Flat Chords: Yes or No?

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

  • Participant
    alexander-rider on #88151

    I quote Francis Poulenc: ‘More butter in the sauce’. I agree that the spreading chords encourrages a rich and round

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #88152

    I wonder how you make the chord progression more clear if you are playing the chords unbroken, because that makes it harder to hear the inner notes. I agree, Carl, that after the melody line, one must also hear the bass, but what often gets neglected are those inner notes, and developing them brings the richest tone. But you can still voice it so top and bottom are most audible. I practice such chord passages in several ways to bring out the inner voicings that are so important. Isolating each finger, singing each line as you go through the passage are just two ways. I am currently working on Recessional by Salzedo, which is about six pages of chords of massive proportions and there are many inner voicings that must be detailed. Any pianist worth his salt learns how to bring out the inner voices as a basic tool of interpretation. One thing harpists must do is not only hang around other harpists, but hear what pianists do, and other musicians, especially singers.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #88153

    Here’s something that explains the behavior of a lot of pianists: in Feruccio Busoni’s too-too popular edition of Bach’s Two-Part Inventions, he writes the following execrable advice: “The incomprehensible Arpeggiando sign, which one finds before this chord (the final chord) in many editions, is contrary to the manly style of this piece, and may be classed in Bach’s phraseology as “styleless.” Against such effeminacies in this and in analogous cases, the student is especially warned.”

    Well, that surely scared a lot of piano-players straight. But a far better man than Busoni, Wanda Landowska, dismissed him outright as someone completely ignorant about Bach’s ornaments. So there.

    Participant
    Briggsie B. Peawiggle on #88154

    Go Wanda. 🙂

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #88155

    One more thought about broken chords:

    We are the only orchestral instrument to use them, mostly, which provides a unique texture. Other than guitar, we are also pretty much the only solo instrument to regularly use them, so it is all the more unique for us to use them, and it would be a terrible thing for the art, if broken chords were to disappear altogether.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #88156

    One important thing to remember too is that there are many ways to roll a chord and the variety adds interest to the piece. The opening chords of the Danses for example are almost(but not quite) flat. Chords in Pierne and Faure are much fuller and longer. Sometimes the top note(as in Renie’s Contemplation)has to be brought out slightly stronger, or the bottom note(as in the Danses). Sometimes a crescendo over the chord is needed (the final chord of Parish-Alvars Serenade comes to mind). There should never be just one way of rolling a chord.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #88157

    There is a big difference between broken chords and broken cords. One is desirable, the other to be avoided.

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