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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.]

H. P.—The best authorities say that, when the last note of one measure is chromatically altered, the accidental will also affect the first note in the next measure, if on the same degree, even if the accidental is not repeated.

L. S.—No, the exercises in Landon’s “Reed Organ Method” should not be given in the order there placed, in many cases, for pupils are very unevenly gifted. Practicing with separate hands is for making it more easy and simple for the first few readings. Other pieces are recommended to be played with both hands at the first trial, because the time difficulties only appear when both hands go together; and, too, they are easier to get correctly when measured off by the help of the even-note values of the other hand.

J. L. P.—The first exercise of vol. I of Mason’s “Touch and Technic” gives the same trouble to nearly all players. That is, they lift the finger, holding down the key when the next finger is striking, instead of keeping the key down, thus having two keys down at once. The following suggestion will help them in their first practice: While holding down the first key and when about to strike the second, press down on the first key as if playing it the same instant with the new key. It is also useful to fix the attention on a full and unrelaxed pressure on the first key while the second is being played.

B. F. O.—It all depends on yourself whether or not you had better use a part of your limited time for practice on the technicon. If you have a clear musical touch and a fair control of your playing movements, it will be better to confine your work to the piano, or, perhaps, to give a few minutes each day to singing. But if your touch is very hard, a little work on the technicon will be useful.

B. I. A.—Like happiness, velocity comes of itself; it can not be secured by direct effort. If you find it difficult to play a piece or passage, or even an exercise or your scales rapidly, you can not secure the desired rapidity by trying to play fast. This comes only by being so long practiced that the movement becomes automatic, and by playing in groups or what falls between accents, never by allowing the mind to take cognizance of details in velocity playing. The great factor is the rhythmic feeling. You are to try to hear some accented tone one, three, or six beats onward, and to hear it accented. Your fingers will automatically give the desired stress, provided you keep a completely loose hand and wrist and, as it were, sit by and see it done by the hand, the will making no effort toward playing individual notes, but comprehending the whole as a unit. You will see that this kind of rapid playing is a matter of growth, and that it can not be forced. Automatism comes by the long-continued doing of a thing over and over in one and the same way until it becomes a habit.

N. K.—The best way to develop the left hand will ever be by investigating whether it is lacking in strength or afflicted with awkwardness, and then, after a definite diagnosis, supply the demands of the case. For weakness I recommend gymnastic (Delsarte) exercises calculated to loosen shoulder and elbow, where the cause of the supposed weakness is mostly to be looked for. In cases of awkwardness I recommend double-octave skips in various intervals. Let the pupil strike an octave, say C; then name the tone to be struck, and let the pupil find it without looking at the keyboard. Slow scales and arpeggios in various tonalities played with one finger (preferably the fourth and fifth) have also proven valuable in many cases. Some good piano work for left hand alone will be found in Gurlitt, “School for the Left Hand,” Op. 143, two books; Krause, A., “Left-Hand Studies,” Op. 15, two books; “Album for the Left Hand,” Ruthardt, Peters edition; “School of Left-Hand Playing,” Köhler, Op. 302, Peters edition; Czerny, “Six Left-Hand Studies,” and single études in the works of Willmers, Rheinberger, Ravina; there are two splendid études among those by Louis Berger.  Const. v. Sternberg.

J. C. D.—When piano-keys rattle it is because the felt in the hole in the base of the key, where it fits over the pin, has become worn, enlarging the hole, thus allowing too much play. Remove the front of the piano and the key-rail, and you can lift out the key. The hole referred to is at the front of the key. If you drive a little chip of wood between the felt and the wood of the key on each side of the hole, you will make the latter smaller and thus stop the rattling.

B. G.—Your question in regard to the treatment of double-jointed fingers opens up an interesting field for thought. It is, perhaps, fair to say that it will be more difficult to get control of such fingers than of others. I would suggest that you see to it that the pupil practice very slowly all finger motions with the particular fingers affected, and that she fixes her mind very strongly and steadily on the fingers, strives to keep the joints firm, and does not attempt to make heavy strokes. As to the pain in the one joint, if it should continue, the matter should be referred to the family physician. He might be able to indicate some means of strengthening and rendering firm all the fingers affected by loose joints.

J. M. H.—In regard to your doubt as to the writer of the first opera, we would reply that one historian, a good authority, says that “Daphne” was the first opera written, and that both Peri and Caccini furnished the music for it. Another standard work gives to Peri the credit of having written the first opera, “Daphne,” as above, in a style approaching the dramatic. It is also stated that a short time before Caccini and Cavaliere had written some works, but they scarcely deserved the name of operas. A German historian places the date of “Daphne” at 1597.

 S.—1. A changing note is one which takes the place of a note belonging to a chord, and one which lies a second above or below it; thus, in D C, or C D C, harmonized on the chord of C, the D is a changing note; or, C D B G, the first two notes on C, the second two as a part of the dominant chord, the D is a changing note. In these cases it is a note not belonging to the chord. A changing note has been defined as “a passing note by leaps,” as D in the progression E D A B, first two notes on chord of C; C D F, first two notes on chord of C followed by dominant seventh. C A G F, the A is reached an upward skip, both notes harmonized on C.

2. Counterpoint is the art of uniting to a given melody (called cantus firmus) one or more independent melodies in such a manner as to produce a harmonious effect. In a composition in polyphonic or contrapuntal form the harmony at any one point is to be viewed as the result of the movement of the individual parts, and not a chord harmonizing a melody note.

3. Two kinds of counterpoint are in use: simple, such as that found in many fugues; and double, in which the parts may be inverted—i. e., bass becomes treble, or vice versâ—without any impairment of the musical effect.

4. There are five species: note against note, two notes against one four against one, syncopation, and florid. Three notes may also be written against one. Double counterpoint has several species, in the octave, tenth, twelfth, and fifteenth.

5. A canon is a composition in which each voice imitates exactly the leader—the one first giving out the melody—at a certain interval lower or higher, and a certain number of beats later. “A Scherzo in the Form of a Canon,” by Jadassohn, is a good example of this style of music, and will be a useful study in melodious modern counterpoint.

A. M. B.—From C-sharp up to B-flat is a diminished seventh. There is no such an interval as that from B double-sharp to E; B double-sharp is not found in any but a theoretical scale. The interval from G-sharp to D-flat, like the one just noted, does not occur in any harmonic combination if proper notation be used. It might occur as a passing chromatic note; thus, soprano D, D-flat leading to C, while the alto sustains G-sharp; yet it is probable that a more common form of notation is D, C-sharp, C. A certain school of writers advocate the use of flats in a descending chromatic progression. You may have seen a composition of a writer belonging to that school. Such combinations have been called, I believe, doubly diminished intervals; yet they can scarcely be considered true harmonic combinations.

M. M. A.—1. The letters C. M., joined to the name of a hymn-tune signify that it is suitable to a hymn in what is known as common meter. It consists of alternate lines of eight and six syllables. S. M. means short meter. It is generally a quatrain or stanza of four lines, the first two and the fourth having each six syllables, the third eight.

2. A single chant is the ordinary form, such as is generally used for the Gloria Patri in the greatest number of churches. A double chant has two lines of music, the first half being sung to one verse of a psalm, for example, the second half used for another verse. This form is much used in the Episcopal church service, where antiphonal singing is in very common use, the first part being sung by the members of the choir sitting on one side of the chancel, the response being from the opposite side.

J. H. A.—1. The pedal marking in pieces published in The Etude may be followed with safety. If you are skilful in the use of the pedal no doubt you can find other places than those marked in which the pedal may be introduced to advantage. It is better, however, to err on the side of too little pedal than too much. The most artistic use of the pedal can not be indicated very successfully by marks. It is only gained by much study and careful experiment.

2. If your fingers seem to lose playing power in rapid passages, no doubt it is because you have stiffened them, or perhaps tired them, or it may be due to a combination of both causes. Slow practice with a gradual increase of tempo will help you. You will find a good reply to your question as to a remedy in Mr. Van Cleve’s ” Letters to Pupils,” in this issue. Much practice is necessary to acquire endurance, and you must push yourself to the very height of your powers occasionally, but not too frequently.

D. M.—Mason’s “Touch and Technic,” Vol. II, will give you very useful directions as to the order of scale practice for a young pupil. Krause’s “Studies in Measure and Rhythm” is also valuable.

M. E. S.—Dr. Arnold’s edition of the “Messiah” was a part of a projected complete edition of Händel’s works under court patronage, but never carried out. The value of a book from an antiquarian standpoint depends upon a number of conditions of such nature that it is impossible to state in print a probable value of the book. Wm. Reeves, of London, advertises a copy for 4s 6d, or about $1.12. Your copy may, however, have special value from one of the many points which determine rarity in the collector’s mind.

S. J.—The names largo, larghetto, andante, and allegro have no real significance, so far as indicating a rate of any movement on the metronome. The metronome was designed primarily to give an exact time indication, and composers so use it. The figures are worth nothing without the addition of a half, quarter, or eighth note as a prescribed time-unit; for example, quarter note equals 100. If a metronome marking such as allegro quarter note equals 120 be given to the piece, the term allegro is superfluous. The names must simply be considered as indicating the order of the terms from very slow to very fast.

A. B. C.—Your nine-year-old girl whose parents are anxious that she should learn to play pleasing music instead of dry exercises, will do well to get Landon’s “Foundation Materials.” This contains pleasing music, even the exercises being melodious and rhythmical.

Lorena I. L. F.—1. By all means the boy should count aloud when practicing. 2. Etude is pronounced, in an Anglicized form, as if spelled a-tood. The French pronunciation of the letter e is similar to the German ue. 3. There is no good reason for the two ways of indicating quadruple time; 4/4 is better than C. 4. The so-called American fingering has been almost entirely superseded by the foreign. No recent books are published in American fingering. 5. Book I of Mathew’s “Graded Studies” is good for young pupils. 6. It is better not to sit too stiff and immovable, yet exaggerated motion is useless and ungraceful. 7. “Brainard’s Musical World” is consolidated with The Etude, and is no longer published as a separate journal. 8. Clarke’s “Musical Dictionary,” price $1.00, will answer many questions for you, and give you the pronunciation of Italian and other words of expression, and the right pronunciation of names, with the dates of the birth and death of composers.

 

 

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