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I greet you all on this day of joy!

I've been playing almost every day and am improving steadily, which motivates me greatly.
However, I've been thinking about time signatures. I'm now well acquainted with 3/4 and 4/4 time, which I understand to be "three quarter notes per bar" and "four quarter notes per bar", respectively.
I now have a piece which says 3/8, which I understand to be "three eight notes per bar", but I really can't see any practical difference between this and 3/4.

So my question is this: why bother with 3/8 at all? In my 3/8-piece, which is the vivace from Sonatina 1 by Clementi, the eight notes substitute the quarter notes, and sixteenth notes substitute the eight notes, with no perceivable difference to the result. Now, there has to be a reason why different pieces have different time signatures, but I really can't see it, and was hoping someone might enlighten me on this.

Also, I uploaded my first video ever on youtube, and I'm super excited that I finally was able to play through the piece while filming without serious errors.
If anyone would take the time to check out my video, 1.30 minutes long, and perhaps give me some feedback on my playing, I'd be very grateful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0P43mq87xg

Similarly, I thank you all in advance for the answers to my question which I no doubt will receive, and I wish to commend you all for being serious and intelligent in your answers, both to myself and to others on this forum.

smile




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nice. i've been playing for more than ten months and i can not do that. keep it up!


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1) There is a reason for different time signatures and usually it's the character of the piece. ( you might find even 9/16 time signature as well 4/1 )
3/4 and 3/8 are very similar... the only reason to use it is to get you used to count in eights instead of quarters and will be useful when you'll encounter 6/8 and 9/8 that are compound time signatures.

2) It's very nice playing for 10 months. few notes:
2.1) you are WAY too stiff... wrist and pinky.
2.2) in some cases (last chord, right hand, index finger) you are pressing hard enough to discolor your joints... that is WAYYYYYYY too hard.

get a book with super easy pieces where you can exercise without straining yourself and learn how to play with the minimum effort like beyer op 101 and focus on keeping as "soft" or "calm" as possible on a slow tempo... will take few months but you will greatly reduce the risk of injuries and your playing will benefit from it.


Last edited by Ataru074; 11/12/14 10:46 AM.
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Coconutyoghurt,

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I'm now well acquainted with 3/4 and 4/4 time, which I understand to be "three quarter notes per bar" and "four quarter notes per bar", respectively.


I usually cringe just a little whenever I see someone explain time signatures as you have above. While not exactly wrong, it seems to be fraught with possible misunderstanding, if not by whoever wrote it, then by someone who might read it.

I think a better way to explain time sigs is "the top number tells you how many beats there are per measure, and the bottom number tells you what note value gets one beat." Thus in 3/4 there are 3 beats per measure, and a 1/4 note gets one beat. In 6/8 there's six beats per measure and a 1/8th note gets one beat.

While it may be true that something in 3/8 is similar conceptually to something in 3/4 (if the pitches were the same and just the note values were adjusted), different time sigs have a different intended "feel", at least some of which is imparted with slight emphasis on particular beats, eg. in 3/4 beat one is almost always emphasized slightly.

Maybe I'm just splitting hairs. I'm certainly not a teacher, so consider at your own risk.


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Tristan y Isolde -Wagner(arr.)
Sonata Pathetique-Adagio LVB
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Great job! Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed listening.

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Oh man! I thought that video was great! I thought you sounded good and did a great job! I mean no disrespect to anyone else commenting, and I probably have an untrained eye, but I didn't see how you were stiff at all. To me, you looked relaxed, your fingers had a nice curl. I dunno - that's just me.

Keep up the good work!

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Normally the Bach Inventions are not started until the beginner has some advanced skills so this is an excellent start to your musical journey to be playing this in only ten months.


Surprisingly easy, barely an inconvenience.

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Nice playing! Really calm and steady feel. No tension or other physical/technical problems that I can see. Do you happen to play another instrument already?

Here's one thing to work on with this piece if you want to take it to the next level. With music like this the big challenge is knowing which part should predominate at which time. It isn't always the right hand that should be louder. Here you have not one melody but two, and they are having a conversation. When they take turns nicely, like when one has a half note or a rest, it's easy to know which to listen to. But when both are talking at the same time you have to choose AND you have to make it really clear to the listener which it is. For example, when the left hand enters at the beginning, it has the beginning theme and should call attention to itself by being louder than the right hand. Then the right hand repeats the beginning theme, so the right hand should be louder at that time.

This kind of work can be a challenge because there's a lot to think about... but it is also really fun because it is about so much more than hitting the right notes.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

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Last summer I studied the first page of this Invention for a while, I learned a few things from it and then I put it away thinking I'd tackle it again some time next year, because it was too soon for me to learn it properly.

Now I watched your video... and I'm going to throw myself off a cliff!


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That's really, really nice for 10 months of study! Steady rhythm, consistent touch.

Heather is right -- the next step is figuring out where the melody is, and emphasizing it enough for the audience to hear it the way _you_ hear it.

Good work!

. Charles




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Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to watch my video, and thank you for all the positive response!
I had no idea when people usually started this piece, so I'm particularly motivated by the fact that it seems I'm able to play it decently at this time.

hreichgott:

Quote
Do you happen to play another instrument already?


I've been playing the djembe, an african drum, for about a year before I started piano, and I'd say I'm proficient at it. From age 17 to 19 I also played Stepmania for 5 hours a day and got pretty good at it, which *could* have something to do with finger control, and most definitely has something to do with understanding of rhythm.

Quote
Here's one thing to work on with this piece if you want to take it to the next level...


I think this would definitely make it sound more proficient, and I've had a couple of ideas where a louder left hand would be suitable. I love this piece, so I'll try this while working on other things! smile


JimF:

Your explanation of time signatures is most definitely the one to use if one was to explain this to someone who doesn't know about time signatures. However, I didn't think about this and just wrote it in the simplest way I could think of. After all, the only importance time signatures have had to me so far is telling me how to count beats correctly.

Some pieces in 3/4 time are easy to identify, with a clear waltz-like pulse, other pieces in 3/4 time sounds just like a piece with 4/4 time to me. In the vivace in 3/8 time, I would never be able to tell what time signature it had if I didn't know. I guess the ability to deduce this comes with practice?


Ataru074:

Quote
the only reason to use it is to get you used to count in eights instead of quarters


I then assume counting in quarters mean "one two three four", while counting in eights mean "one and two and three and four"?
However, in my piece, there are three beats per measure, and if there were three eight notes in a bar, I would still count them "one two three", even though they are eight notes, right?

Perhaps this time signature business will dawn on me with more experience, but at the moment it's a bit confusing.

Quote
you are WAY too stiff... wrist and pinky


I think I see what you mean when you refer to the last chord, where my fingers stretch out a bit. I *hope* this is due to the fact that I was super nervous at the end, because I had gotten so far without errors while filming.
As for tension in general, I understand this is something to avoid, but I'm not sure what to think as others in this thread seem to evaluate differently. I myself have never had any problems with pain, stiff joints after playing or similar problems. It might count for nothing, but I at least *feel* quite free after a few days of practicing a piece.
I'll have to pay attention to this as I progress and see how thing fare.


Again, thank you all for your encouraging words, it means a lot to me. You guys are actually the only reference point I have, and so your input is invaluable.

smile

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Well played! Top notch performance given how long you've been at it.

I just have one thing to say. Your chair, it looks to me like its one of those computer chairs on wheels with an arm rest. I would suggest a straight back wooden chair if you cant get yourself a bench. I use something like this.

If you keep playing with a moveable chair, you might feel a bit unstable and it might cause tension in the upper body. Especially when you need to do a lot of jumps, you might find it hard. IMHO.


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