Playing Soft

Discussion in 'EC Downloading' started by gms979, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. gms979

    gms979 New Friend

    Jun 3, 2005

    Posted this in TH, but would love to get feedback here as well...

    So, I recently became aware of a horrible habit that had crept into my playing in recent years....a very narrow dynamic range. Playing 95% at a mf-f level, and only rarely going louder or softer. I've been forcing myself to play soft in recent days, and it REALLY seems seems to have helped with response, control, and eliminating the feeling that I'm "blowing my embouchure" out of position. And when I return to a loud passage, everything clicks more effectively.

    Then I read the who's who list of people I can think of who stress soft playing whenever I read their articles or listen to firsthand accounts. Hakan Hardenberger and Herbert L. Clarke come immediately to mind....Chris Gekker and Hiro Noguchi have talked/written about this alot as well. And I'm sure the list goes on and on.

    What exactly do you all think soft playing does for one's "game?" I have my own theories, but I'd love to hear you all think.

  2. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

    Jul 13, 2005

    Good morning.

    Soft practice does worlds of good for someone who has blown his/her aperture out as the opening conforms to the speed of the air. This is pretty well documented and understood by most serious players.

    My contribution to the discussion might be an observation that many have learned to practice flow studies softly (particularly after reading H.L. Clarke's remarks preceding his exercises), but few apply the same principle to flexibility and articulation exercises. Hakan has, and it's one of the things that made him, well, Hakan. True virtuosity might be described as achieving an equal relationship to flow/focus/flexibility in all ranges and in all dynamics. . .

    Do you know Thibaud's positive/negative exercises? They are very good for soft control.

  3. chrisvenditti

    chrisvenditti New Friend

    Aug 17, 2005
    soft studies

    What are the Thibaud positive/negative exercises? Can you elaborate?

  4. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

    Jul 13, 2005
    Hi Chris,

    Thibaud's positive/negatives are single notes sounded (in every register) as FFF/ppp -- an explosive timpani-like attack, followed by a long pianissimo fermata. Hard to control at first and very good for the aperture.

    Jim knew Pierre rather well. Didn't he mention them?

    The more important point that I hope that I made is to practice articulation exercises (Gekker, Arban, etc.) and flexibilities (Bai Lin, Arons, etc.) in pp from time to time. Many only apply the principle to Clarke and other flow studies. . .

  5. talcito

    talcito Piano User

    Feb 18, 2004
    There is a nice set of those positive/negative exercises in one of Arturo Sandovals Method books---volume three. It also comes with a CD so you can hear the exercises being played by Arturo.
  6. Philippe

    Philippe New Friend

    Oct 17, 2005
    i agree

    I have been doing the positive/negative and it has helped with very specific problems such as maintaining air speed at a very soft level. I have found it as something that opens other doors to experimentation. I also recently have found the Schubruk book to be very helpful especially when adapting a "ha" beginning to the note and not a "ta" attack. Again, these are all things to experiment with.

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