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Turning my legs from very low to very high

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Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby sesquialtera » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:12 pm

... or turning my legs from left to right side of the pedalboard.
Hello all.
How do you manage to quickly go from the left side of the pedalboard to the right side while playing ?
(or from right to left ? )
I'm trying to learn JSB prelude & fugue in g minor BWV 535.
http://imslp.org/wiki/Prelude_and_Fugue ... bastian%29
(but I've already encountered this problem in other pieces ... )
In the fugue, bar 55, page 118, third line, in the pedal part, there is a two octaves jump from low D to high D, so I have to quickly turn both of my legs from side to side, but my hands are on the keyboard, so I can't catch the bench to do this. I'm sure the wrong way is to press the keys very hard and tense my fingers to push on them and lift my ass and turn my body...
Do I need to put some oil on the bench ? :P
Can you give me an advice, please ? Thank you in advance.
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby josq » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:00 pm

To my knowledge, non-legato pedal playing is often perfectly acceptable for Bach's music, so you may play all high notes with your right foot only. Toes only seems to be the rule for Bach's music.
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby engrssc » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:11 pm

Oil on the bench is a large no - no. Some well meaning (I think) church cleaners a while back thought the console (including the bench) needed some wax. WOW. That was a mistrake. :o :mrgreen: :roll:

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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby sesquialtera » Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:24 pm

Thank you for your replies.

@Josq : I fully agree for the non legato, it is far more beautiful,
but toes-only* seems more difficult ... anyway, I'll try the begining of this pedal line with the right foot only.

(toes only seems to be the rule ? Who can be sure Bach did'nt use his heels ? )

@engrssc : this could be great for playing "glissandi" ...
"What was that sound ? Did you play a new modern piece with strong cluster chords ? "
" No, I've just fallen from the bench !" :wink:
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby josq » Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:48 pm

Haha that would be a glisssssando in a double sense...

Sesquialtera: do you mean it is hard to reach the highest pedal tones anyway, in that case maybe the organ bench is a bit too high?

I don't know if there is baroque literature about pedalling technique, probably there is?
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby CWEB » Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:45 pm

It's one of the more awkward aspects of organ technique. And just when you've got it, a change of console or even trousers puts a spoke in the wheel!

There isn't a single straight answer - it's quite an individual thing. But a few general thoughts....

Getting the correct bench position and posture is prerequisite.

Doing a full 'twist again' is a last resort - as you've realised it is almost impossible to execute without grasping hold of something solid. Instead consider yourself a lever, working around a pivot which is your two arse bones (excuse my French). If you want your feet to go right and forward, then your upper body must go left and backwards to maintain balance. If you also shift the weight onto your left buttock you will get a degree of rotation of the legs without that awkward twisting movement. Afterwards you can easily restore normal posture by simply bringing everything back to a neutral position.

I think it also good at these moments to remember you have more time than you think. Bach does nothing by accident, and at these moments a degree of rhetorical pause or breath often makes musical sense as well as being technically convenient.

I don't think using heels will help much in this particular instance, but I wouldn't rule it out for the sake of it. I seem to think there is at least one account suggesting Bach did use heels in his pedalling. I stand ready to be corrected. Either way, Bach was an innovator and I find it inconceivable that the great man would insist on toes only technique on a modern pedal board regardless of circumstances.
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby robsig » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:35 am

I just saw your post so I am a few weeks late to reply. I have short legs so your question is one I have thought of a lot. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.

1. You have to practice the shifting just like you practice anything else. It requires muscle strength so it is something that is acquired over time. Sometimes you can use your hands on the keys, but sometimes not.
You can practice moving vigorously and quickly as well as slowly and not so far. Practice with and without the hands and go a little further than you think you need.
2. It is very important to wear pants that grip and slide just the right amount. I have specific clothes which I wear for the organ which maximize my control of the pedal.
3. I have a graphic sign which I write on the score to indicate where to move (a vertical line like an "l"followed by an arrow to the right or left.) I write it in exactly the place I need to shift. It's amazing how easy it makes certain passages to have the shift programmed in to your playing!
4. I make sure to move from the bottom of the torso and to avoid initiating movement with the head or neck. I have had problems with a pinched nerve in the neck which radiated to my arm, a very expensive and prolonged proposition, to be avoided at all costs!
5. Pick a short piece with lots of shifts as an exercise, maybe something from the Orgelbüchlein like Wir Christenleut'. Move more than you have to, just for practice.
6. Warm up physically before playing with a few stretches, like a skier would. The effect is amazing!

By practicing my pedalling in this way I have been able to learn pieces I never thought I could, such as trio sonatas, the Gigue Fugue, In Dir ist Freude, and especially the Fugue in g minor BWV 542. For me the important thing has been to not skimp on shifting but to do it consciously and amply.

Keep us posted on your progress!
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby engrssc » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:07 pm

You might want to consider:

https://www.gosale.com/compare/0769250440/2#

Rgds,
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby Bartfloete » Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:39 am

I can only stress what robsig pointed out. I was taught to play exactly that way, I even use the same sign in my music to indicate shifts. Just two additional remarks:

- jeans are bad for turning
- keeping your knees and feet together helps very much as a serious of small shifts is easier than a big one.

Michael
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby adri » Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:53 am

North German baroque organ pedal boards were narrower than, for example, Silbermann pedals which were laid out wider. This already makes a big difference. Needless to say the Northern boards are better suited for virtuoso pedal solos and passages.

The notion that Bach and his contemporaries only used toes is not historically accurate. Dutch organist Stef Tuinstra has a paper on this (but I have not seen it, but he talked about it with me personally). Heels were used he asserted. Don't you think that organists did whatever suited them? Isn't that the same story today?

Sweelinck and others were said that use "unusual" fingerings. There are some historical guidelines and general rules, but hard rules? No. Likewise, the feet were more free than we sometimes think, which is purism taken to extremes.

Tin Koopman only plays toes, but that's because he never learned otherwise early on, and now he is stuck with it; this he asserted himself. Funny but true. He also acknowledged that heels were used in Bach's time. So he is not clueless, only heel-less. :-)
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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby Bartfloete » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:20 am

I can only support Adri's view. Here are a few articles supporting heel use, unfortunately only in German:

David Backus, Gudrun Kopf: Bediente sich Bach einer "Weichschuh-Technik"?
http://www.musikundtheologie.de/33.html

Stef Tuinstra: Versuch einer Rekonstruktion von Bachs Pedaltechnik (Teil 1)
http://www.bartfloete.de/shared/1405_Stef-Tuinstra_Rekonstruktion_Bach_Pedaltechnik.pdf

Stef Tuinstra: Versuch einer Rekonstruktion von Bachs Pedaltechnik (Teil 2)
http://www.bartfloete.de/shared/1501_Bachs_Pedaltechnik.pdf

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Re: Turning my legs from very low to very high

Postby adri » Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:36 pm

Well Michael, you found Tuinstra's article! Fantastic!!! Will be a good read!


T H A N K S ! ! ! ! :D
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