Things I’m learning
Wow, it’s been over a month! I just re-read my last post, and it sounded like I was really ready to get to work, and it turns out that that was exactly the case! I have been insanely busy working in the weeks since that post.
So busy that I haven’t even thought about writing, because what happens to me when my work is flowing is that it flows in almost every area, so I’m just moving from thing to thing, and there is a seemingly endless supply of things to do, so I just relax and do them, confident that when I finish the task at hand, the next logical task will present itself.
So I have a notebook at the piano now, and I have a list of pieces (each one a drill, as I’ve written about before) that I’m working on, and for most of them, I have a beats per minute(BpM) setting(both target setting and where I’m currently comfortable playing it).
There are a bunch of classical pieces in the list as well as things where I sing, so I can alternate and rest my voice regularly. I’m trying to work on soloing, which is something I have never ever done before, but I’m working on chording with my left hand, and then writing something for my right hand. Baby steps in this department, but the work is paying off, and I am starting to make progress.
One of the pieces I’ve been working on my entire life, it seems, is Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu. It’s something that is always played very fast, and I’ve been trying to radically slow it down, working with the metronome, to make sure I’m actually getting every note. When I started doing that, I was using a setting of 40 BpM, and inching my way up, to where I’m now completely comfortable at 49 BpM, but it’s a really long way to 72 BpM, which is where I think I want it eventually. But man, I’m starting to own this piece.
While researching what my target BpM would be for this piece, I came across this article on how to practice the piece that really blew my mind:
As with most Chopin pieces, there is no “correct” tempo for this piece. However, if you play faster than about 2 seconds/bar, the 3x4 multiplication effect tends to disappear and you are usually left with mostly the Moiré and other effects. This is partly because of decreasing accuracy with speed but more importantly because the 12x speed becomes too fast for the ear to follow. Above about 20 Hz, repetitions begin to take on the properties of sound to the human ear. Therefore the multiplication device works only up to about 20 Hz; above that, you get a new effect, which is even more special than incredible speed — the “rapid notes” turn into a “low frequency sound”. Thus 20 Hz is a kind of sound threshold. This is why the lowest note of the piano is an A at about 27 Hz. Here is the big surprise: there is evidence that Chopin heard this effect! Note that the fast part is initially labeled “Allegro agitato”, which means that each note must be clearly audible. On the metronome, Allegro corresponds to a 12X speed of 10 to 20 Hz, the right frequency to hear the multiplication, just below the “sound threshold”. “Agitato” ensures that this frequency is audible. When this fast section returns after the Moderato section, it is labeled Presto, corresponding to 20 to 40 Hz — he wanted us to play it below and above the sound threshold! Therefore, there is mathematical evidence suggesting that Chopin knew about this sound threshold.
So amazing to have been working on this and have access to an article like this. What a world! And now, back to work!