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Questions and Answers.

[Our subscribers are invited to send in questions for this department. Please write them on one side of the paper only, and not with other things on the same sheet. In Every Case the Writer’s Full Address must be Given, or the questions will receive no attention. In no case will the writer’s name be printed to the questions in The Etude. Questions that have no general interest will not receive attention.]

F. J. McD.—A. This position (stroke position in scale playing), although not constantly used in playing, is not on that account to be neglected in practice, for its influence is beneficial.

B. You are right; play the wrist touch with a supple hand, wrist, and arm.

C. In artistic playing, contraction and tension of the muscles are in constant alternation. There is necessarily a certain degree of muscular contraction at the moment of touch delivery, followed instantaneously by extreme relaxation, after which comes recontraction, again succeeded by relaxation, and so on in rapid alternation.

D. See “Touch and Technic,” volume I, page 15, last two lines at the foot of the page; also the first paragraph at the top of the next page, 16.

The flexing of the fingers in rapid passages is necessarily slight, indeed almost imperceptible. It is, however, very desirable, because, first, it produces a beautiful tone and prevents the telescoping of the tones; second, it strengthens and limbers up the flexor and extensor muscles, from finger-tips through knuckle-joints all the way up to the elbows.

A. H. B.—Placing the thumb upon the black keys should be avoided, as a rule, both in scales and arpeggios; but there are very many exceptions to this rule, and a modern technic requires the ability to play arpeggios or broken chords in the three positions of all the triads in every key, with the same order of fingering used in the C major or minor triads, as well as the arpeggios of the diminished seventh chords and alterations resulting from the changes shown in “Touch and Technic,” volume III. Thus the thumb must be at home on the black keys as well as on the white ones.

J. C. K.—In teaching sight reading and a knowledge of the keyboard, try Landon’s “Foundation Materials,” if your pupil is a beginner. This book is easy and interests the pupil, and at the same time it is thorough.

Y. K. A.—There is a great variety of classic and standard compositions arranged for the piano and reed organ played together. Send for lists and prices. We can not send them on selection, as they are from foreign publishers, and therefore imported music.

T. L. K —An amateur orchestra of violins and one or two wind instruments can get as easy music as is desired. If fairly good players we can furnish almost any possible combination of instruments, and music arranged for any number of instruments.

 I. G.—When playing two pianos together, place the keyboards in line, as if one continuous keyboard of 14 octaves, the pianos to be as near as possible without resting together in actual contact. The first piano is to be next the audience.

T. K. W.—If you have only violins, and no ‘cello is to be had among the players in your town, use a reed organ for the ‘cello part. It is an excellent substitute, and if in the hands of a player of taste he can often fill in parts with fine effect, especially in crescendos.

R. K. F.—Your piano should be tuned at least twice a year. But be sure you employ a competent tuner, and then keep the same one; for when the piano is changed from tuner to tuner they are inclined to let the pitch get too low.

T. M. A.—Ques.—Our choir is inclined to drag the time when singing the hymns, and the congregation drags still more. When the leader is trying to sing faster, shall the organist keep up with the leader or still go with the singers?

Ans.—If the leader really leads, the organist should keep up to the tempo set by the leader. But the best thing to do is to give out the tune at the tempo in which it is intended to be sung, and then keep that tempo regardless of choir and congregation. But give due notice of the fact in rehearsal that you shall do this, and ask your minister to exhort his congregation to sing faster, and to tell them that the organist, in giving out the tune, is doing it to show them the tempo, the pitch in which to sing, and what the tune is. It will soon bring singers to time if they understand that the organ goes at an unflinching tempo.

T. U. G.—In giving out hymn tunes you can secure a pleasing variety by playing without the pedal bass, just as written, upon the manuals. By playing an obligato pedal, the melody upon solo stops with the accompaniment on the other manual. By pedal obligate,— that is, playing the bass exactly where it is written,—playing the melody on a single manual, using an eight-foot stop an octave lower than written, say the dulciana, the melodia, or stopped diapason, this produces a tone resembling a male voice; play softly on another manual the chord harmonies. The melody can also be given out as above, but couple with it a soft four- or two-foot stop. Some organs will allow the bourdon, soft reed, and a soft two-foot. Of course, any agreeable combination is allowable in solo work. But the harmonies must be played in unison with the voices to prevent cloudiness and obscurity if the pitch is too low, and to prevent thinness if too high.

M. H. S.—In teaching Handel’s “Twelve Little Pieces,” call the pupil’s attention to their construction,—how the melodies change from hand to hand, that they have motives and themes which change about. Make more head than finger work of them.

A. W.—In beginning a hymn tune, put down the pedal bass first for about the time of one count, then all the harmonies together. At end of the stanzas remove the fingers from the soprano downward; but do it rapidly, letting the sub-bass be heard just a second alone. If your moment of silence between the stanzas is about a measure in duration, let up the pedal tone; but if you make a short wait between stanzas, it is best to keep the pedal note going as a connecting link. It is not good taste to strike the soprano key first, and it is not good taste to let it remain the longest. All high tones that we associate with harmonic support must have that support; and to take or leave a soprano tone first, puts it up in the air without foundation. It also advertises the fact that the organist thinks his choir is so poor that it can not get the right tone for a starting without this special help to the sopranos. To start and to stop with full chord, sub-bass included, is too abrupt in effect for good taste.

W. R.—The tone and action of the reed organ are entirely unlike those of the pipe organ. The kinds of music which sound best on each are entirely unlike, although each style can be played on each instrument. Neither is the right kind of reed organ music at all like piano music. Here is right where the great mass of teachers on this instrument utterly fail. The reed organ is A REED ORGAN, not a pipe organ, nor yet a piano. A good piano player learns the pipe organ easier than a reed organ player of the same grade, as a general thing. The pedals of a pipe organ are from two to two and a half octaves of keys, corresponding to the black and white keys of the keyboard for the hands. The organist plays the bass notes of a composition upon them. “Banks” of keys are better called manuals. A three manual organ has three sets of keys, or keyboards, for the hands.

Many compositions that are in a minor key end with a major chord. This was the old rule.

M. A. T.—Children should not try Bach’s easiest pieces before the fourth or fifth grade of Mathews’ “Graded Studies.” They are difficult for the fingers, harder for the ears, and hardest for the brain; much more so than most teachers seem to think. Teach pupils the major scales, two or four octaves, in plain, contrary, and other forms; not those which are too complicated, however. Meantime, keep them at the D-flat scale for technical perfection, as directed in volume II of Mason’s “Touch and Technic.” In their work on the D-flat scale demand fine art effects. Read what is said about the scales in Landon’s “Foundation Materials,” on page 78. Your last question will be answered in another column, entitled Pupils’ Musicales.

I. L. F.—Ask your publisher or music dealer to send you a good book of organ voluntaries, describing what you want and what your instrument is. You should study harmony systematically before trying to teach it. This can be done successfully by correspondence. See advertisements about this in The Etude. When your pupils need more and better music, if their parents do not want to give it, you should get it and furnish it yourself at your own cost, for no teacher can afford to have his pupils waste time on worthless and uninteresting music. His reputation will suffer too much and his pupils be too much hindered and discouraged.

Fidelio.—Lebert and Stark are too prosy and uninteresting for young pupils of to-day. Try Landon’s “Foundation Materials” for up-to-date work. They go with Mason’s ” Touch and Technic,”—in fact, were written to study with Mason’s work. You will find many fine pieces of music in the music pages of The Etude. Or, if you will send us your full address, or if you are favorably known on our books, we will make up packages of music as near what you ask for and describe as our extended experience will enable us to do. We send out thousands of such packages every year. Try Macdougal’s “Melody Studies” and Presser’s “Instructive Albums” for good teaching pieces of formative and interesting music. Personal questions are not answered in this column.

C. A. R.—There is a little book published called “The Story of Mozart’s Requiem,” by Wm. Pole, which will give you the information you desire. Price 40 cents.

L. E W.—“Each key of the pianoforte is a semi-tone from that which is next to it, whether it be a white key or a black one,” means just what it says. From a white key to a black one, or vice versa, is a semi-tone, and from a white key to another white one, where there is no black one between, is also a semi-tone, as from B to C, or E to F.

It is right here that the difference between a major and a minor scale comes in. If you will notice, you will find a major scale has a half tone between three and four, and seven and eight; while a melodic minor scale has halftones between two and three, and seven and eight. Of course, these intervals in the minor scale change descending.

L. E. W.—The rules of harmony allow one to jump from one position of a chord to another. In such a case it is not a resolution, but simply a change of position.

E. J. D.—It is possible to gain a vague knowledge of “form” without being familiar with harmony; but it is like studying the forms of versification while ignorant of the rules of grammar. The knowledge that is satisfied with the outside of things is of very little value. “Form” is a growth, the only way to understand which is to know thoroughly the process by which it has arrived at its present development.

A. F. A.—A poor tuner can do a piano no other injury than to put it out of tune, unless, in his clumsy efforts, he breaks something that can not be repaired—fortunately, a difficult thing to do to a well-built piano.

The broken chord ends on the third, so that an extension of the hand, without raising it, will enable the thumb to reach the root again.

All chords, whether major or minor, that have no dissonant added, are called independent; because they are under no necessity to move in any prescribed way.

Pure harmonic structure is another name for strict counterpoint.

It would take too much space to give a full account of the harmonic cell, but it may be described as consisting of a fundamental and its perfect fifth, with the various thirds over the fundamental that are possible. The harmonic heptad (not heptachord) is the union of two cells, the fifth of the lower being the root of the upper. A harmonic decad consists of three cells united in the same way. The whole subject belongs more to the science of acoustics than to the art of music, which, in its present stage, is absolutely bound up in the tempered scale.

C. D. A.—1. You will find a very good explanation of Beethoven’s “Pastorale Symphony” in Upton’s “Standard Symphonies.”

2. Mozart’s “Jupiter Symphony” you will find for two hands in Litolff’s Collection, No. 316; four hands, No. 337.

3. Haydn is called the “Father of the Symphony.”

 

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