Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fast Fingers

I am frequently asked how to achieve speed. I presume people would like to be able to do this as quickly as possible. Which is understandable. We've all got places to go.

I can't recall now just how many hours I spent trying to get my fingers to be a disciplined blur at the keyboard. I do remember my teacher playing on my wrist numberless times, illustrating the little flick of the finger--that instant, mosquitolike tap that immediately engendered complete rest for the finger that did the flicking. It was a tiny, purposeful impulse, that I've since compared to a static charge passing from the finger to the exact point in the key's descent where the hammer is released unto the string. It is much more matter-of-fact than an electric shock, though. It happens suddenly, and in a manner that in no way disrupts the complete equipoise of the finger in charge.

What is really in charge, though, is the mind. And that mind is like a conductor, cue-ing in the oboe player, and then leaving the player to play the passage on her own, because no amount of micromanaging is necessary in a well-trained orchestra, nor would it yield reasonable results. It is time for the cue, the cue happens, and then it is time for something else. Well ordered, perfectly efficient little motions, with no excess, no feeling of pressure left in the finger afterward, everything transferred exactly from the arm to the piano. And the brain that ordered it a complete picture of Apollonian calm.

Mind you, I spent years and dollars in the pursuit of this. I can tell you this for free, but if you want to have any actual chance of achieving it, you'll have to send multiple installments of $69.95.

In other words, you'll need lessons. And lots of hours of practice.

It would obviously be more kind if there was another way. But I don't know of one. If it helps any, being on the receiving end of mass adulation regarding such dexterous digits is not everything it seems to be. It can actually be kind of...well, unfulfilling.

But I don't mind exercising my skill sometimes. And while, on the one hand, I am at pains to downplay the value of the fast and/or loud as a substitute for all things substantial, it still is nice sometimes to just let 'er rip and enjoy the scintillating sounds.

Recently, the piano in our social hall at the church was refurbished; the action, redone. I made a recording of a sonata movement by Clementi which I'll share with you now. It isn't high on the substance meter, but he does have a lot of scales that shoot up and down the keyboard and it is nice to be able to make them sizzle. So here it is, on the new action:

Clement: Sonata in Bb, 0p. 47 n.2, I. Allegro con brio

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