:29 pm

Thank you. That is certainly something to think about and try next time.

Regards
John
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Re: Four/five note chord troubles

Postby Patrick Larhant » Sun May 28, 2017 2:34 pm

Jean Langlais said something like "There are moments when you simply cannot play all the voices legato. In this case, try to play at least one voice legato, if possible the one which is the most preeminent".
hope it may help :D
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Re: Four/five note chord troubles

Postby John L » Wed May 31, 2017 6:09 am

IainStinson wrote:Music needs to breathe, and must be phrased intelligently. Unremitting legato, where there are no breaks in the sound, is rather like speaking without any breaks for breath...Iain

This is exactly what my organ teacher has been drumming into me. When I was learning to play the organ for the first time, way back in the 1960s, I seem to recall that the traditional playing style was very much legato. Somewhere along the line that changed and I think, now I understand (and can actually play!) what my teacher is saying, for the better. Very often a big chord seems to sound better with some breathing space around it.

John.
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Re: Four/five note chord troubles

Postby elgoosey » Wed May 31, 2017 6:20 pm

Hi all,

Thank you everyone for the comments and suggestions made. They are really helpful!

Regards
John
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Re: Four/five note chord troubles

Postby organsRgreat » Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:36 am

To elgoosey: If you want to hear a superb demonstration of articulation in Bach, have a listen to Simon Preston's recording of Bach's transcriptions of the Vivaldi sonatas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saMWpMMPuu0

The first movement of the A minor concerto at 11.02 shows what I mean particularly well. Preston is an absolute master of appropriate articulation – he is equally in control playing romantic music on an English organ:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OpPMUeLj9E

I can confirm what John L says about organ teaching in the sixties – that's when I was learning, and there was indeed a great emphasis on legato. As we have developed a better appreciation of baroque styles, a more detached way of playing has been understood to be more authentic and effective. This has affected all instrumentalists – violinists, for instance, now use a more detached bowing style for baroque repertoire.

But in any era of music, articulation and phrasing are two of the essential ingredients of good organ playing – Peter Hurford is quoted as saying “the difference between a fine performance and an indifferent one may only be milliseconds”.
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Re: Four/five note chord troubles

Postby telemanr » Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:22 am

Certainly the reverberation time must be considered. The Vivaldi would be a complete muddle if played anything close to legato in a reverent church. But a typical dry North American church requires something different.
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