Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 455, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Kiel, and he writes:
I found a Facebook video of an organ student of yours playing the Dupont Meditation. I have two rhythm issues I’m wondering if you can help me with.
One being the 5 against 4 sixteenth notes. This is when the melody is on the moves down to the great and are on off beats. The way I’m currently playing it is the f’s are together, g flat is two by itself, three four and five are with the remaining three sixteenth notes. Is that correct?
The other spot being the six measures of two groups of three triplets against the four sixteenth notes. Would you be able to explain where the sixteenth notes fall against the two groups of three triplets?
V: I’m looking at the score from Petrucci library now. Do you remember how Egle Rudokaite, my student played this piece?
A: I have heard it once, once or twice.
V: Yes. It was her application piece for music academy, I think, when she just graduated our school to learn this national arts school. And let’s take a deeper look. Five against four sixteenth notes—let’s take a look. Can we find this? Not on the first page. Yes, on the second page, second system, second measure, the right hand part plays five sixteenth notes on the second beat, and at the same time left hand plays four sixteenth notes.
A: So, could you explain now, what has to come together and what does not, in general, when you have four against five?
V: I think four and five are so close together that nothing is really, only the first note is together.
A: And the same when you play four and three too—only first of those falls together.
V: And the same is when you play three against two.
A: That’s right.
V: Only the first note of the group is together. Which of course is a challenge if you have five against four. You need to play both hands separately—a lot.
A: But don’t you think that you have to know mathematically exactly which comes after which?
V: Maybe you have some ideas.
A: I think, but you have to do that.
V: Well it is visually possible to see, which note goes where or not.
A: So the first comes down together of course.
A: Then the second of the fifth comes, yes?
V: Of the right hand, the second note…
A: If we are looking at the same measure.
A: If we are all looking at the same measure.
V: Yes. The second note goes a little bit earlier than the second note of the left hand...
A: That’s right.
V: sixteenth note. Then the third note goes a little bit after the second note.
A: Yes. And then comes the third note of…
V: Then the left hand, the third note as you say, and then right after that comes the fourth note of the right hand part. And then…
A: The fourth note of the left hand, and then right after that, the left, last of the five notes.
V: It sounds really complicated, but in general, because the right hand part is a little bit faster, then you squeeze those extra notes in between of those left hand notes.
A: How would you practice—piece like this?
V: I would practice very separately for a while. Not like the left hand alone, and then do it 100 times. No! I would do right hand alone just one beat and then right afterwards, left hand alone, just one beat. But alternate between right and left—right and left. And then at some point they will connect. Does this make sense, Ausra?
A: Yes, it does make sense. That’s what I would do, too.
V: Uh-huh. We’re thinking similar things. Let’s take a look at some other instance. Are there any other instances of four against five? On the third beat of third page there isn’t any. But on the fourth measure there is six against four, right? Six against four. Let me check if this is the case for the concern that Kiel has.
A: No, I think he mentioned four and three.
V: Four and three you say.
A: Yes. That’s what I remember from his question.
V: Me too. Me too. Let me check the question one more time. He writes ‘the other spot being the six measures of two groups of three triplets against the four sixteenth notes’. So yes, three triplets against four notes. So basically six against four. That’s what I understand. Do you agree, Ausra?
A: But six against four is the same if you would play triplets with duplets.
V: Yes, it is very simple.
A: It’s the same yes. It’s very simple.
V: It’s very simple. If you divide—we’re looking at the fourth page—the first system, the first measure. At the last beat of that measure, right hand plays four sixteenth notes, and the left hand has sextuplets.
A: But basically it’s like triplets against…
V: Yes. You subdivide those sixteenth notes into two groups of two notes.
A: That’s right. So the first beat comes together, yes?
A: And then left hand follows and then comes right, and then left again. And then, when you play the third note in the right hand, it falls together, the fourth note of the left hand.
V: Yes. This is much easier than the previous instance...
V: five against four. Because you can think about duplets and triplets.
A: That’s right.
V: Alright. But in general those special grouping of notes are tricky to practice, right, in modern scores especially. Alright. We hope it’s been useful to Kiel. So there are many other pieces like that in modern music, so keep…
A: And not necessarily modern music. In Romantic music as well.
V: In Franck.
A: Well, and even in Bach’s music.
V: In Bach’s music also?
A: Well, don’t you think, like for example, that ‘Vater unser’ from the 3rd part of the Clavierubung is quite rhythmically challenging?
V: Yes, it is challenging.
A: It is! So you can find things hard rhythmically to play even in Bach’s music. And then think for example about Franck’s music too, like Fantasy in A Major.
A: We recently listened to it. It also has fourth against three. So it’s… And of course modern music is mentioned.
A: Unquestionably it’s the, probably the hardest thing, this modern music is to count it right.
V: Four against three is even, I think, more difficult than three against two.
A: Definitely. It’s harder. It is hard.
V: But the principle is always the same to learn—first play one part and do the other part, and alternate between those two parts, this sort of fragment.
A: I think if you can master three against two, you will be able to master others...
A: as well. Because you will find the sort of…
V: Alright. Thank you guys. This is interesting discussion. Please keep sending us your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
V: Miracles happen!
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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