“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Producing Synchronized Chords

A student wrote to me complaining of "wobbly" chords. He meant that in accompaniment passages of repeated chordal figures he often broke the chords
unintentionally. His solution was to rigidify his fingers, lifting the unneeded fingers away from his hand, in order to force the correct fingers to play simultaneously. This is no solution at all, but rather a prescription for disaster.

In order to accommodate different finger lengths, it is better to allow the hand to be slightly flatter and avoid gripping or locking the hand into a fixed position in order to force all the fingers to be the same lengths. No matter how hard you try, I promise you that the fingers will always be different lengths. By flatter I mean that the hand should maintain its normal curvature, not curled into a claw.

The manner of depressing the key, then, is downward, of course, but also slightly in the direction of out toward the torso. It is as if the intention is to move outward, but at the point of key contact there is a tread on the end of the finger that prevents an extreme slide outward. It is not necessary to leave the surface of the key. In fact, it is in most cases better after depressing the key to ride it back up just beyond the point of sound in order to repeat it. This has the effect of allowing the participation of the forearm, ever so slightly, in order to control the downward weight. It is a mistake to think of this as either just a finger movement or a wrist movement.

Try this in various combinations of white and black keys.

Happy chording!

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