I’d like to start playing Debussy’s First Arabesque again (on lever harp), but I used to really fake my way through those 3 against 2 parts and now I’d like to do them properly and sound like Isabelle Moretti (I wish). Anybody got any tips for how make 3 vs. 2 flow beautifully?
Here’s what it looks like on paper. Write out two groups of eighth notes, 3 eighth notes in each group. All the stems should be pointed down, and barred so that the first 3 notes are barred together, and then the second group is barred together. So what you have is two groups of eighth notes, stems down, with the first three barred together, and the second group barred together. Tie the three notes in each group together. If you were to tap this out now, you would count each eighth note, but tap only the eighth note that starts each group. So you’d count 1,2,3,4,5,6, but tap only on 1 and 4.
Now put stems pointing up on eighth notes 1,3, and 5. These will be quarter notes, so don’t bar them. They are not tied together. If you were to tap only the stems up notes, you’d count 1,2,3,4,5,6, but tap only on 1, 3, and 5.
Now count the eighth notes(1,2,3,4,5,6,), and tap the stems down part with one hand, and the stems up part with the other. The stems down part is the two to a beat part, and the stems up part is the three to a beat. Start slowly and once you get the hang of it, speed it up. This is exactly how you have to play the 2 against three in the Debussy. The left hand notes (two to a beat) are played on 1 and 4 when you are counting 6 to the beat, and the right hand notes(3 to a beat) are played on 1,3, and 5 when counting 6 to a beat.
Once you have learned the rhythmic pattern, it will become automatic and you won’t have to count anything.
Thank you Catherine, Alison, and especially Carl, for that lovely detailed description of How To Do It! All three of you are saying basically the same thing, I think…you have to learn to internalize the rhythm in a methodical way, by starting slow and gradually speeding it up. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a quick way to do it?
Thank you all!
I think the rhythm can be internalized.
Tapping is fairly easy, but when playing such 2 against 3 confuses my mind sometimes.
For me it works best if I do it on the harp. The trick I used is to play 3 notes repeatedly on the right and 2 notes on the left, and keep changing my focus from RH or LF to make sure the rhythm is regular on each hand.
e.g. RH: 123 123 123 123 and LH: 12 12 12 12 just to get it going. The RH part could be changed to 213 213 213 213 or 321 321 321 321 or in scales or arpeggios etc…
I think once both hands learnt how to deal with the 2 against 3, playing different notes wouldn’t be an issue.
Thank you, Loonatik-good suggestion. I like those right hand patterns you mention.
And Alison, I’ll have to look up the Grandjany Arabesque, not familiar with that. But once I get the rhythm really down it’ll be nice to have another piece to use it with than just the Debussy.
I Had a hard time, at first, knowing if I was playing it right. I listened to the recordings of others playing it, and also audio recorded myself playing that part, to know for sure if I was doing it right. Going verrrrry slowly and practicing tapping on my knees are other things that helped me get it. You can draw vertical lines in the music to show exactly where each RH note should land, whether along with, or in between, each LH note. I hope that makes sense; it’s hard to describe. Good luck! It’s one of my favorites!
I’ve spent the last couple of days working slowly with a metronome-trying to set it for a steady beat in the left hand (the two beats) and fitting the right hand (the three beats) in with that. I’m getting worse and worse at it though, maybe a steady right hand beat in the metronome would work better, and fit the left hand beats in with that. It’s trickier than you might think to get those two hands exactly together!
Use the method I described. Here’s an easier way of writing it out. Write out the numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6. Put a vertical line under numbers 1 and 4. Now put a vertical line above numbers 1 3 and 5. Now count aloud the 6 numbers, and tap the left hand when you say 1 and 4, and the right hand when you say 1, 3, and 5. That’s how you count 2 against 3.
Carl, that makes sense, but another thing I find myself doing is rushing the last part of the whole pattern and coming in too early on the next one beat. That’s where I have to pay really close attention to the metronome, and not just fitting the 2 against the 3.
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